It is March and springtime in the northern hemisphere, as well as the month to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on the 17th. For many, it is a day of drinking a lot of alcohol whether they are of Irish descent or not. The largest population of Irish Americans living in the U.S. are in New England, with Boston, Massachusetts being the #1 land of the Irish. St. Patrick’s Day in New England is a big holiday and this year it falls on a Thursday so it will be four days of celebrating with green beer, Irish dancing, corned beef and cabbage and lots of alcohol flowing. Good Luck to all the livers.
The liver is the great filter and cleanser of the blood. Located on the right side in the upper abdomen under the ribcage, it has four lobes and it has an amazing ability to repair and regenerate itself. Anything that is ingested whether it be food, drink, pharmaceutical drugs, herbs, etc, must go through digestion and then to the liver which is part of the digestive system. If you were to lift up the liver, then you would see the gallbladder.
It is pretty common knowledge that drinking excessive amounts of alcohol causes damage to the liver. The damage can lead to the death of the liver cells (hepatocytes) and eventually loss of function, liver failure and death if a liver transplant is not an option. When the liver cells are
damaged, enzymes, proteins and waste products from the cells enter the blood. A simple blood test of liver function can determine the amounts of these which can give information as to how well the liver is functioning and the level of damage.
I see patients who use alcohol to help with their pain and as an aid to sleep but the unhealthy side effects lead them to getting their medical marijuana card. The side effects of drinking can lead to fatigue, disrupted sleep, an increased chance of developing diabetes, poor coordination and motor skills, dull thinking, a reddened face, and a short temper.
Springtime is a time of cleansing the body, cleaning the home, getting out the spring clothes and it is the time of year to focus on the liver. The Traditional Chinese Medicine clock puts the time of the liver at 1-3 am. If you wake up from sleep around that time then your liver may need some healthy attention.
The foods that are abundant in the springtime such as garlic, onions, beets and greens like kale, spinach, collards and dandelion greens are all beneficial for the liver. Drinking warm water with a fresh slice of lemon in the morning is cleansing to the liver. The herbs dandelion and milk thistle are also beneficial. Dandelion aids in liver function and milk thistle has a protective effect on liver cells. Taking milk thistle seed in the form of a capsule is a great way to protect the liver.
People who drink alcohol, those that are exposed to chemicals such as hairdressers, auto mechanics, and landscapers who use fertilizers as well as spraying pesticides are all people who could use a little milk thistle seed to protect their livers. Each organ has a designated emotion associated with it. The emotion associated with the liver is anger. So… dance, sing, draw, paint, shout it out, write about it and move that anger out of the body to create a clearing space.
Happy Spring and think green for your liver.
Kimberly Landino has been a Naturopathic Physician for over 20 years. She has been recommending Medical Marijuana to patients in Arizona for the last four years. Prior to this, she used the modalities of nutrition and diet, counseling, acupuncture, meditation, yoga, botanical medicine and more in her Naturopathic Family Practice in South Phoenix, Tempe, Flagstaff and in Tuba City, Arizona.