Loving Your Liver- Why it is so Important!
1st picture: Liver, Gallbladder, and Bile Ducts
2nd and 3rd picture: I created a liver design out of dandelions, violets demonstrating the left lobe of the liver, and the dandelion leaves and stems as the portal vein and bile ducts
Happy May Day! I don't know about you but I have always loved the month of May...it is my favorite month of the year! May is a beauitful time with all of the new blooms of spring, the air smells fragrant of beautiful flowers, and the days are getting longer and warmer. The ice and cold has left and new life has taken its place. I have some fun posts coming up this month to celebrate this beautiful month...so keep an eye out :)
I’ve been talking quite a bit about our liver lately and its importance in our overall health and well-being. I felt like it may be important for me to share some of the reasons why this is such a vital concern to our health. Being aware of this important organ is so crucial right now, especially in the spring when this organ is working overtime for us after the winter months.
Our liver sits directly under our right ribcage and is a very important member of the immune system.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the liver is responsible for the flow of “chi” or energy and was considered to “house the soul” and also called the “seat of life.” The name liver derives from the Anglo Saxon verb, which means “to live.” Our liver definitely helps us to live, we cannot live without one for sure. The health of our liver can also determine how long we live and how healthy our lived days on earth will be.
The gallbladder is also extremely important in our overall liver function and aids the liver in its many jobs. The gallbladder is said to be the “eye” of the liver and in Traditional Chinese Medicine is called “the decision maker.”
Many people have asked if they still need to be concerned about liver/gallbladder support and/or detoxification if they have had their gallbladders surgically removed. My answer to them is, if you have had your gallbladder removed, then you need even more liver support and detoxification because one of your liver’s greatest helpers is no longer intact. Also, the main root of the problem wasn’t removed because of your gallbladder removal. The root of a problem doesn’t just disappear because an organ was removed.
Your liver is still producing bile every day even without a gallbladder. I will explain more about the importance of proper bile flow further into this article, but for now let’s learn a little more bout the liver’s importance in our overall health.
Our liver is very forgiving, regenerative, and repairs itself but it is also very overburdened because of the environment we live in today, being frequently called our chemical warehouse. One of its main jobs is to assist in the removal of harmful chemicals, heavy metals, drugs, toxins, excess hormones, mycotoxins, pesticides, herbicides, and other toxic materials. If our liver is not functioning properly, then proper elimination of these wastes can get reabsorbed back into our blood stream causing internal toxicity.
Our liver is our master detoxifier in the body and it works very closely with each and every organ in the body, especially other elimination organs, such as the kidneys, bowels, skin, lymphatic system, and lungs. All of these organs work in unison with each other and when one of these organs is under stress, the other organs have to work that much harder to compensate. When you improve your liver, you are also supporting your kidneys and other elimination channels because they all support each other in the detoxification process.
If you are dealing with lymph stagnation (clogged lymph) always look to the liver and colon (small and large intestines). Think of your elimination system as a large funnel. Your intestinal system is the largest opening of the funnel, then in order of your liver, your kidneys, and your lymph being at the very top of the funnel, with the tiny opening. How can your lymph flow properly when your bowels are constipated and your liver and kidneys are backed up? There must be a systematic approach to working with your elimination organs to have a desirable healing effect.
Remember when there is stagnation in the body, this is where disease can thrive. Getting the lymphatic flow moving properly and freely within our digestive system first is crucial to our overall lymphatic drainage pathways and health. We cannot have healthy lymphatic flow in our head, neck, arms, breasts, and legs, etc., when our GI health is sluggish, imbalanced, or in a stagnant condition.
The liver is mostly responsible for the blood and the health of our entire system. When we detoxify, nourish, and build the liver, we in turn strengthen our whole system, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I mention this because in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the liver is connected with the emotions anger, frustration, unforgiveness, resentment, and depression.
When our liver is overloaded with toxic matter and stagnancy, these emotional vibrational frequencies can also get stuck in the liver, creating more emotional toxicity and unstability. Working with our liver can also assist in releasing these pent up emotions and create a freedom and ease that may not have been possible before. Moving stuck energy in the body, such as stuck emotions also greatly assists in optimal immune function.
I have seen some of my patients have some anger issues rise up during a liver flush or other detoxifying processes, but after the toxins are released, the anger and bitterness leaves and they are left feeling refreshed with a new sense of vitality and lightness.
Our liver performs over 500 known metabolic tasks and is involved in almost every, if not all of the body’s many functions.
Always remember though, for the liver to function optimally the bowels must first be moving well on a daily basis! Never do a liver detoxification or cleanse if your bowels are not moving or you are dealing with constipation. The liver empties its toxic compounds into the large intestine and if this is not functioning properly, your liver retains the toxicity and your blood stream reabsorbs the toxic matter. Remember the funnel example I gave you several paragraphs back, the colon is the largest part of the funnel, your largest elimination organ out of the body. This pathway has to be flowing first before the liver and other elimination organs can flow properly! Cleansing these areas, especially the bowels and liver is of vital importantance in the prevention of these organs being hospitable to infections and inflammation.
One of the biggest reasons for chronic constipation that I see in most individuals is sluggish bile flow, which brings me to another very important function of the liver…the manufacturer of bile. Bile is needed for the proper absorption and digestion of fats in our body.
Bile is a digestive juice produced by the liver. You'll find this thick, yellow-green substance in the gallbladder, where it's stored until the body needs bile to digest fats. Bile is also important for gut health because bile protects the gut from being prone to infections. Bile helps to optimize the ph in the digestive tract and assists in the secretion of immunoglobulin A, which is crucial in immune system health, so getting the bile moving in the gut is very important for the immune system in the GI tract.
When we have a sluggish liver, gallbladder, and bile flow, our bodies are prone to inflammation, gut dysbiosis, parasitic infections, gallstones, estrogen dominance, among many other health issues.
Interestingly enough, bile also helps to make lung or pulmonary surfactant. Pulmonary surfactant is a mixture of lipids and proteins which is secreted into the alveolar space by epithelial type II cells. The main function of this surfactant is to lower the surface tension at the air/liquid interface within the alveoli of the lungs. This process also prevents environmental pathogens from entering the lungs.
care of our liver and bile flow can also support our lung function and overall
immune health! This is certainly a crucial time, with Covid19, to be seriously
thinking about what we can do to support this incredible body system. It has also been noted that the Covid19 virus exits the body through the liver and colon, making this another very important reason to take care of our livers and elimination system, especially during this pandemic time!
What can we do to support our liver and bile flow?
If you have been one of my patients for a period of time, I might have walked you through the process of doing a liver flush. This can be a very important and productive way to cleanse and detoxify an overloaded liver and get stagnant bile moving again.
Please do not attempt doing a liver flush without the help of a health professional though. This is a guided protocol that needs to be followed with a prep and post phase. I have worked on this specific process and protocol over the years of being in practice and I have found it to work very well. The flush process has also prevented many from having to go through gallbladder removal surgery.
*Keep our bowels moving well on a daily basis
*Eat plenty of spring greens, red beets, and foods rich in phosphatidyl choline (which helps with liver and gallbladder stagnation)
*Castor oil packs over our liver area
*Eliminate processed and chemically processed foods from diet
*Eliminate alcohol or greatly reduce alcohol intake
*Include plenty of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables into daily diet
*Eliminate conventional store bought meat and dairy products that have been treated with hormones, steroids, and other chemicals (your liver works very hard to eliminate all of these toxins)
*Take liver supportive and bitter herbs to help soften sludge and stones in the gallbladder/liver area
*Work on our emotional health, practicing forgiveness, and making time for prayer and/or meditation into our daily lifestyle
*Getting proper movement daily
*Staying well hydrated with fresh purified water
*Juicing daily with fresh vegetables
*Eliminating allergenic and inflammatory foods that cause stagnation in our systems
*Use body care and cleaning care products that are free of contaminants, phthalates, parabens, fragrances, petroleum, and formaldehydes, aldehydes, and petrochemicals
*Eat a diet according to our personal body constitution
*Keeping our digestive system function optimal by removing infections, inflammation, and parasitic infestations
*Getting adequate rest
*Getting fresh air and grounding daily
*Incorporating the spring dandelion into your diet..making sure the dandelions you are collecting have been untreated with pesticides
Dandelion is growing everywhere right now in abundance! What a blessing we have this medicine growing free in our yards and all over.
To make a simple but very effective dandelion tea:
gather the fresh root (4 TBSP washed and cut well), 1 cup of the leaves (cut) and 1/2 cup of the flower tops, place the root into a pot with a quart of filtered water and let water come to a boil, turn down heat to a simmer and let simmer for 15 minutes (cover pot while simmering). After simmering time, turn off heat and take pot off stove, add leaves, and flowers and let steep in pot for several hours. Strain and compost spent herbs, and drink 1 quart daily.
*If you access to fresh burdock and/or yellow dock root, add these in too for even more liver and blood cleansing support. Add a smaller amount of root from the burdock and yellow dock than the dandelion root (3-4 TBSP).
*You may triple this recipe and have enough tea for 3 days...but drink the prepared tea after 3 days in fridge..it will keep no longer than this time refrigerated.
You can also make the roasted dandelion root tea (recipe in "Creating a Dandelion Meal") that is also very effective and potent.
You can add the chopped fresh dandelion root to salads, soups, eggs, or whatever else you prefer. Remember the root part is the most medicinal for the liver, gallbladder, and as a proper bile flow aid. The leaves and flower tops are certainly liver supportive too but the root has the most gold for aiding in liver stagnation. Use the leaves and flowers in your salads, stir frys, sautes, teas, and however you desire.
Dandelion is rich in minerals and vitamins and is a wonderful blood builder, liver cleanser, and increases the flow of bile into the intestines. Dandelion helps to boost immune function, assisting the body in fighting off bacteria, fungi, and viruses. This miracle plant is a bitter herb. Bitter herbs stimulate digestion. They also help to stimulate the liver and pancreas to assist with the digestive process and are made from herbs and plants that have a sharp and pungent taste and smell.
I have attached some recipes below that can are liver supportive and a few recipes incorporating dandelion into your spring diet to aid your liver function and bile flow for your optimal health.