Liver Qi Stagnation

qi stag syndrome

What is Liver Qi Stagnation?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Liver is the system that is responsible for the smooth flow of Qi (energy) throughout the body. As such, it is the system most directly affected by things that cause us to be less go-with-the-flow and more tense—emotional stress, rigid posture, not breathing deeply enough, jaw clenching. So yeah, basically all of the things that most of us deal with on a daily basis.

When things aren’t flowing smoothly, we start to experience what acupuncturists think of as stagnation-type symptoms. These include pain, and specifically pain that feels like pressure, distension or restriction. The physical symptoms often mimic the emotional symptoms associated with Liver Qi Stagnation—frustration, irritability, feeling easily annoyed or held back. It’s as if things want to move but something is keeping them constrained.  (source:

Liver Qi Stagnation is a very common syndrome in our day and age because of the amount of daily stress we encounter. There are many physical and emotional symptoms, which can be seen listed below.

You may have Liver Qi Stagnation if you experience one or more of the following:

  • depression
  • PMS – premenstrual syndrome
  • irregular menstruation
  • painful menstrual cramps
  • distended feeling in the chest
  • coastal region pain (rib cage area or just below)
  • sighing, frequently
  • dry, red, or irritated eyes
  • moodiness
  • irritable & frustrated
  • easily angered
  • feeling like something is stuck in your throat – globus pharyngeus or globus sensation
  • symptoms get worse with stress or negative emotions
  • breast tenderness – especially premenstrual
  • insomnia
  • headaches
  • migraines
  • feeling “stuck” in life
  • teeth grinding
  • jaw clenching

What a Qi Stagnation tongue may look like:

Normal Tongue:  A normal tongue shouldn’t look too big or small, too thick or thin, too red or pale, too wet or dry.  The tongue coating is thin and white in colour and covers most of the tongue.  The tongue is stable, not shaking when out. There should be no teethmarks or scalloped edges on the side of the tongue.

normal tongue







Liver Qi Stagnation Tongue: The tongue colour can have a purple to blueish hue or maintain it’s normal colour.

qi stagnation tongue






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