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Spring Is the Ideal Time to Clean Your Liver

Find out why your liver often becomes congested during wintertime, and learn five ways to prepare your liver for the energetic spike in spring.

Springtime means a shift is about to occur in your body. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), different organ systems experience a surge of energy in accordance with the seasons. When the chill of winter is replaced by the warming of spring, the liver’s energetics reaches its full height.

Whether you have chronic liver disease, have some symptoms that indicate a liver imbalance or you just want to capitalize on the predominant energy of the season, spring is the ideal time to love your liver.

Liver Energy Is Dominant in Spring

In a majority of climates, hibernation represents winter; where going inward and conserving energy is appropriate. Based on TCM theory, kidney energy is dominant in winter and liver energy is dominant in spring. Spring settles in when the ground thaws and birdsong fills the air, corresponding with feelings of regeneration and a fresh start. On a molecular level, regeneration of damaged cells is most prolific after the vernal equinox. Observed in cultures across the globe for many generations, supporting the liver’s health in spring is idyllic.

Based on the TCM understanding of organ system function, the liver is responsible for the smooth flow of energy and blood. Energy that is flowing smoothly is able to dissipate a buildup of toxins, stress and tension. Liver energy that is persistently stagnant will also cause blood congestion. When this pattern manifests, it is typically referred to as sludge.

7 Factors Can Lead to Stagnant Liver Energy

Unfortunately, many factors can cause liver energy to stagnate, including:

  1. Toxic overload in the blood (especially from medications, alcohol and environmental chemicals)
  2. Excessive fat buildup in the liver
  3. Any type of chronic liver disease
  4. Inactivity
  5. Stress that is unable to be released, especially anger
  6. Consumption of sugar, processed foods and trans fats
  7. Poor sleep

During winter, it is common for people to lose their grip on healthy habits. The colder months equate to staying indoors more often, which typically reduces physical activity. Cozying up on the couch and watching television or playing video games is more likely. In addition, the cold, bitter weather often inspires sweeter and heavier food and beverage choices that further liver energy stagnation. From an emotional perspective, the liver is most affected by excess stress or emotions. The stress associated with winter’s holiday season and the emotional impact of dreary weather easily creates stagnation of the liver. Irritability, angering easily and difficulty relaxing all indicate liver energy stagnation to a practitioner of TCM.

11 Signs Your Liver Energy Is Congested

Signs that your liver energy is congested and might be causing an accumulation of sludge include:

  1. Unexplainable fatigue
  2. Depression, irritability or anger
  3. Mood swings
  4. Feeling overwhelmed by stress
  5. PMS or hormonal imbalance
  6. Headaches
  7. Allergies
  8. Skin breakouts
  9. Difficulty swallowing/feeling like something is stuck in the throat
  10. Nausea or vomiting
  11. Bloating, gas and sluggish digestion

Because the liver energy is strongest in the spring, transitioning between these two seasons is ideal for reducing stagnation and clearing out sludge.

5 Ways to Spring Clean Your Liver

Five suggestions for prepping your liver for the energetic spike in spring include:

1.    Spicy and Sour – TCM experts advise adding spicy and sour foods to your diet, because spicy helps disperse stagnant energy and sour taste enhances bile flow. These two actions are instrumental in clearing out liver sludge. Hot and sour soup is a great combo of these two tastes. A powerful (yet easy) way to enhance bile flow and dissolve sludge is to drink a large glass of lemon water in the morning. Clinical LiverSupport promotes bile production and flow to help you better break down fats, absorb vital nutrients from foods, and to help your liver remove the items your body cannot use.

2.    Move Your Body – Engage in gentle exercise, such as swimming or walking. If you commit to physical activity at least four days a week, the movement from low-impact aerobic activity is guaranteed to move congested liver energy and blood. Read more about the importance of exercise for those with chronic liver disease.

3.    Liver Channel Slap – Physically stimulating the liver channel encourages energetic flow and liver relaxation. Using a hairbrush with rounded bristles or an open hand, gently slap your legs. Begin at the ankles and proceed up and down the insides of your thighs and calves for about five minutes. This should be vigorous enough to leave a slight reddening of the skin but gentle enough to avoid pain or bruising.

4.    Embrace Veggies – In the spring, vegetable consumption supports the liver – especially chlorophyll-rich sprouting veggies. Emphasizing the green shoots and buds of plants and trees, such as cereal grasses like wheat or barley grass juice; micro algae like spirulina, blue-green, and chlorella; parsley, spinach and Swiss chard, accelerates liver cell regeneration.

5.    Milk Thistle – An herb known to reduce liver sludge, milk thistle is a great way to prep the liver for spring. Besides being the most revered herb for supporting the liver, milk thistle helps dissolve sludge and expedites liver cell healing. Learn more about UltraThistle, the world’s highest-potency milk thistle formula.

The springtime surge in liver energy will shine a spotlight on any existing liver energy and blood stagnation. That is why it is so important to prepare for this season of growth. Especially if you have a chronic liver concern or are struggling with one of the signs of liver congestion or sludge accumulation, get ready for the vernal equinox before the surge takes you by surprise., From an Eastern Perspective, Linda Lloyd, Retrieved February 8, 2017, Cyber Legend Ltd, 2017., Liver/Gallbladder According to Five Element Theory, Retrieved February 8, 2017, Traditional Chinese Medicine World Foundation, 2017., Spring Cleaning: 10 Steps to Bring New Life to Your Liver, Dr. Patricia Fitzgerald, Retrieved February 8, 2017,, Inc., 2017.

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About the Author

Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., MTCM, Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM)®

Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., MTCM is a long time advocate of integrating perspectives on health. With a Bachelor's degree in Neuroscience from the University of Rochester and a Master's degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine from Five Branches Institute, Nicole has been a licensed acupuncturist since 2000. She has gathered acupuncture licenses in the states of California and New York, is a certified specialist with the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association, has earned diplomat status with the National Commission of Chinese and Oriental Medicine in Acupuncture and Chinese Herbology and is a member of the Society for Integrative Oncology. In addition to her acupuncture practice that focuses on stress and pain relief, digestion, immunity and oncology, Nicole contributes to the integration of healthcare by writing articles for professional massage therapists and people living with liver disease.

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