Start with your LIVER
By Kim Lally
Spring ... it's really coming! Longer days, buds on the trees, warm sunny afternoons....
Now is the time to do that spring cleaning..... in the home, in your closet, in your body. But, the closet can wait... first step is to cleanse the Liver. And you are just in time.... as we move into spring, traditional Chinese medicine tells us that the body moves into Liver season.
The liver is the body’s main organ of detoxification. Everything we eat and drink is filtered by the liver including medications and drugs, food and beverages, even airborne materials.
When out of balance, the liver gets stagnant. Symptoms of this may surprise you....headaches, teeth grinding, eye issues (especially the right eye), feeling hot all the time, pms, fibroids, prostate inflammation, irritability, anger, impatience, hip pain, thyroid issues, toenail discoloration (especially yellow and large toes), waking up between 1am and 3am and feeling restless, an overall feeling of being stuck in one’s life and more....
If you experience any of these -- I, for example, have a perpetually weepy right eye — consider food in this context to support your liver and and gallbladder. Foods have an energetic quality. A food that is dry, like a cracker or hard like a chip, has a contracting or gathering energetic effect. Iced beverages, ice cream or anything frozen also has a contracting effect on our organs. Conversely, fruit juices, fruit (especially tropical), raw salad and oil have an expanding effect*.
Located on under the lowest ribs on the right side, the 3 pound liver is nourished by foods and liquids that have a gently upward energy. Foods have energy? Take carrots – we know in the west that they have Vitamin A and beta carotene, but since they have both a root and green tops, in the Eastern medicine, they have both upward and downward energy. Thus they have benefits for different parts of the body.
Eating foods with upward energy means thinking light and fresh, not heavy. Think green - plenty of leafy vegetables including: kale, collards, bok choy, cabbage, watercress, mustard greens, leek, daikon and carrot tops, radish greens, dandelion greens, lettuce.. you get the idea. They all have an upward energy about them. Beets, sprouts, radishes and mushrooms are also helpful. In addition, fresh herbs like dill, cilantro and parsley are wonderful to support the liver. Whole grains like brown rice, barley, millet, quinoa, spelt, kamut oats and wheat berries are all helpful. Try to eat more vegetables to grain proportionally. And don't forget the ginger.
Avoid foods like crackers, bread, bagels, and cereals, even if made from whole grains, as they are baked and dry, and hence have downward and grounding energy.
Try to incorporate the sour taste 3-4 times a week as that is the flavor that helps release stagnation in the liver and gallbladder. Sour can come from: sauerkraut, Granny Smith apple, lemon, brown rice vinegar, sour plum, cherry and fermented foods. If you do not like the sour taste, usually it means you need it. A little lemon squeezed on your greens will do wonders.
Don't forget to 'clean house' emotionally, too. Our emotions have a very significant effect on the liver. To relieve and support the liver, practice patience and forgiveness. Have compassion and try to let go of resentment. The liver is hurt by negative feelings like anger and holding onto the past. Strive to be free of these emotions. And when possible, get outdoors, go to a park and feel your feet in the grass.
Then, come home and tackle that closet. Show that liver some LOVE and you'll have renewed energy and lightness!