Significance of the Liver and Gallbladder Channel in Chinese Medicine

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), good health is governed by good “Qi” or vitality energy flow through channels, also called meridians. The Liver and Gallbladder meridians are paired channels that are intricately related to each other. The LImageiver and Gallbladder channel stores blood, maintains healthy flow of Qi throughout the whole body, and controls the muscles and tendons. It is important to recognize the liver and gallbladder meridians referred to in Chinese Medicine are not synonymous with the anatomical liver and gallbladder organs described in conventional medicine. One is referring to an energetic pathway, while the other is referring to an anatomical organ. 

The liver and gallbladder channels are connected to the Wood element, and in Chinese Medicine principles, good balance is characterized by the harmony of the 5 Elements which are Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood. Spring is the most active time of the Wood element and as we transition into spring, we may be notice a renewed and bountiful source of energy. Allergies, including eczema, asthma, rhinitis, seasonal allergies, hives, skin rashes are all symptoms of liver meridian pathology. These symptoms are caused by an upsurge of liver energy, and this surge happens most often in the spring. Often acupuncture points that help calm the liver meridian help with allergies.

One of the most effective times to do a detoxification is also the spring because it is the time that the body naturally enhances its detoxification systems due to the surge of Liver and Gallbladder energy. Regular detoxification helps keeps the liver and gallbladder channels healthy as well as adequate sleep is also a very important aspect. Ever wonder why you get a burst of energy if you pass your bedtime? Between 11pm and 1am is the most active time of the liver and gallbladder channel. The rise in energy is meant as a healing time for the body, but if someone chronically misses this crucial sleep time, they often feel progressively fatigued, causing liver and gallbladder blockage.

Physical symptoms of liver and gallbladder Qi blockage include headaches, fatigue, muscle and joint pains, irritability, heartburn, belching, eye conditions, digestive problems, skin and nasal allergies, weak nails, and menstrual cramps.

Emotional symptoms of liver and gallbladder Qi blockage include irritability, frustration, depressive feelings, impatience, sense of being stuck and lacking direction in life, and inability to make critical decisions.

How to Check for Meridian Imbalances and Blockages

There are many ways to assess the balance of Qi flow, with the most traditional method being pulse-taking which is a diagnostic method used by many Traditional Chinese Doctors and Naturopathic Doctors. By feeling the quality of the pulse, a skilled doctor will be able to access the health of each of the meridians and treat accordingly either with diet, herbs or acupuncture.

With modern technology, there’s also been the emergence of a more sophisticated system called the Acugraph which is an objective tool to measure actual energetic flow in each meridian. With this tool, it is possible to accurately access the internal energetic balance of an individual and to monitor progress during a treatment plan. Below is an example of an acugraph reading.

Once the Qi or energy imbalances are identified, they can be effectively treated by acupuncture using needle or laser.


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