Cirrhosis of the Liver and Acupuncture

Research Update – Acupuncture for Liver Health

A study published by Europe PMC was used to compare the clinical effect of acupuncture and herbs to Western Medicine. The goal of the research was to determine which treatments were more beneficial for cirrhosis of the liver. Cirrhosis is a condition in which the liver does not function properly due to long-term damage. This damage is characterized by the replacement of normal liver tissue with scar tissue. The researchers divided the 80 participants into four groups. Two of the groups used both Eastern and Western Medicine, while the other two groups only used Western Medicine. After 30 days of treatment, the two groups that were treated with both Western Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine showed overall effectiveness rates that were much better than just Western Medicine alone. Those in the combined treatment groups had decreased symptoms at a much higher level. This study confirms Traditional Chinese Medicine can be a wonderful addition to the treatment of cirrhosis of the liver.

 Traditional Chinese Medicine looks at the human body quite differently than Western medicine does. In TCM, there are energetic pathways associated with specific organs in the body. When these pathways or meridians, and the energy flowing through them, are out of balance, then the body may become diseased. 

In TCM, the liver and its corresponding meridian are responsible for the smooth flow of Qi (pronounced “chee”) or energy, blood and emotions. The liver is easily affected by excess stress and uncontrolled emotions. The liver is paired with the gallbladder and the two work very closely as a unit. When one is imbalanced, the other may display the symptoms. For instance, if a person is consistently stressed, this may cause the liver Qi to become blocked.  When this happens, the gallbladder may become affected. It is not uncommon for people in high stress jobs to end up with gall stones. This happens because the liver becomes blocked and the emotions remain bottled up inside, which then manifests in pain and possibly stones.

Anger is the emotion commonly associated with the liver and gallbladder. If a person is frequently irritable, gets angered easily, has difficulty relaxing or letting things go, and is unreasonable, it is safe to guess that the liver Qi isn’t functioning properly. There are many methods of balancing liver Qi and returning proper energy flow throughout the body. Learning to stay calm and channel one’s anger appropriately is a good place to start. Practice some deep breathing, meditation, yoga or even take a walk. All of these things are great for balancing stagnant liver Qi.

Another way to smooth out liver qi is a technique known as dry brushing. Using a hairbrush with rounded bristles, one can lightly brush down along the liver energetic meridian, which runs along the inner thighs and calves, all the way down to the inside corner of the big toe. This can be done for about five minutes per leg and it gently stimulates the liver meridian, allowing the Qi to flow more freely and relaxing not only the liver, but the whole body.

Acupuncture is another great way to balance the liver energies. Regular acupuncture treatments help balance the body holistically and without any real side effects. Acupuncture can increase the flow of Qi throughout the body, remove blockages and stagnation and allow the liver to function properly, which will ultimately allow the body to detox more effectively.