An excerpt from The Essence of Liu-Feng-Wu's Gynecology
III. Eight methods for treating the liver in commonly seen gynecological diseases
In terms of the treatment principles pertaining to the liver, "The Treatise on Visceral Qi Methods & Times" in the Su Wen (Simple Questions) says, "If the liver is tense, eating sweets can relax tension." [It is also said:]
"The liver desires scattering, and eating acrid scatters tension. Use acrid to supplement and sour to drain."
This clearly explains that, since the liver is the blood viscus, blood dryness leads to bitterness [i.e., suffering] and tension. Its nature likes to orderly reach. Therefore, it desires scattering. Hence scattering is supplementing, while constraining is draining. In clinical practice it is said, "There is no method to supplement the liver." This is a basic rule formulated in accordance with the physiological characteristics of the liver. However, when dealing with the clinical speciality of gynecology, the contents [i.e., the treatment principles pertaining to the liver] are much richer.
In terms of the commonly seen diseases in the gynecology department and the treatment of the majority of such diseases, one can sum up eight methods for treating the liver. [These are] soothing the liver and regulating the qi, clearing the liver and discharging fire, clearing heat and levelling [or calming] the liver, repressing the liver and subduing yang, settling the liver and extinguishing wind, nourishing the blood and emolliating the liver, transforming yin and relaxing the liver, and warming the liver and warming the channels [or menses]. These are respectively described as follows:
1. Soothing the liver & regulating the qi (including soothing the liver & coursing the liver)
This is a method for coursing and freeing the flow and soothing and rectifying liver qi depression and binding. It makes the liver qi orderly reach so as to regulate and rectify the qi mechanism of the entire body. It is mainly used to treat liver qi disease. Soothing the liver and coursing the liver are somewhat similar but also somewhat different. Soothing the liver mainly refers to soothing and rectifying orderly reaching up and down. It stresses the upbearing and downbearing of the qi mechanism. Coursing the liver means coursing and freeing the flow and horizontally scattering. It stresses the opening and closing of the qi mechanism and the coursing and mounting of the qi and blood of the channels and network vessels. To soothe the liver, one commonly uses Radix Bupleuri (Chai Hu), Herba Seu Flos Schizonepetae Tenuifoliae (Jing Jie Sui), and Rhizoma Cyperi Rotundi (Xiang Fu). To course the liver, one commonly uses Pericarpium Citri Reticulatae Viride (Qing Pi), Tuber Curcumae (Yu Jin), Fructus Citri Aurantii (Zhi Ke), Fructus Amomi (Sha Ren), Radix Auklandiae Lappae (Mu Xiang), Fructus Trichosanthis Kirlowii (Gua Lou), and even Squama Manitis Pentadactylis (Shan Jia), Semen Vaccariae Segetalis (Wang Bu Liu Xing), and Herba Rhapontici Seu Echinposis (Lou Lu). Sometimes these are used together. The commonly used formulas [alternate reading: the formulas I commonly use] are Xiao Yao San (Rambling Powder) and De Sheng Dan (Obtaining Birth Elixir).
8. Warming the liver & warming the channels [and/or menses]
This is a method for treating liver cold blood stagnation and channels and vessels [or menstrual vessels] which have suffered blockage. It mainly uses warming the channels, scattering cold, and warming the liver medicinals such as Fructus Evodiae Rutecarpae (Wu Zhu Yu), Fructus Foeniculi Vulgaris (Xiao Hui Xiang), Semen Litchi Chinensis (Li Zhi He), and Semen Citri Reticulatae (Ju He). Sometimes these are combined with blood-quickening, stasis-transforming, network vessel-freeing the flow medicinals, such as Flos Carthami Tinctorii (Hong Hua), Semen Pruni Persicae (Tao Ren), Rhizoma Sparganii (San Leng), Herba Leonuri Heterophylli (Yi Mu Cao), and Radix Achyranthis Bidentatae (Niu Xi). Commonly used formulas [alternate reading: the formulas I commonly use] include Nuan Gong Ding Tong Tang (Warm the Uterus & Stabilize Pain Decoction) and Ju He Wan (Orange Seed Pills).
Based on practical experience, the liver is one of the most important organs in the human body. The sayings that, "The kidneys are the former heaven root" and "The spleen is the latter heaven root," explain that the spleen and kidneys are the origin of the material basis of organic function. However, in terms of the maintenance and regulation and disciplining of this function and in terms of the course of birth, aging, disease, and death, it is the liver viscus which is the pivot of regulation and discipline which guarantees the regulation and harmony of qi and blood of the body and the balance of yin and yang. For this reason, it is essential that one not only recognize the harmful aspect that, "The liver is the thief of the five viscera and six bowels," but also the beneficial aspect that it is [the liver] which is able to engender and nourish the five viscera and six bowels. The saying that, "The liver is the thief of the five viscera and six bowels," only clarifies the general significance of the liver's harmful [relationship] to the human body, resulting in disease. Nevertheless, because so many of the commonly seen diseases in gynecology are identified as liver diseases, it is good to sum up a series of principles for treating the liver. Through incessant practice and understanding, more practice and more understanding, step-by-step upon this basis, theory may be elevated.