Spring Is The Season Of The Liver
It's that time of year again. Spring is just around the corner, and this is the absolute BEST time of the year to cleanse and support your liver and gallbladder. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, certain organ pairs are linked to the seasons. During an organ's particular season it's always the most ideal time to support that organ. Springtime is Liver-Gallbladder time.
What Are Some Signs Of Liver-Gallbladder Issues?
- Skin Conditions
- Digestion problems such as bloating, poor appetite, gastritis
- Pain/stiffness in the body
- Cholesterol Issues
- Hormone Imbalances such as hot flashes
- Menstrual issues (cramps, irregular periods, painful periods, PMS)
- Tendency toward anger, irritability
- Eye issues (red, itchy, dry)
The liver acts as the powerhouse filter for the body. It filters blood so toxins do not accumulate. The liver also produces bile which is then stored in the gallbladder. Bile helps the body digest and absorb fats, but it also aids in the removal of certain waste products. Even excess cholesterol is excreted through bile. Thus, a healthy bile flow can help balance cholesterol levels. Bile also helps destroy pathogenic organisms in the body and regulates the bacteria in the intestines. The liver and gallbladder also play a prominent role in the regulation of hormones such as estrogen which are metabolized in the liver and excreted through the intestines with the aid of bile.
When the liver and gallbladder are sluggish, guess what happens? They don't do their job efficiently which means toxins and excess hormones can accumulate in the body. You can think of the liver the same way you'd think about the filter in your car. If you never clean the filter, your car will eventually suffer for it. Likewise, failing to clean and support our liver-gallbladder can often result in health consequences. Luckily, the liver is known for its ability to regenerate, and a little TLC can help it to do so.
The gallbladder is notorious for becoming congested. Many people suffer from digestive issues (bloating, gas, inability to digest fatty foods) and even gallstones. When gallbladder issues are ignored for too long they can often result in something as dramatic as gallbladder removal surgery. If you've already had gallbladder removal surgery, it is especially important to support the liver and healthy bile production.
How To Support The Liver/Gallbladder Safely and Effectively
In order for the liver to be able to metabolize hormones and other substances, it uses two major pathways known as Phase I and Phase II. Essentially, these pathways convert toxins into less harmful substances which can be excreted from the body through bile and urine. Certain nutrients can help these pathways function more efficiently.
Phase I produces free radicals, and antioxidants are key to help neutralize them. This is extremely important because an overabundance of free radicals can be damaging to the body. Vitamin C (citrus, bellpeppers, berries), Vitamin E (almonds, avocado, spinach), glutahione (potatoes, avocados, garlic, onion), and green tea are all beneficial.
Adequate intake of B Vitamins are essential because they act as co-factors for many of the enzymatic reactions that need to occur for proper liver detoxification. Vitamins such as B6, B12, and Folic acid are key. Legumes are rich in B6, animal products such as eggs/meat rich in B12, and leafy greens rich in Folate (the preferred, dietary form of folic acid). An easily absorbable vitamin B complex can work wonders to support the liver and hormone balance (be sure to look for one that contains folate, not folic acid).
Milk Thistle, Reishi, and Turmeric are well known for their ability to protect and repair the liver. Bitters such as Dandelion and other dark leafy greens help to stimulate healthy bile flow. There are many herbs in Chinese Medicine that support the liver. As a licensed herbalist, one very famous formula I prescribe is called Free and Easy Wanderer. This formula (and variations of this formula) are known to 'soothe' the liver. It contains herbs such as White Peony Root (Bai Shao) and Bupleurum (Chai Hu) which are known to protect the liver. This formula can help with many things linked to liver disharmony such as menstrual irregularities, stress, anxiety, insomnia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, headaches. Making an appointment with a licensed Chinese Medicine Herbalist can help to determine if this formula is right for you.
Proper Bowel Elimination
Healthy bile flow can help those who suffer with sluggish bowels. As the liver/gallbladder become healthier and bile flow improves, people will often notice they have more healthy bowel movements. However, as you work to improve your bile flow, it is important the diet is supporting healthy bowel elimination. When the bowels become congested the toxins secreted in the bile can become reabsorbed rather than excreted from the body. Drinking plenty of water, consuming foods rich in fiber and foods rich in probiotics are key. Acupuncture treatment and Chinese Herbal formulas also work wonders for those suffering from constipation.
Well Rounded (Organic) Diet
The real key to supporting the liver is to eat a well rounded diet because each phase requires a wide array of amino acids, vitamins, and other nutrients. Dark leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage), fruit, seafood, meat (especially organ meats such as liver), eggs, nuts all make for setting the stage for providing the liver with the building blocks it needs to efficiently do its job. Also, limiting things such as caffeine and alcohol are important because they stress the liver. The reason choosing organic can help your liver is because the excess chemicals and pesticides in foods just give the liver more work to do. The cleaner your food choices, the less burden you put on the detox organs.
Of course, the things mentioned above are just a few things you can do to support liver/gallbladder health. An individualized program using supplements, herbs, and acupuncture can truly help get your body back on track. I've spent over a decade helping people care for their entire body by properly cleansing and supporting their liver/gallbladder this time of year, and I would love to help you, too.
As always, it's all about balance. Giving your liver and gallbladder a little love this spring can help it to better handle its day to day functions, and that margarita (or two) on the weekends ;-)
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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