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Love your Liver

Have you been feeling angry or irritable lately? Are you finding it hard to go to sleep at night? Are your muscles or joints stiff and achy lately? If so, your liver may be trying to get your attention. Although springtime is considered the optimal time to cleanse your liver, the liver still needs attention throughout the year. In particular, the liver will start complaining mid-January through February if it is congested. The rich sugar laden foods we eat over the holidays, combined with holiday stress, is a perfect recipe to congest your liver.

Today we are getting snow in South Carolina, and it was a perfect day to give my liver a little extra love. I brewed a hot cup of dandelion and peppermint tea and had a healthy green smoothie for breakfast (the liver loves green foods).

Dandelion is an excellent herb for both the liver and kidneys, it helps them to cleanse toxins and improves their function. One teabag of Traditional Medicinal’s Dandelion tea is equal to 3 capsules of dried herb. Dandelion root is very nutritious and packed full of minerals and antioxidants. I like that the dandelion tea tastes a little like coffee (which I love). I mixed my dandelion tea with some peppermint/spearmint tea as well. I found these cute Tea Drops and had to try them. They are lightly sweetened with organic sugar and dissolve in the hot water. The peppermint adds a nice kick to my dandelion tea, and it is beneficial for both digestion and stress. Getting healthy doesn’t have to be complicated. Each step you take moves you closer to your goal.

Nourishing your liver:

- Eat bitter greens such as dandelion, kale, escarole, radicchio, and spinach.

- Eat a diet of natural foods, low in fat, steamed, sautéed, and not fried.

- Take 1-3 tsps. Of raw apple cider vinegar in six ounces water just before a meal (if poor digestion is suspected)

- Drink a room temperature glass of water with a squeeze of lemon first thing in the morning (sour food nourishes the liver)

- Drink chlorophyll water during the day, your liver loves green foods.

- Take time to relax at your meals, eat slowly, chew your food well and not eat too much food at a given meal.

- Take a relaxed walk and enjoy the scenery, practice Qi gong exercise, yoga, or dance

- Find ways to express yourself creatively by journaling, finding new hobbies, singing, or dancing for fun.

- Limit caffeine, moderate coffee intake is good to wake up the liver as the liver likes bitter foods. Excessive intake, however, will weaken the liver.

- Excessive work, inactivity, sitting in traffic jams, feeling stuck in your workplace, and repressing your feelings, all damage and weaken the liver.

To add an extra punch for your cleanse, you can combine herbal formulas to target the areas you are looking to support:

Beets are a wonderful food for the liver, they are high in fiber and help the body by supporting optimal circulation through the activation of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide helps blood vessels dilate to promote proper blood flow. Beet powder can be added to your smoothies or try enjoying a few boiled beets sliced on salad. Chinese Liver Balance is a wonderful tonic for the liver to help it cleanse and re-balance itself. Protease enzymes can be used to help lower systemic inflammation in the body by cleaning up debris and toxins in the blood.

When our liver becomes congested from stress, holding in anger, or poor diet choices we often find we are very susceptible to picking up a cold or flu. The liver oversees the free flow of blood and Qi (life force energy) through the body. The Chinese often refer to the blood as a river, and the joints as bends in the river where debris can easily collect. When the flow of energy is obstructed and becomes stuck, symptoms of pain, heat, swelling or stiffness may occur. So, when your energy is not flowing smoothly through the body, the joints are often the first place to exhibit symptoms. The liver meridian runs across the shoulders, so when the liver is upset, you will often get sore and achy shoulders. When those same symptoms suddenly show up in various parts of the body and move around, this is referred to as Wind in Chinese medicine.

Wind is associated with the liver function and is caused by something external. A virus or other pathogen, toxins, food allergens or sitting with an air conditioner blowing on you, all can cause wind in the body. (Remember the old saying not to go out into the wind without a hat on or you would get sick?) The above combination of herbs are good choices when you feel you are getting run down and your immune system is compromised. Chinese VS-C supports both immune function and liver function. Milk thistle Combination is an excellent tonic formula to strengthen liver function, LymphoMax is a wonderful immune formula which focuses on cleansing the lymphatic system and blood. And the Dandy Liver Detox Tea is a tasty tea which will gently nourish your liver while giving you that warm cup of tea we so often crave when we feel rundown.

Liver loving smoothie • 5 oz. of organic Greek yogurt • A handful of fresh organic greens • 5 Strawberries or other fruit of your choice (small portion to keep the sugars and carbs low) • 2 Tbs. Spectrum chia seed, flax, coconut, and cocoa blend • ½ scoop NSP’s GreenZone powder for more dense nutrition and greens • 1/3 bottle of Mama Chia Hibiscus tea (YUM) adds 3 more grams of fiber (or 1 cup herbal tea, or almond milk) • When your smoothie is blended, it should be at least 10 oz. of liquid, if not add a little water or other liquid and re-blend. You need liquids to bulk up the fiber and move it through your digestive tract.

Additions: • I add a squirt of NSP’s Stress-J liquid to calm nervous tension which is often related to a congested liver. • 1 scoop of the protein powder of your choice (optional) • Add a ½ tsp of NSP's Oregon Grape extract to help boost liver cleansing and bile production. Bile stimulates the peristalsis in the colon to get it moving. You could use Beet powder for this as well. Or consider adding a tablespoon of Beet Powder to the smoothie. • If you just don’t want to make smoothies, use Nature's Sunshine's Clean Start Cleanse which includes a ramped-up fiber drink, which you can mix in a little juice and water combo. Shake and drink. The Clean Start cleanse includes packets which contain the herbal blend Enviro-detox to cleanse the liver, kidneys, lymph, and blood, and Lower Bowel Formula which cleanses the colon. To give this cleanse a little more of a liver boost I’d add Chinese Liver Balance TCM, 1 twice daily.

Note: If you want to avoid smoothies altogether consider cleansing your liver with the Nature’s Sunshine’s Chinese Tao He Cleanse (packets) a 10-day cleanse which focuses on the liver. Keep your diet light, no heavy or processed foods, while on the cleanse. Focus on eating bitter greens, soups, beets, and prunes (to keep your colon moving) and drink lemon water to activate the liver in the morning. I know I put lots of ingredients in my smoothie, but you can personalize yours any way you want. Make it simpler if you like. I just wanted to share some of my favorite liver cleansing herbs and foods with you.

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