Spring brings expansive energy- the days are brighter and longer and everything is in full bloom.  It can be an exhilarating time, but for many of us, it can also be a time of increased irritability and frustration (not to mention those allergies).  Why?  Because we are in liver season!  This is the organ that is most active this time of year.  And yes, even though we lead really ‘plugged in’ virtual lives nowadays, our bodies and organs still cycle with the change of every season.

It’s a good practice to take the time to tune into our bodies during the change of season for optimal health and even prevention.  How are we digesting and sleeping? How are our moods/motivation?  To say we have had an extremely difficult year plus is an understatement.  I think the fear-based, wait and isolate approach to the pandemic has forced our bodies into a state of compartmentalization.  Because the liver in Chinese medicine stores the emotions of anger and frustration (and there’s just a tad to feel frustrated about), it’s safe to say that most of our livers could use some TLC these days.

Physically, our liver is a large dense organ living in the right upper quadrant of our abdomen, tightly housed under the diaphragm – right underneath our ribcage.  It’s not uncommon to notice tension along the right ribcage, shoulder or shoulder blade area when the liver is taxed or even if we’ve been feeling frustrated.

Some things you may be noticing physically if your liver under added ‘pressure’ this time of year:

  • lack of appetite and/or difficulty digesting heavier meals
  • nausea
  • less quality sleep (especially waking 1-3 am at ‘liver’ time on the Chinese medicine clock)
  • hormonal imbalance/PMS
  • fatigue
  • gas and bloating
  • constipation
  • trouble concentrating

We all know that as our body’s principle detoxifier, the liver neutralizes toxins and prepares them for excretion.  But did you know that our liver has important metabolic and immune functions as well?  A well balanced liver will effectively regulate glucose storage and breakdown and it will also screen pathogenic proteins while at the same time promote tolerance of our own body’s proteins.

Clearly, our liver plays a critical role in our overall well-being.  Combine this with the vast array of toxins we are regularly exposed to (and that our bodies weren’t necessarily designed to handle) it’s a no-brainer that our liver needs regular maintenance!

While liver flushes, juice fasts, and other approaches that ‘wring out the liver’ have become so popular, I favor a gentler approach  that works with the body and can lead to long term harmonious liver function.  Here are some tips to tune up your liver so you can experience a clear mind, sleep better, enhance your immunity, optimize your hormonal balance, and even shed a few pounds!

  • lose the booze (try to go a couple of weeks!) to rest your liver
  • increase soluble fiber in your diet (I love ground flax seeds 1-2 Tbsp per day in salads, smoothies or even just chug in a glass of water) fiber binds toxins in the gut that normally get recirculated to the liver
  • incorporate sour foods to enhance liver health (think a squeeze of lemon in water)
  • include your bitter greens (dandelion and arugala are great examples) bitter greens stimulate digestive enzymes for better nutrient absorption and supports the liver in metabolizing fats.
  • consider a liver supportive herbal formula – I love this product
  • Try out your very first castor oil pack!

I hope implementing some of these will bring you greater ease this season!

~Dr. Marie