Why you need to love your liver.
If you’re working on getting your hormones back to a healthy, happy, balanced state – chances are, you may need to give your amazing liver a little (or a lot!) of love.
The liver truly is a powerhouse organ within the body. It is constantly keeping us alive by filtering out and eliminating the many toxins that we consume on a daily basis (knowingly and unknowingly), and it just keeps going, going, going – only flailing when it becomes too overloaded for too long.
Your liver is genuinely always trying to work in your favour.
That’s the thing about our bodies – they put up with everything we put them through. They work around the clock to try and restore balance (homeostasis) in every single way. So when signs and symptoms come up – it’s worth taking them seriously. This is a sure warning that something needs some attention – and if you don’t provide that attention where it’s due, whispers turn into screams, and it all gets worse.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) – which I personally believe is the most balanced and thorough form of medicine there is – the liver is the seat of processing emotions (just as it processes physical toxins). It is said to control the flow of Qi (energy, life force), throughout the entire body. It is an extremely important organ!!
In TCM, liver imbalances are believed to manifest as:
- The emotions of anger, frustration and irritability.
- Depression, stress, anxiety, and emotional stagnation (a sense of feeling ‘stuck’ in some area of your life).
- Poor digestion.
- PMS (especially breast tenderness).
- Period pain.
- Problems with menstrual flow (either too heavy or too scanty/light).
- ‘Floaters’ in the eyes / impaired vision.
- Red flushes of the face.
- Night sweats.
And there are more!
Due to the energetic nature of TCM, whereby symptoms and disorders are classified and treated according to their energetic qualities, not all liver imbalances will be treated in the exact same way – however there are many things you can do to start ‘loving your liver’, no matter what symptoms are occurring for you.
As a naturopath, I find myself talking to most of my clients about their liver – especially because most of my clients are female and come to me for advice about their hormones. The liver is SO important when it comes to balancing hormones. I generally always try to explain some of the TCM elements behind liver stagnation and depletion, to try and help my clients understand that the state of our liver will affect the way we feel on many levels – physically, mentally, emotionally.
Personally, I have had my own journey with healing my hormones – and working with the liver (and kidneys), has been integral to healing my own health picture.
It’s important to seek advice around YOUR signs and symptoms, and make sure that treatment is suited to exactly what you have going on. I prescribe liver herbs to many of my clients, but they aren’t always the same – it will depend on what is going on for her.
However, if you do know you need to give your liver a bit more love? Here are some of my commonly recommended tips + tricks:
- Cut the alcohol. Really … if you know your liver is suffering (or if your hormones are definitely suffering!) cutting alcohol out, or REALLY minimising it could be a turning point in your health picture.
- Really moderate / minimise caffeine. Like alcohol, caffeine loads the liver up, essentially meaning that while it spends time and energy getting rid of these substances (and others), it has very little time to work on oestrogen-clearing pathways (which are absolutely integral to having a PMS-free and pain-free menstrual cycle).
- No ‘bad’ fats. The less fats the liver has to deal with, the more energy it has to clean up and reach optimal detoxification capacity again. Small amounts of healthy fats – such as extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, oily fish, organic butter / ghee, nuts, and seeds are great – but ‘bad’ fats should be completely eliminated. These include things like highly processed vegetable and canola oils, anything fried, and margarine.
- Liver herbs. As mentioned above, I absolutely adore liver herbs and they’re generally an integral part of a client’s long-term plan. However – I definitely don’t recommend ‘just any’ herbs. There are SO many herbs and supplements available over the counter these days that it really is hard to know what to take, or what is even good quality (because so many of them actually aren’t good quality at all!). Invest in yourself and see a naturopath, herbalist, or TCM practitioner who can help you find the best herbs for YOU and YOUR health picture.
- Herbal tea. Green tea, dandelion root tea, and any sort of ‘detox’ tea will be great for the liver. The brand ‘Organic India’ also do a ‘Liver and Kidney Cleanse’ tea, which I absolutely love!
- LOTS (and lots and lots) of fresh vegetables. Especially the green ones, which provide a particularly potent amount of liver-supportive vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Steamed greens and leafy green salads should always feature as part of your daily eating habits (though of course it is also really important to include a wide array of other coloured vegetables as well!!).
- Acupuncture. This amazing healing modality works wonders for getting back in balance, and will help to rectify liver stagnation.
- Yoga. In particular, twists, which give the liver a nice massage and flush it with fresh, cleansing blood!
- Emotional stress relief. If you experience stress, frustration, anger and / or anxiety on a regular basis … your liver may be needing some TLC. What resonates with you for emotional stress relief? Emotional balance makes up a HUGE part of our wellness picture, and is extremely important to address when it comes to liver health.
Loving your liver, and supporting its optimal function, has the potential to greatly improve your health and wellness – it truly is one of the most important organs in the body.