liver qi stagnation

Liver Qi Stagnation – What Is It?

liver qi stagnationLiver Qi Stagnation is the cause of many ailments.

Tight muscles, headaches, jaw tension, and sciatica often have the same root cause: Liver Qi Stagnation. From the perspective of Chinese medicine, manifested ailments arise from energetic imbalances. This energy is called Qi (“chee”) in Chinese medicine. You may also see Qi spelled as Chi.

Qi travels throughout the body along pathways called meridians.

liver qi stagnation

Liver Qi Stagnation is like a beaver dam in a river

As long as the Qi is moving smoothly, all is well: we feel happy, content and going with the flow of our life. Just like water stagnating behind a dam in a river, our Qi can stagnate within a meridian. If our Qi gets blocked within a meridian, we are not happy or going with the flow.

The Liver is in charge of keeping the Qi moving.

“Liver Qi Stagnation” refers to an energetic pattern of blocked and stagnant Qi within the Liver Organ System. All Organs are paired within the Chinese medical system. The Liver is paired with the Gallbladder. These Organs have meridian pathways on both sides of the body: the Liver meridian and the Gallbladder meridian.

When the Qi is stagnant within these meridians, it is common to experience pain along the meridian pathways.

  • The Gallbladder meridian travels from the outside corner of the eye, down the side of the neck, trunk, hips, outer legs to the fourth toe. Physical manifestations such as one-sided headaches, jaw pain, shoulder pain, sciatica, hip pain, knee pain, ankle and foot pain can all arise from Qi stagnation in the Gallbladder meridian. Moving Qi in the Gallbladder meridian can really help reduce these associated pain symptoms.
  • The Liver meridian travels from the big toe up the inner leg to the rib cage. Points along this meridian are often very tender due to Qi gathering and stagnating along the pathway.

Liver Qi Stagnation may also manifest emotionally as angry outbursts and frustration even at the slightest inconvenience. From the western perspective, “stress” matches up with “Liver Qi Stagnation” from the Chinese medical perspective. Stress is recognized as a causative factor in high blood pressure, muscle tension, headaches, and TMJ (Temporal Mandibular Joint Syndrome). Chinese medicine views Liver Qi Stagnation as the underlying energetic imbalance that gives rise to these same conditions.

To continue learning, check out the “All About the Liver Meridian” video on demand.

About The Author

Cindy Black, L.Ac., LMT

Cindy Black is the Founder of Big Tree School of Natural Healing and the author of Meridian Massage, Pathways to Vitality. She is appreciated for her ability to make the complex accessible, fun, and practical.


  • Vonda

    Reply Reply December 25, 2015

    So how do you get it to (gallbladder/liver qi) to start flowing again?

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