Symptoms of liver diseases – how can we really tackle them?
Patients with liver diseases often experience different symptoms such as chronic fatigue, loss of appetite, itchy skin, and sleeping disturbances etc. In the western way of treatment, each problem or symptom is tackled individually, leading patients to take multiple medications which cause burden to the body with side effects.
However, from the eastern medical point of view, every organ in the body is interconnected. Therefore when tackling various symptoms experienced by liver disease patients, the eastern way of treatment takes a more comprehensive approach, viewing the body as a whole instead of focusing the problems individually.
Liver as the “leader” in our body?
According to the well-known Chinese medical classics Huangdi Neijing (The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Medicine), the liver is described as “the general of an army”. It is responsible for maintaining the smooth flow of energy (qi) and emotion throughout the whole body. Each organ has their own specific direction of where the energy (qi) flows. For example, the energy of the lungs flows downwards (upward flow causes coughing) and that of the stomach flows downward (upward flow causes vomiting).
As for the liver, normally the direction of the flow is downward. Some downward bodily functions performed by the liver include detoxifying the body and helping to move food through the digestive system. However, if the flow is disrupted and it goes upward instead of downward, this imbalance will cause problems affecting not just the liver, but also other organs in the body. Signs that show a malfunctioning liver causes problems of various organs:
- Sleep disturbance: The liver is responsible for regulating levels of cortisol and melatonin, which are important hormones related to sleep. Therefore poor liver function affects sleep quality greatly.
- Depression: We often hear cases where patients who receive liver transplant inherit the personalities of their organ donors. This suggests a strong link between the liver and the brain. Therefore when the liver is injured, emotional problems will arise.
- Itchy skin: It is usually due to the blockage of bile ducts (flow of energy is disrupted) and bile salts cannot be cleared from the body, causing itching.
Good liver function brings good health
For liver disease patients, since the flow of energy and emotion of their whole body is disrupted, problems of various organs tend to arise. To effectively manage the symptoms, patients should target treatment at the core problem, in which case it is the malfunctioning liver. Restoring liver health and balance is a solution that provides long-term positive effects. Once the liver function returns to normal, it will benefit other organs as well and the symptoms will slowly go away.
- TCM World, https://www.tcmworld.org/what-is-tcm/the-five-major-organ-systems/tcm-lifestyle-wisdom-for-liver-health/, (Accessed Date: 2018-08-31)
- Chinese Medicine Living, https://www.chinesemedicineliving.com/medicine/organs/the-liver/, (Accessed Date: 2018-08-31)
- National Center for Biotechnology Information, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2287209/, (Accessed Date: 2018-08-31)
- * All research and clinical data should be used as reference purposes only, results may vary.