How to Detox your Liver Naturally
The liver, associated with spring in Chinese Medicine, is the largest organ of your body and is always busy rinsing your body of toxins and performs over 500 functions. It’s responsible for an astounding variety of life-sustaining and health-promoting tasks. Some of the very important jobs are detoxifying your blood, producing the bile needed to digest fats, balancing cholesterol and your hormones and storing vitamins, iron and minerals.
It is doing a big job! That is why it is so necessary to keep this overachieving organ in optimal shape. The power of your liver to regenerate is incredible. But before we get to the smooth liver detox, let us take a look what Chinese Medicine has to say about this amazing organ and how your body reacts if the liver is in imbalance.
The Liver in Chinese Medicine
The liver regulates Qi, the vital energy, that sustains life and stores blood. It carries Qi around the body and supports the functioning of our organs, limbs and tissues. While you’re awake, the liver controls the flow of blood out into the muscles and sinews during activity, and brings it back to the liver during night to clean it. The liver controls as well the tendons and sinews, opens into the eyes and manifests in the nails. On a physical level it gives us strength and flexibility.
It expresses itself in a free flow of emotions and the emotion of anger is associated with it. Suppressing your feelings or uncontrolled outbursts, lead to an imbalance of the liver energy. When it is in balance, you can express your feelings adequately.
The liver also houses the “Hun”, or soul, which gives us our consciousness and sense of purpose. This spirit is as well responsible for loving kindness, awareness of suffering, empathy, compassion, and tolerance. If the liver energy is strong, you will have a clear overview of your life and you are able to plan, focus and make decisions.
Some signs of bad liver health are bloating, gas, constipation, haemorrhoids, problems to digest fat, skin and eye problems, inability to loose weight, high blood pressure, yellowish skin or eyes, migraines and headaches, fertility problems, muscular weakness and insomnia. The menstruation is also greatly effected by it and keeps your menstrual cycles running smoothly but when in imbalance shows up in absent or infrequent menstrual periods, excessive, prolonged or shortened bleeding, painful periods and clots. Emotionally it can express in unexplained irritability, moodiness, anger, bitterness, unkindness and impatience.
Fortunately, you can help improve your liver’s functioning.
How to do a smooth Liver Detox
While doing a liver detox it is important to reduce stress and demanding physical workouts. Try to create more time for doing the things you love and that benefit your well-being e.g. taking walks, participating in a yoga class, seeing friends, reading a book, just to name a few.
Start your day by drinking a cup of hot water with some freshly squeezed lemon and a teaspoon of unpasteurized apple cider vinegar. For the rest of the day continue drinking cooked water and/or a herbal tea with a mix of the following liver supporting herbs: dandelion, milk thistle, parsley, chamomile, licorice, lemon balm, yarrow, orange blossom. A cup of green tea per day is also supportive.
Your breakfast can be a vegetable soup or if you crave for something sweet a cooked porridge is great as well e.g. mix millet and quinoa and add an apple or pear with some dried fruits. At the end of the cooking process you can season it with cardamom and add some nutritional yeast flakes.
At lunch you can eat a vegetable soup, a rice-vegetable dish or another vegan dish. It is important that it is steamed, cooked or out of the oven. Avoid any fried food. Let your dish be accompanied by a salad with endives, rocket, dandelion or field salad with fresh herbs like basil, parsley, watercress, dill or chive. As a dressing, mix fresh lemon with olive or sesame oil.
Your cooked dinner should be eaten before 7pm, as after this time the digestion slows down.
For any hunger in between you can eat an apple or some slices of cucumber.
If you need some inspiration what to cook you can find here some ideas: Recipes
Choose foods which are especially good for your liver:
- Grains like amaranth, quinoa, brown rice, wild rice
- Vegetables like green veggies (e.g. artichokes, asparagus, celery, dandelion, kale, brussel sprouts, spinach, broccoli, garden sorrel, leek), fresh green herbs, beets, sweet potatoes, turmeric
- Legumes (soak them overnight so that they are easier digestible) like white, kidney and lima beans
- Fruits like lemons, limes, strawberries (clean the blood), berries
Start the detox for a week and if you feel well, you can extend it. You should eat vegan during this time and after finishing the detox, introduce other foods step by step. Slight headaches, skin irritations and slight changes in the digestion are normal signs of the detox. However, if you are not feeling well or you experience unexpected discomforts then please stop the detox. When you suffer from any illnesses, then consult your practitioner or doctor before starting.
To sustain a proper liver function you should reduce or avoid the following things in the future
- Excess dietary fats, especially trans fat
- Refined sugar
- Artificial sweeteners
- Refined carbohydrates, including white rice and products made from white flour
- Soy protein isolates, found in many protein energy bars and processed soy foods
- Regular and too much alcohol, over-the-counter drugs and caffeine
6 Tips to support the Liver
1. Acupressure point liver 3 “Tai Chong”
One of the most popular points in Chinese medicine. If you are feeling cranky, irritable or angry, this point has a calming effect. It is also used for menstrual disorders, headaches, dizziness, detoxification, eye issues and promotes the flow of Qi in the body. Just to name a few of the wonderful effects of this point.
You find it on the dorsum of the foot in a depression distal to the junctions of the 1st and 2nd metatarsal bones, slide your thumb up until you feel a depression about 1/2 inch up. Massage or press it.
2. Meditate daily
It is a process of training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts. You can use it to increase awareness of yourself and your surroundings. Regular meditation helps to release stress, calms the mind and improves your concentration significantly. Here you can find different meditations with different length: Mindful Meditations
3. Essential oils for your well-being
They are natural remedies used for various conditions and also can improve the health of skin, hair and body. Inhaled, added in a drink or applied on the skin, they can help with emotional and physical problems. Lemon supports the cleansing process, wild orange benefits a healthy immune system and promotes a free flow of liver Qi and lavender has calming and relaxing qualities. You can find here more information of how they can be used and benefit your health: doTerra
4. Move your liver Qi
To support a smooth flow of liver Qi, you can try Qigong or another energy practice to get your Qi flowing and release toxins from your body. You’ll feel lighter and less tense in mind-body-spirit.
5. Let it out and free your emotions!
Shout or break things (in a safe space) to release your frustrations and anger. I can suggest balloons, bubble wrap, or pillows. Also shouting in free nature can be a big relief (my personal favourite).
According to Chinese Medicine, it is crucial to sleep latest at 11pm in order to support the organs gallbladder and liver in their function. This is because the gallbladder’s most active time is from 11pm to 1am and the liver’s “repair time” starts at 1am for two hours.
If you should have any questions, feel free to contact me.
About the author Carina Greweling
She is a state-approved naturopath from Germany who studied after her exam Chinese medicine, craniosacral therapy and Bach flowers and deepened her knowledge of meditation and yoga while she was living in India. She offers in her practice in Paris tailor-made treatments and is specialised in women´s health. In regular workshops and yoga retreats she proposes to gain deeper knowledge and inspiration about a healthy body and mind. She also gives online consultations. Contact her if you have any questions.