Chrysanthemum & Licorice Tea for Liver Detoxification

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

Liver/ Gallbladder Disease

The liver is the sole organ in promoting and detoxifying the blood. Promoting liver health is similar to promoting blood. Spring is the best season to address liver health because it is the beginning of a new cycle of growth and the liver needs to produce more blood to support the growth. To protect and improve liver health, we need to observe the following guideline:

1. Drink More Water

Water is important to keep fluid moving and to clean out toxins from the body. Water helps in digestion, circulation of nutrients and detoxification of blood. The more toxins we can clean out of the body, the lesser burden it will be for the liver. Green color foods can increase the detoxifying function and mung bean is the best choice. Cooking mung beans in boiling water for 5 to 6 minutes and drink the green water regularly throughout spring and summer is best to support detoxification and can cool down internal heat.

2. Eat A Regular, Balanced Diet

Both overeating or under eating can cause abnormal production of digestive enzymes and bile by the liver, therefore affecting its normal function. Foods should be bland in taste in spring and not too hot or spicy. It is best to eat more fruits and vegetables.

3. Not Too Much Alcohol

Moderate drinking can uplift liver yang energy but too much alcohol can damage the liver by giving it too many things to detoxify.

4. Stay Positive and Be Happy

Anxiety, anger, sad and worry are the emotions that can cause suppression to liver energy and damage the liver. Controlling these emotions can give positive and uplifting energy to the liver so that it can work at its best.

5. Get Adequate Exercise

Light outdoor exercise in spring such as hiking, jogging, and tai-chi can promote blood circulation which is good for promoting liver function.

6. Eat Foods That Benefit The Liver

Foods such as chrysanthemum, animal's liver, goji-berries, angelica, etc. can lower liver heat and enrich the blood. Eating some sour taste foods can help to promote liver health but overdoing it can suppress liver energy.

The Liver in Environmental Illnesses

The importance of the gut flora in ill health is becoming increasingly obvious as it is implicated as a cause of an increasing number of illnesses. The health of the gut has a substantial impact on the health of the liver as everything absorbed from the intestines passes through the liver so that harmful substances can be detoxified before the rest of the body is exposed to them.

In one study by doctors at Biolab UK, 61% of sufferers of undiagnosed chronic illnesses with predominant fatigue were found to have overgrowth of both bacteria and yeast in the gut1. As a result of their normal metabolism, these micro-organisms produce waste products that in increased amounts can be harmful to the liver and the person’s health as a whole. Yeast in particular produce a large amount of ethanol (drinking alcohol) which is highly toxic to the liver, in fact, alcohol is the single most toxic substance to liver cells. As well as producing increased amounts of toxic substances for the liver to deal with, yeast or bacterial overgrowth also causes damage to the intestinal lining causing 'leaky gut'.

Increased gut permeability results in even more potentially toxic substances from the gut being absorbed to put further stress on the liver's detoxification pathways. A study of liver disease in alcoholics found that only the patients with a leaky gut developed cirrhosis of the liver2. This points to the possibility that in people with gut dysbiosis, not only is there chronic ingestion of alcohol but the leaky gut caused by bacterial and/or yeast overgrowth leads to more severe effects on the liver from the alcohol produced. If the liver is overwhelmed by toxins from the gut and from chemicals in everyday use it won't function correctly and may even become damaged and inflamed. As a result, not all toxins entering the liver are detoxified and gain access to the bloodstream to travel anywhere in the body. These toxins and the excess of free radicals (highly reactive forms of oxygen) caused by poor liver function can cause direct damage to tissues and also initiate allergic or auto-immune reactions. Un-neutralized toxins are also expelled into the bile in this situation and can further damage the intestinal lining, setting up a vicious cycle in which gut dysbiosis and leaky gut cause poor liver function which in turn worsens the gut dysbiosis and leaky gut.

As mentioned earlier, the liver requires large amounts of energy and nutrients to function efficiently. If the liver is overwhelmed by toxins, these nutrients can become depleted and the liver will function inefficiently resulting in numerous symptoms and problems throughout the body. Many of these nutrients can be replaced by supplementation, improving the functioning of the liver. There are also a number of herbs and other methods that can heal a damaged liver and improve detoxification functions.

Herbs for the Liver

Milk Thistle (Silymarin)

Milk Thistle for Liver Health : Chinese Medicine LivingThis lovely image from medicinalplantsindia.com

The milk thistle plant contains silymarin and related flavonoids which are some of the most potent liver-protecting substances known. These flavonoids are powerful antioxidants so protect the liver from damaging toxins and free radicals. They also stimulate healing and the production of new liver cells and cause the liver to increase production of glutathione, the bodies most important antioxidant and detoxifying substance. Silymarin has been proven to both protect liver cells and repair existing damage in animals intoxicated with mushroom toxins, medicines, heavy metals or toxic organic solvents3. Human studies have also shown decreased mortality in patients with alcoholic liver damage who are treated with silymarin3. Milk thistle is commonly available in capsule or tincture form and a common dose would be 200mg 2/3 times per day. For hepatitis and cirrhosis doses of 400mg or more 3 times per day are common.

Burdock

Burdock for Liver Health : Chinese Medicine LivingThis lovely image from commonsensehome.com

Burdock contains a number of nutrients important to liver function. These include vitamins B1, B6 and B12 which are essential for the function of phase 1 liver detoxification's pathways, vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant and sulphur which is essential for a number of important phase 2 liver detoxification pathways in which potent toxins created by phase 1 detoxification are neutralized. Phase 2 pathways requiring sulphur include those utilizing glutathione. Burdock also contains other substances such as arctiin which act to improve liver and gallbladder function.

Dandelion

Dandelion for Liver Health : Chinese Medicine LivingThis lovely image from smallfootprintfamily.com

Clinical studies have shown dandelion extract to have protective effects against lipid peroxidation and free radicals, both damaging products of a poorly functioning liver4. Like burdock, dandelion contains a wealth of nutrients important to liver function, especially the B vitamins. It cleanses the liver and increases the production of bile. Dandelion is often used as a herbal treatment for all liver diseases of the liver including hepatitis, cirrhosis, and jaundice.

Hepatitis

Hepatitis is an infection or inflammation of the liver due to viruses of "A", "B" and "C". Drinking contaminated water or eating contaminated seafood can result in hepatitis A. It can easily spread through person-to-person contacts. Hepatitis B is usually contracted from bad blood or infected needles or sexual activity. Hepatitis C is always acquired from blood transfusions. The major symptoms are fever, flu-like symptoms, weakness, poor appetite, fatigue, dark urine and light-colored stools. Most people who got hepatitis can eventually recover with proper nutrition and complete rest. However, liver disease caused by alcohol can lead to death.

Chinese medicine sees hepatitis as damp heat invasion causing spleen dampness, liver energy congestion, blood coagulation, disharmony of liver and spleen, and liver-kidney yin deficiency. An Infectious virus, excessive alcohol consumption, and irregular eating habits can impair the normal functions of the spleen, therefore affecting liver and gallbladder's ability to regulate bile. Bile will then deposit in muscles, skin, bladder, creating yellowish eyes, face and urine. Treatments focus on clearing heat, removing dampness, harmonizing spleen, and nourishing yin. Herbs commonly prescribed are capillaris, atractylodes, aconite, persica, and carthamus.

Jaundice

Jaundice is a yellowish pigmentation of the skin. Jaundice is often seen in liver diseases such as hepatitis or liver cancer. It may also indicate obstruction of the biliary tract, for example by gallstones or pancreatic cancer. Turmeric in yellow curry is effective in treating jaundice.

The diet for people with liver disease should be low in protein, low fat and avoid raw fish and shellfish. Avoid spicy and highly processed foods. Sweet potatoes can lower the yellowish color in the skin. Foods that are diuretic, such as job's tear, are useful in removing dampness. Drinks made of bitter melon and dates are tonics for the liver. Dandelion and burdock are effective in cleansing the liver and the bloodstream. Licorice is used for treating viral hepatitis. Honey can promote proper functioning of liver cells, lower liver fat and promote proper circulation of blood and lower blood pressure. Green pepper and bitter melon are best for releasing liver fire with symptoms of red and dry eyes. White turnip soaked in vinegar can promote bile movement and help to secrete gall bladder stones and kill cancer cells.

Gallstones

Gallstones are formed by stagnant bile flows, secreted by the liver and passed to the gallbladder for storage. First, it formed sludge and then stones. When the stones are small, they will pass through into the intestines and out. If they are large and got stuck in the bile duct, they will cause a sharp, stabbing sensation. Most elderly people have gallstones due to excess cholesterol, high sugar and fat diet and overweight. Women on the pill are more likely to have gallstones. The symptoms are bloating, upper abdominal discomfort, flatulence and food intolerance.

Diet plays an important part in preventing the formation of gallstones and reduces the frequency of their attacks. The preventive diet consists of fruits, vegetables, fiber, no sugar, and little saturated or unsaturated fat. A vegetarian diet is recommended. Lemon juice with olive oil before bedtime will help to eliminate gallstones. Apple juice, pear juice, and beet juice are good for cleaning out the system. Sour white turnip promotes the production of bile and prevents the formation of gallstone. Walnut and celery can help to pass out small stones and so is sour plum juice.

Chrysanthemum & Licorice Tea

Chrysanthemum Flowers for Liver Health : Chinese Medicine Living

Chrysanthemum Flowers 

SYMPTOMS:

Eyes with white secretions at both corners of the eyes, especially upon waking up in the morning.

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS:

Lowers liver heat and clear toxins in the eyes and liver.

Licorice Root : Chinese Medicine LivingLicorice Root : This lovely image from Mountain Rose Herbs

INGREDIENTS:

  • Chrysanthemum (ju hua) 菊花 – 30gm
  • Licorice (gan cao) 甘草 – 15gm

1.   Rinse herbs and cook both ingredients with 3 cups of water over medium heat down to one cup of tea (about 15 minutes).

2.   Strain and drink tea.

USAGE:

No restriction.

The beautiful featured image photo by Marisa Harris on Unsplash


Color Dietetics - With a Poster to Hang on the Wall

by John Voigt

Diets rich in a variety of colors and different fruits and vegetables are good for your heart and brain healthand may decrease stroke risk. American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

Eat a variety of types and colors of vegetables and fruits to give your body the mix of nutrients it needs. Try dark leafy greens; brightly colored red, yellow and orange vegetables and fruits; and cooked tomatoes. A diet rich in produce can lower blood pressure, reduce risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, lower risk of eye and digestive problems, and have a positive effect upon blood sugar which can help keep appetite in check. Harvard School of Public Health.  

Introduction

For thousands of years, Chinese thinkers have known that within nature there is a complete code for health, harmony, and wellbeing. There have been many explanations and commentaries about each individual being made up of five ever-changing interacting universal vortexes of energy (qi), physicalness (e.g., bodily organs), and conscious sensation (the mind and emotions). Each of these five energies has a separate color.

Cut Out and print this chart and put it on a wall in your kitchen. The link to the printable PDF is below. :)

The Color of Foods Poster : Chinese Medicine Living

The Color of Foods Poster : Chinese Medicine Living

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The Color of Foods

Goal: Eat Daily From Each of These Groups. Aim for a Total of Five to Ten Servings

GREEN

Cruciferous - Broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, turnip greens, watercress. (Go for one to two daily servings from this very important group.)

 Leafy Greens  - Spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, chicory, Swiss chard; also artichokes, asparagus.

RED

Apples (w skin), beets, cherries, cranberries, Chinese wolfberry (Gǒuqǐ),  guava,  pink grapefruit, pomegranates, radishes, raspberries, red grapes, strawberries, tomatoes (especially cooked, tomato juice, pasta sauce, tomato soup, tomato paste), and watermelon.

YELLOW-ORANGE

Apricots, avocados, butternut squash, cantaloupe, carrots, grapefruit, lemons, mangoes, nectarines, oranges, peaches, pears, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, curcumin [in turmeric].

WHITE

Garlic (raw and freshly cut, mashed, or chewed. Onions, leeks.

BLUE-PURPLE

Blueberries, blackberries, eggplant, plums or prunes.

Other important produce: almonds, bananas, beans, cacao, flax, ginger, green or black tea, mushrooms, olive oil, soy (tofu, soy milk, edamame, etc.), sunflower seeds, walnuts, whole grains. Possibly (and in moderation) coffee, red wine.

Eat the rainbow : Chinese Medicine Livingthis delicious image from organicandhappy.tumblr.com

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Western Medical Science on a Color Produce Diet

Green Cruciferous. May induce detoxification of carcinogens, block tumor growth and work as antioxidants. American Institute for Cancer Research.

Leafy Greens. Some laboratory research has found that the carotenoids in dark green leafy vegetables can inhibit the growth of certain types of breast cancer cells, skin cancer cells, lung cancer and stomach cancer. Rio Grande Cancer Foundation.

People who ate one to two servings of green leafy vegetables a day were cognitively 11 years younger than those who ate fewer greens. Blueberries may have the best cognitive perks. AARP.

Red - Fruits, Vegetables, [also beans].

Diets rich in these nutrients are being studied for their ability to fight heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s Disease as well as skin, breast and prostate cancers. fns.usda.gov.

Red - Tomatoes.

Epidemiological studies have associated tomato consumption with a decreased risk of prostate cancer. Annual Review Food Science Technology.  

Tomatoes may be considered a valuable component of a cardioprotective diet. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.

Yellow - Orange

[Some possible benefits:] Research shows that these nutrients reduce the risk for cancer and heart attacks, boost immunity, help maintain good vision and strong bones/teeth/skin. fns.usda.gov. 

White. Garlic and other foods in the onion family may be included in the variety of vegetables that are recommended for lowering cancer risk. American Cancer Society.

Blue/Purple.

help your body defend against cancer, reduce the risk of age-related memory loss, help control high blood pressure and reduce the risk of diabetes complications and heart attacks. fns.usda.gov.

Rainbow Bowl : Chinese Medicine Livingthis delicious image from sheknows.com

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Additional Notes

Serving sizes are approximately one cup for leafy greens, berries, melon chunks, 100% juice or fresh juice. Approximately half a cup for other fruits and vegetables. American Heart Association recommends nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day, about 4.5 cups.

One clove of garlic is often suggested as a serving size, but pragmatically with it (and onions) odor must be considered.

Frozen produce is often better than fresh.

Vegetables are best eaten lightly cooked (steamed, or lightly stir-fried or sautéed in vegetable oil).

As a suggestion from the author, shop with all your senses. Learn to sense the qi (the vital life energy) in your foods. Look at the qi of the colors: is it natural (no dyes), full, rich, vibrant? Is the Smell fresh, clean, invigorating? (people often do this with cantaloupes). Touch (maybe even squeeze those tomatoes). Shake it, tap it and Listen.  If possible Taste—perhaps you will even feel a tingle of the healing qi on the tip of your tongue.

What about your sixth sense? Become like an East Asian shaman and use your imagination and intuition. Have fun with this: Pick up that plant and playfully psych out if it will be good or not for you. As in, feel its vibe. Doubters and skeptics are invited to experiment and see what happens. The more you do these things the easier it gets, and for some it really does work.

More practically, as my daughters so lovingly taught me, make Smoothies, but go for more vegetables and fruits (in different colors of course) and less, if any, dairy and sweeteners. Smoothies are such a convenient way to “Eat Five A Day.”

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Why and How the Five Colors Work

In thousands of studies, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables promotes health. Western nutritionists say such produce contains important vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients (aka phytochemicals).  Phyto means “plant” and especially interesting they often give produce its color. But what is difficult for western scientific investigators is there may be as many as 25,000 phytochemicals and they are in (analogous to TCM) constant holistic interactions. When pharmaceutical companies isolate one chemical out of food and process it into pills, the pills seldom work as efficiently as does the whole food itself.  [EN wiki]

Chinese cultural thought offers different theoretical explanations why choosing and eating fruits and vegetables by their colors enables wellbeing. What follows is an all too abbreviated explanation of how everything works in the universe.

From the Daodejing chapter 42 (excerpt) - Genesis

(Before the beginning was) Dao from which is born One (an unmanifested primordial energy called Qi).  This One gives birth to Two (the static polarities of Yin and Yang). Then Three—a dynamic Qi appears opening Yin and Yang into a harmony of infinite interactions.

And from Three, creation [in time and space] unfolds and all things are born… By blending the qi they achieve harmony. http://qi-encyclopedia.com/index.asp?article=Qi-in-the-Daodejing

Yin is negative passive energy; yang is positive active energy. Their continuous interactions produce cycling patterns of five; this is the basis of all existence in nature, man and the universe. These Five Element Energies in constant unfolding changes are called Wuxing. Wuxing is understood as Wood-Fire-Earth-Metal-Water, and in the body as the Five Organs: Liver-Heart-Spleen-Lung-Kidney. For our purposes Wuxing defines the colors of fruits and vegetables. [Endnote wuxing]

The reader with even a small amount of knowledge of TCM will notice familiar key terms. In TCM illness appears when qi and/or yin-yang are out of harmony and improperly effect the Five Element Organs.

There is more, but it is not often discussed in TCM.  Certain Confucian scholars suggested that deep within the confines of the Dao there was something even more deeply and profoundly hidden. They called it Li which is now defined as “form or pattern” but originally meant “markings in jade, grain in wood, fiber in muscle.”  In Chinese philosophy, in its merging of science, poetry, metaphysics and practicality, Li is considered to be the matrix of the proper order of all things in man and nature. Another very early meaning of Li was “cutting things according to their natural grain or divisions.”  When one lives in accordance with the Li—the natural laws of nature—one gains wellbeing. For example, in practicing a dietetics based on the colors of the wuxing one could gain health. The person is “cutting things according to their natural grain or divisions.”  If they eat too large quantities of processed meat and sweets and become obese they are not, they are working against the Li. [more about Li at https://liology.wordpress.com/2009/12/21/nature%E2%80%99s-organizing-principles-the-li/

Eat the rainbow : Chinese Medicine Livingthis yummy image from exploregram.com

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Endnotes

[EN wiki ]According to the American Cancer Society, "Available scientific evidence does not support claims that taking phytochemical supplements is as good for long-term health as consuming the fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains from which they are taken." “Phytochemical.” Wikipedia.

[EN-wuxing]

Wuxing (wǔ xíng - 五行, literally “five movements”). Pronounced “woo” [low tone] “shin” [rising tone].

Xing originally meant the place where roads intersect; therefore a strong implication of motion, along with subtle implications of someone walking the path (of the Dao). It is often too simplistically defined as the “Five Elements.” A better definition is the Five Universal Movements of Change.  More at Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

And  New World Encyclopedia.  

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Disclaimer: This article is offered for educational purposes. It is not meant to take the place of professional medical services. If you are or may be sick see a doctor. However, fruits and vegetables consumed in the normal amounts of a healthy diet by healthy people should prove to be helpful and unlikely to cause any serious problems.

However, if you are taking any medications talk to a health care provider about any potential risks. Certain medications may harmfully interact with certain foods: for example ACE inhibitors with bananas; or grapefruit and pomegranate juices with certain cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Eat the Rainbow : Chinese Medicine Livingthis lovely image by atastylovestory.com

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For more information about the health benefits of color dietetics from western perspectives click the link below

Color Dietetics Additional Info

To learn more about author and contributor  John Voigt, read his bio.