In today’s fast pace society, the liver is one of the most congested organs leading to a myriad of physical and emotional problems. Diseases typically associated with the liver are Jaundice, Cirrhosis and Hepatitis. In addition, if the liver blood purification function is inadequate the body may release toxins via the skin causing acne, eczema, carbuncles, boils, acidosis, and allergies. In addition, toxic blood feeds all degenerative conditions including cancer and arthritis.
The liver transforms nutrients absorbed from the foods we eat into substances usable by the body such as enzymes, vitamins and proteins. It purifies the blood, filtering out potentially harmful toxins via the gall bladder and kidneys, and moistens the tendons, improving flexibility.
Many liver conditions involve excess of one kind or another. Eating too much food, especially rich, greasy food leads to a swollen and sluggish liver, and stagnation of fluids. Swelling may occur in certain areas of the body such as the thyroid gland which is responsible for how fast fats are burned in the body.
Toxic overload from contact with packaged and processed foods, sugars, saturated fats, alcohol, chemicals, pesticides, hormones and medications.
Poor eating habits such as eating too fast and too much also weaken the liver.
Mood swings as well as emotional excess in general are liver-related. When the liver is harmonious there is never stress or tension, the person is calm.
Uncontrolled emotions driven by greed, anger and resentment can greatly damage the liver. When left unattended these emotions lead to a pushing out and away of things, a resisting. You see the world as an assault. When these emotioins are repressed they may over time lead to depression.
Typical Symptoms of Liver Imbalance:
- Distention of chest or abdomen or enlarged breasts
- Swellings or lumps in the neck, groin, sides of the body or lateral portion of the thighs.Inflexible or rigid body
- Tendon, ligament, muscle spasms or numbness
- Inflamed, swollen eyes, dry, red or blurred eyes
- Night blindness, near of far sightedness
- Excessive tearing
- Overabundant, irregular, scant or absence of menses
- General body dryness
- Pale fingernail beds and faceSpots in visual field
- Digestive issues
- Irregular Menstruation
- Alternating diarrhea and constipation
- Urinary track infections
The treatment of the liver requires a radical change in diet and lifestyle. The good news is that the liver will often recover from abuse if steps are taken to create a healthy environment for its development.
Nutrition: A stagnant liver is at the origin of nearly all liver imbalances. Therefore, it is important to first cleanse and then strengthen the liver. The first thing to do is to eat less, practice correct food-combining, and avoid late meals (after 6 p.m.)
Avoid foods that may damage the liver:
- Foods high in saturated fats: lard, beef, pork, cream, cheese, and eggs
- Hydrogenate and poor-quality fats: shortening, margarine, refined and rancid oils
- Over consumption of nuts and seeds
- Chemical in food and water
- Prescription drugs with your physician’s approval
- Alcoholic beverages (temporarily combats liver stagnancy but ultimately cause cell destruction)
- Highly processed and refined foods
Focus on foods that support the liver function:
In the morning drink a glass of filtered water with a half a lemon juice plus 2 to 3 glasses of filtered water. Drink eight glasses of filtered water a day
Eat primarily fresh, raw fruits and vegetables - brightly colored as they contain antioxidants and carotenoids. If you suffer form a cold or a weak constitution, it may preferable to lightly cook vegetables and legumes before consumption.
Eat fresh raw nuts, and sprouted grains, beans and seeds.
Eat whole grain bread and cereal without chemical additives. Beans, peas, potatoes and brown rice are good vegetable sources of protein. Soy beans are particularly valuable as they help prevent fatty deposits in the liver.
Foods which provide water-soluble fiber such as apples and rolled oats are beneficial as they stimulate bile secretion.
Sulphur-containing foods such as turnips, onions and garlic have a cleansing effect on the liver. Artichokes are natural liver tonics. Rhubarb has a stimulating effect on the liver.
Flax seed oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, sesame oils all build healthy membranes around the liver cells. Use only unrefined cold pressed oils. Rancid oils are carcinogenic.
Eat unpasteurized milk or milk products - cultured or fermented - natural buttermilk, yogurt, Kefir. They help maintain friendly bacteria in the intestines.
The best liver cleansing food is freshly pressed vegetable juice - 240 ml per day. Combine carrots, celery, apple, ginger with dandelion leaves, endive and radicchio, radish and beat root. If possible to extract the juice use a Green Power Juicer as the juice will remain fresh longer.
Honey, used sparingly, and mixed with unrefined apple cider, is especially helpful in detoxifying the liver. Use one tablespoon of honey and apple cider per cup of water.
Spirulina or green algae, and other chlorophyll-rich foods found in green leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli provide the liver with immune-enhancing essential fatty acids encouraging more complete liver function.
Lipotropic factors such as choline, carnitine and inositol, prevent fatty substances and toxins from being deposited in the liver and help with their removal. Lipotropic factors are produced naturally in the body. Its components can be found in protein-rich foods such as meats.
Vitamin B, known as folic acid, is an important supporter of the liver’s function. It is found in green leafy vegetables and all sprouts, but is heat sensitive, so eat it raw.
Chlorophyll in green food supplements such as spirulina and wheatgrass or barley cleanses the liver and rebuilds tissue.
Herbs are excellent for stimulating and regenerating the liver, and assisting in the manufacture of bile for digesting fats. Herbs also prevent constipation, cleanse and nourish the blood. All bitter herbs aid the liver function.
A classic Chinese Herbal Formula, Liu Wei Di Huang Wan - Rehmannia Six Formula, helps nourish the Kidney and Liver Yin, addressing such conditions as hot flashes, blurry vision, urinary incontinence, and dizziness.
Another classic formula, Xiao Yao Wan - Bulpeurum & Tang Kuei Formula, opens liver Qi congestion and tonifies blood while supporting the Spleen, adressing such conditions as anxiety, depression, PMS, loss of appetite, constipation, bloating and dizziness.
Consult with a herbal medicine specialist to help determine the best formula for your condition.
Tea Recipes for the Liver
- Drink one cup of dandelion tea three times per day for a week to stimulate liver function.
- Drink one cup of milk thistle, an antioxidant, or sage tea three times a day for three weeks.
The liver is involved in a wide range of ailments. The points listed below do not treat all possible manifestations of liver issues. They either treat the liver directly via liver and gall bladder points or indirectly via eye points, as the eyes are the outward expression of the liver.
BL 1 - Bright Eyes: Located on the medial boarder of the orbit of the eye, BL 1 helps alleviate a number of eye conditions such as redness, swelling and pain, lacrimation on wind exposure, blurred vision, dimness of vision, night blindness, color blindness, and near sightedness.
Extra point Yu Yao - Fish Waist: Located at the center of the eyebrows, Yu Yao benefits the eyes and relaxes the sinews. It helps reduce redness, swelling and pain of the eyes, superficial visual obstruction, twitching and drooping of the eyelids.
GB 1 - Pupil Crevice: Located in the hollow at the lateral side of the orbital margin, GB 1 helps alleviate eye pain, redness, swelling, lacrimation, itching of the eyes, short sightedness, dimness of vision and night blindness.
ST 2 - Four Whites: Located in a depression about one thumb width directly below the pupil, ST 2 helps alleviate redness and pain of the eyes, superficial visual obstruction, dimness of vision, visual dizziness, itching eyes, excessive lacrimation and twitching of the eyelids.
BL 10 - Celestial Pillar: Located directly below the occiput about a thumbs width lateral to the cervical spine, BL 10 benefits the sensory orifices. It helps alleviate bursting eye pain, redness of the eyes, blurred vision and lacrimation.
GB 20 - Wind Pool: Located below the occiput at the base of the skull about two thumb widths from the cervical spine, GB 20 alleviates redness and pain of the eyes, blurred vision, lacrimation especially on exposure to wind, night blindness and dimness of vision.
LIV 2 - Moving Between: Located on the top of the feet between in the webbing between the first and second toes, LIV 2 addresses a host of liver related issues such as headaches, eye diseases, propensity to anger, contracted sinews, and lumbar pain with difficulty flexing and extending the back.
LIV 3 - Great Rushing: Located on the top of the feet, in the hollow distal to the junction of the first and second metatarsal bones, LIV 3 addresses a host of liver related issues such as headaches, dizziness, insomnia, blurred vision, cracked or swollen lips, irregular menstruation, difficult urination, as well as distention and pain of the lateral coastal region.
GB 8 - Leading Valley: Located in the temporal region in a small depression about the width of the thumb directly above the apex of the ear, GB 8 treats one-sided headaches, migraines with ceaseless vomiting, dizziness, eye disorders and injury by alcohol with vomiting.
GB 34 - Yang Mound Spring: Located on the lateral side of the lower legs just below the knees, GB 34 benefits sinews and joints, spreads liver Qi, clears liver and gallbladder damp heat, and benefits the lateral costal region.
LIV 13 - Completion Gate: Located at the end of the eleventh rib on the lateral side of the body, LIV 13 harmonizes the relationship between the Liver and the Spleen with emphasis on disorders of the abdomen and intestines giving rise to propensity to anger, distention and pain of the abdomen, IBS, borborygmus (A rumbling noise produced by the movement of gas through the intestines), alternating diarrhoea and constipation, and loss of appetite.
LIV 14 - Cycle Gate: Located below the center of the breasts in the sixth intercostal space, LIV 14 spreads liver Qi and harmonizes the liver. It helps alleviate a host of liver-related conditions such as pain, distention and fullness of the chest, epigastric distention and pain, acid regurgitation, alternating chills and fever, stiffness and pain of the head and neck, uterine bleeding and gallstones.
- Be physically active every day for up to an hour doing something you enjoy.
- Relaxation exercises are important to calm the liver.
- A spinal massage helps to stimulate liver activity.
- Healthy sexual expression fortifies the liver
Qi Gong for Liver Issues
The liver is an important organ which influences many body processes. Liver imbalance can lead to a number of different health problems such as Cirrhosis, Hepatitis, Dermatitis, Allergies, eye problems, headaches, indigestion, irregular menstruation, PMS, depression, and the list goes on.
When the liver is unhealthy it becomes bigger, then over time if the issues are not resolved, the liver becomes smaller and then later hardens and no longer works. Qi Gong exercises can still help even if the liver is already hardened.
As in all Qi Gong exercises follow the general guidelines listed below:
- Remain Rooted to the Earth
- Crown of Head Touching the Sky
- Remain Quiet, Peaceful and Relaxed
- Open the body to the Universe
- Smile from the Heart
- Stay within your Natural Ability
Consult your doctor if in doubt about your ability to practice the following exercises.
1. Progressive Relaxation (Big-as-the-Universe Meditation)
Sit on the edge of a chair, feet shoulder width apart, back of wrists resting on the thighs just above the knees (Facing down if you have high blood pressure), eyes half closed. It is important to relax the body inside and out.
As you inhale gently through the nose imagine the head expanding out as big as the universe. Exhale and relax. Continue the exercise for the throat, shoulders, chest, abdomen, hips, arms and hands and legs and feet. Repeat 3 to 5 times. Then continue the exercise expanding the whole body as you inhale inside and out as big as the universe. Exhale and relax. Repeat 6 times.
2. Abdominal Breathing
Inhale through the nose, to the count of seven, expanding the abdomen. Exhale through the nose to the count of ten letting the chest drop. Repeat 10 to 30 times. The breath must be gentle, silent, slow, deep and unbroken. Let the inhalation rise on its own from the space between exhalation and inhalation.
3. Eye Exercises
Raise the palms into a prayer position, thumbs pointing to the mid chest area.
- Close Eyes Completely
Inhale, visualizing looking far into the distance. Exhale, visualize looking near. Repeat 4 to 28 times
- Open Eyes
Inhale, looking far into the distance. Exhale, closing eyes, looking near. Repeat 4 to 28 times
- Close Eyes Completly
Inhale, rotating the eye balls to the left, down and up the opposite side, in a “U”. Exhale, rotating the eyeball in the opposite direction, in a “U”. Repeat 4 to 28 times
- Open Eyes
Keep eyes open without blinking for six breaths. Then as you inhale open eyes bigger, as you exhale let the eyes stay open but relaxed.
4. Stretching the Qi
Move the hands to the front of the abdomen, palms head-width apart facing each other. Look straight ahead into the distance. You can see the center of the palms in your peripheral vision. Inhale gently through the nose to the count of seven moving the hands outward to the width of the shoulders. Exhale through the nose to the count of ten moving the hands back to the original position. Repeat 9 to 12 times
5. Acupressure for the Eyes
The eyes are the outward expression of the liver. Also an interior branch of the liver meridian passes through tissue that surrounds the eyes on its way to Du 20, located at the crown of the head. Massaging key acupoints around the eyes not only improves the health of the eyes but also of the liver.
Palms facing each other, flex all fingers and thumbs lightly except the index finger which remains extended. We use the index finger, palms of the hands facing each other, to massage the points around each eye.
The points to massage are summarized under the acupuncture/ acupressure section. They are in the order of treatment: BL 1 or Bright Eyes, Extra Point Yu Yao, GB 1 or Pupil Crevice, and ST 2 or Four Whites.
Once you find the point with the index finger, inhale applying pressure on the point, then as you exhale release the pressure. Repeat 6 to 13 times.
Then massage the tops of the feet with the heel of the opposite foot, rubbing the entire front half of the foot for a few minutes focusing on painful areas.
6. Clearing out Toxic Liver Qi
Rest the edge of the left hand on the navel, aligning the center of the palm with the liver. The right hand is placed over the liver along the floating ribs. The tongue loosely touches the upper teeth.
Inhale and visualise bringing vibrant, healthy energy to the center of the palms and the liver. Exhale and visualise clearing out the liver of toxic energy. On exhalation pronounce the healing sound Shu, vibrating the sides of the mouth. Repeat 50 times
7. Vitalizing the Liver
Place the mind in the liver area for 15 to 20 minutes to help build more energy. Imagine the liver is a healthy bluish green color.
8. Closing Method
Sitting or standing posture. Placing the palms over navel area. Ladies: right hand under, left over. Men: left hand under, right over.
- Massage lower abdomen in a spiral movement 9 times in each direction.
- Massage from the throat down to the pubic bone 9 times.
- Massage from the floating ribs to the pubic bone 9 times.
- Rub hands together 9 times until they are warm.
- Place palms over face, exhale massaging the face from front to back. Repeat 9 times.
- Bend fingers and brush back hard from eyebrows to back of head along the center line of the head. Repeat 6 times.
- Massage the ears with the thumbs. Focus on areas of discomfort. Repeat 3 times.
- Massage the throat with the heel of the hands. Repeat 6 to 9 times.
- Drum the Qi with the fingers (Palms cupped and placed over the ears)
- Collect Qi to navel, relax and SOONG head to toes 3 to 6 times.
- Balanced Healing by Larry Altshuler, M.D.
- Healing With Whole Foods, Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition by Paul Pitchford
- Encyclopedia of Natural Healing, A Practical Self-Help Guide by Siegfried Gursche, MH, with Zoltan Rona, M.D., MSc and the Alive Research
- A Manual of Acupuncture by Peter Deadman & Mazin Al-Khafaji with Kevin Parker
- Special Thanks to Qi Gong Grand Masters Weizhao Wu and T.K. Shih