Our livers’ number one job is to help us detox. While the liver works hard at this crucial task, we don’t make it easy. Cocktails, long sedentary work days, snacking, poor sleep, poor circulation, and not consuming enough herbs or high-vibe foods to keep everything in motion can make this role a taxing one, so we need to help our major detox organ with a little jumpstart. Enter Traditional Chinese Medicine.
In TCM, the liver is known to be responsible for not just metabolizing toxins, but also helping to regulate us energetically. Our qi, aka our energetic life force, runs all along and throughout our body, and when all is in balance, we have beautifully clear flow, and all systems go. When we have stagnation, we experience a block in our energetic flow, which affects us physically and even emotionally.
The buck doesn’t just end with toxin buildup in the liver, not to downplay the sound of that. But other primary functions that majorly affect huge regulatory systems in the body are compromised when the liver can’t function optimally. There’s a direct link to gut health and digestion, because the liver helps produce bile, which means it works closely with the gallbladder, stomach, spleen, and intestines. Essentially, our detox A-team. The CEO and its right-hand women. You get it.
But because liver regulation is tied to our emotional health in TCM, so is the reverse. That means that while of course a poor diet and low physical activity can produce stagnation and blue feelings, emotional states themselves can have an effect on the function of the liver. The trick is to give ourselves a manual treatment to help disperse this flow of energy:
SLAP IT OUT.
If you’ve ever had a relaxing massage end with a jolt of slapping the feet, lower legs, arms, or sides of the back along the ribs, you’ve noticed that you’re suddenly alert and ready to take on the day, despite almost drifting off on that table. That’s because it helps boost circulation and awaken energetic pathways known as meridians for optimal qi flow.
Try lifting an arm and giving yourself firm pats under the arm along the pit and side of the ribs, up and down, counting each point of contact 49 times, and repeating on the other side. This area or meridian is associated with the liver, and the number is significant for women in Chinese Medicine. Women embody yin energy, which corresponds to the number 7—women are seen to develop in seven-year cycles, and 49 is known as the seventh cycle. Try this practice every day to feel the circulation and warmth of your own energy rise.
DON’T FORGET TO MOVE.
A simple walk is an easy way to get lymph moving, which can help kickstart your flow of qi and help bust you out of your own stagnation, whether that is physical or emotional stillness. Understanding how they are so closely related in TCM, it makes a lot of sense why exercise is key.
CONSUME WARMING PLANTS.
Herbs like ginger and turmeric, black pepper, chilis, and other spices will heat you from the inside out, getting your energy flowing as well as blood and lymph. You can add them to food or drink—it’s truly an easy way to get your qi engine up and running.