How to Spring Clean Your Liver
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) each organ system is connected to a season. The Liver corresponds to the spring season, making this a great time of year to focus on liver health.
Why we need a healthy liver
Every organ is effected by liver health. Compromised liver health affects immunity, digestion, kidney, brain, and cardiovascular function.
Keep your liver healthy so it can do its job of removing toxins, processing food and storing nutrients, maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, and metabolizing hormones.
Get ahead! It's important to catch liver disease before it's a problem. Lab work can be important, but tends to only show significant damage.
Liver and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
The Liver in TCM is responsible for the easy movement of blood, fluids, and nourishment throughout the body. As Liver is connected to the spring season, this can be a time of year where you see increased symptoms of liver imbalances. Here are a couple common patterns:
Liver Qi (chee) stagnation:
Emotional stress can cause the Liver to become stagnant and disrupt the easy movement of energy in our body. When the liver is stressed all the organ systems become sluggish.
Common symptoms: Stress, poor sleep (especially waking 1-3 am) resentment, irritability, frequent sighing, shoulder and neck tension, headaches, migraines, teeth grinding, lump in the throat, PMS or irregular cycles
Liver blood deficiency: The liver is in charge of storing and circulating blood, especially to the eyes, mind, tendons and ligaments.
Common symptoms: Dryness (skin, hair, eyes), muscle tightness or cramps, numbness, eye floaters, hair loss, dizziness, light periods.
How to help your liver
The liver can actually repair itself! Liver damage can be reversed and is the only organ that can regenerate itself. Encourage healthy liver function with a few good habits.
Get enough physical activity, limit processed food, meat, intoxicants, and follow these simple tips:
Sleep- Liver damage can be correlated to sleep disturbances. Among the liver's functions is breaking down hormones such as cortisol and melatonin. Dysregulation in these hormones bogs the liver and affects our sleep wake cycle.
Dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, beet greens)- Add these to your diet everyday to support removing toxins from the body. These are dense with nutrients like vitamin K, magnesium, antioxidants, and chlorophyll, protecting the liver from damage, fat build up, and inflammation.
Exercise- Try for a half an hour every day to improve blood flow to the liver. This will help reduce inflammation, fat, and scarring in the liver.
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Sugar and refined flour-
Sugar turns to fat which can be stored in the liver. Eventually healthy cells get replaced by fat cells, causing inflammation and scarring which can result in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
Stress- Stress and anxiety increase the release of hormones and chemicals which overload the liver, decrease circulation to the liver which can kill liver cells, and cause progression of liver disease.
Red and processed meat- Everything in moderation. Too much red or processed meat increases the likelihood of fatty liver disease and creates precursors to type 2 diabetes. Try to limit red meat and substitute with fish or white meats.
Acupuncture is best when used preventatively and can strengthen your body to reduce the severity of ailments of the upcoming spring season. Acupuncture and traditional herbal medicine provide a non-pharmaceutical holistic treatment approach for balancing your liver and keeping you feeling your best.