Caring for Your Liver, Gallbladder and the Third Chakra

Dry eyes; all kinds of skin problems including rashes, boils, eczema and psoriasis; headaches; irritability; fatigue; "brain fog"; aches and pains;indigestion; bloating and constipation. These are just a few of the symptoms that may indicate a cranky liver. And generally, unless you've had a specific problem with your liver, you probably don't pay too much attention to it. Big mistake.Every day really bad stuff gets into our bodies -- car exhaust, cigarettesmoke, alcohol, industrial solvents, pesticides, bad water, processed food and aluminum in antacids.The liver removes toxins that can damage other parts ofthe body, the heart, blood vessels, eyes and skin. If this function get saltered by too much alcohol or a disease such as hepatitis, the negative effects on long-term health can be staggering. The liver, the largest organ in the body, maintains the balance of fats andcarbohydrates and is partly responsible for feeding the brain. It synthesizescholesterol and other fats and increases building materials for growth.Michael Moore, director of the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine, statesthat, broadly speaking, during the day, when we're active, the liver letsthings out; while we sleep it builds things back up again for the followingday.The liver and gallbladder work as a team, and their function is essential forproper digestion and elimination. The liver cleanses the blood of impuritiesand poisons, neutralizing them and transforming them into bile. Thegallbladder stores the bile the liver produces until it is needed for furtherbreaking down of food for absorption. If the bile becomes obstructed, pain anddigestive disturbances start.Gallstones, formed from concentrated bile and cholesterol combined withminerals, are not only excruciatingly painful but, when large enough, areoften responsible for a condition called jaundice where the skin becomesyellow and itchy and yellow appears in the whites of the eyes.Infection of the liver, hepatitis, also results in jaundice. Hepatitis is aninflammation of the liver brought on by certain viruses or by over exposure totoxic substances. This disease usually causes a fever, extreme fatigue, and isoften accompanied by vomiting. Although most alcoholics can count on gettinghepatitis after five to 10 years of too much drinking, this disease can alsoresult from poor nutrition, a viral or bacterial infection or an overload ofpoisons.Blood tests should include liver functionHepatitis C (there are several different kinds of hepatitis) is on the risein this country and is one of those silent killers. People usually have noidea there's anything wrong until they develop serious symptoms or the problemshows up in a blood test. Make sure liver function is part of any blood testyou have.Cirrhosis of the liver involves destruction of the liver cells and theirreplacement by scar tissue, which gradually destroys the organ and can resultin death. One of the biggest problems with cirrhosis is that less blood flowsthrough the liver and the toxins that are normally flushed out stay in thebody as poison. Although we often think of cirrhosis as only being connectedwith excessive alcohol consumption, it can also be caused by poor nutrition(especially too little protein), an overload of toxic substances or a previousviral or bacterial infection that inflamed and weakened the liver.The liver also converts protein into usable amino acids. Vitamins A, D, E, Kand the ever-important B-12 are metabolized in your liver. It regulates bloodvolume throughout the body and is one of the main sources of body heat. Italso manufactures antibodies for the immune system, produces agents that allowblood to clot when you get cut and helps control blood-sugar levels.So, you're getting the picture. This is one of the most important organs inthe body, and we have to stop ignoring it. And the best part is that even areally damaged liver retains an astonishing ability to regenerate itself. Thebest cure is prevention. Eat less fat, exercise, drink lots of water and nottoo much alcohol, get enough sleep. Sound familiar?Moore describes liver-deficiency symptoms (that is, when your liver is notworking strongly enough) as general dryness of the skin, the nose and throat;allergies of the skin, sinuses and bronchial passages; generally poor fat andprotein metabolism; and poor appetite. Most folks with blood-sugar problems,allergies and constipation are liver deficient. Symptoms of an overactiveliver (called liver excess in many texts) are moist, oily skin; fat andprotein cravings that can tend to elevate cholesterols; and high bloodpressure.How to be nice to your liverMy personal experience in working with the liver is that there's a fine linebetween cleansing and toning and being sick as a dog. I strongly recommendworking with a professional herbalist. Wonderful herbal formulas for livertonic, biliary formula, liver deficiency tincture and liver excess tinctureare all available in Herb Formulas for Clinic and Home by Michael Moore,available in health-food stores throughout the state.A simple tea for the liver can be made from: 1 teaspoon each dandelion root,milk thistle seed and roasted chicory root; 1/2 teaspoon each of sarsaparillaroot, licorice root and ginger rhizome; and 1 quart water. Combine theingredients in a saucepan and simmer for a couple of minutes. Turn down theheat and let steep for 15 minutes. Strain and drink at least a cup a day. Atea for the gallbladder is 1 teaspoon each of dandelion root, Oregon graperoot and marshmallow root; 1 quart water; and 1/2 teaspoon each of chamomileflower and nettle leaves. Combine the root and water and simmer for about 15minutes. Turn off heat, add remaining herbs and steep for about 20 minutes.Strain herbs. Drink at least 1 cup daily. And one of the best overall teas isequal parts of dandelion, horsetail, red clover and nettles.Other herbs that support and help tone the liver are milk thistle, burdock,ginger, garlic, licorice, yellow dock, wahoo and ginseng. Enteric-coatedpeppermint capsules help digestion in general and can help dissolve gallstones.One way Asian medicine sees it: the third chakraLiver function is also related to the energetic center known in Asianmedicine as the third chakra or solar plexus chakra, which supplies energy tomost of the major organs of digestion and purification.This chakra is associated with our ability to take in and digest not onlyfood, but also information. Have you ever heard anyone say they can't stomachtheir job or a relationship? It is also linked to the issue of personal power.In Vibrational Medicine, Dr. Richard Gerber writes that one's sense of comfortwith the universe as a nurturing place, as opposed to a feeling that the worldis a stage for uneasiness and bad things waiting to happen, directly affectsthe subtle-energy flow through the solar plexus chakra. Anger and abusetowards one's self and others can be associated with inner feeling ofpowerlessness. Growing stresses in the workplace caused by increasing employerdemands, coupled with an inner sense of powerlessness to change one's life,can easily manifest as an ulcer. A major problem we're facing today is a constant overload of stimulus andinformation -- radios, stereos, TVs, traffic noise, unnecessary beeps from everpiece of machinery built these days and the overriding message that we're notenough and need to do more and go faster. How do we digest all this? Most ofus don't. We go into overwhelm and short out in one way or another. We getulcers, we become overly aggressive, we get sick, we cave in, we developproblems at home and in the society at large.We could eat food that we can digest, we could spend more time outdoors inthe huge quiet of this wonderful place, we could pray more for ourselves andothers. We have a choice, and we need to start making the right choices forourselves and our future. Vera Lawrence, co-publisher of Crosswinds, is a healer in private practice inAlbuquerque, an ordained minister of the Healing Light Center Church in LosAngeles, a practicing herbalist and licensed message therapist.

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