Love Your Liver

Spring is here and spring is the season of the liver.  A very hardworking organ, the liver carries a heavy burden of over 600 tasks.  Every food additive, every pollutant, and every chemical that goes into our body must be eliminated through the liver.  In addition, the liver plays an important role in helping our hormonal system run properly by conjugating our hormones and detoxifying spent hormones.  It also produces bile to help break down fats in order for them to nourish our cells.  Knowing just these few things about the liver’s duties may inspire us to give it attention this spring.What are some of the signs our liver gives us to let us know it wants some attention?  These may be headaches, sleeplessness between 1:00 and 3:00 in the morning, hot flashes, difficulty digesting fats, skin issues such as eczema, acne, or hives and a stuffy feeling underneath the right ribcage.   These are signs that a liver is congested or “stagnant” as they say in Chinese medicine.  What exactly does this mean.  It is similar to sitting in a traffic jam during rush hour.  We could say that the traffic is congested.  We can’t move forward at the pace that we are used to or at a pace that will efficiently get us to our destination.  The same happens to our liver.  When it is congested, it doesn’t move as efficiently as it should.  Congested or “jammed” because of being overloaded with toxins and possibly even pathogens it is unable to perform its many duties efficiently.  This is when we start noticing the symptoms mentioned above.   This is an example of our body talking to us and in this case our liver is talking to us and telling us it is time to clear up the “traffic  jam”. So how do we go about cleansing the liver.    Spring in Chinese medicine that we should really focus on the liver and it is especially ready to cleanse during this season.   One way we can focus on cleansing the liver is by focusing on eating more vegetables, especially dark leafy greens.  The liver prefers raw or lightly steamed vegetables.  A great way to start the day would be to fix a green drink for breakfast every morning.   Reducing animal protein, especially at dinnertime also gives the liver a break since the liver has a hard time processing the ammonia which is a byproduct of animal protein.Herbs have been used for centuries in assisting liver function.  These are especially beneficial for those who have some of the symptoms previously mentioned.   Milk Thistle Combination is a powerful blend of herbs and nutrients that help protect the liver against chemical poisons and help the liver detoxify at the same time.  This formula contains 80% silymarin which has been shown to bind with cellular membranes and protect them from chemical and toxins.  It is even used in hospitals in Europe to treat poisoning from death cap mushrooms.   N-Acety Cystine,  another ingredient in this formula has been used to raise glutathione in the liver.  This is an important antioxidant that detoxifies the liver and protects it from free radical damage.Another liver formula that I really like is Chinese Liver Balance.  This formula contains a combination of Chinese herbs to decongest the liver and move the liver chi or “energy”.I would like to include one more herb.  This herb with a long history of benefiting the liver is dandelion root.   This potassium rich herb is known for inducing the flow of bile from the liver.  This is very helpful because when the liver is congested it has a hard time moving the flow of bile.  A common sign that this could be an issue is chronic constipation and poor digestion of fats.  Bile actually helps move the colon and break down fats into essentially fatty acids. There are many other herbs and herbal combination that may benefit your liver.