Ayurvedic Diet & Digestion School
Ayurvedic Health Tips: Liver and Gall Bladder
Deficient LiverThe liver and kidneys are the organs that "age" us. When your liver is deficient, your blood plasma becomes dry and loses both oiliness and sweetness. A Vata condition, your blood will be thin and lacking in fats, proteins, and sugar. Nourishment to your tendons and blood vessels is curtailed, your joints become stiff, and muscles become spasmodic and numb. A deficient liver can aggravate anxiety & worry. Liver deficiency can also create shakiness and erratic emotions. Most nutrients pass through your body without being assimilated if the liver is weak. In this case your liver should be restored and nourished.
Liver Deficiency in strongest in Autumn. The most likely time of liver deficiency is August through September.
Foods to nourish and restore the liver
Congested LiverConversely when your blood plasma is too rich with sugars, fats, or proteins, your blood becomes thick and the lymphatic system congested. Due to the thickness and richness of blood, your liver and gall bladder become congested, a Kapha condition. A congested liver leaves you feeling sluggish, the muscles flabby and lacking in tone, and causes weight gain. Liver congestion creates suppression of emotions. As the gall bladder becomes stagnant, there may be sludge or gallstones. In this case the liver should be cleansed with cholagogues. Eliminate all liver and kidney weakening foods such as white flour, white sugar, dairy especially cheese & ice-cream, & deep fried foods. Avoid cold drinks and foods which chill the liver and kidneys.
Liver congestion is most likely in the the spring. You may experience waves of bitterness, discouragement and a sense of failure in February. Try not to take these 'liver' emotions too seriously. Instead, these emotions offer an important cue. February is the month of liver bitterness.
February comes at the bitter end of winter, the time of ashes. The natural environment offers slim pickings this time of year and the pantry is nearly bare. Early spring is the hardest month for animals in the wild. Anxiously awaiting the hope and promise of spring, lovers will make a last ditch effort on Valentine's Day to resurrect the dying embers of affection.
Blood remains stagnant due to cold temperatures. However, the body is already releasing fats in preparation for spring. The result is stagnation and congestion of the liver & gall bladder. Gall bladder attacks are more common in early spring so favor cholagogues at that time in your diet to flush out bile sludge. Gall Bladder Tonic is a perfect early spring tonic.
Cholagogues & Liver CleansingCholagogues encourage the gall bladder to release bile, and the the liver to produce and dilute bile. This action cleanses both the liver and gall bladder, and helps to prevent gallstones. Since bile is fatty and the primary pathway for cholesterol metabolism, releasing bile also reduces cholesterol and boosts fat metbolism. Cholagogues directly reduce triglycerride levels in the blood. Cholagogues include anything bitter or sour. Some famous examples include.
Toxic LiverThe liver is responsible for neutralizing toxicity. Sources of toxicity and liver stress could be due to environmental toxins, recreational drug use, chronic infection, or fermentation of food in the digestive tract. If the liver lacks the strength to detoxify the blood, the toxins will be released through the kidneys & skin, causing rashes, & bladder infections. A toxic liver can make a person angry and aggressive. Avoid tomatoes & gourds which have mild toxicity. If the source of liver toxicity is fermentation in the small intestine, the intestines should be cleaned with triphala, amalaki, or haritaki.
The Liver, Inflammation & HeatThe liver and gall bladder are generally the home of Pitta dosha. The liver is an irritable organ. The first sign of liver irritation are stinging eyes, aggression and intense emotions such as anger, jealousy, and envy. Advanced signs include yellow hands or eyes, or other heat related conditions such as rashes. In hepatitis or liver inflammation, liver enzyme levels in the blood are elevated because of the ruptured liver cells which contain high contents of liver enzymes. Avoid citrus fruits, cinnamon, chocolate, caffeine and other hot, spicy foods that irritate the liver. Avoid tomatoes and reduce any conditions that increase the toxic burden on the liver. The summer is the most likely time of liver heat & irritation. Lifestyle, foods and herbs that cool the liver:
Liver & EmotionsWhen balanced, the liver regulates the graceful flow of blood physically and emotions mentally. The liver is the most emotionally sensitive organ and its weakness is often connected to emotional instability. The liver, when disturbed, is emotionally reactive and sensitive. It is a proud organ and easily insulted by intensity and imperfection. Pitta drive & discipline often aggravates and exhausts the liver, with the result that Pitta is Ayurveda's most volatile dosha. Pleasant, soothing remedies help calm a distrustful, paranoid liver.
Liver and BloodIn Ayurveda, the liver is said to generate the red part of the blood (rakta dhatu). Yet, western medicine says blood is made in the bone marrow. How can these differences be resolved? Bile components are produced in the liver from broken down red blood cells (a mala or waste product of blood). Some of these bile components are released into the blood, which "heats" up the blood as bile components are generally a bit irritating. When excess, these bile components can also cause some yellow discoloration of the skin, eyes, and teeth, a condition called choleric heat in Greek medicine. This 'heat' can be said to active the blood, and even blood production. Thus, the liver creates rakta.
In this process, the liver and spleen have a functional relationship. The spleen is said to store red blood cells, and can be compared metaphorically to a "sack of rubies." The liver, on the other hand, regulates blood sugar and sugar storage, and can be compared to a "sack of potatoes." This is why the liver gets fatty when the diet is rich.
To recap, the liver creates heat in blood plasma (rasa) which is yellow in color. This heat stimulates rakta, which is red in color. The spleen is pure rakta. The function of rakta is to supply oxygen to all the cells, which keeps metabolism strong, as a fire burning brightly.
ConclusionThe liver is called the liver because it is essential for living. Your ability to assess and maintain liver health is essential to your well-being.
Conditions Related to liver and gall bladderSelect one of the symptoms or behaviors relating to liver and gall bladder below. Or, see all areas in Blood and Circulation.
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