In Chinese Five Element Theory, springtime is considered the best time to do a liver/gallbladder cleanse, as it is in the spring that the energies to the liver and gallbladder are highlighted. According to the Chinese, the liver is all about action, movement and goal orientation. It is in this season that one can take stock and make choices as to what appropriate actions are to be taken, sewing the seeds for the energies to come. The liver energy offers insight, vision and clarity. Indeed the Chinese say that the “liver opens to the eyes”, meaning that when you have a clear liver not only do you have foresight and intuitive vision, but also that you will see clearly on a physical level. When there is an imbalance in the liver, very often the eyesight suffers as well.
The liver is the largest digestive gland of the body and has many functions; it deals with metabolism, synthesis and storage of nutrients, detoxification, balance of hormonal levels, heat production and secretion of bile. Headaches, eye strain, muscle spasms, joint pain and menstrual problems can also be related to a liver issue since the liver governs these tissues so any toxicity in the liver can lead to problems in these areas. When imbalanced the liver can cause referred pain to the right shoulder, neck and scapula. Emotionally, there can be restlessness with liver dysfunction, an inability to get things done and general agitation. One may feel aimless, compulsive and may tend to complain a lot. Liver stagnation can lead to stagnation in one’s life. The emotion most associated with the liver is anger.
There are many ways to cleanse the liver – with herbs, fasting, massage, etc. Of course diet is essential for a healthy liver. A diet with restricted intake of sugar, fats, cholesterol and refined foods is important in sustaining vitality, as these foods tend to clog proper functioning of the liver and could possibly bring on chronic fatigue, apathy, lack of concentration, intestinal problems and a rise in blood pressure.
Essential oils are very helpful in supporting and cleansing the liver. Massaging the abdomen in a clockwise direction with essential oils in a carrier oil can encourage detoxification of the liver. A gentle rocking massage motion on the liver will help to mobilize and strengthen the organ. Salt baths with essential oils are another way of detoxing the body. Mixing oils in an alcohol rub is also an effective way of relieving the pain and discomfort from muscle spasms, which may be caused by a dysfunctional liver. And of course general massage to the whole body can stimulate the production of red blood cells, cleanse the acids from the tissues and balance the psyche of an irritated live condition.
Some oils that have been proven to be effect liver supports are:
Helichrysum is a wonderful oil for a tired and sluggish liver. It helps stimulate production and regeneration of new blood cells. It is also effective in detoxifying people from drugs and tobacco.
Lemon is a great cleanser, both internally and out. The liver loves fresh lemon juice squeezed in water and drunk daily. The essential oil can be rubbed on externally and absorbed into the blood, which then rejuvenates and clears out stagnation in the liver. It promotes healthy blood cells and tissue growth.
Cypress is warming and uplifting – just what a fatigued liver needs! It aids in relieving achy muscles, abdominal cramps and any menstrual challenges. It also soothes menopausal symptoms (remember one of the liver’s function is balancing hormones).
Clary Sage also helps with menopausal symptoms and can help ease nervousness and anxiety. Clary has the ability to bring up anger to be released (remember liver’s emotion is anger) so it is often wise to only use clary when it is appropriate to vent emotion.
Chamomile, Lavender and Rose are all essential oils to help calm down the liver’s anxiety and aggression. They all help relieve headaches, migraines, pains in the body and most liver complaints by soothing tensions and alleviating stress.
Rosemary enlivens the spirits and stimulates the mind and body. It is a liver and gallbladder stimulant and detoxifier.