Q: I'm looking for a few tips to help me out with some liver issues I've been experiencing. Any advice would be helpful.
A: I've provided a list of symptoms for someone who has liver issues (in TCM lingo this is called Qi Stagnation of the Liver or qi ye gan). I've recommended some specific foods, herbs and strategies to help the liver, including castor oil packs, glutathione, the gi gong exercise of "beating the bag" and the inner smile meditation technique.
Signs that You Have an Issue with Your Liver
(Qi Stagnation of the Liver, qi ye gan):
Note: there are other classifications in TCM involving the liver (heat in the liver, yin & blood deficiency and wind issues) for which there are specific foods and herbs, however the following suggestions are useful for ALL liver issues :)
Generally speaking, do BE NICE to the liver:
As noted above, the bitter taste helps the liver to digest food better, so if you have chronic digestive issues, take 1 dropperful (30 drops) of one of the following tinctures in a bit of water 15-30 minutes before meals (right before the meal if your case is very bad) and be sure to swish it in your mouth for 30 seconds before swallowing:
Specific herbs that will help tonify and detox the liver are:
Castor Oil Packs
Castor oil is a viscuous liquid known for drawing out poisons from the skin and lymphatic system. To do: Place some of the oil on the skin where your liver is located and/or place some oil on a piece of flannel cloth (or 1-2 sheets of large gauze). Put the cloth/gauze over the skin where your liver is located, then use plastic cling wrap and wind the cling wrap around your waist to hold the cloth in place. Place a towel over the area and then hold a hot water bottle over the towel. Sit or lie down for the next 20-30 minutes (up to 1 hour) while the oil helps to detoxify the area, then remove the cling wrap and cloth and wash the area with soap and water. Recommended: 1x a week or 2x a month.
Glutathione is an important enzyme that the liver produces for detoxification purposes. You can take a supplement or you can try this cofee enema technique that is used by the Gerson Institute.
To do: put 2-3 TBsp of organic ground coffee in a pot with 4 cups water. Let come to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. Let cool, then pour through a sieve lined with a coffee filter. Add additional water to make 4 cups of liquid. Make sure the liquid is finger hot as too cold or too hot will shock the intestines. Put the liquid in a clean enema bag (wash it out with soap and water prior to using). Hang the enema bag up, lube your nozzle and anus and lie down on your right side. You may want to place some towels on the floor first. Open the valve and let the liquid flow in. If you feel cramps, close the nozzle and wait until they pass. Remember that you can open or close the valve at any time, so you can monitor how much liquid flows in. When the enema bag is empty, set a timer for 12-15 minutes. You can massage your intestines during this time, lie quietly and do breathing or meditate or read a book. When the time is up, evacuate (don't force) the enema out. Massaging your intestines from the small intestine to the large intestine can help the liquid to pass more readily out.
Nb. If the liquid seems "stuck," try: 1- first do a mini enema of 1-2 cups of pure water OR chamomile OR mint tea (hold for 5 minutes before evacauting), then do the coffee enema. 2- Add 1-2 tsp 3% food grade hydrogen peroxide to the coffee enema, then add to the enema bag. IMPORTANT: follow the instructions on the bottle, you want to use 3% hyrdogen peroxide, NOT full strength.
Coffee enemas, besides removing waste, have also been shown to increase glutathione levels. How they work: during the time you are holding in the coffee, the stimulating action of the coffee irritates the liver into producing more glutathione. Since the liver cleanses the blood every 3 minutes and you are holding in the coffee for 12-15 minutes, for the next 4-5 cycles, more glutathione is produced, hence your liver is better able to detoxify. Interestingly, the coffee enema used to be a technique that was recommended by the Merck Manual back in the 1970s.
There are various ways to help with stress, including tai chi, yoga, meditation, deep breathing and qi gong exercises. Since the liver is the organ most prone to being affected by stress, here are 2 techniques that you may find useful:
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