Role of Liver in (TCM) Traditional Chinese Medicine – by Naveed

The liver plays an important role in traditional Chinese physiology. Since it is in charge of the smooth flow of ‘qi’ throughout the body, any disruption in its functions usually affects another organ. Stagnation of the flow of liver ‘qi’ frequently disrupts emotional flow producing feelings of frustration or anger. Conversely, these same emotions can lead to a dysfunction in the liver, resulting in an endless loop of cause and effect.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, liver plays the following important roles:


1. The liver stores the blood.

The liver is considered as a storage area for blood when blood is not being used for physical activity. These periods of rest contribute to the body’s restorative processes. During exercise, the blood is released to nourish the tendons and muscles.

This function is also intimately associated with the menstrual cycle; the liver maintains an adequate blood supply and regulates the timing and comfort of menstruation. Any dysfunctions in the menstrual cycle are almost always treated through the regulation of liver blood, qi, or yin.

When liver qi is stagnant (a very common condition), a person experiences irritability, tightness in the chest and in a woman symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. When liver blood is deficient, symptoms such as dry eyes and skin, pallor and lack of menstruation can occur.


2. The liver ensures the smooth flow of qi.

The Nei Jing refers to the liver as a general in the army coordinating the movement of the troops. When the liver functions smoothly, physical and emotional activity throughout the body also runs smoothly.

When the liver’s ability to spread qi smoothly throughout the body is disrupted due to stress or lifestyle choices, the liver qi can becomes either stagnant or hyperactive causing havoc in other organs such as the lungs, stomach, and spleen. Often, stress-related problems such as irritable bowel syndrome or indigestion can be successfully treated by working through the ‘smoothing of liver qi’.


3. The liver controls the tendons.

As mentioned above, the liver stores blood during periods of rest and then releases it to the muscles and tendons in times of activity. When liver blood is deficient, tightness and inflexibility in the muscles and tendons can occur. If liver qi is stagnant, muscles can go into spasm. Such muscle spasms often occur when a person drinks strong coffee. Coffee, even the decaffeinated variety is regarded as one of the most disruptive substances in relation to the smooth flow of liver qi.


4. The liver opens into the eyes.

Although all the organs have some connection to the health of the eyes, the liver is connected to proper eye function. Chronic eye problems can usually be traced to a deficiency of liver yin or blood. It is therefore quite common to resolve eye disorders successfully by treating the liver.


5. The liver shows on the nails.

When liver blood is plentiful, it spreads to the farthest areas of the body including the fingernails and toenails. On the other hand, when liver blood is deficient, the nails can appear pale, weak and brittle.



Allergic Reactions – Four Types

The immune system is an integral part of human protection against disease but the normally protective immune mechanisms can sometimes cause detrimental reactions in the host. All types of allergic reactions are caused by the hypersensitivity of the immune system to an allergen. Any item, chemical or substance that causes an allergic reaction is an allergen.

Different immunoglobulins (Igs) are involved in different types of allergic reactions. The main groups of Igs are IgE, IgG, IgA, IgM and IgD.


The four main types of allergic reactions are listed below along with brief explanation:


1. Type I (IgE-mediated and anaphylactic)

Type I is most commonly associated with allergic reactions to drugs such as chemotherapy medicine.  These reactions are immediate and may occur within seconds or few minutes, especially if the body has been exposed to the foreign substance before and has been ‘sensitized’.

Examples of this type of reaction are hay fever, allergic asthma, hives (urticaria), food allergies etc.


2. Type II (Cytotoxic, cell reactions)

With Type II reactions, the antibodies produced during an immune response recognise and bind to antigens (structural components of cell surfaces).  This antibody/antigen complex then activates ‘classical’ pathways in the immune system to cause inflammation at the site. This creates a defect on the cell’s surface leading to breaking open of the cell and eventually killing it.

Examples of this type of allergic reaction are transfusion reactions, autoimmune hemolytic anemia.


3. Type III (Immune-complex)

In Type III reactions, immune complexes are formed in the circulation and deposit in various tissues where they may trigger the classical pathways in the immune system.  This process may occur in hours to days from the triggering substance.

Examples of this type of allergic reaction are serum sickness, systemic lupus erythematosus immune-complex glomerulonephritis (a disorder of the kidney).


4. Type IV (cell-mediated)

This type of reaction is a delayed reaction (2-3 days) and involves activation of the T-cells of the immune system. The foreign substance is presented to the T-cells of the immune system, which recognises them and sets off a series of reactions that eventually work to destroy the targeted cells.

Examples of this type of reaction are contact dermatitis (poison ivy), rejection of a transplanted organ etc.



History of Botanicals


Plants and herbs have been used to provide remedies for ailments for thousands of years. The first written record of herbal medicine showed up in 2800 B.C. in China. There are also over 200 references to aromatics, incense and ointments in the Old and New Testaments; Frankincense, Myrrh, Cinnamon, Cassia, Rosemary, Hyssop and Spikenard are noted for being used for anointing rituals and healing of the sick. 



Plant-derived (Botanical) Ingredients were among the very first cosmetics. Natural colorants, plant juices for soothing and protection from insect pests and fragrant oils for imparting scent were all used in ancient times. Historically, plants were the only way to produce products for cleaning, moisturizing, covering up blemishes and even treating minor skin conditions.



A botanical ingredient is anything taken or derived from a plant. This could mean the flowers, the seeds, leaves or roots. Botanicals cosmetics have been around in some shape or fashion for thousands of years and ancient societies had long lists of herbs, roots and flowers that were used for cosmetic purposes. As well as providing specific remedies for different types of ailments, botanicals are also rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. These are known to prolong health and prevent ageing and disease.



Different kinds of botanical ingredients can offer all different kinds of benefits. They are as varied and diverse as the world of plant life itself. Many ingredients are used for their wonderful natural scents while others can be used for anything from moisturizing to invigorating and rejuvenating. Most readers will probably already be familiar with the name of some of the most popular botanicals used in makeup, like lavender, rosemary, rose and aloe etc.



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What is Ayurveda – Philosophy and Doshas

Ayurveda believes that everything in the universe along with all the living and the human beings is composed of the five basic elements called the panchamahabhutas. The panchamahabhutas include the air, water, fire, earth and space.



Ayurveda suggests that all the panchamahabhutas integrate together to give rise to the Doshas (energy types) within the living beings. The three Doshas so formed are called Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Vata is believed to be a combination of air and space, Pitta represents the fire and water and Kapha constitutes water and earth. Together the three are called ‘the Tri-Doshas’ and govern the psychological, biological and the physiological aspects of the mind and the body.



The Prakriti or the constitution of the individual is also governed by the dominance of the Tri-Doshas. In general only one or two out of the three Doshas are dominant in an individual. Ayurveda because of compositions of Doshas treats every being as an individual. Every medicinal prescription in Ayurveda is specifically prepared for an individual keeping in mind the constitution of his/her Doshas. This is why every individual reciprocates to a set of treatment in a different manner.


An imbalance among the Doshas lead to different ailments and disorders and the principles of Ayurvedic health revolve around the three Doshas attempting to keep a balance among them.

Naveed Aslam…. and Google+