Our liver, often overlooked and underappreciated, is an incredibly diligent organ. It serves as the primary hub for detoxification, tirelessly filtering and metabolising substances from our diet and environment. Additionally, it plays a pivotal role in maintaining hormonal balance, managing cholesterol levels, and regulating our energy levels. To simplify, the liver has three major functions: detoxification, synthesis, and storage.
When we consider the multitude of toxins we ingest from preservatives in our food, pollution in the air we breathe, exposure to plastics, and what we apply to our skin, it becomes glaringly evident how tirelessly our liver works. Not only are we bombarded with external toxins from these sources, but our bodies also naturally generate internal toxins as part of their normal biological processes. As a result, the liver is constantly working at maximum capacity and often goes unnoticed until problems arise.
In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the liver is also regarded as a vital component of the body's energetic system. Its functions transcend the purely physiological, ensuring the harmonious flow of Qi (vital energy) and blood throughout our body, fostering emotional stability, and facilitating the smooth expression of our emotions.
Taking this all into consideration if your natural detox system isn't flowing constantly and efficiently, it can impact every dimension of your being.
Some common signs of an overburdened liver include:
- Feeling constantly tired and lacking energy.
- Irritability, mood swings, or heightened emotional sensitivity.
- Digestive Issues, frequent bloating, gas, or indigestion.
- Dull complexation or breakouts.
- Difficulty in losing weight or unexplained weight gain.
- Irregular menstrual cycles or other hormonal disruptions.
- Increased sensitivity to certain foods or environmental allergens.
- Brain fog
Supporting your liver and alleviating symptoms can be achieved through a holistic approach that considers what you ingest, how you rest, and how you manage your emotions.
Here's a breakdown of these strategies:
What You Ingest
Opt for foods that promote liver health, such as leafy greens, broccoli, beets, carrots, and artichokes.
Incorporate bitter foods like arugula, dandelion greens, and bitter melon into your diet, as they are believed to stimulate liver function, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Stay well-hydrated with liver-cleansing herbal teas like dandelion or milk thistle tea.
Try Spirulina, Chlorella or Wheatgrass powders, known for their detoxifying and nutrient-rich properties, to further support your liver.
How You Manage Your Emotions
Engaging in mind-body practices can be instrumental in promoting emotional balance and providing essential liver support by reducing stress and lowering cortisol levels. TCM suggests Qigong to promote the smooth flow of Qi, emotional balance, and liver health.
Qi Gong, often referred to as "Chinese Yoga" or "Energy Work," is an ancient Chinese practice that focuses on cultivating and balancing the body's vital energy, known as Qi (pronounced "chee"). Similar to Tai Chi, Qi Gong incorporates gentle movements, controlled breathing, and meditation techniques designed to open energy pathways, improve flexibility, and promote relaxation.
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How you rest
Prioritise quality sleep, which is essential for overall health and allows the liver to regenerate and detoxify. Create a nighttime routine where you can be asleep by 10pm to benefit from the hours when Qi flows through the Gallbladder (11 pm - 1 am) and the Liver (1 am - 3 am) for maximum benefit.
The wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine reminds us of the importance of maintaining liver health to achieve physical and emotional balance and harmony in our lives. Give these natural remedies a try to experience the transformative power of TCM for yourself.