The Channels and Meridians – Liver/Gallbladder

So, this month’s “In Health” blog is about the meridians/channels of the body. This summary is just to inform you with some brief, underwhelming information regarding some of the mystery surrounding acupuncture. I’ve been getting a lot of questions about how exactly acupuncture works. While it’s easy for westerners to understand the scientific explanation, it is somewhat harder to grasp the eastern approach. Trust me, I was there when I started graduate school. As many of you probably know, Eastern and Western cultures are very different in a lot of ways.

This summary is just a simple explanation of the acupuncture channels and meridians, and what Chinese Medicine says about them. There is a saying in Chinese Medicine that states the theory of acupuncture is simple, but the points selected are complex. Often times these days, patients have a whole list of issues that need attention. FYI, every thing matters. Every thing is connected. This month, I’ll focus on the Liver/Gallbladder. Lets start, shall we?

I’m going to combine the yin and yang pairs to make it easier to read (and to type) because…Well, yeah. A brief summary of yin and yang is needed to understand pairing. The upper body belongs to yang while the lower body belongs to yin. Other yin and yang pairs in the body include the interior (yin) versus the exterior (yang), the front (yin) versus the back (yang), the inside (yin) versus the outside (yang) of the limbs and the five yin organs versus the six yang organs. Each organ can also be further divided into yin and yang aspects. Yin organs store substances and yang organs are empty and involve more action.

Just so it’s clear, this blog isn’t meant to scare you or cause you to over-analyze everything. It’s just a simple explanation of what acupuncturists look for. Just because I discuss or say a certain channel is stressed does not necessarily mean you have a problem with your organs. People, and with good reason, can get freaked out if their acupuncturist isn’t forthcoming with that information. So, don’t freak out!

I’ll start with the Liver and Gallbladder channels. The Liver is the yin channel and the Gallbladder is the yang channel. The Liver Channel controls the smooth flow of Qi throughout the entire body. Hence, it’s extremely important to keep the body in homeostasis. If the Liver channel gets stressed, you could become angry or irritable, which is the emotion connected to the Liver. It’s not “Don’t happy, be worry.” It’s, “Don’t worry. Be happy.” You could also get “Irritable” Bowel Syndrome, of course. Drinking excessive alcohol could make you angry because you’re taxing the Liver, literally. This isn’t true for everyone, though. The Liver channel is said to “open into the eyes”, meaning that your eyes can shed light on what’s going on with you. For example, you could get red eyes when irritable or if you are suppressing a lot of anger. This could potentially lead to a headache or migraine behind the eyes or on the top of the head. You’re better off letting it out, in a diplomatic way, of course. Or not. Sometimes you have to yell out loud. The Liver also stores blood. A typical symptom of “Liver Blood Deficiency” is anemia, seeing floaters, or having a pale complexion. These are not all the symptoms, as there are many others. The Liver is responsible for nourishing the tendons of the entire body. It takes the blood and yin it stores to nourish them, keeping them flexible and healthy. A lot of athletes can benefit from getting their Liver channel treated given the toll their bodies take from training. The Liver also helps you to plan out things. If you get pain below the ribs, that could also indicate your Liver channel is stressed. So, that’s the Liver.

Next is the Gallbladder channel, which is the yang-paired channel of the Liver. Yin and yang pairs share a lot of the same functions. They often work synergistically. Besides the functions I discussed in the Liver section, the Gallbladder is the decision-maker of the body. If you are timid or lack courage in making a decision, it is often a sign of the Gallbladder channel being in dysfunction. The Gallbladder is different than the other Yang organs in that it stores bile produced by the Liver. It’s tapped into in the digestive processes. Headaches, or migraines, on the side of the head is also a sign that the Gallbladder channel is imbalanced.

That’s all she wrote for this one. We are open at Gloyeske Acupuncture Pointe. Come on by!


In Health,

Adam Gloyeske, L.Ac.