Reviving the liver function from a Chinese medicine perspective involves looking at the liver’s relationship to other organ systems. Thus, it is rare in Chinese medicine, to emphasize a cleanse for the liver without considering other systems.
In contrast, the Chinese medicine approach to supporting the liver includes an abundance of deep root vegetables combined with healing vegetable greens in healing soups. Swiss chard, cilantro, kale, cucumbers and fresh peppermint spinach etc, are eaten in raw salads to accompany the healing soups. The idea is that our spleens need the warmth and digestibility of cooked foods to balance, while the liver likes the cool, raw foods–so we combine the two to create balance. The deep root vegetables help to nourish the kidneys and adrenal system while beets nourish the heart and provide support for the circulatory system.
If there are sinus and allergy issues we emphasize focusing on certain kinds of fruits that have a high level of quercetin (such as red or red skinned fruit) but we also do not include a high amount of the fructose/fruits as this is also creates strain on the liver. In addition, we emphasize white vegetables such as cauliflower, white radishes, horseradish for helping to support lung/large intestine meridians associated with our immunity systems.
In addition, we might add in liver tonic herbs to help strengthen the liver as the body naturally purges from this change in diet. Thus, this style of gentle liver cleanse is different from holistic western plans that emphasize the purging and use of cool natured herbs and foods to the detriment of other internal organs–why do I say detriment? You may feel great energy right after a liver cleanse but the results often do not last long because the other systems get weakened. A true and balanced liver cleanse will provide gentle shifts of energy and create greater overall health and lead to lifestyle changes that help the liver remain lower in toxins.
Last, we incorporate liver specific healing movements from the qi gong system to help release tension from the liver but also bring additional support to the systems that support the liver such as the adrenal system (kidneys and bladder meridians), immunity (lungs and large intestine meridians), heart and circulatory system (heart and small intestine meridians), gallbladder (even if it has been removed, a gallbladder meridian still exists and needs balancing) and digestive system (spleen and stomach meridians). Qi gong and taiji also help to reduce stress and cortisol, which plays a role often in the liver energy becoming off balance. You can access my free stress relief qi gong webinar with videos and journaling activities online. We also emphasize meditations with an emphasis on the liver.
Thus, our way of working with the liver in Chinese medicine is about developing dietary habits and using stress reduction tools that create a lifestyle that supports all systems of the body such that the more drastic “cleanses” such as fasting or liquid diets, or using strong purging herbs or supplements are not needed–instead your liver is gently encouraged to function optimally a predominance of the time–therefore supporting all other systems of the body towards greater energy, health and wellness.