Free the Liver Qi
Spring is an ideal time to cleanse the liver. The liver is most affected by Qi (energy) stagnation, and when Qi does not flow freely (stagnation), imbalances arise, and we begin to feel sick. Bad eating habits, stress, pharmaceuticals, caffeine, and alcohol, to name a few, cause Qi stagnation, thus interfering with optimal liver function. When the liver is compromised, we feel depressed, irritable, cloudy-minded, and develop an overall sense of feeling stuck or sluggish. We may have digestive issues, weight gain, experience headaches, and suffer from painful menstruation. Thankfully there are solutions to help this vital organ function at its optimal.
Starting the morning with a warm glass of lemon water is a simple yet powerful way to assist the liver in its job of removing toxins and a great way to hydrate and replenish the body’s water reserves. It also encourages bile production, an alkaline fluid produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder that helps break down fats. Warm water stimulates peristalsis, which is the contraction of the intestine to move food through the digestive tract, which then helps move the bowels. Lemons contain vitamin C, an essential nutrient that plays a crucial role in enhancing immunity. Overall, this drink will improve digestion and give a boost to your immune system.
TCM, Diet, and the Liver
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) says the spring is the natural time our bodies try to cleanse our livers. Diet is key to having a healthy, happy liver. TCM recognizes the importance of eating food according to its nature and its direct influence on the body. Sour foods have a detoxing effect, promoting better digestion, and counteracting the effects of greasy and fatty foods. Pungent foods improve sluggish liver function, disperse mucus, and promote Qi and blood circulation.
Spring is also a time to consume less food—this will help ease digestion, helping not to overburden the liver. Choose to eat lighter (steamed vegetables, salads, fruits) and avoid alcohol, oily/fatty, and highly processed foods. Choose produce that is local and organic, as this is the best way to avoid unwanted chemicals and pesticide residues (primarily processed in the liver). Dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, arugula, watercress, dandelion greens, and chard are essential. They get their green color from chlorophyll, a healing agent that helps detoxify the blood. Dandelion, consumed as a tea, is a bitter plant commonly used in TCM and is considered a liver tonic.
TCM and food combining (fruits)
Spring brings an abundance of fruits easily found at local farmer’s markets and health food stores. Eating fruit for breakfast is ideal. It is easy on the digestive tract and is very hydrating. When eaten alone, away from all non-fruit foods, digestion typically occurs within 30 minutes of consumption, whereas combining fruits with other foods can slow digestion to three or four times that length. Getting into the habit of eating fruit alone will ensure a strong functioning digestive response. Consider having a smoothie for a quick, healthy morning meal that leaves you feeling energized and ready for the day.
Move Liver Qi with Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs
Acupuncture is a powerful and stress-free way to balance mind, body, and spirit. Through Acupuncture, a constrained liver is addressed by placing acu-points along corresponding meridians, easing stagnated areas, allowing Qi to move freely, increasing overall blood flow, which will improve whole health and well-being. Chinese herbs work synergistically with the body, are an integral part of Acupuncture, and are just as important as food, providing immense healing for the mind/body system. Herbal therapy’s primary goal is to strengthen the foundation of one’s health without using drugs and medications that, through side effects, could worsen another function in one’s body. Although herbs can occasionally cause side effects with over-use, they are nothing compared to the smörgåsbord of consequences from the simplest of pharmaceuticals. A licensed herbalist will prescribe adequate herbal formulas based on your overall health to support your system and eliminate disharmony in the body.
Feel the well-being
Remember this spring that your liver and gallbladder need your help; they will try and cleanse with or without you. These organs work round the clock to keep our bodies in a state of balance. We can support their function through Acupuncture, herbal medicine, and diet. Also, remember, cleansing can be tiring, but it brings significant benefits over time.
Learning to keep your liver healthy doesn’t have to be stressful. Here at Nourish Healing Collective, we would love to support you and your liver this season—we are here to help you on your healing journey.