The functions of the Liver include facilitating the flow of Qi throughout the body, storing Blood, nourishing sinews and the eyes, and housing the Ethereal Soul(Hun). The Ethereal Soul is necessary to interact spiritually with the Mind(Shen). The proper flow of the Liver-Qi is essential for the proper function of all processes in every organ of the body.
Controlling The Volume of Blood
The Liver sends blood to the channels, moistens the muscles and moistens the sinews during physical activity. This regulation influences the level of energy in the body positively by nourishing tissues. The Liver, as well as the Defensive-Qi and Lung-Qi, maintains the muscles and skin to protect against pathogenic attacks on the body.
On the other hand, in the rest stage, the blood flows back to the Liver. If the Liver doesn’t function properly, the irregular blood flow could cause the body to tire easily.
The Liver stores menstruation blood; when the blood is deficient there is the possibility of amenorrhoea and deficient periods, when in excess the periods are heavy, and in stagnation periods are painful.
Irregularities of the Liver-Qi and Liver-Blood are the main cause of gynaecological problems. In Qi stagnation, aside from excessive pains, there will be dark clots. Irregularities in the Liver also directly relates with the vessels connecting the uterus called the Directing Vessels (Ren Mai) and the Penetrating Vessels (Chong Mai).
Digestion and The Flow of Qi
The Liver-Qi facilitates the flow of the Spleen Qi upwards, and the digestive processes in the Stomach. In stagnation, disease can easily invade the Stomach, impeding the flow of the Stomach Qi, leading to sour regurgitation, nausea and vomiting. It could also invade the Spleen preventing its abilities to transform and transport food and the lack of Qi flowing causes diarrhea. The pathological path taken in stagnation is the Wood element overacting on the Earth element.
The Middle Burner is responsible for the interaction of different Qi moving in different directions. The Liver-Qi flows up and outwards from the Middle Burner, aiding the Stomach-Qi, Lung-Qi and the Intestine-Qi in flowing down and the Spleen-Qi in flowing up.
Bile is secreted moderately to help the digestion processes and when it is obstructed, a bitter taste surfaces from it as well as Jaundice and difficulty in digesting fats.
Controlling the Sinews
The Blood of the Liver sustains the sinews through moisture so that they contract and relax properly for activity.
In Liver-Blood deficiency, the sinews will experience contractions, spasms or muscle cramps. In Wind, the body is susceptible to convulsions and tremors.
The physiology and pathology of the sinews and the muscles make the Liver and the Spleen intertwine. The Spleen connects to the weakness of limb muscles, while cramps and difficulty in the sinews reflects the Liver.
The Nails and Eyes
The Liver controls the moisture and strength of the nails. For instance, in deficiency, the nails will appear dry and cracked.
Liver Blood controls the nourishment and maintenance of the eyes through moisture. In deficiency, vision is blurry, the organism experiences color blindness, dryness, myopia, and floaters. In Heat, the eyes are bloodshot and have a burning sensation, and with internal Wind, the eyeball turns upwards and moves in a nystagmus pattern.
The Heart and the Kidneys are also responsible for the eye. The eyes show the state of the Heart and in Fire, the eyes show redness and a great pain. The Kidneys nourish the eyes and in deficiency, they cause loss of eyesight and dried eyes.
The Liver is connected to the Basal tears that lubricate the eye and the Reflex tears that react when a foreign substance attempts to enter the eye. In deficiency of Liver-Yin, the eyes experience dryness, while in Liver-Yang, the eyes experience excessive water.
The Emotional State
The smooth flow of Qi establishes a balanced emotional and the physical well being of the organism. Lack of circulation of Qi causes emotional frustration or depression; Repressing that Qi leads to physical manifestations such as hypochondrial/abdominal distension, a feeling of oppression in the chest and a ‘lump’ in the throat. Alternatively, the Liver relies on a balanced emotional state to work properly.
The Ethereal Soul
The functions of the Liver is spiritually connected to the Ethereal Soul. The characters Gui meaning spirit and Yun meaning cloud, are combined to create the Hun. Contrarily to the Corporeal Soul, The Ethereal Soul is Yang in nature and at death it flows back into the Earth as an energy.
The Ethereal Soul is responsible for finding one’s path in life. If the Liver is abundant, life will have a clear mission and have wisdom. However, when the liver are deficient, the body loses its sense of direction.
Floating sensations during sleep are correlated with deficiency in the Liver- Blood, Liver- Yin and the Ethereal Soul. The Ethereal Soul comes from the Shen/ Mind as it gives the Shen creativity and essential dimensions of life.
A lack of Ethereal Soul can give rise to depression. However, an excess can lead to chaotic behavior because there is no focus on a clear idea.
The Liver in the Senses
Anger causes imbalances in the Liver, specifically in Liver- Fire or stagnation since anger is repressed. The sound correlated to the disharmony of this organ is shouting to express that anger. A greenish color on the face and in vaginal discharge shows dampness in the Liver channel.
The smell of the Liver originating in the armpit is rancid, indicating pathology in Liver-Heat or Damp-Heat. A sour taste indicates Liver and Gallbladder pathology, and an excess of it could injure it including the Spleen and the muscles, but beneficial to the Lungs. The Wind is the climate that worsens the pain during Liver pathology.
During Liver excess, dreams will manifest the person as angry. In deficiency, the dreams will portray a lazy experience in nature such as lying down and unable to get up.