Love Your Liver This Spring – An Integrative Approach

 

By Anne Chiaramonte, M.S., L.Ac., FABORM

 

Are you feeling motivated to clean out your closet and finally finish some projects you had on your to-do list from the beginning of the year? Spring is here and bringing with it much needed sun and longer days. In Chinese medicine, each organ system is associated with a season. The liver system is associated with spring as it harnesses the energy of the season and gives us the motivation to get out of hibernation mode and make things happen.

 

Spring is a great time to reset the body and mind and really commit to those health goals we declared on New Year’s Day. In Chinese medicine, it’s natural to focus on the liver in the spring. A healthy liver helps us to filter chemicals, balance hormones, reduce allergies and manage stress. Helping the liver is like cleaning out your closet or changing the oil filter in your car.

 

The Liver Organ- An East-West Perspective

 

The liver is a large organ that stores and metabolizes nutrients, destroys toxins and produces bile (essential for digesting fats). The liver is responsible for thousands of biochemical reactions throughout the body and helps balance our blood sugar. It is our master filter for our entire body as blood is pumped in and out of the liver constantly. It is the liver’s job to filter clean, healthy blood for the rest of the body, including the brain and the heart.

 

The liver relies on our nutrition to work optimally.  It thrives on antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients, all wonderful things we can get from our diet.  It works better without a lot of exposure to chemicals like pesticides, gas fumes and conventional household cleaning products. Inflammation can slow down our liver function so chronic stress and pain have an impact here.

 

In Chinese medicine, we talk about organ systems. The liver system stores blood and circulates it throughout the entire body. It regulates the menstrual cycle, plays a vital role in vision and nourishes our tendons. A healthy liver system is important for regulating our emotions and feeling happy, and for supporting the digestive system. As a practitioner of Chinese medicine, an acupuncturist will assess the health of the liver organ in a patient by observing the sides of the tongue, the nails, and eyes and by asking questions about stress, pain, and digestion and for women, the menstrual cycle. The liver meridian is the channel of energy that provides a direct route for balancing this system with acupuncture.

 

Signs of a Sluggish Liver

 

A liver that is backed up or not working optimally can present as hormonal imbalance, fatigue, headaches, allergies, and more.  In fact, it is so central to the function of all our organs that the list of symptoms is nearly endless. Signs of a liver system out of balance from a Chinese medical perspective include eye twitching, dizziness, irritability, constipation, irregular menstrual cycles and insomnia, just to name a few. Most of the patients I see in my practice have a seemingly healthy liver organ according to labs (normal liver enzymes) and yet after addressing the liver many of their symptoms will improve.

 

Supporting The Liver

 

Here are 6 key ways in which we can support our liver throughout the year:

  • Eat liver-loving food: Aim for 3-6 cups of a wide variety of organic vegetables a day, or a minimum of 25 grams of fiber with plenty of water. Eat organic grass-fed meats, pasture-raised eggs, wild-caught fish and legumes, nuts and seeds. Healthy fats found in avocado, coconut oil, cold-pressed olive oil and macadamia nut oil are fuel for the liver. In Chinese medicine, sour foods like lemons and fermented foods have an affinity for the liver system.
  • Remove or reduce sugar, alcohol, and inflammatory fats like trans fats and seed oils like soy, canola and corn oils.
  • Have healthy bowel movements: Because one of the ways our liver gets rid of toxins is through the large intestine, at least one healthy bowel movement daily is important.
  • Exercise: Moving our bodies increases circulation, helps us to sweat toxins and reduces inflammation and greatly benefits our mood. Keep up the yoga!
  • Relax: Soak in nature and surround yourself with green plants. Spend quality time with people who make you laugh!
  • Acupuncture: Get regular acupuncture treatments that focus on the liver system. Acupuncture treatments are typically recommended once a month or once a quarter as tune-ups are as much as twice a week for chronic issues.

 

Cleansing The Liver

 

In my practice I use supplements that give all the nutrients essential for the liver to run its detoxification pathways alongside dietary modifications and weekly acupuncture. My typical liver cleanse is three weeks long. Sometimes this three-week cleanse is all that is needed to push the reset button and other times the cleanse serves as a solid foundation for other health concerns.

 

Ready for a spring cleanse? Choose one of three seasonal offerings to get started!

 

Spring Detox + Allergy Acupuncture Package $399 + 15% supplements ($40 savings or more)

This package blends acupuncture and a custom liver detox – a perfect combo to address seasonal allergies, balance hormones or jump-start a wellness program. This 21-day program begins with a 75-minute intake followed by 5 30-minute acupuncture appointments for a total of 6 acupuncture treatments in 3 weeks. All necessary detox supplements are 15% off for a package savings of $40 or more.

 

Spring Detox + Allergy Acupuncture (30-minutes) $55 ($49 members)

This treatment gets straight to the point by focusing on the liver meridian which is the meridian associated with spring in Chinese medicine. A healthy liver helps us to filter chemicals, balance hormones and manage stress. Specific points for allergies are selected for those people who have a tough time during this season.

 

Spring Detox Acupuncture Clinic – $30 ($25 members)

Our Third Thursday community acupuncture clinic will focus on the liver channel in the months of April and May. In Chinese medicine, spring is the perfect time to detox the body by supporting the liver. The liver is the most important organ involved in our natural detoxification process. The liver meridian used in acupuncture supports detox as well as stress relief, hormone balancing and helps to calm down seasonal allergies. Blending acupuncture and essential oils, this treatment is 20-minutes and ends with a yummy stress-relieving elixir.

 

In Health,

Anne Chiaramonte, M.S., L.Ac., FABORM

Anne is an acupuncturist and herbalist and a fellow of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine. She founded Arrive Reproductive Medicine in 2018 when she moved from San Francisco to Santa Cruz after 15 years in practice. Her practice is exclusively at Luma Yoga.