Part 1 of 3: Symptoms of a Problematic Liver System
“Is life worth living? It all depends on the liver” — William James
Recently, I wrote about wanting to help my clients choose the herbal teas that are best for them to restore their health. I have decided to write a series of educational posts on the five Chinese organ systems. Here, I will focus on the liver system.
The liver organ system includes the liver, the gall bladder and lymphatic system and takes care of blood cleansing and fat metabolism. It regulates the flow of energy around the body. The usual problem with the liver is that it gets overloaded, overheated and inflamed. There are characteristic health issues related to liver imbalance.
One of the most common signs of an imbalance in the liver are migraine headaches, tension in the neck and shoulders (especially the right shoulder blade). In fact chronic muscular tension anywhere will be liver-related. Trouble digesting fat is a clear sign of liver trouble. In extreme cases, it can mean feeling sick at the mere smell of heated fats, as was the case for me, which is why I quit my job as a chef. Skin that develops a woody texture, kind of dry and thick, is a classic liver-related problem.
Physical indications of a weak liver very commonly include cold hands and feet because of blockages in the flow of energy, even to something as severe as Reynaud’s Disease. Other signs are if you carry excess weight and rely on carbohydrates as your main source of fuel; if your energy is up and down instead of being consistently high through the day; eye problems like conjunctivitis, infections and redness; nails that break easily and have spots or ridges, and dull skin are signs of a weak liver.
When you have health problems attributed to the thyroid like a slow metabolism or feeling the cold easily, the liver will be a part of that too. If someone is severely underweight, that’s likely to be liver as well.
Allergies and food intolerances are another classic sign of the liver being overloaded. In my work with clients, they were one of the most obvious signs to me. Specific allergies can sometimes be linked to small intestine issues, but if someone has a whole laundry list of allergies, that’s an overloaded liver.
The liver makes a lot of our hormones, so often hormonal problems can arise from imbalance, such as menstrual problems in women or excess of estrogen/testosterone deficiency in men. This can sometimes result in difficulty putting on weight. Night sweats are related to liver and hormones too.
There are many more emotional indications than physical ones. It is usually the habitual emotions that give the real signals about the health of the liver. Serious imbalance in the liver will show up as a lot of anger, resentment, jealousy or envy. Anger greatly damages the body because it physically creates poisonous chemicals internally; we are literally poisoning ourselves when we get angry. I’m not saying you should repress your emotions, but when you bring your liver back into balance then you will be troubled by these emotions much less. Instead of anger, you may be experiencing guilt which is anger turned inward.
Potentially less damaging emotional signs include; if you tend to resist change and don’t like surprises; if you struggle to make decisions about what is right for you; if you have trouble saying no and hearing no. In fact, to take that further, having a lack of clear boundaries with people and making it clear when something is not ok is about the liver. That’s usually where the anger comes from that I just mentioned. Anger usually comes from either not getting our own way or not being able to say no to something. Lack of ambition and lack of creativity are also liver related.
If you have a liver imbalance, you may crave sour foods like vinegar and lemon. You may tend towards having a red face. A simple way of testing your circulation and tendency to anaemia (both liver) is to press your fingernail hard and let go. If the pinkness takes longer than a second to return, that’s a sign your liver isn’t as healthy as it could be. If your fingernails are generally messed up and misshapen that’s also about your liver, whereas weak brittle nails are connected to kidney problems. Ridged vertical lines on the nails are kidneys but horizontal marks are liver.
Don’t diagnose yourself with liver imbalance if you have only a couple of the potential problems on this list, as they may be coincidental. We are looking for a pattern, the cumulative weight of evidence that identifies the liver as the source. Another factor to look out for that fits the liver pattern is if you find your symptoms get worse in spring. That’s where the idea of spring cleaning comes from; our urges to clean house at that time of year reflect the inner need to clean house and relieve the liver of overload and inflammation.
Stay tuned for my next post in this series; Benefits of a Healthy Liver.
Elwin is also the Founder of Complete Detox Academy, Taoist Health Academy, the Health Coaching Institute and High Energy Academy, as well as the author of 'the Easy Exhaustion Cure' and 'the 4 Step Safe and Effective Detox Action Plan'.
Elwin is highly Enthusiastic about empowering people to feel Energized, Joyful and Alive, Naturally and Sustainably, and has worked over 5 years with over 1000 clients towards this goal. Elwin is particularly passionate about working with clients who are highly committed to reaching high levels of Health, Energy and Wellbeing, by natural and sustainable means.
Elwin has always been interested in Health since childhood. With a mother who had cancer 4 times, and a father with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Elwin is determined to get to the Root Causes of what really creates Disease, and what it really takes to have Outstanding Health and Wellbeing. After suffering from Health Challenges all his life, Elwin became determined, in 2007, to 'Get his Energy back or Die Trying', and, with this level of Resolve, made rapid progress, after a few false starts, which led him naturally, organically, after many requests, to dedicate himself full time to helping others get the kind of Results that he had achieved.