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Liver heat formulas that also help nightmares or dream disturbed sleep


My boyfriend lost his father in a very traumatic way about 18 months ago. Since then he has been unable to handle stress, has angry outbursts, depression, anxiety, nightmares that just won’t go away, gets easily agitated etc. After trying many resources and also finding out he has high blood pressure suddenly he was put on blood pressure medications as well which seemed to take a bad situation and make it worse. Not only did the multiple meds not lower his blood pressure his moods, libido, outbursts, etc even inability to enjoy anything in life or even plan a future anymore was just destroyed. We decided to do away with the blood pressure medications and try to use TCM instead. He tried acupuncture during which the practitioner focused on the liver. He felt fine after and then it was as if he exploded - he was agitated, angry, miserable it was actually the worst he had been and he was having a difficult time handling it. We dug deeper and came to find out that he had liver failure at age 20 and that the acupuncturist likely was right on the mark but treated as though she was dealing with a healthy liver not a damaged one. A week later he was on business trip out of the country and contracted a virus that made him very ill but may have been a blessing in disguise - his dr noted that his eyes were yellow and he needed to relax and stay well hydrated and watch what he ate and keep it light. He suddenly started to act like a new person. I work for a doctor who practices homeopathy and who is trained in chinese medicine and acupuncture and when he heard this we started to piece together that he has too much heat in his liver and that it is inflamed and causing him to be agitated, angry, emotional, etc. the more reading I did the more the descriptions fit him like a glove. We started altering his diet to cater to cooling the liver, I ordered him a formula called “free and easy wanderer” that is supposed to help cool the liver and balance the yin/yang. He is doing much better. His moods have improved, his eyes are clear, he controls his anger, he is more optimistic, he handles stress better and it has only been a week. The only part that is still not resolved is the dream disturbed sleep. I am not sure what herb/herbs may be missing to address this issue. I understand that it is more the gall bladder meridian that controls this issue. I do not want to ruin the great progress we have made but I do want to figure out what I’m missing and add it so we have the entire situation covered and he can really heal. He is drinking peppermint tea when he starts to feel agitated, we are careful about what herbs heat and cool the liver, he is following a diet that is more vegetable and fruit and less meat. He is also taking an adaptogen called Ashwangadha which has worked wonders for him overall as well. What am I missing for the dream disturbed sleep? He cannot take things such as valerian or mealtonin as they give him more vivid nightmares. Any help would be appreciated


It would be best to work closely with a practitioner who can monitor his progress overall. But if xiao yao wan is working well, I would switch that to jia wei xiao yao wan (essentially the same but clears more heat) and then for the dream disturbed sleep with try chai hu jia long gu mu li wan - or if there are strong heat signs at night, nightsweats, etc., perhaps tian wan bu xin wan or with more signs of spleen deficiency (pale tongue, fatigue, heavy body, etc.) gui pi wan.

If you are fairly certain he has healed from the particular disease he got that made him jaundice, I would just keep going. If you are not sure, I would first consider clearing that all the way - so perhaps 3 weeks of xiao chai hu tang and then all the recommendations above.

With regards to the Ashwangandha - personally I would be very cautious using herbs that are largely tonifying. I would focus on the Chinese Medicine formulas which by most accounts are far better balanced. It may look like it is helping his energy, but it may very well make both the sleep and the outbursts worse - or at best make the other formulas not be able to promote true balancing as easily.

But, as always, working closely with a fully trained Chinese Medicine practitioner who knows your case and can fine tune treatments - specifically in cases like this over 3-6 months at least - is the only really reliable way to get good results.


Ok so then one follow up question - I appreciate all the information - I plan on getting him an herbalist but the situation was so severe after the acupuncture and his illness returning from Mexico that it was literally tearing the family and him apart. He was starting the isolate himself because of how bad the outbursts and anger and agitation was and I was told not to let him go into the “rabbit hole” because getting him out would be more difficult. So we got active and fast.

He also drinks herbal teas by Yogi - the stress teas or bedtime teas when he feels like he is overly stressed and he feels they do help him maintain a cool head because we have only been on this regimen a week or so and off the blood pressure meds for about 10 days and he does have times where it still gets to be a little too much for him when something very stressful hits - (for example he was really doing well for a few days - like a new person - saw his mother and then she cried telling him how much he looks like his dad and it threw him into a small tailspin emotionally) so he was drinking the teas to try to help him get through that and stay more calm.) Should he stop using those at this point? Will they be counter productive?


They probably won’t make much of a difference, but a lot goes into creating herbal formulas; so having many additional herbs may be counterproductive or at least confusing. The ideal is to find a solid set of properly prescribed Chinese formulas that he does well on and just do those. The body does well with simple and straightforward input and gets fairly confused throwing a shopping cart full of input at it. If he wants something just to chill out - that fits with what I can guess is his overall diagnosis, I would recommend to get some suan zao, dried Chinese red dates. Any Asian grocery store will have these and you can get them online at various outlets. You take 5 or 6, rinse them, take 2 coffee mugs of water and pour it into a pot, put the dates in and boil for 10 or 15 minutes. At the end you will have 1 coffee cup of tea - so drink it and eat the dates (spit out the seeds). It is extremely calming.

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