Liver and Stomach: What’s the Connection?

In Traditional Chinese medicine, the Five Element Consciousness Framework is a system of understanding the body and its workings. Each of the five organ systems is associated with a specific group of correspondences or energetic frequencies that relate to the body, mind, and spirit. As it is based on the many interconnections that exist within the body and Nature, this dynamic framework illustrates how the body operates as an integrated whole.

The Stomach is the most important organ in the material world, because it takes in and stores food. When it comes to processing food, however, many people focus on the Spleen-Stomach organ system. The most important organ system behind the digestive process is actually the Liver-Gallbladder. There are many physical conditions associated with the relationship between the Liver and the Stomach, like acid reflux, high cholesterol, ulcers, and more. That’s why its essential to understand the role the Liver-Gallbladder plays in healthy metabolism function.

To create maximum energy or Qi for the entire digestive system to work properly, we have to look beyond the physical and understand the energetic functions of the Liver and Gallbladder. These organs function independent of each other, but also share a lifelong partnership. As a team, they must work cooperatively to support the multiple functions of the Spleen-Stomach organ system.

For excellent metabolism function, Gallbladder function must be strong. Strong Gallbladder function relies on strong Liver function. Good cooperation is what makes the body function properly.

So, what is the requirement for absorbing and digesting more of the material our body chooses to accept? Flow. Everything in the body must flow smoothly. Stomach Qi must flow, Liver Qi must flow, Kidney Qi must also flow. This action allows Kidney Qi to follow Natural Law and express itself fully. As soon as things start to slow down, the entire system starts to become sluggish. That’s when health issues—like excess weight, bloating, anemia, and more—appear at the physical level. The issue appears first at the energetic, or Qi, level, and then progresses to the physical level.

When metabolism function is operating at its highest level, the spirit of each organ expresses its best attributes. The Liver will show its amazing flexibility—in the body, emotions, and the way life unfolds; the Kidney will smoothly flow, just as water flows; and the Stomach will nurture the body and digest everything it takes in—food, emotions, and information.

The Liver is responsible to ensure that Blood and Qi flow easily and smoothly throughout the body’s structures. While the Spleen’s job is to manage the quality and quantity of your Blood, the Liver must ensure Blood flows smoothly inside the body and emotions remain balanced. If the Liver cannot perform these duties properly, other health issues will likely arise, such as high blood pressure, stroke, tumors, and more.

Cold, stagnation, and lack of physical and emotional flexibility are three main factors that impact the Liver-Gallbladder. The Liver is also greatly impacted by stress. The stressors of a modern lifestyle almost guarantee some level of a Liver function disorder. Almost everyone today is dealing with stress, anger, frustration, and/or irritability. Because emotions and thoughts are also Qi, suppressing them can directly harm the Liver’s ability to operate at its potential.

Looking at health from this angle allows patients to see their bodies from a multidimensional perspective. By repairing the Liver-Stomach relationship with acupuncture and herbal treatments, and allowing emotions to freely flow, many physical issues—even those long-held conditions—often begin to resolve themselves.

The basic principle of Chinese medicine is to encourage the body’s wisdom to help itself heal. The goal is to help the body return to a state of pure balance. At the spiritual level, the body is born with this wisdom. The challenge for TCM practitioners is to help the patient activate it. For complete healing, they must look at the interrelated factors of body, mind, and spirit.