Skip to content

Chinese medical terminology explained

Hi John,
What do the terms “liver depression qi stagnation” and “depressive heat” mean?
-Berkeley Dad

Dear Berkeley Dad,
The majority of students do not fully understand these terms when they graduate from a four year masters degree program, so my explanation may not help much.

Liver depression qi stagnation:
The liver energetic system in TCM is responsible for the free interrupted flow of energy through the the body (as well as several other dynamics).  This energy runs in particular patterns.  In pathological conditions the energy will counterflow or flow in inappropriate patterns.

When the liver becomes depressed the qi does not flow along the proper course or direction and becomes stagnant.  when it becomes stagnant there is not proper flow of qi and blood to the other organs, which then become imbalanced and do not function properly.

The treatment principle is to “course the liver and rectify the qi”.  To make it course properly as a verb, to run on the proper course as a noun, and to be rectified or set right.

Depressive Heat:
Depressive heat will arise from stagnation.  In this case stagnant liver qi and phlegm pathogens.  This creates an inflammatory condition that can be found biomedically but is usually not looked for.  For example (and not related to your case)  autoimmune conditions seem to suddenly spring from nowhere in bio medicine.  We can track them years before they blow into full symptomatic problems by seeing latent depressive heat.

For example: Children, particularly girls, that have early childhoods with abuse or oppressive problems develop autoimmune disorders at 7-10 times the rate of those that have less stressful childhood experience. These disorders often manifest at 25-40 years of age.  In Chinese Medicine we clearly observe the link between these events in childhood and adulthood.  Biomedicine rarely does recognize the pattern until it blows up.

In your case, the depressive heat is continuing to flare up and cook the lungs leading to lung qi and yin problems.

I hope this abbreviated explanation helped. I could teach a course on these terms!

– Dr. John Nieters, L.Ac. DAOM, FABORM

This article was posted in Ask the Acupuncturist. Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments with the RSS feed for this post. Both comments and trackbacks are closed.
5108146900 Directions Contact/Schedule