Fabulous Friday: Liver (Hang With Me Here)

I know what you’re thinking: We’re going to talk about an organ on Fabulous Friday? But, truly, what the Liver does is so fabulous, so incredible—it deserves its day in the sun. Thanks to Chinese medicine, we have a rich understanding of its role as the most critical organ in our health. In contrast, Western medicine doesn’t talk much about the liver unless you have an enzyme issue or it’s damaged in some way.

So why the Liver, and why now? Because spring is the time of the Liver in Chinese medicine! And because the Liver is so central to good health, it’s important to know its function and what you can do to keep it running optimally.

So what’s the most important thing the Liver does? The Liver has the incredibly crucial function of circulating Qi through your body. If your Qi—or energy—is moving then your digestion flows well, your menstrual cycle is smooth, and your energy is great all day. Emotionally, you’ll be in a good mood, feel motivated, and feel like everything is humming along together.

If your Liver is stagnant or stuck, however, and your Qi isn’t moving, your digestion will be slow and bloated, your bowel movements will be erratic, your period will be painful and unpredictable, and worst of all, you’ll feel impatient, depressed, or irritated by everything.

You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?!

So what makes the Liver get stuck then? The number one thing that stops up the Liver is feeling trapped, stressed, or stuck in a situation. Basically: Unfulfilled desire. If you feel like you want something so badly—spring weather, more money, a different job, a baby—your Qi will stop flowing whenever you think of that thing. Maybe that’s not a problem if you only think of it once in a while, but if you’re in a chronic state of wanting something that you don’t—or can’t—have, the result is a chronically stagnant Liver.

So what do you do if your Liver is stuck? Get it moving! You can do that physically by exercising, stretching, or breathing hard. You can do it emotionally by talking about whatever’s bothering you, journaling, or jamming on your guitar. The really cool thing is that moving your Qi physically helps move your emotional Qi, and vice versa. Think of how much happier you feel after you exercise, and how your stomach relaxes after you talk to your friends. Don’t want to talk about your feelings? Go for a run! Hate running? Call your best friend and tell her what you’ve been bottling inside. Either way works. Your Liver will be flowing in no time!

Dealing with a chronically stagnant Liver? It’s especially crucial to take good care of yourself. Get on  an exercise program, start seeing a therapist, get regular acupuncture to keep your Qi flowing (you knew I was going to suggest that), or start taking herbs that can get your Liver flowing again. We can’t always remove the stressors from our life, but we can keep our Qi flowing as we figure out how to deal with them.

Stay tuned for next week when we talk about cleansing the Liver, specifically for allergies, but also for any springtime ailment.