According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), spring time is the time of the year when the liver revs up and cleans the body out.
From a western perspective the liver cleans blood, breaks down hormones, cleans up toxins, and metabolizes drugs. It also secretes bile, which helps us absorb fats, and makes proteins for blood clotting. The liver produces cholesterol, stores and releases glucose as needed, and converts harmful ammonia to urea (which is excreted in urine). Lastly it processes hemoglobin which is used for iron, helps in removing bacteria from blood and produces immune factors, clearance of biliruban (preventing that “yellow” look in your eyes and skin).
TCM uses a different explanation of the body and its organs to explain illness. In this philosophy the liver has different functions that affect different aspects of the body:
- Smooth flow of emotions as well as Qi (energy) and blood (a denser form of energy). It controls the volume and flow of blood while also storing blood
- Eye is the sensory organ associated with the liver, therefore; any eye issues (dry eyes, itchy, red, light sensitivity) are a liver issue.
- Tendons are the tissue associated with the liver. TCM says that strength comes from the tendons, not muscles. “Be like the cat that is strong, agile, and flexible, not the cow, which has huge muscles but little real strength.”
- The taste that corresponds to and supports the liver is sour and bitter. If you crave these foods, this may be your liver communicating that it needs an extra help. (lemon, swiss chard, dandelion greens, vinegar etc)
- Anger is the emotion associated with the Liver. Trouble winding down, irritability, quick to anger, difficult to rationalize or let go, difficulty with relinquishing control, all point to a liver function problem. Also, the more you experience these emotions, chronically or in excess, the more unbalanced your Liver function is.
I love using TCM to diagnose and treat because it can explain so many things all at once. Say you have been under chronic stress and are very irritable and have eye pain and migraines and have trouble getting to sleep at night. All those symptoms point to a liver imbalance, and just by supporting the liver, all the symptoms will dissipate.
Tips to balance your liver meridian:
- Move! Helping the liver move blood helps the liver so its job
- Eat bitter and sour foods
- Use a lufa scrub or hair brush and stimulate the inside of your ankles and calves. This helps stimulate the liver meridian
- Acupressure: stimulate the acupuncture point Liver 3. This is the “command point” and helps open and balance the whole liver meridian
- Practice calming practices such as yoga, breathing, walking.. that will help subdue emotions