Spring is officially upon us, and it is a wonderful time for cleansing and renewal. Spring is associated with the wood element, which governs the liver and the gallbladder. This is the best time of year to focus on balancing and cleansing the liver/gallbladder through acupuncture, herbs, and diet.
What Are Some Signs Of Liver/Gallbladder Imbalance?
- Emotional stress/ tendency toward anger, irritability
- Pain/tightness/stiffness in the body
- Hormonal Imbalances
- Eye issues (red, itchy, dry)
- Allergies (including skin conditions)
- Menstrual issues (cramps, irregular periods, painful periods, PMS)
- Digestion problems such as bloating, poor appetite, gastritis
The liver filters our blood so toxins do not accumulate in our system. While this robust organ can certainly take a chemical beating, unhealthy lifestyle choices can result in fat accumulation and fibrosis. When the liver accumulates too much fat (more extreme cases known as fatty liver), or the tissue begins to become fibrotic, it cannot function at its optimal level. This can result in the accumulation of toxins which can lead to a whole host of issues. Luckily, the liver is known for its ability to regenerate, and a little TLC in the form of diet, herbs, and acupuncture can help it to do so.
In Oriental Medicine the liver is said to store the blood and regulate the volume of blood in circulation. It also maintains the smooth flow of qi (or energy) in the body. While liver imbalance can result in a variety of diagnosis in Oriental Medicine, two very common patterns are known as liver qi stagnation and liver blood stasis. The lack of movement of qi and/or blood can systemically impact the body resulting in symptoms such as musculoskeletal pain, headaches, moodiness, premenstrual symptoms such as breast distention/pain, irregular periods, painful periods, dark complexion, and pain in the liver/gallbladder region (or along the liver/gallbladder acupuncture channels). The liver can often easily impact the digestion so supporting the liver can also eliminate things such as gas, bloating, and even constipation.
And don’t forget about the gallbladder. This little organ is the liver’s partner in crime. It helps the liver to maintain the free flow of qi, and it aides in the digestion of fat by storing and secreting bile. Keeping the gallbladder healthy and clear of stones/sediment is important to optimizing biliary function and fat metabolism.
Looking To Provide A Little TLC (Tender Liver Care)?
Herbs such as Reishi (Ling Zhi), Turmeric (E Zhu), and Milk Thistle (Shui Fai Ji) are very popular when it comes to liver support. Chinese herbal formulas such as Xiao Yao San (Free and Easy Wanderer) are famous for their ability to soothe and harmonize the liver resulting in alleviation of symptoms such as headaches, anxiety, PMS, gastritis, and insomnia. The herbal source and proper dosage must be taken into consideration so seeking out a licensed herbalist is key.
The following mixture provides more of a food based approach: The juice of 1 whole, organic lemon mixed with approximately 12 oz. of warm, purified water. This is consumed first thing in the morning in an effort to support the liver's detoxification process. The lemon juice contains Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant which can help reduce oxidative stress. Plus, lemons also contain compounds which may help reduce liver inflammation.
Acupuncture is definitely a key player when it comes to soothing the liver/gallbladder and reducing both qi and blood stagnation. There are specific points on the body that impact the health and well being of both these organs. Treatment often not only benefits the targeted organs, but also the body on a systemic level. Many patients new to acupuncture are pleasantly surprised to discover that a series of treatments can have such profound impact on their health.
While cleansing and supporting the liver is important for overall wellness, jumping into a cleanse or herbal program when the body isn't ready is never a good idea. As we transition into spring it may be time to set up that appointment with your local acupuncturist/herbalist so you can get started on a protocol that is right for your individual needs.
Wishing you (and your liver/gallbladder) a healthy and happy spring!
The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional. The information and opinions presented are intended for educational purposes only and they are not intended to be medical advice. It is advised you contact your healthcare provider prior to starting any type of program or protocol, starting or stopping supplements/herbs/medications, making any major dietary changes, or beginning any new form of physical activity. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your health care provider before using products or protocols based on this content.
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