Liver Qi Stagnation...
 
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Liver Qi Stagnation..which is worse?


Indo
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Does anyone have any thoughts on which causes Liver Qi to stagnate most..... smoking or alcohol consumption?

INDO

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coerdelion
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Alcohol, honey - which, when taken to extremes then affects the lungs, reproductive system and spleen/pancreas. The stagnation in the physical liver backs up all the way along the meridian. Why?

Fx

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Indo
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Alcohol, honey - which, when taken to extremes then affects the lungs, reproductive system and spleen/pancreas. The stagnation in the physical liver backs up all the way along the meridian. Why?

Fx

so you are saying alcohol stagnate more than smoking? i do't understand your inclusion of honey! unless it is a reference to the sweetness of alcohol and its effect on the Spleen/Stomach 🙂

INDO

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Reiki Pixie
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Is it alcohol that contributes to Liver Qi Stagnation , or the underlining emotional imbalance that drives someone to consume alcohol (especially in excess levels) ?

RP

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ava
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Is it alcohol that contributes to Liver Qi Stagnation , or the underlining emotional imbalance that drives someone to consume alcohol (especially in excess levels) ?

I'm wondering if there really is an emotional driver of alcoholism? I'd accept that there are psychological catalysts for alcohol becoming a crutch, and perhaps also for perpetuating it as a form of self-abuse. But my feeling is that beyond a certain point the addiction to alcohol is solely chemical - nutrient depletion, hormone imbalances, and the chemical addiction itself - and the reasons/emotions/psychology for starting drinking mean very little. Someone going through DTs is the same as the next person... it's a chemical detox at that point... the emotional detox has to happen once the chemical phase is over.

I don't know a lot about the emotions associated with the liver, other than anger. Hang on, I think I know where you are coming from. You're suggesting that an initial liver imbalance results in unmanageable feelings of anger et al... which an individual may choose to resolve by drinking, rock climbing, binge-eating, one night stands, hating their mother-in-law, etc.? If so, yeah, that sounds reasonable. I think I'm thinking of alcohol addiction rather than excess drinking... which I still maintain is a chemical addiction independent of the reasons/emotions which initiated it.

Ava x

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Reiki Pixie
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Hi Ava

According to TCM, the main cause of Liver Qi Stagnation is emotional. Frustration, repressed anger or resentment over a long period of time can cause the flow of Qi to be impeded and get stuck.

In women Liv Qi Stag may also come from Liver Blood Deficiency. This can result in PMT amd other menstruation problems.

Alcohol, smoking, spicy and greasy foods may worsen the problem and create additional "Heat".

But is alcohol addiction independent to the reasons/emotion which intiated that? I'm thinking about that.

Best Wishes

RP

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Reiki Pixie
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Hi Indo

I thought for a moment that Fx was calling you honey! Obviously she was referrin g to food 😉

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coerdelion
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Yes, Reiki Pixie, I was calling Indo "honey" - a sad failing that I interact far too much with Americans and tend to pick up their affectionate terms. Indo, apologies for confusion, honey

Ava - alcoholism is a complex condition arising out of severe emotional issues.

The reason the 12 step works - there are other methods, but 12 step is the most successful - is that it not only insists on abstention, but also addresses the underlying issues - shame, anger, fear, abuse ... all of that. If the detox was enough, all recovering addicts would stay sober. But it's not, so they don't.

The more alcohol put into the system, the more the wood element energy is unbalanced, giving rise to anger, judgement issues, apathy, reduction in boundaries etc, which gives rise to more shame, anger, depression and manipulation and so the cycle goes on.

Physically, the liver is affected first, then the lungs, the adrenals, pancreas and lastly the kidneys ... the brain is also affected, obviously, sometimes resulting in a brain condition called Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome.

It's astonishing, actually, that most of them live so long considering all the damage done to their physical systems.

It's interesting that many alcoholics require a balance of Fire and Water elements in their Four Pillars - a theory is that this is part of the reason they reach for "fire water".

Fx

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ava
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RP and Coerdelion

I'm fairly certain that we are saying the same things: emotional stuff is the catalyst for turning to alcohol, and perhaps perpetuating its use as a crutch... however drug dependency whether it's to alcohol, prescription medication or illegal drugs is chemical... it's a physiological state. You can't address the emotional causes until the chemical dependency is broken (i.e. abstinence, detox). Once the person is in a balanced state physiologically then you can try to resolve the cause... which is all the emotional stuff. None of us are saying anything else, are we? We all acknowledge that breaking the physical addiction to a drug will not give a lasting result, unless the emotional causes are also addressed.

Most people who try to break their alcohol addiction dependency fail, those who do are a small percentage. And the very significant majority of those who do succeed are doing the 12-step process. [I'm too lazy to reference these claims, but I promise you I'm not making them up.] So, I do fully accept and appreciate the importance of the 12-step process. But, I do sit uncomfortably with its relinquishing of responsibility... to a higher entity. who ultimately helps keep you in sobriety. I'm of the Zen school whereby it's my responsibility, and I accept my role in my own addiction. However, there is a glorious middle ground a la [url]The 12-Step Buddhist[/url]... which throws mindfulness into the mix.

I am at such a very early stage in my Chinese Medical Theory studies. I know shamefully almost nothing. I so look forward to one day being able to contribute meaningfully to these discussions. Many thanks to both of you for your valuable TCM analyses.

Ava x

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coerdelion
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Yes, Ava - both the emotional and the physical issues have to be addressed. A Lithium detox takes around 8 days ... and then they have to be weaned off the Lithium which takes another week or so.

Most rehabs start both at the same time, although detox is so rough that addicts have to be eased into the programme.

12 step has a higher than average success rate, but you're right, success is a relative term. The Priory uses 12 step as part of its rehab programme (and again has a higher than average success rate), but many others don't because of the objection to the god thing. It's unfortunate that those others focus only on the physical and psychological, because the spiritual aspect of 12 step is a vital part.

Highly successful rehab centres like the Priory have a 13-15% success rate, which is measured by abstinance after a year. There are no stats for abstinance after that. My theory is it's too depressing.

Those who stay off attend 12 step meetings daily to begin with, then weekly, then monthly ... and then continue for the rest of their lives. Even then, most of them fall off the wagon occasionally.

Addiction is a madness that's contagious, so the whole family needs help and the addict needs to avoid all former friends. Co-dependence is also an issue.

Can energy medicine help alcoholics - and other addicts? Yes, it can. As part of an integrated programme, with the addict being honest and dedicated to their own healing, which is rare. Since all addicts are incapable of taking responsibility for their own actions, the first and second step is to do so.

I have known a quite few alcoholics and wouldn't go there again. Honesty is very difficult for them, their pain is enormous ... and most would rather kill themselves slowly than give up their drug of choice. It is literally the most important thing in their lives. Those who love them suffer greatly, but become less and less real to the addict the further along the path they go.

Working with addicts is soul destroying and I admire those who keep doing it.

Fx

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ava
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Since all addicts are incapable of taking responsibility for their own actions, the first and second step is to do so.

I worry because this isn't aided by the counselling process which encourages finding an environmental source of the addiction: your mother didn't love you, your father was an alcoholic, your brother committed suicide, your wife left you. The addict is seen as a victim of his circumstances - an unfortunate person who didn't have the life skills to process what was happening to him and deal with it in a healthy way. Hence how can an addict be expected to take responsibility for what he is doing now when the counselling process validates his behaviours as being the effects of triggers in his earlier life? OK your mother didn't love you... but you are 52 now, and she died 10 years ago - do you really need to drink a whole bottle of whisky today? That approach is completely counterintuitive to an addict - who is immersed in the present moment, devoid of the past and the future.

...and most would rather kill themselves slowly than give up their drug of choice.

Addiction is a trance. Whether you are addicted to alcohol or eating or computer games... you enter a safe place whilst you are engaging in your addiction. With this in mind I would subtly reword your comment to: 'Being in the safe haven which addiction provides is preferable to any consequences that may arise from it.' Addiction is a chemically-induced mindfulness. Addicts are immersed absolutely in the moment - there is no (nasty) past or (frightening) future... just the safe loving arms of the present moment. Drugs/sex/food/alcohol are reliable - you know what you are getting every time - unlike people, unlike real life. We all want to feel safe, we all want to be loved, we all want to have some degree of control. Addictions provide that. For all the fancy words - all addiction does is provide a sense of security, something safe.

Working with addicts is soul destroying and I admire those who keep doing it.

Most of my friends are ex-junkies, recovering alcoholics and folk with mental health issues (mainly bipolar). I'm guessing from your knowledge of the field of (alcohol) addiction that you have known a lot more active alcoholics than I have - so you'll be in a better position to know what they are like. But, luckily the ex- and recovering alcoholics that I know are just as nice and as flawed as the best of us.

Ava x

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coerdelion
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I worry because this isn't aided by the counselling process which encourages finding an environmental source of the addiction: your mother didn't love you, your father was an alcoholic, your brother committed suicide, your wife left you. The addict is seen as a victim of his circumstances - an unfortunate person who didn't have the life skills to process what was happening to him and deal with it in a healthy way. Hence how can an addict be expected to take responsibility for what he is doing now when the counselling process validates his behaviours as being the effects of triggers in his earlier life? OK your mother didn't love you... but you are 52 now, and she died 10 years ago - do you really need to drink a whole bottle of whisky today? That approach is completely counterintuitive to an addict - who is immersed in the present moment, devoid of the past and the future.

Well, Ava, with alcoholics, generally it tends to run in families - alcoholism is a learned response to stress. It's a heuristic, if you like, a rule of thumb acquired early and - in mainstream psychology at least - very hard, if not impossible to shift. Addicts have to be trained to deal with stress in positive ways - exercise, stress management techniques like yoga and meditation, attending meetings for support. It's important not to simplify into snap shots.

And, of course, life in sobriety is nothing like as exciting - no highs and lows, just trundling along in the middle.

Recovery requires a total reconstruction of the character - letting go of control, manipulation, dishonesty, denial etc. It's hard for them.

Addiction is a trance. Whether you are addicted to alcohol or eating or computer games... you enter a safe place whilst you are engaging in your addiction. With this in mind I would subtly reword your comment to: 'Being in the safe haven which addiction provides is preferable to any consequences that may arise from it.' Addiction is a chemically-induced mindfulness. Addicts are immersed absolutely in the moment - there is no (nasty) past or (frightening) future... just the safe loving arms of the present moment. Drugs/sex/food/alcohol are reliable - you know what you are getting every time - unlike people, unlike real life. We all want to feel safe, we all want to be loved, we all want to have some degree of control. Addictions provide that. For all the fancy words - all addiction does is provide a sense of security, something safe.

Hmmm ... you may be right, when they're still functional - a great many addicts function well in society and only family members see the real consequences. However, by the time they get to rehab, their lives are truly out of control - lost jobs, ruined lives, weeks of unconsciousness, emaciation, broken relationships and all the consequences of fuelling the body with alcohol only.

Most of my friends are ex-junkies, recovering alcoholics and folk with mental health issues (mainly bipolar). I'm guessing from your knowledge of the field of (alcohol) addiction that you have known a lot more active alcoholics than I have - so you'll be in a better position to know what they are like. But, luckily the ex- and recovering alcoholics that I know are just as nice and as flawed as the best of us.

Oh, it's truly a jekll and hyde scenario - addicts in recovery are charming, loveable people. Unfortunately, when any substance is used to repress unacceptable emotions without expressing them in acceptable ways, they're always there under the surface ... and it's only a matter of time.

Mental health issues are a bit different, Ava - most of those are hormonal/chemical in nature. Although addicts end up with a lot of similar problems, they didn't start that way - it's the substance abuse that took them there. Although, the argument is that they wouldn't have started with the substance abuse if they didn't have the mental health issues in the first place, so the two do tend to get lumped together.

You're right in some ways, though - two people who started out with similar terrible (or not so terrible) experiences, one may end up a pillar of society and the other passed out in a gutter somewhere. It's all a matter of attitude ...

Fx

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ava
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A very interesting response, F. You are opening my eyes to how different the psychology of the alcoholic might be from folk whose primary addiction is with another substance. The ex-junkies I know are soulful, empathetic, compassionate, forgiving people. I'm struggling with my life and dramas and ups-and-downs... and they've had theirs... life is easy. There is a depth to a person who has for so long had a precarious existence, and has emerged out the other side. They know more people who have died from their addictions than have recovered. But the people I know are a specific subset who have been through a specific recovery programme, so they aren't representative of the average ex-junkie.

Thank you for your comments. I've learned a lot from you, and you've given me much to think about.

Ava x

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David- Maldon
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Some useful and interesting comments on this post. Going back to the original question as to smoking or alcohol causing most LV qi stagnation, I feel that the desire to do either is as a RESULT rather than a cause. Smoking is one way of deep breathing that moves stagnant qi in the chest in the same way sighing does; alcohol being very Yang dispurses stagnation but adds heat. Someone who already has lots of anger causing LVqi stagnation that adds alcohol to the mix may turn stagnation into LV yang rising, or even Lv Fire, hence the red faces and violence outside many night clubs! "Are you looking at my pint?" etc.

Note that some folk have the occasional glass of wine just to relax- to some this a way of releasing internal tension caused by the frustrations of the day, in one sense moving LV qi stagnation. People with internal heat may find that just a little wine is enough to cause heat to rise to the face, or to cause headaches (rising Yang).

In terms of addiction it could be that those folk that respond to severe internal stagnation find some way to release it that ends up in destructive patterns. As alcohol shifts the stagnation without resolving the cause of the Anger ( a specific term in TCM that includes frustration, resentment, disappointment and so on) there may be a vicious circle in that short term release from stagnation due to anger in itself creates frustration, as the source of the feeling has not been addressed, leading to greater consumption and eventually addiction. This may be due in part to some or other deep seated disturbance of the Shen creating cravings for happiness that go unresolved, thus leading to the tension or anger that affects the Liver.

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Reiki Pixie
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Hi DM

That's a good post! I have to admit as someone with empty Heat, I can feel alcohol generating more Heat. Likely I'm only an occasional once in a blue moon drinker, or was, I actually I haven't drunk anything for several months. I can't help seeing it as an evil drug for all the destruction and ill health that comes for it. But of course that isn't the fault of alcohol but emotional/energetic imbalances within the user.

But you have a good point about how people use alcohol as a relaxer and release tension. But it is so culturally acceptable to drink a glass or two of wine each night, that to mention the fact is like commiting blasmphemy (sp?), heavens forbide!! It's a shame that happiness can be bottled and drunk instead. I have a client who is Russian who thinks we are a nation of alcoholics, and Russians are meant to have a reputation of being hard drinkers.

Best Wishes

RP

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ava
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Going back to the original question as to smoking or alcohol causing most LV qi stagnation...

David that was a very interesting post. I appreciate what you have to say - I've read some good posts by you. It's a shame you aren't able to post here more often ;).

Ava x

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chakraman
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my brother drinks every night. he does it to relax of course because, in my opinion, at 42 his body has lost a level of intelligence it once had and cannot chill naturally by itself. he has a lifetime of poor diet, moderate social drug use, vaccinations, mercury fillings, 24/7 365/42 being immersed in a soup of personal and households chemicals etc which have contributed to middle age spread, allergies and general stress. that is his physical inheritance as he never knew any different.

he has tried losing weight and getting fit (still cycles, works and is active) but the attempt did not make him anymore able to relax naturally. he inherited this state and simply does not know how to overcome it. i'm not saying he's not responsible but unless a person is able to return their body to a decent level of physical intelligence free from a mouth full of mercury with a digestive system that is solid and intact in a healthy toxic free enviroment, it would be hard to break this cycle regardless of social or personal issues.

i wonder how many programmes go the whole hog and address diet, fillings, toxic enviroment, general health etc cos without that it's no wonder they return...i think i would. tai chi would be great for alcoholics or folk coming off anything. it would be strange with a mouth full of mercury, inherited middle age spread and a toxic enviroment if they didn't need a drink. they are unaware of these triggers of physical and hence emotional and mental stress.

they never completely heal physically because they and the people around them don't know how and so fall back, probably against there wishes.

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ava
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i wonder how many programmes go the whole hog and address diet, fillings, toxic enviroment, general health etc cos without that it's no wonder they return...i think would.

I've read your post in its entirety, and fully hear your message. I do however wish to just respond to the above bit. There are many people on HP who advocate addressing diet and lifestyle, irrespective of presenting condition. I do that, and I've seen posts by kvdp, Caroline, ReikiPixie (and others) who do the same. So, here at least the message is to primarily support an individual's general health and wellbeing.

I've been in institutional care - not for drugs/alcohol - and not in this country. I'm hoping that it's a valid comparison though. In my experience there is a message of self-management, self-respect, self-esteem, self-sufficiency... whereby you are given small bits of guidance on supporting yourself when you come out. It's simple stuff on diet, and exercise, and stress management, and adequate sleep, and getting support. OK fillings aren't covered, and neither is any of the above gone into in any real depth. However it's there. At least you are given a chat about the food pyramid and to keep your sugars and fats low, and to get daily exercise, and not drink/smoke/drugs, and to make a list of crisis numbers, and find meaningful work.

I'm not at all debating your point - because I agree with it. But I do feel that programmes don't just withdraw you from your chemical-of-choice and let you go home after you've been clean for x amount of time. It's not like that in other institutions (mental health, in my case) - so I would be very disappointed to learn that drug/alcohol rehab centres are different.

Ava x

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chakraman
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thanks for bringing some balance to a/my point ava...the answers or correct questions are between us for sure... 🙂

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Indo
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PHEW! Just got back form hols..its gonna take some time to get through this thread in depth, but from what i can see there is lots of talk of 'addiction' which seems strange due to the original question, but very interesting.

Davids post was exactly what i was looking for and i think that he has added a clear perspective on the question.

In my experience a patient who has an underlying weakness of the lungs will eventually suffer from stagnation of Liver Qi. A long term smoker may over time deplete Kidney Yin which may result in Liver Qi Stagnation as it fails to support the liver energies.

As smoking depletes Qi in general there will be an overall deficiency which may manefest or compound an underlying weakness.

Both generate heat, Alcohol being damp and smoking being dry, dampness is always harder to dispell and can lead to further heat. Dry heat will always injure Yin (fluids) resulting in poor mental function due to persistant mild dehydration.

I always like to think of these two like a flower....too much sun (smoking - dry heat) will eventually dry the soil and the flower will wither....too much alkyline (alcohol - very acidic) will starve the flower of nourishment and cease growing.

As to my opinion on the question IMO i would consider smoking to cause Liver Qi to stagnate more as alcohol consumption can be a rare drink with a meal, celebration of weekly pub visit , where as smoking is a constant repetative drain to the energetic system depleting the very thing we need for health.....air and water.

Heavy drinking is another story!

A person who drinks heavily will suffer from anger, frustration etc which is evident, but say a person who has suffered passive smoking from parents as child will not equate their anger, frustration etc to smoking.

Usually via a weakness of Kidney Qi or Kidney Yin often showing as headaches ( rising heat or Yin Xu )

😉

Although........ you also find that a smoker will drink to put out the fire of the smoking! a natural balance ...but to what end!

If there is heat from emotion imbalance (which generates heat ) alcohol will cool the heat, but result in added heat and more drinking. This is a natural reaction of the body, the effect from alcohol is a secondary release, the heat from the acohol will rise to harrass the mind and mental state which a drinker will need to cool even more!

The heat from smoking generally creates heat in the lungs, as we consume cool foods and drinks throughout the day this heat is rarely percieved by the smoker untill a sore throat, dry nose appears or dry cough.

Heat in the liver will effect the stomach, lungs and mental state as heat rises through the body. If this heat travels through to the channels it will also cause stiffening of the neck and shoulders via the gallbladder channel.

I suppose i should have titled the thread ' which has a worse effect on the energy system...smoking or drinking?' but thats another thread eh?

INDO

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dogwoman
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I believe alcohol would be the worst culprit. The herb Milk Thistle promotes liver regeneration as well as good function. This is one of the few herbs which has actually been proven via modern research. Doctors who are up to date do prescribe this herb for a number of liver problems.

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David- Maldon
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Hi Again

Some interesting points here-
Quote-
"In my experience a patient who has an underlying weakness of the lungs will eventually suffer from stagnation of Liver Qi. A long term smoker may over time deplete Kidney Yin which may result in Liver Qi Stagnation as it fails to support the liver energies."

I agree that smoking depletes Yin- my understanding is that Lung Yin will be the first casualty, resulting in dry cough, thick expectoration and so on, and that long term Yin Xu may well affect the Kidneys, possibly leading to Kidney Yin Xu but more likely depleting Kidney essence (or Jing). The knock on effect of this may well include some Liver Yin Xu (as Kidney Yin nourishes the Yin of the whole body). However, I might postulate that LV Yin Xu might be evidenced by a relative rise in Lv Yang, possibly with resulting Hypertension or headaches/tinnitus, all possible with long term smoking damage. Whether or not this is a CAUSE of LV qi stagnation, I'm not so sure. Certainly, long term smokers might well display signs of stagnation, but as a result of smoking? I'm not so sure. Possibly. More likely might be stagnation of Lung Qi- smoking suppresses Lung activity, which may be why people that quit suddenly find that previously suppressed mucus production suddenly increases. However, following the supposition that smoking CAUSES stagnation, one would expect resolution of that stagnation with quitting smoking. Often what seems to happen though, is the desire for tension release is transmitted onto another kind of behavior-pen sucking, mints, food etc in a desire to release the stagnation that is no longer resolved by the deep exhalation that smokers experience.

In terms of treatment, I've noticed that Chinese medics often treat the most obvious first. By and large, treatment for smoking tends to nourish Lung Yin, resolve Phlegm and Move Stagnation using the Four Gates, LU 7 and ST 40, possibly using an additional Ear protocol or ear seeds to maintain progress between treatments.

Phew, how I do go on!

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Indo
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Thanks again David for adding some clarity 😉
As previously mentioned by another member it would be good if you could post more often as the Oriental Medicine section is lacking in proffesional additions.

INDO

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