Spring Cleaning The Liver
By Rosanne Lindsay, Traditional Naturopath
It’s that time again!
‘Tis the season for rebirth and regeneration, and thus, time to spring clean the liver.
Spring is ruled by the wood element which is associated with the liver and its complementary organ, the gallbladder. What better time to reset and rejuvenate body, mind, and spirit than through the liver, an organ known to regenerate itself if a portion is surgically removed?
It was at one time considered the seat of life; hence its name— liver, the thing we live with. -Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary, Tales and Memoirs
As the body’s largest filter and gland, the liver is a detox powerhouse responsible for more than 500 -possibly 5000- functions. Your liver filters 1 liter of blood every minute from the digestive tract before it flows to the rest of the body.
The liver holds about one pint, or 13%, of your body’s blood at any given moment. It detoxifies, nourishes, replenishes, and stores blood. It also energizes the blood by releasing stored sugar (glycogen) as glucose. Other jobs of your liver include:
- metabolizing drugs and detoxing chemicals,
- synthesizing glutathione, an important antioxidant that removes toxins (heavy metals and chemicals),
- converting sunlight to vitamin D3, critical to the immune system function,
- producing bile, which helps break down fats in the small intestine during digestion, and carry away wastes,
- making amino acids which become protein,
- converting T4 thyroid hormone to T3,
- making steroid and sex hormones that affect libido, menstrual cycle, and timing of menopause,
- creating digestive enzymes and immune cells, and storing vitamins.
The liver is also responsible for the smooth flow of Qi (energy) throughout the body and balancing emotions. The liver accumulates emotions of anger, irritability, resentment, and frustration, all signs that our Qi is not flowing smoothly.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the body works according to the meridian clock when each organ is most active. If you find yourself waking up between 1 am and 3 am in the morning, your liver could be trying to tell you something.
- 1am-3am – Liver
- 3am-5am – Lungs
- 5am-7am– Large intestines
- 7am-9am – Stomach
- 9am-11am – Spleen & pancreas
- 11am- 1pm – Heart & mind
- 1pm-3pm – Small intestine
- 3pm – 5pm – Bladder
- 5pm -7 pm – Kidneys
- 7pm – 9pm – Pericardium
- 9pm- 11pm – Triple heater (related to metabolism)
- 11pm- 1am – Gallbladder
The liver accumulates toxins from exposures to food, pesticides, GMOs, water, air, aluminum and mercury from injections, medications, dental amalgams, make-up, lotions, alcohol, byproducts of metabolism, as well as emotions from the effects of stress. If your liver isn’t happy, neither are you. Signs of a sluggish liver include:
- Sallow skin color and poor skin tone
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Yellow-coated tongue
- Bitter taste in the mouth
- Stomach ache that worsens with anger
- PMS or Irritability
- Irregular or painful periods
- Pain or discomfort along sides of body
- Inability to digest fats
If you experience any of these signs, it is time to thank your liver for working so hard and consider some spring cleaning and detoxification protocols. Key health benefits of detoxification allow you to:
- Feel young, look great
- Increase vitality, energy, and stamina
- Reduce allergic symptoms
- Improve of digestive functions
- Improve concentration, clarity and mental focus
- Enhance mental performance
- Enjoy a sense of calm and ease
- Increase resistance to illness
- Reduce the risk for many chronic diseases
- Reduce symptoms of chronic toxicity
- Weight loss
Easy Ways to Cleanse the Liver
Coffee enema: Use distilled water and organic, caffeinated (lightly roasted) coffee. After the coffee cools to approximate body temperature, the enema is administered and held for up to 10-20 minutes while lying on your right side, then relieved with a bowel movement. Consider an enema at least once a week until symptoms resolve, while choosing to eat healthier.
Lemon/lime water: Foods and drinks with sour tastes are thought to stimulate the liver’s Qi. Drink the juice ½ a lemon or lime in warm water first thing in the morning. Lemon becomes an alkaline ash in the body to balance pH. Garnish your lunch with a dill pickle.
Eat Green: Chlorella and other green super-foods: Green is the color of springtime and the liver. Chlorella purifies the liver and the blood, serves to nurture gut bacteria, and promotes bile production. Green juicing with celery, cucumber, parsley, lemon, ginger (add beets) also supports the liver. Eat vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts (brassica family), and artichoke. See this liver detox salad and drink green tea.
Foods: garlic, grapefruit, beets, cherries, carrots, avocados, apples, tofu, mustard seed, squash, caraway seed, spearmint, oregano, sweet basil, red beans, and a small amount of liver (organ) from grass-fed animals, all benefit the liver. Eating the liver of healthy animals was once considered a sacred food. Liver contains more nutrients, gram for gram, than any other food. Learn more about sourcing and eating liver from healthy animals here. For those who want to incorporate cod liver oil for healthy fats, read more here.
Burdock and Dandelion teas (or as tinctures): strengthen and support the liver to cleanse the blood.
Bentonite clay: clays bind positively charged toxins and carry them out of the body. You can soak in a tub of Bentonite water or drink 1 tsp. hydrated Bentonite clay in water..
Milk Thistle and bitter herbs: herbs such as Milk thistle can be used as a tonic strengthener for a few weeks and has been used for centuries for liver cirrhosis in its early stages. Milk thistle helps protect liver cells from toxins and encourages the liver to cleanse itself. Bitter herbs such as dandelion root, artichoke leaf, and turmeric can be taken at meals to stimulate digestion, bile production, and bile release from the gallbladder.
Castor Oil Packs: apply externally over the liver to decrease inflammation for optimal liver function, to improve digestion and the healing of tissues, and much more. Easily applied for kids.
Eye Exercises: The liver opens to the eyes.
Stretch: The liver controls the tendons. The liver releases blood to the tendons in times of activity to maintain tendon health and flexibility. Incorporate a morning stretch into your routine. Yoga can help release emotions. Check out these poses for detox. Acupuncture also helps to open the liver meridian to release emotions.
Water: Drink spring (clean) water against dehydration.
Turmeric: This anti-inflammatory spice is excellent for liver virus or infections. Cook with turmeric or check out this recipe for golden milk with turmeric, ghee, coconut milk and cinnamon. But feel free to use any milk, or any version.
Spend Time Outdoors: Clean outdoor air helps liver Qi.
As of 2019, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease affects 30% of Americans. When over 100 million Americans fit this category, it is time for some spring cleaning.
If you love your liver, your liver will thank you for it.