Why Your Liver is Extraordinary - and How to Keep it That Way
Updated: Aug 10
“The physician who knows how to harmonize the liver knows how to treat the hundred diseases.” - Zhou Xuehai
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), disease is caused when qi, or energy, does not flow properly in the body, or is stagnant, deficient, or out of balance. TCM views physical health and emotions as being deeply connected, and approaches healing with a combined mind and body approach.
With regards to the liver, this vital organ plays an important role in our health and well-being, impacting more than 500 of our bodily functions. It is the largest organ in the body, and its main function is to filter blood that comes in from the digestive system, breaking down, balancing, and creating nutrients for the body to use before passing the blood to the rest of the body. The liver is also involved in digestion, detoxification, metabolic functions, and immune function. From the view of TCM, the liver is also responsible for regulating the flow of qi. When someone’s liver is not functioning optimally, and there are issues with the flow of blood and qi, they may struggle with emotions such as overwhelming feelings of anger, depression, irritability, sadness, pressure, anxiety, and emotional exhaustion.
Other major functions of the liver include:
Producing bile, which helps break down fats for further digestion as well carries away waste
Regulating, purifying, and storing blood
Metabolizing fats, proteins, and carbohydrates
Storing vitamins, minerals, and glycogen
Regulating levels of chemicals in the blood
Metabolizing drugs so they can be used by the rest of the body
Removing waste products and toxins from the body
Converting glycogen to glucose for energy and excess glucose into glycogen for storage
Regulating amino acid levels in the blood
Producing cholesterol and special proteins
Creating proteins for blood clotting
Helping the body resist infection
Clearing bilirubin, hormones, and drugs
Removing toxins from the blood
With so many crucial functions in the body, our health can be greatly impacted when the liver isn’t functioning properly. From a TCM perspective, symptoms of a sluggish or poor functioning liver system can include:
Eye or vision problems
Poor quality of sleep
Premenstrual mood changes
Reduced ability to tolerate fatty foods
Unexplained anger or irritability
Poor liver function and liver diseases are often the result of poor nutrition and lifestyle habits. Excessive alcohol, sugars, unhealthy fats, and refined carbohydrates can overload the liver. Being overweight, living with chronic stress, and exposure to certain toxins can also negatively effect the liver.
The good news: with the right support, the liver can regenerate and repair itself from damage.
Recommendations for a healthy liver include:
Limit alcohol intake
Don’t smoke or use recreational drugs
Limit consumption of caffeine
Minimize or avoid unhealthy trans fats, sugar, and processed junk food
Make sure you are getting adequate omega 3 fatty acids from healthy food or supplement sources
Drink enough water
Certain herbs may also promote liver function
Acupuncture can increase the flow of qi, promoting balance and proper functioning so that the body is able to detox more efficiently. It addresses both stagnation and liver-blood deficiencies, and can increase overall blood flow to promote whole body health and wellness. Multiple clinical studies on subjects with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease have found that subjects receiving acupuncture regularly had a significant reduction in liver damage. Research on electroacupuncture has also noted greater improvements of liver injury than other remedies alone, as well as decreased clinical symptoms of liver cirrhosis and hepatitis B virus.
Nutrition and lifestyle changes are also very important not only for promoting healthy liver function, but preventing disease, minimizing symptoms, and boosting overall health and well-being.
Contact us to schedule an appointment for acupuncture, nutritional therapy, herbs, or any of our other holistic services.
Four Seasons Acupuncture
Proudly serving: Indiatlantic, Melbourne, Winter Park, Maitland, Casselberry, Oviedo, and the Greater Orlando area, with offices in Indiatlantic and Winter Park, Florida.