Walter “Shantree” Kacera, D.N., Ph.D., The Living Arts Institute
As the days gradually become longer and warmer, and we prepare for the increased activities of spring, our bodies respond by mobilizing the eliminative organs to detox the accumulated waste of winter. While the colon, kidneys, lungs and skin all play a major role in this important cleansing process, it is the liver that is most in focus now as springtime energies stimulate the liver to cleanse the blood and internal organs of impurities. These impurities may be due to fatty, processed or undigested foods, a deficiency in enzymes, or environmental toxins including heavy metals, drugs, poisonous chemicals, polluted air and contaminated water. When the body is overburdened with toxins, the liver may be stressed causing symptoms such as allergies, headaches, nausea, irritability, foggy thinking, muscle tension, skin eruptions, itching and fatigue. In women, PMS, fibroid tumors, and endometriosis are signs of liver stress, since the liver must process excess estrogens out of the bloodstream.
The Body in Spring
The body is moving right along with its yearly cycle of rebuilding and cleansing various organs and systems, whether we acknowledge it or not. Throughout spring, our bodies mimic the plant cycles, for as the sap rises in the trees, it is time for us all to move upward, also. Thus, in the Chinese elemental system, the first part of spring is called the season of the Wood element. If we are not cleansing the past toxins from our bodies and minds and rebuilding consciously now, the possibility exists that we could become as the trunk of the tree, somewhat rigid. Instead of rigidity, lightness and joy are our passwords entering spring.
The organs rebuilding and cleansing in spring are ones located high up in the body. Winter focused on the lower organs – reproductive, bladder and kidneys, the water organs of the Water element season. During the season of the Wood element, the body focuses energy upwards to the liver and gall bladder. The Fire element season begins during the last month of spring and the energy moves on to the heart and small intestines, including the circulatory and endocrine systems.
The Spring Season: Liver and Gall bladder
March 21 through June 21 is the spring season is the season for cleansing out the old. This season marks what the body does on its own at this time; it grows upward as do the trees. Trees are also flexible and bend in the breeze and we could emphasize our flexibility this season. Another aspect of spring energy is rigidity and many Canadians seem to have excess rigidity in their bodies. Tight muscles, joint stiffness and resulting joint pain are two rigid conditions typical of Americans. The plant kingdom offers bitter herbs to help cleanse the joints, liver and gall bladder and thus ease the rigid condition.
Cleansing the liver in spring allows stiffness to leave the liver as it becomes more flexible. Before refrigeration, no leafy greens were available in winter. Only easily stored, root, pickled or preserved vegetables were served as winter table fare. By spring, the body, especially the liver, responded by becoming clogged and torpid. Our ancestors knew the importance of liver cleansing in the spring.
Raw beets grated on salads may also be helpful today. One tablespoonful on a salad and work up to larger amounts as my liver begins to cleanse. Put beet greens or tops in the salad as they are rich in nutrients. Others choose dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), picked before the flowers form if harvesting from the crop in a pesticide free yard, or wild Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium), also bitter herbs. They may be found in a liver herb combination or used alone. Many first green plants of spring are bitter herbs.
Spring is the ideal time to increase amounts of fresh enzyme-rich vegetables and herbs in the diet. Dandelion leaves, sorrel, nettles, yellow dock, red beet and watercress are wonderful tonics for the liver, bringing renewed strength and vitality to the body. Barberry, milk thistle, red clover and burdock are herbs that are excellent for cleansing the liver and gall bladder, creating increased efficiency in the digestive and immune systems.
Spring is the best time to do the “liver-gallbladder flush”, a natural remedy that can help to eliminate gallstones and accumulated sludge from the gall bladder. Two to three weeks before doing the flush take hydrangea root to break up and dissolve the stones. (Hydrangea root can also dissolve kidney stones and excess calcium deposits.) The flush consists of juice fasting on fresh vegetable juices for two days and apple juice for one day, taking Triphala (an ancient Ayurvedic herbal tonifying bowel formula) during this time to increase bile flow and keep the bowels moving. On the night of the third day, drink ½ cup of organic cold-pressed virgin olive oil mixed with ½ cup of organic freshly squeezed lemon juice just before bed, and lie on the right side to concentrate the remedy in the gall bladder. The next morning, after an enema, the colon may evacuate up to 100 gallstones, seen as bright green pea-sized crystallized cholesterol deposits. (If your liver or gall bladder is in a weakened condition, see your health practitioner before doing this flush.) After the flush gradually introduce solid enzyme-rich fresh foods into your daily diet.
After some cleansing, milk thistle (Silybum marianum) seeds assist the liver as it regenerates cells and throws off body toxins that it filters out. A great liver-cleansing salad is early bitter greens, especially dandelion leaves before the flowers form, with milk thistle leaves, shredded raw beets, lettuces and carrots. Later, lecithin-rich dandelion flowers may be added. Bitter greens, such as dandelion, are astringent foods and assist the liver and gall bladder cleanse, shrink and revitalize for the coming year.
Taking the time to purify your body in the spring will bring increased energy, mental clarity and balance to the entire system.
How To Do a Liver Flush
The liver is one of the most important detoxifying organs of the body. With hepatitis C on the rise and patients who have been exposed to a wide variety of environmental toxins, or have had to undergo chemotherapy, doing a liver flush once or twice a year is highly beneficial. Accompanying the liver flush, do a course of Liver Hepatic Formula and Turmeric Extract of each ½ tsp of fresh juice extracts three times daily is a way of helping to maintain normal liver function. Do not do this program longer or more frequently unless under the direct supervision of a qualified Herbalist, Nutritionist or Ayurvedic Practitioner..
To do a liver flush take 8 ounces of distilled water with 8 ounces of lemon juice in which is blended 1-4 cloves of garlic and a hunk of fresh ginger and 1-4 tablespoons of olive oil. Take this each morning on an empty stomach for four days in a row. Follow with a cup of tea made with fennel seed and dandelion root. It is a good idea to accompany a liver cleansing program with plenty of green vegetables or a warm apple juice or a berry juice fast such as elderberry to which is dissolved a teaspoon of agar-agar flakes per glass of warm apple juice. Fresh ginger tea should be taken, at least three times daily.
The best times to do a liver flush are in the spring or autumn. It is invaluable for removing stored toxins and fat accumulated from a sluggish liver stored throughout the body. For many, it has been found to be effective for safely expelling gallstones but you might want to check with your herbalist, doctor or another qualified health practitioner before undergoing such a program.
WALTER ‘SHANTREE’ KACERA, Ph.D. D.N., Therapeutic Herbalist & Ayurvedic Nutritionist with over 30 years experience in the Natural Healing Arts. He is the founder of “Spirit of the Earth, ‘The Living Centre’ & Living Arts Institute, an Eco-Spiritual Education & Retreat Sanctuary founded in 1983. He teaches Certificate Courses in Living Nutrition, Therapeutic, Practical & Shamanic Herbalism, Constitutional Ayurvedic Medicine, & Clinical Iridology.