Today we’ll talk all about the health of our liver, balancing out the energy; we’ll go through some of the foods and exercise recommended for liver health at the end. But to begin, we need to first understand two main things 1. the wood element which is the energy associated with the liver, and 2. we’ll also learn about anger and how to release anger, as this is the emotion associated with this body organ.

The liver is part of our body’s natural detoxification system, which helps us filter out toxins. It is responsible for more than 500 vital functions in our body, so it is important to take care of it. It is connected to yin energy, and acts as an architect or a chief general, strategizing and initiating the equitable distribution of resources and the smooth operation of being.

The liver is responsible for the smooth flow of qi or life force energy in the body, ensuring balanced mental and emotional states. The healthy and balanced liver processes nutrients, removes chemicals and synthesizes hormones. We all face conflict and hardships at times in our lives, and a balanced liver energy helps us handle these and navigate through these in productive ways. It also helps us process information from our interactions, sets healthy boundaries, and easily integrates new information.

An imbalanced energy in the liver can often be causes by prolonged states of repressed or unresolved anger, or too much worry and stress. Anger is not a bad emotion and we all feel this, but it is important to know how to channel it healthily so that it doesn’t sit stagnant within us; and at the end of the article we’ll go through some ways to do that.

Wood rules the liver and gallbladder in traditional Chinese medicine

In Chinese five elements theory, the wood element governs the liver organ-meridian system and that of its partner organ the gallbladder. In traditional Chinese medicine the liver is involved in digestion and detoxification, acts as the storehouse for the blood, and ensures that both blood and qi (life force energy) are able to flow smoothly around the body.

If the liver organ-meridian system is out of balance, the liver qi may become stagnant or sluggish. So let’s understand the wood element more deeply. 

The Five Element/Phase Theory

The Taoist theory of Wu Xing, more aptly translated as the five phases, “describes the cycle of transformation inherent to all carbon-based life … In every organic process, in every being with a soul, the round of the seasons and the cyclic intermingling of the basic Elements – Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal – metaphorically and practically describe the processes of change in life on our planet.”

Each element or phase embodies an innate essential energy, all of which together orchestrate to organize the flow and form of life; and there are patterns common to all life forms that are “recapitulated at every level of organization–from the rotation of the planets to the behaviour of our internal organs.” Humans, as a part of the whole, are a reflection and microcosmic embodiment of our known universe, containing all five phases within us. As such, our health is intimately linked to the internal ratio, cadence, and coordination of the five phases on an ephemeral and perennial basis. Each of the five phases has its own lengthy list of macro and micro-correspondences, such as: seasons, directions, climates, colours, emotions, sounds, tastes, organ systems, bodily tissues, spirits, and virtues, to name a few.

The Wood Phase

As we transition out of winter, the season of water, and into spring, life is renewed and revitalized by the light-heartedness and determination of wood. The wood phase is essentially a smooth process of becoming.

Like the way the buds show their shy cheerful faces, and all the flowers bloom; by the way the first green sprouts burst above the soil’s tender grasp, wood is the energy of birth, vitality, arousal, renewal, creativity, imagination, passion, growth, determination, and hope. Wood is that which propels all lifeforms into the active manifestation of their authentic beautiful nature and destiny.

The Wood Within Us

The wood element can give tremendous perseverance, determination, clear vision, goals and plans, lazer eye focus, and amazing hard working and organizational skills. It can give us amazing life force energy, and we can truly do anything. In astrology, I often see a lot of wood elements in people who have Mars, Saturn or Uranus aspects; and while they can look very youthful, be passionate and move mountains with their energy, they also need to know how to channel that energy appropriately and healthily for them – and I always, always, say: you need to do some cardio and sweat it out! Anger release is key; as well as knowing how to relax, rest, and not just work hard. Don’t take life too seriously, don’t stress too much.

Wood correlates with the liver and its paired organ, the gallbladder. 

The liver is associated with yin, and the gallbladder with yang. What this means is that the liver is akin to an architect or a chief general, strategizing and initiating the equitable distribution of resources and the smooth operation of being, while the gallbladder carries the liver’s plan into action via wise decision-making. Clear vision, in every sense of the word, is at the core of the liver’s mission, while choice is central to the gallbladder. 

“In health, the emotion of Wood expresses as an easy unforced clarity of direction and action, a vitality of imagination and certainty of vision. Out of balance, this can manifest as outright irritability and aggression. It can also show up as timidity and an inability to speak up for one’s own individual needs or to make a clear decision about small details or large life plans.”

In the body, wood mediates the storage, detoxification and circulation of blood, flexibility and strength of connective tissue, vitality of the eyes, healthy digestion of fats, and balance and coordination. It also informs our dreams and imagination, decision-making capacity, and hopeful initiative.

The hun, or ethereal soul, is the spirit of wood. The hun endows us with the capacity to imagine and intuit, to heal repressed emotions and glimpse our destiny through dreams, to plan and orient with courage and clarity, to graciously relate to others and skillfully express our desires. In other words, it is about flexibility, intuition, emotional awareness and nurturing, managing frustration and anger, nourishing self care and relaxation, and walking with a patience and kindness of rhythm. 

Flexibility, balance, and gentleness are essential in maintaining a healthy dynamic with the energy of wood. If not gracefully kept in check, the strong determination and powerful passion of wood can easily become impulsiveness, frustration, recklessness, rigidity or paranoia. And on the other hand, when the wood energy is under-nourished, it can wither into aimlessness, anxiety, timidity, and ambiguity of self and purpose.

Whenever possible, the wisdom of wood counsels flow rather than force, poetry rather than rant, patience rather than impusivity, sensual relaxation rather than out of control passions, and benevolent vision rather than angry attacks.

Lifestyle Tips for Wood Balance and Liver Health

Keep your qi going

When it comes to maintaining your health and wellbeing, your primary goal is to look after your liver and keep its qi moving, so incorporate vigorous forms of exercise like running, boxing or whatever else you like; but this is about a sweat it our cardio, so you need some intensity a few times a week.

Walks in the park and in nature are really important also, but when that energy rises up, you need to channel it, because otherwise anger or frustration will rise also. Even if you begin doing jumping jacks at home, that’s fine, just keep it moving. If you feel frustrated or irritated, just go to the gym. 

Release anger

To regain a natural state of health and liver balance, an emotional cleanse and anger management and release are crucial. Anger can feel really uncomfortable to feel, but we all need to know how to manage it healthily, and never suppress it or keep its underlying issues unresolved, because it will just explode or manifest physically somehow.

Anger is not a “bad” emotion, it has its own purpose and message for us, so we need to understand it: what is beneath it? Has someone crossed our boundaried, do we feel unheard, are we just being triggered by something unhealed from our past, who are we even angry at, why?

Anger is like fire – and we can use this fire as a motivator or to channel it towards something of benefit such as going to the gym or finishing up that project or cleaning the house! So learn how to work with the fire energy – fire is passion, it is life, we can cook meals and get cuddly by the hearth of our house; so use it wisely, don’t burn the house.

Some suggestions for releasing anger are:

  • Physical exercise, sweat it out intense cardio such as running, stairclimbing, or kickboxing
  • Shouting in a safe environment, without being of harm or be heard by anyone; for example, scream at a pillow, in a closed room alone at home or in a forest
  • Crying. Crying is an amazing release and helps soothe us. Crying activates the parasympathetic nervous system and restores the body to a state of balance
  • Punching a pillow in the privacy of your room when no one can hear nor see you, which will allow you to express the frustration without being of harm or potential wounding to you nor anyone else around you


There’s no single food that supports liver health, but a balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans and fatty fish, can be beautifully supportive and soothing for your liver health. Eat plenty of green-coloured foods (especially dark green leafy vegetables) and sour flavours like lemon juice as these are traditionally considered good for the liver in TCM. At the same time, avoid alcohol, coffee and sugar. Peppermint tea is amazing, and it’s traditionally used in TCM to soothe the liver and aid its natural detoxification processes.

Simple self massage

The acupuncture point related to the liver is found on our foot between the first (big toe) and second toes. Massaging it promotes calmness from anger and prevents feelings of rage, which help calm the liver. This point releases frustration from the day, eases anger and eases resentment. 

La dolce vita

Don’t take life too seriously. Rest deeply. Make it a priority to balance your hard working nature with regular times of rest and relaxation. Go to a spa, go to the sauna, set clear boundaries with work, go for walks, indulge in what give your pleasure, stay light-hearted, get playful, and learn the art of doing nothing and still feeling great. In particular, it is absolutely important for you to get plenty of sleep, even if your energetic and creative mind will tell you otherwise. Yes, you can do a lot without much sleep, but still – get plenty of sleep, and just enjoy your time in bed!  

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