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Liver Stagnation – The Start To Disease

By Uncategorized

When the function of the Liver is harmonious, there is never stress or tension.

Too much fat, chemicals, intoxicants and processed food all disrupt the hundreds of intricate biochemical processes of the Liver.

The Liver is also easily damaged by chronic emotional imbalances such as greed, anger and resentment.

Unresolved emotional issues are stored physically as residues in the Liver – the release of emotional obstructions unlocks and releases these residues.  Therefore, as you improve your diet it is necessary to release stored emotions.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine there are several Liver Syndromes (liver disorders/diseases), all of them start with Liver Stagnation and can develop into more harmful diseases.  All Liver Syndromes affect the whole body in various ways.



The Liver has many important functions, one of which is ensuring the smooth movement of Qi throughout the body.  The basic disorder of Liver Stagnation is the obstruction of the free flow of qi energy.

If the flow of energy is impeded ALL physiological processes in every organ and every part of the body is affected.

Another important function of the Liver is storing Blood.  Liver Blood is very important to nourish the sinews (muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage etc), allowing physical exercise.  The Liver also stores Blood for the Uterus, ensuring a regular menstruation.

All the major organs of the body house a psychic aspect of our selves.  The Liver houses the Hun (the Ethereal Soul).  The role of the Hun is very important to our mental and spiritual life by providing the Shen (Mind) with inspiration, creativity, life dreams and a sense of direction in life.

Signs of Liver Stagnation mark the early signs of disease.


Physical Signs:

  • Nervous system disorders
  • Allergies
  • Lumps, swellings, lump felt in the throat
  • Distended abdomen, chest or breasts
  • Chronic indigestion
  • Menstrual problems, PMS
  • Stress, neck and back tension
  • Fatigue
  • Rigid, inflexible body
  • Eye problems
  • Impure blood, skin disorders (such as acne, eczema, boils)
  • Finger or toenail disorders
  • Slow rising in the morning
  • Muscular pain
  • Tendon problems
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Excessive sighing

Emotional Signs:

  • Emotional repression
  • Anger
  • Frustration
  • Resentment
  • Impatience
  • Edginess
  • Depression
  • Moodiness
  • Impulsiveness
  • Emotional attachments
  • Poor judgment
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Mental rigidity
  • Negativity



Emotional repression is at the root of Liver Stagnation, resolving resentment, anger and frustration is essential.

Stagnation requires movement and exercise.  That is why so often we feel better for exercising.  Expressing yourself creatively or artistically may be required if your Hun has become stagnant.

At least 20 minutes a day of deep relaxation is essential for clearing up Liver Stagnation.

Avoid rigid rules or guidelines around diet, lifestyle and exercise.  Avoid “shoulds”.  It is essential to incorporate into your day something fun or playful, even if it means watching a funny movie.  “Laughter is the best medicine”.

Acupuncture is a very fast and effective means to freeing the energy of the Liver.



  • Foods high in saturated fats, the majority come from animal sources, including meat and dairy products
  • Large quantities of nuts and seeds
  • Hydrogenated fats, found in margarine, fast foods, commercial baked goods (donuts, cookies, crackers), processed foods, and fried foods
  • Poor quality oils, such as processed seed oils (soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil).  Choose cold pressed fresh oils.  Avocado and coconut oil can be used for cooking (some oils at high heat release free radicals that can harm the body)
  • Hot spices, alcohol, intoxicants and refined concentrated sweeteners


  • Kelp and other seaweeds
  • Vitamin B6, B12 and zinc (they are abundantly found in a varied diet of whole foods)
  • Chlorophyll foods (green vegetables, spirulina, chlorella)
  • Pungent herbs and spices; turmeric, basil, bay leaf, cardamom, marjoram, cumin, fennel, dill, ginger, black pepper, horseradish, rosemary, mints, saffron, lemon balm, all members of the onion family
  • Nuts; chestnut, pine nut
  • Vegetables; cabbage, kohlrabi, cauliflower, broccoli, watercress, turnip root, beets, taro root, mustard greens, brussel sprouts.
  • Raw Foods; sprouted grains, beans and seeds
  • Fruits; strawberry, peach, cherry


Short Term Remedy:

1 tsp of apple cider vinegar in some water with a little honey

Take while experiencing stress/tension/depression, 3 times daily

Use unrefined apple cider, brown rice, rice wine or other quality vinegars.


Do You Have Back Pain?

By Uncategorized

Back pain is a very common complaint and one that I treat daily in my clinic.  The source of back pain is extremely varied, but all my patients have this in common; pain and a disruption to their work and lifestyle.

If you have back pain and it’s affecting your day to day activities, sleep, mood and recreational activities, Traditional Chinese Medicine and classical acupuncture can truly treat your back pain to get you back to work and doing what you love to do FAST.

With classical acupuncture and a treatment plan that may involve Chinese herbs, some lifestyle modifications and simple homework your back pain can be treated and a reoccurrence of your back pain can be prevented.  Towards the end of this Blog I explain how classical acupuncture actually heals your back.

Acupuncture not only treats your pain but also treats the source of your pain.


  • 50% of all current drug addicts get hooked when they are prescribed Western pain medications
  • Every 18 minutes an American dies from an overdose of pain medications
  • Pain is an epidemic and western medicine does not have many solutions
  • Low back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide
  • Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work
  • Back pain is the second most common reason for visiting the doctor
  • Pain medication is used to manage pain, it does not totally relieve it or cure it.

For most medical doctors and pain clinics a pain level of 7/10 is expected to drop to a 4/10 when a patient uses pain medication.  If I cannot get such a patient with a pain level of 7/10 below a four after their FIRST treatment with me I feel I have failed in my treatment that day.

As an acupuncturist treating pain is one of the most rewarding and most important diseases to treat.  Acupuncture can treat any type of pain (chronic, acute, nerve pain, inflammation, numbness and tingling, radiating pain, stiffness etc) anywhere in the body (organ, bone, skin, joint etc).  Of course there are exceptions such as genetic disorders and cancer etc, but those are not the norm for the majority of pain disorders seen in the clinic.


Muscle strain or ligament sprain

Commonly from heavy lifting, a sudden awkward movement, poor physical condition or posture that puts chronic strain on the muscles and ligaments of the back.

Disc problem

Often from poor lifting technique and turning and twisting whilst lifting.

Discs act like “cushions” between the bones (vertebrae) in your spine.  When a disc is injured the soft material in the disc can bulge or rupture placing pressure on a nerve (that is exiting the spine) which will cause pain.

As people age over time the disc wears down and no longer effectively “cushions” forces.  In a degenerative disc forces instead are transferred to the disc wall that can lead to a bulging or ruptured disc.


Arthritis is degeneration of the joints in the spine.  As the cartilage between the joints slowly breaks down inflammation and pain develops.

Joint dysfunction  

The low back area consists of the lower spine (lumbar), sacrum and pelvis.  These bones are connected by joints that can cause pain if there is too much or too little motion of them.



Acupuncture stimulates nerves and subsequently triggers a response from the brain.  As a result acupuncture can affect change in all systems (circulatory, respiratory, digestive etc) and areas (back, knee, shoulder, neck etc) of the body.

Acupuncture stimulates the body to increase blood flow to the site of pain and stimulates the body to release natural painkillers.

Increased blood flow facilitates and hastens the natural healing process.  This increased blood flow brings a host of substances that control the damage, repair the injury and removes wastes that cause pain and inflammation.

Acupuncture also simulates the release of endorphins.  Endorphins are natural pain killers produced by your body. They work by binding to receptors in your brain to block the perception of pain.  Acupuncture is very effective at treating pain and thereby reducing your need for pharmaceutical pain killers.

Acupuncture treats the whole body, not just your pain.  This means I address underlying health issues that may be contributing to your back problem AND I treat the source of your back pain.  By doing this the reoccurrence of your back pain can be prevented.

Classical acupuncture can actually heal muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments and nerves – the actual root cause of your back pain.


Traditional Chinese Medicine and classical acupuncture is a complete system of medicine.  Acupuncture is the best modality for treating back pain but depending on the person and because I like to treat the whole person I often incorporate into your treatment plan:

  • Lifestyle modifications
  • Dietary recommendations
  • Chinese herbs
  • Stretches and exercises

In addition to classical acupuncture I may use; tui na massage, gua sha, cupping, moxibustion, electro-acupuncture stimulation and ear seeds to treat your back pain.  All of these are used to heal your back, eliminate your pain AND treat any underlying health conditions you may have.

I mostly practice distal acupuncture, a classical style of acupuncture with great clinical efficacy.  I place needles away from your area of pain or discomfort.  My patients experience enhanced benefits from this style of acupuncture as they can relax and enjoy their treatments more as they feel the immediate relief of their pain.  They also feel much more involved and proactive during their treatment as I rely on their feedback to fine tune my treatments to further relieve their pain.  Look out for my future Blog on distal classical acupuncture, the theory and the results are astonishing.

Any type of chronic pain can be a profoundly life changing – and often lonely – experience.  If this is you, please come and see me, I’m Evelyn, and I practise in Canmore and Calgary.