Acupuncture for Conception | Acupuncture Infertility Treatment


The Liver System, Stagnated Qi and Stress

The liver is a large, dark red gland in the upper part of the right side of the abdomen, just beneath the diaphragm. Both Western and Eastern medicine agree that the liver's main functions include storage and filtration of blood, and metabolic activities including the metabolism of hormones. But Chinese medicine says that the Liver is also involved in the smooth flow and distribution of Blood.

Liver Qi is responsible for all transformations in the body, including ovulation, and for ensuring the smooth flow of emotions and Qi.

The Liver channel runs from the inner legs through the external genital region, the uterus, and up to the chest and breasts. The meridian associated with the Liver's paired organ, the Gallbladder, courses from the lower body up the sides of the abdomen and chest, and around the side of the head including the area behind the eyes and the temporal region.

The Liver is important in reproduction largely because of its role in menstruation. During the premenstrual period the Liver shifts the Blood flow from other body parts to the Uterus. Right before menstruation, when the Liver is busy directing the body to menstruate, it has a tendency to neglect its other functions of keeping the Qi and emotions flowing smoothly. As a result, the emotions are no longer able to flow freely, and depression, anger, sadness, weepiness, or any combination is experienced. There may be headaches, breast pain, cramps, and a wide variety of other physical and emotional symptoms. Blockage in the Liver system is a most eloquent description of why pre-menstrual tension and its associated symptoms occur. At this time any Liver obstruction will cause Qi and blood to "back up" or stagnate. If the channels remain blocked, the flow of energy to the Uterus will be impeded, and then the menses are associated with pain and cramping.

Liver imbalances that cause energetic obstructions can confine the energy of this important system to a very small space. As the laws of physics tell us, this creates a large amount of heat, and heat rises. Since the associated Gallbladder meridian is higher than the Liver meridian, this pathologic heat ascends up the Gallbladder meridian and can cause premenstrual migraine headaches. (In fact, migraines were once referred to as "the megrims," or bouts of biliousness, a disease associated with the gallbladder.) When diagnosing patterns that are preventing conception, it is absolutely essential to assess where there are blockages in the Liver and Gallbladder.

When the Liver system is not functioning smoothly, the hormonal system is not either. The Uterus itself can become a toxic environment, hostile to implantation. Excess estrogen is not metabolized effectively and can build up, because it is the liver that metabolizes hormones. (It doesn't help that there is a preponderance of synthetic estrogen in our diet, and even in the products we apply to our skin.) Estrogen dominance is implicated in conditions like endometriosis, fibroids, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and cancer. Most women with these diseases are diagnosed with an element of Liver Qi stagnation.

In addition to its function of governing all transformations and discoursing Qi and emotion, the Liver is responsible for Blood conservation (storage). When the Blood (which is Yin) is depleted (through loss of blood, an overactive lifestyle, too much stress, exercise, and lack of rest and self care), the Liver loses its ability to smooth the emotional energy. Even small annoyances may become exaggerated to the level of frustration and anger. This further inhibits Yin/Yang polarity, and blocks the already pent-up emotional energy. The abundance of Yang within the enclosed system may become inflamed with anger, and turn into self-hatred, depression and rage in the extreme. The emotion of anger especially damages the efficiency of the Liver's functions of transformation (ovulation, menstruation) become disturbed. Here again, stress affects our ability to reproduce. Every woman here is at least somewhat affected by Liver Qi stagnation, the most common affect  in the emotional basis of Liver Qi is the stagnation of unfulfilled desires.

Alcohol consumption damages the energetic function of the Liver. Therefore, women who are diagnosed with an overabundance of stagnant Liver Qi should not consume alcohol when they are trying to get pregnant.

According to the five-element theory of TCM, the Liver energies fall under control of the element Wood .


- forceful

- Active

- Tense

- Perseverant

- Achieves goals

- Determined

- Driven

- Busy

- Instigates movement

- Overcomes resistance


- Growth

- Overcomes inertia

- Governs movement and pressure

- Allows tension to build,

- Pressure has to be released

DISTORTED ARCHETYPE - hard, stiff, unyielding

- Can't relax; always tense

- Keeps pushing when backing off is called for

- Iintolerant of limitations

- Fanatical adherence - can become a tyrant

- Becomes irritable, depressed, agitated, frustrated, angry, aggressive

- Tension headaches

- Erratic intensity

- Loses the ability to regulate own health

- My way is the only way

- Thinks willpower shall overcome all resistance

- Always in a hurry

- Relies on coffee to get going; alcohol to slow down

- Grabs meals in the run

- Constantly pushing until runs out of steam

- Propensity toward premenstrual tension

- Hyper-functioning sympathetic nervous system


- Must dispel tension

- Exercise, yoga, stretching, qi gong

- Stress management techniques

- Meditation, prayer

- Massage

- Eating small, easily digestible meals - sitting down, chewing thoroughly

- Only drink water - not with meals

- Reeducate nervous system, metabolism (including hormonal)


  • Are you prone to emotional depression?

  • Are you prone to anger and/or rage?

  • Do you become irritable premenstrually?

  • Do you feel irritable around ovulation?

  • Does it feel like your ovulation lasts longer than it should?

  • Are your breasts sensitive/sore at ovulation?

  • Do you experience nipple pain or discharge from your nipples?

  • Do you have a lot of premenstrual breast distention or pain?

  • Have you been diagnosed with elevated prolactin levels?

  • Do you become bloated premenstrually?

  • Are your pupils usually dilated and large?

  • Do you have difficulty falling asleep at night?

  • Do you experience heartburn or wake up with a bitter taste in your mouth?

  • Are your menses painful?

  • Do you feel your menstrual cramps in the external genitalia?

  • Is the menstrual blood thick and dark or purplish in color?

  • Is your tongue dark or purplish in color?

Diet/Lifestyle Recommendations

  • Do not overeat. Try to avoid heavy, hard to digest foods like nuts, peanut butter, butter, animal fats, too much meat, and too much bread. Avoid foods with preservatives or chemicals.

  • Sit down when you eat.

  • Eat frequent, small meals. This keeps the blood sugar levels more stable and inhibits adrenaline release.

  • Use spices that move the Qi, like peppermint, rosemary, spearmint, turmeric, and thyme.

  • Supplement your diet with zinc (especially premenstrually)

  • Chew foods adequately.

  • Do not drink alcohol or caffeine, do not smoke cigarettes.

  • Incorporate the Spleen deficiency dietary principles.

  • Get adequate physical exercise.

  • Avoid harboring anger and resentment. Feelings of frustration and internal emotional tension need to be resolved as soon as possible, as any stagnated emotion can inhibit the Qi mechanism.

  • Laugh. Go to comedies or funny movies to release any stuck internal feelings.

  • Breathe deeply and relax.

  • Too much estrogen creates Liver Qi stagnation. To help the liver metabolize the excess estrogen, stop eating animal products that have been treated hormonally.

  • Drink detox of milk thistle tea to harmonize internal liver energies and help the Liver process excess hormones, emotions, etc.

Move the qi and remove stagnation

Basil, caraway, cardamom, carrot, cayenne, chive, clove, coriander, dill seed, garlic, marjoram, mustard leaf, orange peel, peppermint, radish, rosemary, spearmint, star anise, tangerine peel, thyme, turmeric.

Spleen Qi tonics improve quality /quantity of available energy in the body.

Beef, cherries, chicken, coconut, date, eel, fig, flax seed, ginseng, goose, grape, ham, Herring, job’s tears barley (coix), lentil, licorice, mackerel, microalgae, molasses, oats, octopus, potato, pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, rabbit, rice, royal jelly, sweet potato, shitake mushroom, squash, sturgeon, tofu, yam.

Avoid cold foods, dairy products, refined carbohydrates, sugar, sweetener


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