It’s spring and today is about the 3rd time I’ve heard the season being associated with the liver: our largest organ that functions to detoxify the body, break down fats and proteins, produce hormones and make bile for digestion. Geha – our passionate leader and acupuncturist – has told me more than once that, according to principles of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), spring is “liver time” and, therefore, a really great time for a liver cleanse. If your liver is congested and in need of cleansing, this might explain any tendencies towards anger, irritation, intolerance, frustration and/or resentment since, in TCM, the liver is associated with these fiery feelings. What with spring being “liver time”, a congested liver will be all the more likely to rear its angry head during the season. This all helps to explain my explosiveness of late – I lament for my son who has remained devoted to his “mommy” despite how erratic I’ve been! With no desire to proceed down the path of rage-inducing liver fire, I am currently making moves to decongest and cleanse my liver!
Symptoms that can point to liver congestion and the need for a cleanse are: lots of heat (excessive sweating, night sweats, being hot all the time), pain in the right shoulder-blade, gas, bloating, difficulty sleeping, headaches, joint pain, menstrual difficulties, digestive problems – especially problems digesting fats and proteins and constipation. There are many ways to cleanse and detoxify the body. Consider the following as a mild and easy cleanse that will help to stimulate digestion as well as the functions of the liver and its buddy, the gallbladder:
Eliminate all processed and refined foods including pastas, breads, crackers, cereals, etc, sugar, alcohol and caffeine. Focus on a moderate amount of naturally occurring grains such as quinoa, amaranth and oats, a moderate amount of protein such as nuts, seeds, eggs, plain yogurt, lean meats, pulses and lentils and lots of fresh, raw fruits and vegetables, especially green veggies. Make sure to get plenty of fluids – clean water and herbal teas and drink the juice of one whole lemon squeezed into a glass of water every day. Do this for 2-3 weeks and, if you can, eat only green vegetables for 2-3 days near to the end of your cleanse process.
There are also some really great herbs out there that are appropriate for cleansing and clearing the liver. Anything that is bitter-tasting is typically good for decongesting the liver, healing the gallbladder and stimulating digestion. Examples of bitter herbs that are indicated for liver congestion include: milk thistle, oregon grape root, globe artichoke, dandelion root, barberry, gentian, burdock root and yellow dock. Other appropriate agents (supplemental or otherwise) for healing the liver are turmeric, reishi mushroom, licorice root and garlic. On Geha’s suggestion, I am taking bupleurum – a Chinese root, also appropriate for decongesting the liver. Please only take herbal remedies on the recommendation of an experienced practitioner.
Alongside diet and herbal remedies, body work is excellent for helping to decongest the liver. Massage can stimulate circulation and flow while reflexology is renowned for its ability to relieve congestion in any form. Acupuncture stimulates the effective movement of chi (energy) through the different systems and organs of the body and reiki is an all around, energetic, healing powerhouse that helps to restore balance in any way balance is needed. The infrared sauna is fabulous for detoxifying anything nasty that has settled in the liver while also being a great opportunity to slow down, be quiet and relax. I also recommend soaking in Epsom salts baths (2 cups per bath) for a minimum of 20 minutes 3-4 times per week to pull toxins out through the pores of the skin. Pursuit of any of the above detoxification and liver-cleansing techniques deserves another healthy reminder to always get plenty of clean water! Replenishing fluids is vital to the health of the mind, body and spirit!
If you’re enjoying spring less than usual due to lethargy, slow rising in the morning, difficulty with digestion, flaring heat or anger, consider cleansing and supporting your liver. If you would like more help with setting up a cleanse program just for you or if you’d like to set up appointments that support your current cleanse protocol, please contact us. We look forward to helping you achieve a cleaner and more effective expression of yourself!
Roberta Shepherd for Wellness on Whyte