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Liver Flow

Shu gan wan

Kan Traditionals

Invigorates Liver Qi and Blood, harmonizes Liver and Stomach, descends the Stomach Qi, clears Heat from the Gallbladder.

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Liver Flow, based on Bupleurum Liver Coursing Powder (Shu Gan Wan), moves Liver Qi, restrains Liver from invading the Spleen and Stomach, and eliminates stagnation. Each organ has a specific directional flow of Qi; Stomach Qi descends to send impurities downward, while Spleen Qi ascends to nourish the Heart and Lungs. The flow of Liver Qi is unique in that its normal direction moves upward, outward and in all directions. Of all the various Liver functions, the most important is to ensure the smooth flow of Qi throughout the body. When the Qi mechanism is disrupted, it can result in Qi stagnation and/or rebellious Qi. This in turn triggers an overactive Liver invading the Stomach and/or Spleen, causing digestive imbalances.

Liver Flow contains herbs that strongly regulate and move the Qi. White peony root, the chief herb in this formula, tonifies Liver Blood, calms and curbs Liver Yang and alleviates stagnation. Prepared Cyperus rhizome spreads and regulates Liver Qi, invigorates Stomach Qi, regulates menstruation and alleviates stagnation. Bupleurum root and Tangerine dried rind of green fruit release Heat in the muscle layers, raise the clear Qi of the Stomach and Gallbladder, spread Liver Qi, break up stagnant Liver Qi, and relieve constraint. Finger citron strengthens the Spleen, transforms Phlegm, and harmonizes the Middle.

Tangerine dried rind of mature fruit and Magnolia bark promote the flow of Qi in the Middle Burner and direct it downward, move Spleen and Stomach Qi, reduce Phlegm, and disperse fullness. They combines with dry fried Bitter orange immature fruit and Sandalwood to promote the flow of Qi and alleviate stagnation.

Saussurea root and Chinese amomum fruit promote the movement of Qi, and dispel stagnation in the Spleen, Stomach, and Intestines, strengthen the Spleen, and warm the Middle Burner. Dry fried Bitter orange immature and Chinese cardamom fruit break up stagnant Qi, transform Phlegm, expel focal distention due to Phlegm obstructing the Qi dynamic of theMiddle Burner, warms the Middle Burner, and strengthens the Stomach.


Since Qi is said to be the leader of Blood, Blood stagnation follows Qi stagnation. Liver Flow addresses this with several herbs to invigorate the Blood, such as Turmeric rhizome, Corydalis yanhusuo tuber and Turmeric root tuber. Turmeric rhizome, a substitution for Aquilaria agallocha lignum, invigorates the Blood, regulates menstruation, breaks up Blood stasis, drives the Qi downward and alleviates stagnation. Prepared Corydalis yanhusuo tuber invigorates Blood, promotes the movement of Qi and alleviates stagnation. Tree peony root bark clears Heat stemming from either excess or deficiency, cools and invigorates Blood and clears ascending Liver Fire. Chinese licorice root and rhizome alleviates stagnation and harmonizes the properties of the other herbs in this formula.

Several formulas address similar patterns. Stomach Support addresses Stomach Fire with concurrent Stomach and Kidney Yin deficiency. Digestive Harmony Formula addresses excess patterns of food stagnation. Peaceful Earth addresses a pattern of food stagnation while simultaneously strengthening the Spleen Qi and expelling Wind. Bupleurum Soothing Liver Formula addresses excess patterns of Liver Qi stagnation. Wei Te Ling calms rebellious Stomach Qi and harmonizes and strengthens the Middle Burner.

A differentiation must be made between Liver Flow and its relative, Free and Easy Wanderer. The latter is also used for Liver Qi stagnation patterns, but expands its actions to include tonifying the Spleen and nourishing the Blood. Liver Flow is for excess patterns resulting in a more pronounced stagnation of Liver Qi invading the Stomach.

If there are further signs of Gallbladder involvement, consider using Li Dan Support, Minor Bupleurum or Quell Fire. Use Li Dan Support for further Heat and Damp accumulation in the Gallbladder. Use Quell Fire when there is Heat in the Liver and/or Gallbladder organ or channel. Use Wei Tei Ling for a stronger manifestation of Stomach Qi rebellion, stagnation and Heat with less Liver pattern involvement.


ORIGINS AND DEVELOPMENT
Bupleurum Powder to Spread the Liver (Chai Hu Shu Gan San), was first recorded in Jing-Yue Quan Shu, Collected Treatises of Zhang Jing-Yue, 1624 C.E.

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