I first learned of Liver Health from Chinese Medicine when I was given Xiao Yao San (the incredible formula behind our Emotional Balance blend) for PMS in my mid 20s from my first acupuncturist. I was working in digital advertising in New York City and my life was full of stress. I hadn’t yet learned self stress reduction tools so acupuncture was part of my first intentional stress reduction routine and I am thankful that herbal Medicine came second. I couldn’t believe the way Xiao Yao San helped stabilize my mood and calm my body both physically and mentally during my menstrual cycle.
Internal Harmony by Soothing the Liver, Strengthening the Spleen & More
Xiao Yao San (Emotional Balance) is likely the most commonly used herbal patent formula in existence today. This formula aims to create harmony in the body and is composed of herbs that work together to soothe the liver, strengthen the spleen and nourish blood. This is why it is important for menstruating women, but in addition to PMS symptoms, it can help with anxiety, depression, indigestion, IBS, liver health and so much more.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, it is the liver organ that ensures energy and blood are moving smoothly, which helps us move through stressful experiences with ease. The liver supports the functioning of our organs, limbs and tissues. In Chinese medicine theory, the liver is considered responsible for the flow of blood, body fluids and Qi around the body, and regulates the emotions.
Your liver in both Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine systems contributes directly to your health and vitality. The liver plays a key role in the breakdown, metabolism and detoxification of fats and hormones as well as dietary and environmental toxins.
What I was learning as a patient of Chinese Medicine is that "the symptoms of the body" was like the body calling out for help. So PMS is a sign that a body is out of balance. Other signs of a poor functioning liver organ system may include: menstrual issues (breast tenderness, irritation, clotting in the menstrual flow), acne, indigestion, muscle pain, tendon stiffness, eye problems, mood disorders, frustration, anger, poor sleep, low motivation, sluggishness, fatigue (especially in the morning) and others.
Later, when I was in student clinic, my mentor spoke to every patient about the liver. After working in clinic for 7 years and as a Hormonal Health Coach with FloLiving.com, I too find that I speak about the liver to every patient and client. Your liver is an amazing, powerful and hardworking organ. It affects hormones, digestion and our immunity. There are many, many ways to "Love your Liver", in fact I wrote a course on it!
Here are 12 Ways to Love Your Liver:
- First get enough sleep. While you’re awake, the liver supplies blood to the muscles. During sleep, blood returns to the liver to be cleansed. Blood returns to the liver at night. Western Medical Journals show that our liver enlarges at night. It’s best to be asleep by 10 PM - This ensures that your body is taking advantage of the hours the body "digests and detoxes" from the day. Also if you are waking between 1-3 am, you may consider supporting the liver.
- Suppressing your emotions can contribute to stagnant liver Qi, so find a way to express what’s going on for you. This may be in talk therapy or a Qi Gong form called "Beat the Pillow".
- Focus on healthy greens, the darker they are the better for the liver. Cruciferous veggies, dandelion greens (spring time), and cilantro are favorites.
- Embrace sour foods. According to Chinese medicine, sour foods tend to nourish the liver. A simple sour is a refreshing glass of lemon water (room temperature is recommended).
- Eat enough fiber. Are you getting 30 grams of fiber daily? A quick fiber add is 2 tbs of ground flax daily.
- Minimize your exposure to man-made chemicals and toxic compounds by choosing organic where possible, and switching to cleaning products based on natural ingredients. Reduce toxins by replacing plastics, personal care products. Read labels. Our livers are barraged by a wide range of toxins throughout life, even pharmaceuticals. When your liver is bogged down with toxins, it can’t work to keep you cleansed of others even though it constantly works to do so.
- Reduce your caffeine consumption as coffee can be toxic, and consider organic only.
- Limit your alcohol intake.
- Get regular exercise to promote the healthy flow of Qi and blood.
- Use a dry skin brush to support the lymphatic system and help cleanse.
- Stick to clean fats like olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, and fatty fish like salmon.
- Ginger has antibiotic and antibacterial effects that can help your body cleanse toxins and is used in many formulas of Chinese Medicine. You can easily add a few slivers of freshly sliced ginger to foods and drinks. I like to take 1-2 inches of fresh grated ginger root with 2-3 cups of water and 1/2 lemon, sometimes maple or raw honey. Grate the 1-2 inch piece of ginger root, add water, squeeze lemon, add sweet. Strain and enjoy.
A great way to get a head start on "loving your liver" is to incorporate Xiao Yao San into your wellness routine. DAO Labs version of this widely used and prescribed formula, Emotional Balance, makes it easy both to drink and pack on-the-go. Our customers use this formula for everything from mood relief to a boost of energy to better sleep. We invite you to try it today.