Spring is here in all its glory after lots of rain. In Chinese Medicine we see the individual as the microcosm reflecting all of nature. The seasons reflect within us, as well all of the elements we see in nature; fire, water, earth, metal and wood. Because it is the season of spring, and in Chinese Medicine we say that springtime is when our liver energy is at it’s peak, it is a special opportunity to detoxify and nourish our liver- essentially to LOVE our liver. In spring everything in nature is teeming with possibility and new life. Birds are finding mates, building nests, starting new life. Flowers are budding, new grass is growing, leaves are unfurling. There is a newness, a freshness and a delicacy to all this new life, yet it takes an incredible force to birth newness. Whether in nature or in ourselves, be it a new challenge, an idea, some kind of growth or transformation- that is the liver energy at work. The liver energy represents both the delicacy and the force of energy necessary for this new life or transformation to take place. When we feel stuck, or are experiencing a lot of irritability and depression, this is a signal that your liver is stagnant and needs some attention.
From a physiological point of view, the liver is an amazing organ system that we all should appreciate. Some stats: the liver is huge- about three pounds, It is the second largest organ in the body (skin being the largest). It is also the largest gland in the body. It makes sure the right elements get in and the wrong ones are eliminated. Using an intricate network of specialized cells, the liver transforms and detoxifies nutrients and chemicals in our blood.
Linked to the digestive tract, the liver processes the bi-products of food digestion and changes it into essential nutrients such as proteins, fats and vitamins. It produces bile necessary to emulsify fats. It produces and manages cholesterol, which is needed for cell structure. The liver also stores sugars (glycogen) for quick energy and converts iron into heme, the main oxygen-transporting molecule in red blood cells. Talk about creativity- Liver is the most regenerative organ- able to literally re-create itself!
So the liver functions as the gatekeeper, regulator of nutritional health and as a purifying system. Playing a major role in circulation and the composition of blood, it’s no wonder the immune system, digestive tract, kidneys, brain, cardiovascular system and the regulation of sex hormones are all dependent on a healthy liver.
Here are 3 ways you can love your liver:
Toss- toxic products from your life, they sneak into your body through body and home products from sunscreens, moisturizers to deodorant and detergents. Some contain chemicals that act as toxins and hormone disruptors, adding a huge work load to your liver. Check out the Environmental Working Group's website and App to vet your products with their well-researched rating system.
Cleanse- Consider a detoxifying dietary cleanse anywhere from 10 to 21 days. Let a DHH practitioner tailor a detox program just for you or try a the DHH basic gentle detox. Pro tips: get prepared ahead of time, making sure you have all the foods you need in the house before you start. Focus on all the yummy foods you CAN eat, not on what you are avoiding. Hydration is key. You will feel great and do your liver a huge favor!
Meditate- Power down your device and give your mind a break from all the DOING. This will help your mood and productivity. You might even recover your inspiration and creativity! If you are new to this, try Headspace. 10 minutes a day for 10 days- this free trial offers instruction on mindfulness with Andy. He makes it super easy.
Enjoy the spring in your step you gain from a happy and healthy liver!