The liver meridian is one of the most prominent channels in the body, responsible for a myriad of functions in both eastern and western medicine. The liver is the body’s general. It controls our qi and plans many of the body’s functions. In fact, the liver has over five hundred roles in the human body. It aids in digestion, controls blood sugar, stores essential vitamins, clears away toxins, and aids in the removal of bacteria from the bloodstream.
In Infinity’s meridian archetype series, the liver is represented by the archetype of the liberator. The liver meridian is concerned with freedom and all of the basic human rights and responsibilities that come with it. It commands the energy in the body, sending it to where it is needed most so that we can make important decisions from a place of strength.
A healthy liver meridian provides us with a sense of purpose and direction. To find the liver meridian within yourself look to your emotions first.
Are you empathetic?
Do you often know what someone needs before they are even aware they need it?
Would your friends and family call you sensitive?
When confronted with a situation where you feel trapped, would you run away from your problems rather than face them?
Those with a strong liver meridian are the emotional rock in their relationships. People feel comfortable confiding in the liver because they instinctively know that they will understand. For all that they are dependable, people with high traits of the liberator crave independence and freedom. They will stand up for what they believe in to a fault and are especially assertive when a cause is close to their heart.
By strengthening and stretching the liver meridian, you gain access to your ability to make decisions and push boundaries. You will learn some tricks to combat adductor, abductor, IT band, and hip imbalances. To understand the liver meridian’s place in our series, we will examine its eastern and western medicine functions, archetypes, common imbalances, and exercises to help restore the healthy flow of our meridian.
The Liver in Western Medicine
The liver has many functions in the human body, from assisting with digestion to filtering blood. Everyone is familiar with the liver’s most important function- detoxifying the body by neutralizing toxins from our food, alcohol, drugs, and medications. The liver does this by filtering harmful substances out of the blood. It also aids the immune system by removing bacteria and other foreign substances that can contribute to imbalances in the body.
The liver also produces bile (stored in the gallbladder) which aids with digestion. It stores vitamins such as iron, vitamin K, vitamin D, and B12. When protein is broken down during digestion, a harmful substance called ammonia is produced. The liver turns ammonia into urea which is then released into the bladder for disposal.
Our liver takes excess glucose from consumed sugars and turns it into glycogen. Glycogen is stored in the liver and muscles as a quick source of energy. The liver uses glycogen to control blood sugar levels and can even manufacture sugar from a mixture of amino acids, waste products, and fat byproducts in a process called gluconeogenesis.
The modern diet puts a lot of strain on our liver, especially if we consume a lot of sugar and alcohol. An excess of processed sugar can lead to a build-up of fatty tissue inside the liver causing liver disease. To break down alcohol the liver produces more harmful substances which can cause permanent liver damage over time. Four out of five cases of liver disease occur from drinking to excess. (See stomach meridian for information about breaking addiction with the meridians.)
In a way, the liver touches every single bodily function. Therefore, it makes sense that the liver in Traditional Chinese medicine controls the Qi. Our Qi is the essence of what makes us human. More than the functions of our body, our Qi transforms our lives by inspiring us, providing motivation, and stoking our passions.
Standing Lateral Bend
The Liberator: A Meridian Concerned with Freedom
Other Archetypes: Liberator, Caretaker, Rescuer, Samaritan, Servant
When our freedom is threatened, we often have diverse reactions. Some will try to run, others to fight. If a cause is near and dear to their heart, the liberator must fight. They are extremely empathetic and often find themselves in the position of caretaker for family and friends.
The liberator knows that true success is built on the freedom to choose, the freedom to make mistakes, and the freedom to become who you were meant to be. Everyone in the world has a right to make their own choices. They deserve the opportunity to fulfill their dreams.
The liver meridian is associated with feelings of frustration, anger, and resentment. Anger can be fuel on the fire, motivating great change in our lives. However, if anger is not expressed, it can also be a destructive force. The greatest challenge of the liver meridian is in finding a healthy way to express emotions.
The liver meridian controls the movement of Qi throughout the entire body. When qi is flowing, all of the body’s systems run smoothly. Qi is our “life force” or “vital energy.” The liver keeps the movement of qi in the middle burner harmonious so that qi can go where it’s needed the most. During digestion, the liver helps stomach energy to descend and spleen energy to rise.
The liver has a close relationship to the heart meridian. It provides the heart with inspiration, creativity, life dreams, and a sense of direction. This relationship also fuels our capacity to make decisions and establish our place in the world. The heart and the liver together are the source of our inner courage and resoluteness.
The liver meridian is also responsible for storing blood. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, blood is essential energy. In women, storing blood is important for regular menstruation. Blood is also used to nourish the body’s sinews including ligaments, tendons, and cartilages, which allows us to exercise smoothly and maintain consistent energy.
When we fixate on emotion or turn an emotional state into a habit, the liver meridian suffers. Channeling our anger into creative pursuits and focusing our attention on making positive changes is a constructive way to use pent-up emotions. Anytime that we do not process our emotions, we increase our risk of developing disharmony or dis-ease in the body.
How to Beat Frustration with the Liver
A battlefield without its general is chaotic and messy. The same is true of a body with an imbalanced liver meridian. While we are sleeping the liver cleanses the body and prepares to send qi outward again the following day. In the TCM meridian clock, the liver meridian is most active between 1 am and 3 am. If you are waking up between 1 and 3 am, your liver meridian might need a little attention.
If we do not get enough sleep due to stress, overworking, or dietary problems our liver falls out of balance and we feel out of control, frustrated, and stressed. We may have a hard time making decisions and end up becoming codependent. Frustration, anger, resentment, stress, and drinking excessively can also strain your liver.
The liberator archetype manifests in different ways. Two of our clients with liver meridian personalities exhibit the variety of this caring, freedom-loving, and independent meridian.
One client feels the effects of a liver meridian balance immediately in her physical body when she isn’t feeling her best. Her adductors shake like an earthquake, causing her to laugh uncontrollably. Her work involves a lot of time with clients doing energy work and occasionally she starts to feel trapped. One of the most important things that she does for her mental health is to take her dog on a solo walk at least once a day. She gets the alone time she needs and the grounding presence of nature helps return her to herself.
Another client is a social butterfly and loves to spend time with friends, family…. even strangers! Her liver imbalances manifest in a different way. She spends all of her taking care of people and doesn’t often realize how imbalanced she is until it’s too late. This client needs to incorporate some solo alone time to help keep the liver meridian balanced.
Bring movement and balance to the liver meridian by:
- Doing Liver and Gallbladder meridian exercises
- Avoid intense or strenuous exercise- Opt for slow and calming exercise like gentle yoga
- Take a long walk in nature to ground yourself
- Avoid alcohol
- Vent your feelings
- Ho’oponopono- send love to the frustrated parts of you
- Stomach meridian helps voice things you aren’t saying- pent up feelings cause anger and frustration
People who sit a lot for their job often find they have tight QL (quadratus lumborum) muscles. We can loosen those muscles by doing an active side bend using resistance. Often stretching the QL can leave people feeling dizzy and unsettled. Work with the gallbladder meridian to balance the liver energy within the body.
Next in our meridian archetypes series are the two water meridians: the bladder and kidney. Water meridians are adaptable and deep. The kidney is one of the five major elemental meridians and controls our body’s Qi essence. Kidney energy is wholesome, fun, and silly- they are represented by the archetype of the fool. The bladder is a bit more serious. The yang to the kidney’s yin, the bladder meridian is represented by the performer archetype. Learn more about the water meridians by subscribing to our newsletter!