The liver is a great friend to the body; like a giant filter, it works very hard to eliminate toxins, help us process our food, including fats and oils, and renew our cells. It is a seat of power and vitality. It is also our largest internal organ. Without it, the other organs would not be able to function as well as they do, we would not recover as well from illness and we would not be able to digest and eliminate toxins in our foods as successfully.
There are many traditional Chinese herbal medicines to support the liver as it works to detox the body. Usually created as a combination of herbs, one of the main formulations for the liver is xiao yao san. In Chinese medicine, the liver also rules the eyes and nails, as a well as tendons. Problems with eyesight may be a reflection of the liver being stressed or overworked.
Other signs that the liver is being overworked can include: tiredness, dark circles under the eyes, fatigue, allergies, a bitter taste in the mouth, headaches and poor concentration. Rashes and skin problems may also be a sign that the body is having trouble getting rid of toxins, as the skin is another important organ of elimination. If you are frequently getting sick or catching cold this can also indicate you have a stressed liver.
Some of the foods, Western herbs, and Chinese herbs to help the liver include:
- Dark green vegetables
- Milk thistle
- Carrots and orange sweet potato
- Dandelion tea
- Pau D’Arco
- Baical Skullcap
Adding these to your normal diet, or as teas or supplements or made into cakes can make it easier for the liver to do a good job. Reducing the amount of alcohol you consume, eliminating chemicals from foods and avoiding processed foods, reducing your exposure to environmental toxins such as car fumes or paints will also help ease up the workload for the liver.
Occasionally, you may wish to “do a detox”, but really, if you have a toxic lifestyle, doing the occasional detox will not offer you a significant long-term benefit. It would be better to make living a liver-healthy lifestyle the norm, not the exception. Adding a daily glass of freshly squeezed beetroot, lemon and ginger juice ; or drinking milk thistle or dandelion tea.
Cooking with ginger, carrot and leafy green vegetables can be a tasty way to help out your liver. Mint is also a refreshing ingredient to add to pasta or salads and goes well with lamb. The classic cleanser, is, of course, the glass of fresh lemon juice before breakfast. It’s a great kick-starter for the metabolism as well as a boost for the health of the liver.
If you really want to start taking better care of the liver, these simple dietary changes can be helped along by the addition of Chinese herbal medicines to your regime. Traditional combinations to support the liver can be provided by your qualified TCM practitioner in easy to swallow pill forms, which most people prefer over the loose herbs or liquid supplements.
Katherine West is a health freak and freelance writer who in 2003 studied for a Diploma of Nutrition. She is also into yoga and pilates.