Liver 14 – Gate of Hope
In Chinese Medicine the Liver is associated with vision – indeed, a deep pathway from the organ travels up the back of the throat to the eyes. However, this connection is not mealy physical. The Liver controls vision in a broader sense too. It gives us our ability to see the way ahead clearly and chart the path we want to take in life. It helps us to find our passion and our purpose and work out what to do with our ‘wild and precious life’. 1 Amongst the organs of the body the Liver is ‘The General’ in charge of planning and leading, justice and judgement.
The Liver is also the only organ whose energy goes out into the world. In all the other organs the energy largely travels within the body. It is this outward, assertive characteristic of Liver energy that can ultimately become a stumbling block. Though we may begin projects, relationships and journeys with enthusiasm and purpose, if we are too attached to our vision of how they will go it is likely not long before we are disappointed and stressed.
This blocking of our plans leads to stagnation of Liver Qi that can result in a myriad of clinical conditions including, depression, PMS, IBS, indigestion, headaches and migraines, high blood pressure, strokes and heart disease.
Emotionally, stagnation of Liver Qi leads to anger and frustration – emotions that unfortunately tend to make us more and more stuck.
So what is the antidote to this very human condition?
Hope is what makes us get up and try again. Hope is what clears out the cobwebs and the stagnation and gets us on our feet again.
“Being a winner isn’t about how hard you can hit, it’s about how many times you can get knocked down and still get back up again…” Rocky V
Spring, the season of the Liver is infused with hope. Each and every year we watch nature gradually come back to life through tiny shoots and ripe buds that open out into terrifyingly delicate blossom and new leaves.
Hope indeed springs eternal. 2
And this is the nature of this point. It helps to promote the smooth flow of Liver Qi as it leaves the channel and travels into the organ, moving onwards to the eyes. It helps us to reflect, and to see things a fresh, invigorated and recharged. The new growth that Hope brings is more flexible than our old and tired ideas and they helps us to regain direction and take action with purpose and strength.
Another branch from the Liver travels across to intersect with the Lungs, so freeing this connection through Liver 14 can also help us to receive inspiration from the Heavenly Qi accessed by the Lungs.
Other Clinical Uses
Liver 14 is the last point on the Liver channel and is therefore the Exit point, it is also the Alarm point for the Liver, so extreme tenderness here can indicate that the organ needs attention. Deep pathways from the Stomach and Spleen connect to the Liver channel at Liver 14, which explains a lot of its clinical uses.
Stagnation of Liver Qi can effect many physical areas, but it often gets stuck in the chest. This can lead to symptoms such as constant sighing, tightness, masses or stabbing pain in the chest or ribs, gall stones, problems of the breast and lactation, mastitis, cough, shortness of breath and premenstrual breast tenderness. Due to its location below the chest this point could be used for any of these conditions. Its position also makes it a good point for problems of the liver organ such as hepatitis. As stated earlier this point is also intimately linked to the Stomach and Spleen the organs of Earth. Stagnant Liver Qi can easily build up and invade these organs causing symptoms such as indigestion, acid reflux, nausea, pain, distension and excessive wind. In these situations you are also likely to see worry and over thinking, the emotions of Earth. This point is often used for conditions such as these.
Imagine a line that runs down from the nipple to just inside the hip bone. Liver 14 is on this line at the point where it falls into the dip of the 6th intercostal space. To find the 6th intercostal space imagine another line from the belly button to the point where the ribs meet in the middle. Mentally dived this line in half. Then dived the top section in half again. This position ¾ of the way up from the belly button is the rough level of the 6th intercostal space. Feel across to the line of the nipple to find the point. On women it is usually just under the bra.
Image from: natural-health-zone.com
1 The Summers Day – Mary Oliver
2 An Essay on Man – Alexander Pope