Loving Your Liver

“When the liver is harmonious, there is never stress or tension. People with vital livers are calm; they also have unerring judgment and can be naturally effective as leaders and decision-makers.

One of the first signs of liver disharmony is emotional difficulty related to anger : impatience, frustration, resentment, violence, belligerence, rudeness, edginess, arrogance, stubbornness, aggression, and an impulsive and/or explosive personality. When these emotions are repressed without an opportunity for transformation, they cause depression. Mood swings as well as emotional excesses are liver-related.”

–       Paul Pitchford (Healing with Whole Foods)

Your liver is an incredible organ, and one of your body’s largest (second only to your skin, which is larger and heavier). It plays a primordial role in your digestion, energy levels, immunity and your emotional stability. Spring is the ideal time to support your liver, according to Chinese Medicine. It’s an especially important focus for those of the pitta constitution or those with pitta imbalances.

The Liver and Gallbladder are primarily linked to the third (navel) chakra, or your sense of direction, self-esteem, energy and purpose.
The Liver and Gallbladder are primarily linked to the third (navel) chakra, or your sense of direction, self-esteem, energy and purpose.

The basic functions of the liver are: :

  • filtering out the harmful substances from what you consume (eat, drink, breathe, etc);
  • aiding digestion and the breaking down of fat;
  • defending you against infections;
  • supporting the regulation of hormones;
  • regulating your body’s energy, storing vitamins, nutrients and iron;
  • helping to maintain a balanced state of mind.

 

Signs Your Liver Needs a Boost

Possible signs of a weak liver include:

  • Skin conditions, such as eczema, acne, hives, itching, rashes, boils, hemorrhoids, dark pigmentation (showing the impurities in the blood)
  • Emotional instability related to anger: impatience, frustration, arrogance, aggression, impulsiveness, mood swings, poor judgment, resentment, depression.
  • Poor digestion of fats
  • Weak immune systems or frequent infections
  • Anemia or blood disorders
  • Deep vertical line(s) (or sometimes acne) between the eyebrows
  • Problems with the eyes, including glaucoma, cataracts, dryness or yellowing of the whites of the eyes
  • Hormonal imbalance (in either men and women), including menstrual difficulties
  • Allergies
  • Headaches (especially migraines)
  • Weight loss / gain / malnourishment / mineral deficiency
  • Intolerance to heat / summer months (overactive liver) or cold in winter (congestion in liver)
  • Pain in the lower back 
The liver is associated with the eyes.
The liver is associated with the eyes.

Healing The Liver

There are many foods, herbs and lifestyle habits that can help with detoxification of the liver. Here are some of the basics:

  • Meditation, yoga & breathing exercises
  • Diet: Incorporate more bitter greens, as well as liver-healing vegetables such as leeks, daikon, zucchini, carrots, beets, asparagus, lettuce and celery. Favour pureed and lightly steamed foods.
  • Herbs/teas: rosemary, thyme, dandelion, milk thistle, hibiscus, chamomile, mint, turmeric, brahmi.
The bitter taste -- such as dandelion greens sauteed in ghee and spices -- is a delicious way to heal the liver, especially in the springtime.
The bitter taste — such as dandelion greens sauteed in ghee and spices — is a delicious way to heal the liver, especially in the springtime.
  • Take 1-2 teaspoons triphala powder before bed
  • Reduce your exposure to chemical pollutants and your intake of animal fats and alcohol
  • Find healthy ways to understand and manage inner anger
  • Get more sleep
  • Make sure your bowel movements are regular
  • Acupuncture
  • Avoid overeating or eating late at night
  • Incorporate the ayurvedic dish kicharee (healing to all organs of the body) a few times a week in your diet
  • Seasonal panchakarma (ayurvedic programme for detoxification and rejuvenation)

 

The best approach when starting any major healing program or when making dietary changes is to seek advice from an experienced health practitioner (naturopath, ayurvedic practitioner, acupuncturist, etc). This is especially important if you have health complications, are pregnant, nursing or elderly.

 

References:

Healing with Whole Foods, Paul Pitchford
The Body Ecology Diet, Donna Gates.
Cellular Awakening, Barbara Wren
The Book of Pitta Dosha – the Book of Taste

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