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Dietary Suggestion and Formulas for Healing the Liver

Home » Diet » Dietary Suggestion and Formulas for Healing the Liver

Spring Foods

This is the season to tend to the liver and gallbladder. In spring we naturally eat less or even fast to cleanse the body of the fats and heavy foods of the winter. The diet should be the lightest of the year and contain foods with the emphasis of the yang, ascending and expansive qualities of spring:

Young plants, fresh greens, sprouts and immature wheat or other cereal grasses. The expansive, rising quality of sweet and pungent herbs like: honey, mint, basil, fennel, marjoram, rosemary.

Most complex carbohydrates such as grains, legumes and seeds have a primarily sweet flavor which increases with sprouting. Food preparation becomes simpler in spring. Raw and sprouted foods should be emphasized. They are also cleansing and cooling and remind the body of renewal.

Foods which Stimulate the Liver and Remove Stagnation

Moderately pungent foods, spices and herbs: watercress, all the members of onion family, mustard greens, turmeric, basil, bay leaf, cardamom, marjoram, cumin, fennel, dill, ginger, black pepper, horseradish, rosemary, mint, lemon balm.

Other Anti-Stagnant Liver Foods

Strawberry, peach, cherry, pine nuts, cabbage, turnip, kohlrabi, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts.

Raw Foods

Sprouted grains, beans and seeds, fresh vegetables and fruits also stimulate liver energy.

Foods which Harmonize the Liver

Sweet flavored foods harmonize the liver and are ideal for long term liver health. These include grains, vegetables and legumes. Honey used sparingly, apple cider vinegar, stevia, whole sugar cane and licorice. These are useful for treating stagnancy except when there is heat.

Bitter and sour foods reduce excess of the liver. One of the most powerful remedies for quickly removing liver stagnation and the accompanying depression and indigestion is vinegar. Choose unrefined apple cider, brown rice or rice wine vinegar. Its effects increase with honey. Mix one spoon vinegar and one spoon honey in a cup of water.

If there is too much heat use lemon, lime or grapefruit instead, these are also bitter and sour but cooling.

Bitter foods: romaine lettuce, rye, asparagus, amaranth, quinoa, radish leaves and citrus peel.
Bitter herbs: dandelion, bupleurum, chapparal, milk thistle seeds, Oregon grape and chamomile.

Foods for Detoxifying and Cooling the Liver

Mung beans and their sprouts, celery, seaweed and kelp are very good for liver stagnation, lettuce, cucumber, watercress, tofu, millet, plums, chlorophyll rich foods, mushroom, radish and daikon.

Foods for Building Liver Yin and Blood

Insufficient yin of the liver causes deficient heat; mung beans, mung sprout, chlorophyll rich foods, millet, cold pressed flax seed oil, evening prim rose oil, black current seed, blood tonics, aloe vera gel (which is one of the best liver yin tonics), spirulina, blackberries, blueberry, raspberry, black strap molasses, organic animal liver.

Herbs to Build the Liver Blood

Dang qui (angelica sinensis), shu di huang (prepared rehmannia), peonia root and yellow dock root.

Easy Wanderer
Spreads the liver qi, strengthens the spleen, nourishes the blood and clears heat.

  • Chai Hu – bupleurum – bitter, acrid, cool; Gb, Liv, Per, Tb; – spreads Li qi, symptoms like dizziness, vertigo, chest and flank pain, emotional instability, or menstrual problems, disharmony between Liv and Sp.
  • Dang gui – angelica sinensis –s weet, acrid, warm; H, Liv, Sp; tonifies blood, regulates menses, blood deficiency symptoms: ashen complexion, tinnitus, blurred vision, palpitation, irregular menses, amenorrhea, dysmenorrheal; invigorates, harmonizes blood and disperses cold.
  • Bai Shao – peonia – bitter, sour, cool; Liv, Sp; – tonifies blood regulates menses, vaginal discharge; calms Liv. yang, alleviates pain in chest, disharmony between Liv and Sp, painful abdominal cramping and spasm, preserves yin and adjust nutritive and protective levels, yin vacuity yang floating upwards.
  • Bai Zhu – atractylodes – bitter, sweet, warm; Sp, St; – tonifies qi and St, Sp def. with diarrhea, fatigue, lack of appetite and vomiting; strengthens Sp dries dampness.
  • Fu Ling – poria – sweet, neutral, bland; H, Sp, Lu; – promotes urination and eliminates dampness, edema, scanty urination, vaginal discharge, cloudy painful urination; strengthens Sp and transforms phlegm, quiets heart and calm spirit.
  • Zhi Gan Cao – honey fried licorice – sweet, warm; – stonger effect than gan cao to tonify Sp, benefit qi, moistens the Lu and stops cough.
  • Mu dan pi- moutan – acrid, bitter, slightly cold; H, Liv, Ki; -clears heat and cools the blood, clears fire from yin deficiency, patterns such as steaming bone disorder, night sweats; invigorates the blood and dispels blood stasis, Liv blood stasis patterns with amenorrhea, abdominal masses, lumps or bruises due to injury, clears ascending liver fire.
  • Zhi Zi – gardenia – bitter, cold; H, Lu, St, Liv, Tb; – drains heat and eliminates irritability, clears heat and resolves dampness, for painful urinary dribbling due to damp heat in the lower burner, damp heat and constrained Liv and Gb with jaundice.

Minor Bupleurum
Harmonizes liver and digestive system.

  • Chai Hu – Bupleurum – bitter, acrid, cool; Gb, Liv, Per, Tb; – spreads Li qi symptoms like: dizziness, vertigo, chest and flank pain, emotional instability, or menstrual problems, disharmony between Liv and Sp.
  • Huang qin – scutellaria – bitter, cold; Gb, Li, Lu, St; root; – clears heat dries dampness in St. or Intestines, diarrhea, dysentery, for damp heat in lower burner with painful urination, damp heat jaundice, clears heat and toxicity esp. upper burner.
  • Ban Xia – pinellia – acrid, warm, toxic; Lu, St, Sp; – dries dampness, transform phlegm, rebellious qi to descend, cough with copious sputum, esp. phlegm due to dampness of Sp, harmonizes the St.
  • Sheng jiang – ginger – acrid, warm; Lu, St, Sp; – releases the exterior and disperses cold, warms the middle burner and alleviates vomiting and cold in the St.
  • Ren Shen – ginseng – sweet, slightly bitter, slightly warm; – Sp, Lu, H; root; – chi tonic, demulcent, stimulant, rejuvenating; treats deficiency diseases, strengthens lungs, nourishes body fluids, counteracts thirst, calms spirit.
  • Zhi Gan Cao – honey fried licorice – sweet, warm; – stronger effect than gan cao to tonify Sp, benefits qi, moistens the Lu and stops cough.
  • Da Zao – jujube date – sweet, neutral; St, Sp; – tonifies Sp, augments qi, for weakness, shortness of breath, lassitude, reduced appetite, loose stool due Sp, St deficiency, nourishes blood and calms spirit.

Liver Detox Formula
Clears the heat and detoxifies the Liver

  • Milk Thistle – cool, bitter, sweet; Liv, Sp; seeds, ariel part; -hepato protective, hepatic tonic, bitter tonic, demulcent, antidepressant, galactogogue; protects the liver and regenerates it, liver cirrhoses, necrosis , hepatitis A+B, lowers fat deposits in Liv, increases mother’s milk.
  • Dandelion root – bitter, sweet, cold; Liv, St; root; – reduces abscesses and dissipates nodules, for internal abscesses and external sores, esp. if they are firm and hard, esp. for breast and intestinal abscesses, used internally and externally, clears the Liv. and clears the eyes, for redness and swelling of the eyes, can be used alone as a steam for this purpose, clears heat resolves dampness and unblocks painful urinary dribbling, stomach disorders, constipation, hepatitis, prevention of breast cancer.
  • Red Clover – sweet, salty, cool; Liv, H, Lu; flower; – blood thinning alterative, antispasmodic, expectorant, antitumor, used to treat cancer, skin clearing, counteracts fever, inflamed lungs, whooping cough, inflammatory condition with arthritis and gout, good for cancer combined with chaparral.

Sooth the Liver
Harmonizes liver qi, encourages qi and blood circulation, clears heat, harmonizes Stomach and alleviates pain.

  • Chuan Lian Zi – toosendan – bitter, cold, slightly toxic; Ub, Liv, Si, St; – moves qi stops pain, for flank, rib, abdominal pain, Liv qi or Liv/St disharmony, hernial disorder, clears heat, dries dampness, regulates qi and pain.
  • Yan Hu Suo – corydalis – acrid, bitter, warm; Lu, Liv, H; root; -ammenagogue, analgesic, antispasmodic, diuretic, bitter tonic, menstrual/abdominal pain, heart and deficiency pains, used with other herbs for almost any pain.
  • Bai Shao – peonia – bitter, sour, cool; Liv, Sp; – tonifies blood regulates menses, vaginal discharge, calms Liv. yang, alleviates pain in chest, disharmony between Liv and Sp, painful abdominal cramping and spasm.
  • Jiang Huang – turmeric – acrid, bitter, warm; Sp, St, Liv; – invigorates blood unblocks menses, chest/abdominal pain, amenorrhea, dysmenorrheal, caused by stasis and cold def, swelling with trauma, moves qi alleviates pain, abdominal, epigastric pain, wind painful obstruction with blood stasis, esp. in shoulder.
  • Mu Xiang – aucklandia – acrid, bitter, warm; Gb, Li, Sp, St, Tw; root; – moves qi stops pain, with lack of appetite, feeling of food sitting in St, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, stagnant Liv, Gb qi, flank pain, distention, soreness, regulate stagnant qi.
  • Dou Kou Ren – round cardamom – acrid, warm, aromatic; Lu, Sp, St; – promotes the movement of qi transform dampness, strengthen the stomach.
  • Hou Po – magnolia – bitter, acrid, warm, aromatic; Li, Lu, Sp, St; – promotes movement of qi, transforms dampness, reduces stress of Sp.
  • Chen Pi – tangerine peel – acrid, bitter, warm; Lu, Sp, St; -regulates qi and transportive function of Sp, adjusts the middle relieves diaphragm, abdominal distention, fullness, bloating, nausea, vomiting, dries dampness transforms phlegm.
  • Zhi Ke – bitter orange – bitter, acrid, slightly cold; Sp, St, Li; -promotes the flow of qi, for qi stagnation leading to problems such as cough, distention, constipation.
  • Fu Ling – poria – sweet, neutral, bland; H, Sp, Lu; – promotes urination and eliminates dampness, edema, scanty urination, vaginal discharge, cloudy painful urination, strengthens Sp and transforms phlegm, quiets heart and calms spirit.
  • Sha Ren – cardomon – acrid, warm, aromatic; Sp, St; – transforms dampness stops vomiting, dampness in Sp, St with nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, moves qi strengthens Sp + St.