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Five Signs You and Your Liver Need Stress Relief


Nicole Cutler

Apr 25th, 2011

Many people don’t know they need to relieve stress for their liver’s well-being. However, the body can deliver some pretty major hints that stress relief is needed. Especially important for those with liver concerns, these five signs of stress should raise a red flag urging relaxation.


Living with chronic liver disease renders affected individuals more vulnerable to stress. Despite the many sources, manifestations and reactions to stress, health professionals understand that people with a compromised liver are in greater need of stress relief than those with a fully functioning one. Since we all live with some degree of stress – and we all handle it differently – these five clues that you are in need of stress relief can help you seek serenity before your liver becomes overwhelmed.

Stress is a term used to describe the wear and tear the body experiences in reaction to everyday tensions and pressures. Change, illness, injury or career and lifestyle changes are common causes of stress. However, it’s the effects of stress – like pressure and tension – that we feel in response to the little, everyday hassles, like being late for an appointment, dealing with a broken hot water heater or receiving a fistful of bills that do the most damage.

The body and mind’s response to pressure that disrupts its normal balance, stress occurs when people are unable to manage their reactions to their experiences. When a reaction is expressed as resistance, tension, strain or frustration, the person’s equilibrium gets skewed – an imbalance that is the source of many health problems.

In fact, the American Institute of Stress claims that up to 90 percent of all health problems are related to stress. Appearing in the January 2006 edition of the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Y. Chida and colleagues published the review “Does Stress Exacerbate Liver Disease?” which sheds some light on the effects of stress on liver disease. They found the following:

•    Fear and anxiety significantly decrease the flow of blood through the liver.

•    People who demonstrated personality traits indicating they are most likely to hold onto stress were more likely to have acute liver transplant rejection.

•    Research on healthy animals found that restraint and electric foot-shock stress triggered elevations of ALT levels (an enzyme correlated with liver damage).

The authors surmised that there are several ways stress harms the liver, including:

•    During stress, natural killer cells are expanded in the liver, which can contribute to liver cell death and worsening of liver disease.

•    In the part of the brain that controls the liver, stress appears to impair blood flow and may lead to or trigger liver damage.

•    Stress can directly impact the inflammatory process that takes place in the liver. In those with chronic liver disease, inflammation is the beginning in a series of events that cause liver damage.

The authors of this study concluded that even though all of the interactions between stress and the liver are not completely understood, there appears to be a negative association between stress and liver disease progression.

It’s easy to recognize when you are completely stressed out, but sometimes your body gives clues prior to a total emotional meltdown. By viewing these five signs as indications that stress relief is warranted, those with liver concerns can address their stress before it gets out of control. To protect your liver from stress, be on the lookout for:

1.    A Sore Jaw – During the day and even while sleeping, people under stress may clench their teeth or grind them back and forth against one another. Known as bruxism, teeth clenching and grinding can damage teeth and cause severe jaw and neck pain.

2.    Bad Skin – Stress is well-known to affect our external appearance. Stress can render the skin more sensitive to irritants, worsen pre-existing conditions like rosacea, psoriasis and acne, and it also dehydrates the skin.

3.    Libido Loss – Although loss of sexual desire can stem from many different types of physical and emotional issues, stress is certainly one of the most common.

4.    Hair Shedding – About 100 hair strands falling out per day and being replaced by new ones is a normal process. However, this hair loss can escalate to losing half to three-quarters of your hair when under extreme physical or emotional stress. Technically called telogen effluvium, stress-induced hair loss can occur weeks or months after the stressful event.

5.    Perpetually Stuffy with the Sniffles – The link between stress and immunity has been documented in just about every culture. If your immune system is rundown as evidenced by a seemingly endless run of colds, stress is one of the most likely culprits.

For those who are managing chronic liver disease, nearly every aspect of their life comes under scrutiny for its ability to help or hinder the liver. When it comes to stress, there is no doubt that it hinders liver function. Being aware of things like an aching jaw, having an uncharacteristic acne breakout, losing interest in sex, shedding chunks of hair and constantly battling a cold can signal that your stress levels are just too high. If this is the case, your liver would appreciate every effort you make to relieve stress and bring your body and mind back into equilibrium., Does stress exacerbate liver diseases?, Yoichi Chida, et al, Retrieved January 30, 2011, Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, January 2006., Stress Takes a Toll on Your Body and Mind, Kristen Stewart, Retrieved January 30, 2011, Everyday Health, Inc., 2011., About Stress and the Health Effects of Stress, Retrieved January 30, 2011, HeartMath LLC, 2011., The Liver: Stress and the Liver, Alan Franciscus, Retrieved January 30, 2011, Hepatitis C Support Project, 2011.

  • http://fivesighns fallon thurlow

    i was told by my doctor my liver is stressed im living a stressful life by fighting for custordy of my kids how can i do this and not stress

    • Lawal Sani Kona

      fight it out without getting you mind involved i have done this over several problems of mine yet i dont know if many people can understand how i set my goal engage then engage my intent without my emotion getting into it.

  • http://fivesighns fallon thurlow

    im living a stresful life by fighting for the care of my children how can i do this and stop my liver from stressing as well as my self

  • Lindsay

    I was told back in september that I have 3 lesions on my liver. Will they evver go away? Im sick of feeling sick all the time


    • noreaster

      lindsay , you didn’t say if you have hep.-c and/or cirrhosis. if you aren’t sure , get a hepatitus-c blood test this week. those lesions are part of the deadly chain that begins with hep-c, attacking and weakening your liver.

  • Terri Toursarkissian

    i keep telling my husband he is going to kill me not the actual transplant, he has a very exlosive temper not towards me directly but he slams doors, raises his voice and I get very tense and feel STRESSED. Although before his tantrums he prefaces the tamper by saying “now this is not about you”, but it is. It affects me so that I start feeling physicall ill, headache, nauseau etc. And, I just read folks under most stress post-transplant have higher percentage to reject. This is unbelievable that I would have to break up my marriage in order to survive!!??? Does this make sense? I love my husband but I want to make it through this transplant and he just doesn’t understand. Just needed to vent thank you. I have joined the group and am sure this is not going to be my topic of choice. I googled liver disease and stress and this site came up. BTW, has anyone here had a transplant? I have many many questions besides being very scared…..

    • Kveta

      My husband is the most incredible man. But he can also be the worst. Nothing in between. And just as you are saying, I feel physical pain when he has his frustration time that he ventilates – he just does not hesitate to show his negative feelings, rather than trying to deal with them. He even gets angry BECAUSE I am sick (not at me, but at the situation). Ridiculous, really. There is a lot to say. But the point is, that he needs to change, otherwise he cannot keep you.
      I have been trying to deal with his issues, work on them, help him, talk to him, change him…anywhere in the world. It does not matter where we live or what we are doing, vacation time or daily routines… So if you have the same problem – its a serious problem that he needs to understand: HE IS A NEUROTIC. You or him can read in wikipedia about it. Its very helpfull. It basically means that he feels threatened by everything and everyone, under constant attack. He was born like that. Thats why he behaves like a scared dog, bitting anything within his reach.
      My husband finally read it and finally realised that I was right (all those 14 years) and most importantly, he is trying even harder now. It was actually a relieve for him to know what is wrong. He was so lost.
      He trusts me now, if I tell him: “hey, you look like you are about to loose it soon, take a deep breath and remember: I love you, I am not your enemy…” It works.
      I did not have a liver transplant. But I am having many scans done these days, because of my liver lesion. Its painful and scary, cannot imagine how you feel after transplant. But stress is not good. And stress done by your loved one is even worse. Its unfair to you. He needs to change NOW, or he will loose you. He could start seeing a psychologist, because he has an official problem called : BEING NEUROTIC and hurting his own family because he is not being treated for it. Its his responsibility to take care of this problem.
      Hope this helps. Good luck. Take care of yourself. Its your life.

    • Terry Adams

      If he can’t control himself and you want to live… leave! if he loves you he will change his ways. Roy Masters has a cure stress cd that I have been using and it has helped me in way i can’t even say. please get it.

    • Lawal Sani Kona

      i deeply feel for you, if i were you i will most time plug in an ear piece and listen to my favourite music. may God help and give you strenght and health.