“Only 12 days to Christmas, my true love said to me~”
I hope everyone is having a great time with all the parties and not stressing out too much on the Christmas gifts shopping! Well, if you are having a little too much booze or stressed out, your Liver may be stressed out too.
What is liver?
Did you know that the liver is a large meaty wedge shaped organ located on the right side of the belly. It’s about 1.5kg and 15 cm wide. It is reddish brown and its best buddy, gallbladder is located right underneath it. From a western medicine perspective, the liver’s main job is to filter blood, detox chemicals and metabolise drugs (chemicals). It also works to digest,absorb and process food. Plus it produces thrombopoietin (a glycoprotein hormone) to regulate platelets for blood clotting purposes.
From a TCM perspective, the Liver (note that I capitalise the L) is seen as a system and not just referring to the organ itself. Its main jobs include storing blood and ensuring the smooth flow of Qi (energy). The Liver opens up to the eyes, controls sinews or tendons, associated with anger, green colour, wood element,spring season, sour taste and performs at its peak at 1 to 3am.
Don’t worry if you’re confused, I’ll discuss them in detail below 🙂
Below is a quick summary on Liver’s profile.
To make things simple, I’ll talk about the Liver accordingly to our 5 senses.
Sight, Sound, Smell, Taste and Touch.
The Liver is associated with the eyes. The internal part of the Liver meridian runs up through the throat and passes the eyes. If you have any eye problems such as floaters, blurry vision, red or dry eyes, eyes with excessive discharge,itchy eyes, it may be a sign that your Liver is not functioning smoothly.
Liver is associated with the colour green. Maybe because it is most active in Spring where nature grows – a time for renewal and rebirth; a time to express and reflect; a time for freshness and harmony. Green is also the same colour as bile, which is stored in its partner organ, the gallbladder. Green is also known to be the most restful colour for the eye and can improve vision.
Of course, you shouldn’t be staring at the green screen for too long. Look far away every 45- 60 minutes to give your eye muscles a stretch.
I read this funny article here on how to protect your eyes from the screen-centric world.It shows you step by step guide to create your computer screen to your eye friendly colour for better vision. #greenwithenvy
Step 1: On your desktop page, right click > Personalize
Step 2: Click “Colors”
Step 3: Click “+ Custom color” > Click on drop down button “More”
Step 4: Select “RGB”. Enter the following magic numbers. Red: 219, Blue:238, Green: 221
Step 5 : Click “Done”. Yay! Now you can set this desktop and phone wallpaper.
Liver is associated with one of the 5 elements – Wood. The Qi of the Wood element flourishes in the spring when plants are sprouting. Liver is described as the “Official of Strategic Planning”- a grand architect for the future vision. People with strong wood energy are said to have clear vision and excel at decision making. But when wood Qi is weak or imbalance, they can be indecisive and feel stuck. Often can be arrogant and unable to control their anger. Personally, I think it can be a personality or upbringing thing but who knows, maybe 5 elements do play a part.
SEE HAPPY, FEEL HAPPY
Does surrounding yourself with your favourite pretty/cool things make your happy? Kondo Marie (konmari) said that “Clean up is good for the soul”. I think so too. Some can function equally well in a cluttered space but I think most people can’t. Holding onto things – both physically and emotionally that provided comfort in the past leaves no room for new. Say bye to old things and make space for new. You can try cleaning up one area at a time. It will be too overwhelming to do everything in 1 day, trust me.
Day 1: Declutter clothes
Throw or give away old clothes that you haven’t worn for 1 year. If it has sentimental value, then keep it for now. Fold and sort them according to konmari style if you like.
Day 2: Declutter work space
Give a wet towel wipe down to get rid of all the dust. Sort out papers, organise them into files. Place some nice/ motivational quotes or items that you like.
Day 3: Declutter your mind
Get a blank sheet of paper. Write down a checklist of what NOT to do. Yup, a Not-To-Do list. We get so distracted by social media or little mundane things in life. If you have a To-Do list and you end up not doing it, usually you’ll get pretty frustrated if you don’t complete it,right? So by creating a Not-To-Do list, it might help you to concentrate on the priorities.
Of course, if you prefer a To-Do list, do it by all means, there’s no right or wrong way 🙂
In TCM, every organ is associated with a sound. For the Liver, it’s the Ssshhh sound (xu 嘘 in pinyin). Just like when you tell someone to keep quiet. TCM believes that the Qi of energy that flows in the organs can affect the emotions. When the emotions are extreme and maintained for a long time, it will eventually cause physical harm. In other words, the mind affects the body; body affects the mind.
These sound healing can also found in the most important ancient Chinese Medicine textbook called The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon (Huangdi Neijing). It talks about Daoist theory and lifestyle.
From Chapter 5:
In nature, we have the five energetic transformations of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. In the human body there are the zang organs [internal viscera] of the Liver, Heart, Spleen, Lung and Kidney. The qi of the five zang organs forms the five spirits and gives rise to the five emotions. The spirit of the Heart is knows as the shen, which rules mental and creative functions. The spirit of the Liver, the hun, rules the nervous system and gives rise to extrasensory perception…
Sighing sound is a negative sign that your Liver qi is stagnant.
These sounds are said to help negative vibes to positive so let’s start Ssshhh-ing. Just make sure you’re not doing it infront of anyone.
5 Steps to Ssshhh-ing the Liver
Step 1: Find a quiet space. Make puckered lips as if blowing a kiss.
Step 2: Inhale through the nose.
Step 3: Make a Ssshhh sound as you exhale through the mouth. Make them with a steady tone in the middle-high range of your voice.
Step 4: Use the breath-mind-imagination. Imagine you are leading and guiding the Qi from the inner sides of the big toes up the insides of the thighs, into the abdomen, up to the throat, eyes, forehead, to the crown of the head.
Step 5: Then inhale. Repeat Step 1-5 six times.
Sounds are vibrations and they physically vibrate to target the organs like an inner-massage.
If you have difficulty doing it, try lying down on your right side (where the Liver is) and say ssshhh.
Who knew that ssshh-ing someone might actually benefit them too.
Massage your inner organ with sound vibrations today!
Rancid “goatish” odors are related to the Liver.
Imagine oil that has gone bad and rancid, something like that. Because the Liver and Gallbladder produce and store bile to break down fats, if the Qi is weak and cannot function properly, the “oil” will leak out and smell. So, take note if your breath smell like this.
Remember, Liver’s main job is to ensure a smooth flow of qi. Like a COO, it has to ensure smooth operation of energy.
If it’s stuck then everyone gets angry and irritated. When someone suddenly walks in with a freshly brewed coffee and donuts smell wafts through the air. *eyes twinkle with gleaming smiles*.
This is similar to aromatherapy!
Aromatherapy is a alternative medicine practice that taps into the healing power of
essential plant oils to balance your mind, body, and spirit.
The popular ones include lavender, yuzu (Japanese citrus orangy fruit) and ylang ylang. Apparently,the scent of lavender “stimulates brain pathways, including our limbic system, which is connected to our emotional response and memories. Studies using electroencephalography (EEG), which measures brain waves, and brain imaging using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) show significant changes during lavender aromatherapy consistent with its relaxing effects.”
Personally, I think you should choose whatever smell you like. I like Jasmine or something a little fruity so I spray them in my room or at the corner of my bed sheet before I sleep.
Do you eat liver? In Singapore, it is common to eat liver dishes – in soups or stir fry dishes. In Japan, we marinate them in soy sauce, mirin and ginger. But that’s NOT the taste we’re talking about here.
First taste associated to Liver is BITTER taste.
In TCM, if you experience constant bitter taste in your mouth, it’s a sign of Liver heat. Sometimes when you eat too much oily food, you might have bitter taste due to the high production of bile to dissolve the fat. Try some dandelion or chrysanthemum tea.
Second taste associated to Liver is SOUR taste.
From a TCM perspective, if you crave sour foods, it is a sign that your Liver is telling you that it needs a power-boost! In this case, try adding some of these into your diet:
1) High-quality vinegar (black or white doesn’t matter) – I use Mizkan Black Vinegar.
5) Pickles – Gherkin cucumbers anyone?
8) Lemon Water
9) Sour candies – If you hate all the food above then perhaps you can try this. I haven’t tried if it works…yet.
This sectionis more about how you feel when your Liver is not in shape. Here I’m going to discuss about anger, sleep, movement and some simple acupuncture tips you can do at home.
Ever seen someone lash out and scream on top of their lungs? They must be super pissed off and yes, everyone can get angry sometimes but if it happens all the time then something must be wrong. In TCM, the emotion related to the Liver is anger. How can you prevent this? Find a way to express and let things go. Talk to your family, draw, vent to your close friends, run, listen to your favourite music,watch a movie, whatever works for you.
Every organ has a different Qi direction. For example, the Stomach’s Qi must go down. If it goes up, then you’ll experience burping, belching, vomiting. For Liver, it needs to ensure smooth sailing of qi. Here’s a checklist, how many of these apply to you?
Crave sour food
Bitter taste in the mouth
Insomnia (especially when you’re active around 1 to 3am)
High blood pressure
Headache (especially at the top of your head)
Easily angered (ladies with very obvious PMS)
Does more than 6 symptoms apply to you? Perhaps you have Liver Qi stagnation, read on to find out what you can do to improve it.
In Chinese Medicine, we have a 24 hour body clock which is divided into 12 two-hour intervals of Qi. 6 organs plus 6 of their partners equals to 12. So, normally when you sleep, Yin increases and Qi move inwards to restore the body. This restoration operation is completed between 1 to 3am where the Liver cleanse the blood, soothes the hyperactive Qi and prepares the body for new Qi function the next day. If you have trouble sleeping and active especially at 1 to 3am, it means that you have too much Yang energy or too much Liver heat.
Sinews (tendons) are the tissues associated with Liver. Nourishment and blood supply is given by the Liver so they can relax and contract. This allows for smooth movement of the joints. Remember earlier on I mentioned about how Liver stores blood? If there is lack of blood, your tendons will be malnourished, which may affect movement and cause tear injuries, spasms, cramps, numbness of the legs,etc.
While the Liver controls the sinews, the Spleen controls the muscles. Together they pair up to make you agile like a cat! Liver disharmony is more likely to affect movement, and the Spleen is more likely to cause weakness of the muscles.
MASSAGE for Liver health
First, let’s see where the Liver meridian runs. Ready… go!
It starts from the top of the big toe and goes across the top of the foot.
After crossing the inner ankle, it continues to go upwards along the inner side of the lower leg and the thigh, until it reaches the pubic region. Afterwards, it goes up the stomach and connect with the Liver and gall bladder. Then it travels up along the throat and connects with the eyes. Finally it emerges from the forehead to reach the top of the head.
Liver also has 2 internal branches (shown in yellow line). Meaning there is no acupuncture points but the any problems of the Liver will show up along these branches.
Originates internally from the eye and moves downwards to the cheek where it curves around the lips.
Starts from the liver and goes up to the liver to connect with the Lung meridian to complete the 12 meridian cycle.
Here’s what you can try at home
Using a hairbrush with rounded bristles, gently hit your legs up and down the insides of your thighs (shown by the red line), starting at the ankles, for about 5 minutes. This gently stimulates your Liver meridian, allowing your Qi to flow more freely.
ACUPRESSURE for Liver health
The most common Liver acupuncture point is called “Tai Chong” (Liver 3) which stimulates a key point on the Liver meridian. By massaging this point everyday for 1-3 minutes, you are releasing your stagnant Liver Qi! This acupoint may feel sore when you press.
Where is this acupuncture point?
It’s located on top of your foot where the big toe bone meets the second toe bone. The acupuncture is about 2.5 cm from the wedge of your toe skin. Slide your thumb down from the arch of your foot, towards the space between your big toe and second toe. You’ll reach a slight depression as you slide down, that’s the spot! Using your thumb, press and massage this spot on both sides of your feet.
Sit back and enjoy a Cuppuqino.
Perhaps you might have noticed, the word Liver has “Live” in it.
Smooth flow of Liver Qi is the key to living a less-stress life.
The TCM’s 5 elements system is a system of correspondence.
Symptoms are our friends; symptoms are their language for crying out for help. Don’t ignore them and always use your symptoms as cues to improve on your well-being.
Thank you for reading as always!
Don’t leave without being a part of the Kanpobliss Klub 🙂