The liver is a hardworking, often overlooked organ. It’s just as important to our health as the heart or the brain, yet we don’t seem to know much about what it does, let alone how to support it in its many important responsibilities. With a tiny bit of effort, we can learn what the liver does and how to support it with our lifestyle choices and a few simple, herbal remedies.
What the Liver Does for Us
The liver is a vital organ. It does many things, including:
The Liver According to Chinese Traditional Medicine
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the liver is the organ most affected by stress or upset. This organ is responsible for the smooth delivery of qi or the life force throughout the entire body. When it is imbalanced or weakened, emotions can tend to stagnate, causing disease. In much the same way that we can allow toxins to build up in the body to cause sickness, with removing those toxins being a primary responsibility of the liver, we can also allow emotions to build up, causing the liver to function poorly.
Suppressed fear, anger and rage often appears to the TCM specialist as an imbalance in the liver.
Because the liver does do much, and we often abuse it with alcohol, poor quality, nutritionless food, a sedentary lifestyle and unknowingly, through the ingestion of environmental toxins (pesticides, car-exhaust, second-hand cigarette smoke, industrial wastes, etc.), there’s a lot we need to do to support the liver to be fully functioning again.
Signs Your Liver Isn’t Healthy
If you aren’t sure if you have a healthy liver, there are a few signs that it could use some extra loving-care to undo congestion:
These are all indications that your body is overburdened with cellular waste because the liver cannot properly rid the body of toxins. It may also mean that there is too much “emotional refuse” that needs to be cleared before the liver can function at its peak once again.
Aside from avoiding alcohol, getting exercise every day to help move lymph and support the liver in detoxification, removing whatever toxins we can from our diets and environment and drinking pure, filtered water, you can use acupressure to help stimulate the liver.
The acupressure point called “Taichong” (Liver 3) stimulates a key area of the Liver meridian. It may be sore, but this means you’re hitting the right spot! By pressing on this point several times a day, you are unblocking your Liver Qi.
To Tonify and Support Liver Health Diet is Key
From a TCM perspective, in order to achieve strong liver function, two principles have to be operating. First, the liver cannot have a cold energy. Secondly, the liver must be flexible. If it is clogged with old emotions and toxins, it can be neither of these things.
There are also several herbs used by both TCM and Ayurvedic medicine which can help restore the health of the liver:
Dandelion Root – Has a natural diuretic effect which helps the liver by getting rid of toxins.
Milk Thistle - Contains silymarin and silybin, antioxidants that are known to help protect the liver from toxins.
Artichoke – Is full of cynarin, a phenolic acid compound that experts believe is responsible for its cholagogue and choleretic properties which support liver functioning.
Bhumyamalaki – Is a classic Ayurvedic herb for liver support.
Guduchi – Also known as amrit, this is one of the most valued plants in all of Ayurveda. It greatly supports detoxification of the cells.
Turmeric – Turmeric is an incredible anti-inflammatory and detoxifying agent for the liver. There are thousands of studies supporting its use.
Kutki – This herb helps to detox and cool the liver. It is also cleansing and anti-bacterial by nature.
Triphala – Used for over 2000 years, triphala is a combination of three plants which contain gallic acid, ellagic acid and chebulinic acid, which are all strong antioxidants. It also has flavonoids and polyphenols, which have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antidiarrheal abilities.
Amalaki – one of the three ingredients in triphala, a fruit that helps to detox and cool the liver.
Aloe Vera – Cools and balances excess pitta from an Ayurvedic perspective.
Your liver does so much for you – you’ve got to love it back! Hopefully these tips will show you how.