Chiu-Nan Lai, Ph.D.
I remember that when I was in Primary 4, a traditional Chinese medicine doctor would often visit our house. Each time, he would read my pulse and almost invariably, he would say that my liver was not healthy. Although I was young, I generally did not feel well but could not articulate what was wrong with me. That year, we had just moved from the U.S. to Taiwan, and lived in a company housing that had both a front yard and a back yard. Every week or other week, the company would send someone to spray anti-mosquito pesticide (DDT), and the entire place would be shrouded in a cloud of pesticide spray. At that time, we did not know that this was toxic, and did not specially avoid the spray. Many years later, I came to realize why my liver was not healthy.
Forty years later, both medical and scientific researchers established the harm caused to our body and especially the liver through exposure to pesticides, herbicides, air fresheners, preservatives, antibiotics, bleaching agents, dry cleaning agents, paint, etc. Hence, liver ailments, hepatitis, liver cancer, and liver-related illnesses are increasingly common. The liver is the filter for our blood and lymph fluids, and all that we eat and breathe goes through the liver. It reflects and resonates with our external environment. If a location has poor water quality, all its residents will have impaired liver functions.
Although the medical field is aware of the harm caused to the human body by chemical toxins, many public places, condominiums, parks, car parks, golf courses, and farms continue to spray various kinds of toxic chemicals. These chemicals have the most severe impact on children, fetuses, and workers doing the spraying.
We know a person who used to be in the pesticide business more than ten years ago. He was in contact with these deadly chemicals everyday. After two years, his liver was damaged, and he contacted hepatitis and liver cirrhosis. Doctors advised him that a liver transplant was his only hope. While waiting for a suitable donor, he changed his profession to that of a carpenter. He also became more careful with his diet. He ate only low fat, high fibre food, restricted his intake of alcoholic drinks and western medicine, and started taking milk thistle seeds as a daily supplement. (Milk thistle is a wild plant that has thorns, and looks a little like the dandelion when it flowers. At the end of the white hair are its seeds and looks like juemingzi.) Lately, his doctor informed him that he no longer has the Hepatitis C, and need not have a liver transplant.
Many years ago, a Singaporean reader had liver cirrhosis. I advised him to change to a healthful vegetarian diet. Three months later, his liver cirrhosis was cured. The liver is an instrumental and important organ in our body, and has a very strong self-regenerating capability. Even if 70% of the liver is cut, it will grow back. If a suitable environment and conditions exist, the liver can heal itself.
The liver is closely connected to the digestive and eliminative systems. When the liver is unhealthy, fat digestion and waste excretion will be adversely affected. Similarly, chronic constipation can poison the liver because the waste matter in the intestines is absorbed by the blood stream, which increases the load on the liver. The habit of gobbling down one’s food also adds pressure on the liver because food that is not fully digested becomes toxins in the body. Chewing food slowly and well helps digestion and benefits the liver. The work of the liver peaks between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. Hence, taking late dinners can interfere with the liver’s functions. Overworking and sleeping late also harms the liver. Taking light and earlier dinners and sleeping before 10 p.m. benefit the liver. Fat digestion directly affects the liver—avoid food prepared at high temperature such as oily, fried, and deep fried food. Also, use organic cold-pressed oil , but take sparingly.
Symptoms of an unhealthy liver are irritability, bad temper, high blood pressure, sleeping poorly, a tendency to wake up at 3 a.m., gastric problems, blurry vision, weak knees, muscles that are easily injured, migraine headaches, weak kidney, and cancer.
Currently, electromagnetic fields, radio waves, microwaves, and radiation in the environment are especially harmful to the liver. Because the liver is like the body’s weather station that monitors the environment, it is not surprising that most people do not have healthy livers. The liver is also like the weather station of our emotions. In particular, anger, jealousy, frustration, and blockage to one’s self expression or creativity are harmful to the liver. Our emotions and those of our mother and ancestors are also stored in our chakras, particularly in the liver-nourishing navel chakra (solar plexus) area, which is above our navel in front and above our waist behind.
The Chinese culture is an ancient culture, that is particularly concerned about social etiquette, and raise the next generation with strict restrictions. From young, children are taught to regard the family as the center. Self-expression is not encouraged, and one is to listen but not answer back. Marriages are determined primarily based on the socio-economic equality of the bride’s and groom’s families, and not on the love the couple has for each other. Poor families would even sell their daughters as child-brides or adopted daughters. Of course, there are instances of families selling their sons, but this is less common. For several thousands of years, Chinese have shut down and suppressed their emotional expressions. As a Chinese saying goes, “Slapping our face till it is swollen just to pretend a fat person”. The Chinese are polite and do not express what is in their hearts. For several thousand years, Chinese women have a lower social status than men. Even in this day and age, the majority of children sold are girls, even though everyone (boy or girl) comes from a mother’s womb. Our ancestors’ emotional histories are being transmitted from generation to generation by women. Among our grandmothers are child brides, adopted children, young daughters-in-law, maids, first wives, and second wives. The emotions that are being handed down are deep and tangled feelings of resentment, hatred, anger, sorrow, lack of security, jealousy, suspicion, fear, low self-esteem, etc. It is not surprising, therefore, that liver problems are prevalent among Chinese.
A happy and harmonious society comes from treating all children, and especially girls, with respect, love, and affirmation. Only when women are happy and well taken care of will there be a happy society and country.
Some suggestions on taking care of the liver are:
1. In our daily lives, avoid food that is produced by liver-damaging chemical toxins, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers, in particular, animal-based food. Also, where possible, avoid electromagnetic fields and microwaves. Eat naturally grown vegetables and fruits, grains, and seeds. Avoid deep-fried or high heat fried dishes, and use sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, and walnuts as food sources of oil. It is also fine to use small amount of cold olive oil, or other pressed oil such as sesame seed oil.
2. Take early dinners wherever possible. It is best if there is a gap of six to eight hours between digestion time and 1 a.m., which implies that we should take dinner before 6 p.m. The dinner portion should be small. People with liver problems can take dinner between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., or even abstain from dinner.
3. Detoxify the liver at regular intervals. Full moons and spring time are the best times to do so. The following food and herbs are helpful for detoxifying the liver: aloe vera juice, dandelion (its root is especially good for hepatitis), Chinese goldthread, tumeric, milk thistle, yarrow, Oregon grape root, gentian, wolf berries, chrysanthemum, juemingzhi, bitter gourd, deep green vegetables like kale, lemon, lemon skin, grapefruit skin boiled in water (20 minutes), lime (commonly available are green limes whose skin turns yellow when ripe). Lemon skin is especially effective in treating liver problems. Milk thistle seed, good for detoxifying liver, can be boiled and taken with water, or ground to powder and sprinkled on food. One spoonful of milk thistle seed powder per day is useful as a precaution against chemical toxins.
Below is a way of preparing lemon juice for detoxifying the liver: mix juice from one lemon, one teaspoon of olive oil, one teaspoon of honey, and ¼ to ½ teaspoons cayenne pepper power; drink on an empty stomach.
To detoxify our gallbladder, add lemon juice to three teaspoons of live oil and ¼ to ½ spoonful cayenne pepper powder. Every full moon is an optimal time to detoxify the liver. Likewise, the spring season is a good time to do so, as well as discharge our gall bladder stones (for method, see my books “Holistic Health for the Body, Mind, and Spirit” and “Returning Joy to Our Body”).
Here is an approach used by native South-American Indians for treating hepatitis and detoxifying the liver:
Add juice from two to three limes to two cups of water and a tablespoon of honey. Drink and replenish over three days continuously. Boil lettuce (Romaine or other loose leaf lettuce which do not have a head) in water, and drink 2 tablespoons every hour. It is not necessary to take dinner. On the 4th day, eat beetroot and lightly-steamed vegetables. Continue to drink lime water and gradually increase food intake. Drink the lime water for a week.
4. The liver is the warmest organ in our body. However, environmental pollution can make it cool down and prevent it from functioning properly. Many years ago, a study found that 90% of Americans had livers that were not functioning normally. Now, the figure may be as high as 99.9%.
Using chamomile tea to apply over the liver area is a method to warm the liver, as recommended by Dr. Rudolph Steiner. Among food, wasabi directly warms the liver. No wonder the Japanese people add wasabi sauce when they eat fried tempura.
5. Clearing suppressed emotions and releasing our emotions freely are important to take care of the liver. The following is a method that uses salt water to clear our navel chakra (solar plexus area). Fill half a cup with salt, and add water to the brim. Use the left hand to hold the bottom of the cup, and the right hand on top of the cup. Hold the cup above the navel, and relax the entire body, letting the salt absorb suppressed emotions from the body. It is best to stick a triangular piece of paper with the words “Om Mani Padme Hum”, “Thank you”, or “Love” on the bottle or cup (please refer to my article on the August 2005 issue of this magazine). At the beginning, do so for 10 to 20 minutes. When you have done so for the front of the navel chakra, repeat the same process for the back (i.e., back of waist) with both hands holding the cup of salt water. It is fine to alternate the hands (left or right) holding the top or bottom of the cup. Once the cleansing process is completed, the front and back of our chakra area will have a warm feeling. It is best to do so for a few minutes every day to clear remaining and new negative emotions.
When we have afflictions, anger, fear, resentment, or a critical attitude towards others, stop and ask these questions: “Who was not loved? Not respected? Not affirmed? Who was frightened?” Is it ourselves when we were young? Our parents? Our ancestors? The one who was the young daughter-in-law? The one who was the adopted daughter? The one who was the maid? Then, send love, respect, affirmation, and whatever is needed. Repeat this, and over time, the instinctive and blind habitual reactions of the past will not take place. This will not only protect your liver, but that of people around you.
Dr. Mick Hall, a doctor of natural therapies who counsels cancer patients, found that suppressed emotions can pass on for many generations. One of his patients was a very anxious person. Dr. Hall asked her where her anxiety came from. She answered that it came from her mother. He then asked her where her mother’s trait came from. She replied that it came from her maternal grandmother, who was an extremely anxious person. Dr. Hall further asked this patient where her grandmother’s anxiety arose from. At that time, this lady had a sudden insight—at the age of 10, her grandmother witnessed her family members being killed in Germany. Another lady patient suddenly felt a fear of bears while she was undergoing detoxification. She was a person who lived among nature, and was normally not afraid of anything. While she was experiencing this extreme fear, a genetic memory came to mind—she recalled that her maternal grandmother was once chased by a bear, and ran into the river where she stood in great fear for half a day.
6. Recently, I discovered by chance that the following procedure can protect the liver: on the liver area, paste a triangular white piece of paper or cloth that has the words “Om Mani Padme Hum” written in blue. Our liver is being assaulted by microwaves, electromagnetic waves, and polluted air 24 hours a day. Hence, our liver also needs 24-hour protection. This paper or cloth does not need to directly contact the skin, and can be stuck or placed on our clothes. An even better method is to use blue ink to write between 7 to 14 sets of the mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum” on a white cloth, and then wrap this cloth around our waist. This is my latest experiment that you can try. The strongest force in the universe is love. The best antidote to hatred, fear and other negative emotions is also love. Om Mani Padme Hum is the vibration of the most perfect love in the universe. When I paste these words on my liver area, I immediately have a warm feeling.
Translated by Singapore Lapis Lazuli Light.
Article originally published in Chinese in Lapis Lazuli Light magazine (Feb 2006); available at http://www.lapislazuli.org/TradCh/magazine/200602/200602.html