If you are still suffering from holiday excesses, you are not alone. Typical symptoms include fatigue, indigestion, bloating, craving unhealthy food, irritability, aggravated hormones (PMS and menopausal symptoms worsening) and trouble getting back into a regular routine of eating, sleeping and exercising.
The underlying mechanism for most of these uncomfortable feelings is a congested liver. If you’re up for the dirty details, read on.
The liver is a large filter for toxins, a producer of hormones, a facilitator of energy and many more essential functions. When we eat or drink too much rich food, especially sugars, refined carbs and alcohol, the liver gets overloaded and can’t do its job well. The bile it produces to digest fats gets thick and clogs the little tubules it runs through, often to the point of creating sludge and gallstones. Not being able to process hormones because of being overloaded can result in an excess of estrogen in the blood leading to hormonal symptoms.
Closely connected with the liver is the state of our intestines. When our bowel habits become sluggish, toxins are reabsorbed into the blood and go directly to, guess where—the liver. And when our good gut bacteria are out of balance, bad bacteria increase and produce toxic substances that also arrive at the liver. This can be a result of antibiotic use and/or a chronic deficiency of a variety of fibre which our good bacteria need to thrive.
When the liver is plugged up, it causes emotions of irritability and impatience, insomnia and a sluggishness that makes it hard to get moving, especially first thing in the morning. This leads to craving stimulating foods like sugar, salt, spices and caffeine to help get us moving…which in turn lead to more liver problems and a chronic cycle of feeling miserable.
Medical doctors may look at you and tell you there is nothing wrong. It takes a large amount of liver damage to show up on a lab test as elevated liver enzymes. By then we will have developed what is called a ‘fatty liver,’ deemed untreatable and leading to cirrhosis and worse.
The very good news is that the liver responds favourably to natural treatments and even cirrhosis can be reversed with the correct diet, lifestyle and herbs.
To start resetting your liver, here are some safe and easy steps you can take:
- Get the bowels moving regularly first. Any kind of liver work without this will tend to aggravate the situation! One way to do this is to use an increasing amount of powdered vitamin C until the bowels become loose and then back off a bit and continue taking it. This may give you an energy boost as well as the desired regularity.
- Clean up the diet, focusing on lots of veggies, one fruit/day (too much sugar otherwise), non-wheat grains like rice and oats, light proteins like fish, chicken and beans and a small amount of healthy fats such as olive oil, avocado, nut butters and coconut oil. Lemon water on arising is a well-known liver flushing practice. Avoid dairy, wheat, eggs, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, junk food and meat for a while. If all that is too much, just start by increasing veggies!
- Add the herb milk thistle, which not only cleans the liver, but protects and strengthens it as well. It is thoroughly researched as effective and gentle. Follow the dose on the bottle or ask a natural health practitioner what a good dose would be for you.
- Rest and relax more. You can follow this regime for a day up to several weeks.
- Resolve emotional issues. Get help if you need it—sometimes this is the core place to work first for many of us.
- If you have a medical condition, please consult with a practitioner before doing a cleanse.
We have a retreat coming up May 1 to 3 if you would like to experience a cleansing diet for a weekend. See our website for details: www.ecowellness.com.
Questions are welcome, please direct them to email@example.com and I will answer them in another issue for everyone’s benefit.
Wishing you a successful liver cleanse!
Katherine Willow N.D.