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Blood deficiency | Turbid phlegm | Blood stasis

Liver Yang Headaches & the Chinese Remedies

Headache pattern: headaches with distending and dizzy sensations, aggravated by anger or emotional stress, tend to affect the side of the head.

Accompanied symptoms: irritability, flushed face, bloodshot eyes, a bitter taste in mouth and throat dryness. There may also ear ringing, discomfort in the low chest, insomnia, a red tongue with thin-yellow coating, and the pulse is taut and forceful.

Analysis: the Yellow Emperor's Medicine Classic states: "wind diseases accompanied dizziness are due to the liver," referring to yang hyperactivity of the liver. The hyperactive yang tends to affect the upper body, and causes headache and dizziness. Liver meridian runs through the side of the head, so headache often occurs in the region. Liver dysfunction causes qi stagnation inside the body which generates fire pathogens to irritate the upper body, causing symptoms like flushed face, bloodshot eyes, ear ringing, bitter taste in mouth and throat dryness. The fire pathogens disturb the spirit leading to irritability and insomnia. Liver meridian also runs through the lower chest region, so there appears discomfort. The tongue and the pulse are the manifestations of abundant fire and hyperactive yang. Emotional distress impairs the liver, which can trigger or aggravate the headache, hypertensive individuals also likely to develop it.

Therapeutic principle: calm the liver and subdue yang

Sample prescription: Gastrodia and Uncaria Decoction

In the prescription, the gastrodia tuber, gambir vine stem and abalone shell calm the liver and subdue yang, which serve as the main herbs. The baical skullcap root and gardenia fruit clear and purge fire in the liver. The achyranthes root directs blood flowing down, and together with eucommia bark and mulberry mistletoe, they nourish the liver and kidney. The tuber fleeceflower stem and poria nourish the heart and calm spirit; the motherwort herb activates blood and removes blood stasis.

Tall gastrodia tuber
Gambir vine stem
Abalone shell

Some modifications can be made according to the specific symptoms.

During applications, fossil bone and oyster shell are added to reinforce the effects of subduing yang.

Severe headache, flushed face, bloodshot eyes, apparent bitter taste in the mouth and discomfort in the lower chest indicate excessive liver fire has developed, the remedy should enhance the effect of purging fire. Select herbs like:

yu jin turmeric root-tuber Radix Curcumae
long dan cao Chinese gentian root Radix Gentianae
xia ku cao selfheal fruit spike Spica Prunellae

Apparent dizziness indicates that some herbs should be added to calm the liver and dispel wind.

ju hua chrysanthemum Flos Chrysanthemi
bai ji li caltrop fruit Fructus Tribuli

Since yang hyperactivity of the liver is usually resulted from yin deficiency of the liver and kidney, kidney deficiency can be involved in this condition. There will be persistent headaches which are worse in the evening or during overstrain, and also accompanied by knee weakness, lumbar soreness, ear ringing and thready pulse. Add the following herbs to nourish the liver and kidney.

sheng di rehmannia root Radix Rehmanniae
he shou wu fleeceflower root Radix Polygoni Mulitflori
nu zhen zi glossy privet fruit Fructus Ligustri Lucidi
gou qi chi Chinese wolfberry Fructus Lycii
ma han lian yerbadetajo herb Herba ecliptae