Summer is governed by Pitta Dosha in Ayurveda and Pitta Dosha has many sites in the body, the home of Pitta being in the small intestine but it also controls the organ of the liver. In the heat of summer, a gentle cleanse of the liver may be helpful.
How do I know I need to cleanse my liver? What are the signs in my body and how do I listen to them?
Your body is always speaking to you, communicating what’s going on inside. Did you know that things like skin related issues such as rashes and eczema, allergies, autoimmune conditions, being emotionally charged, frustrated or angry, feelings of heaviness and depleted energy, vision impairment, a yellow tone to skin or eyes all indicate a taxed liver??
A liver cleanse does not have to be an intense reset, the liver is going to cleanse on its own anyway, we just want to be aware of some things we can do to make it easier. That said, liver cleansing can be tough on the emotional body. Experiencing anger, frustration, disappointment and confusion is normal, but these emotions will pass. Remember, emotions are energy in motion and as the liver clears, these emotional visitors will clear out too.
Try to keep cool both physically and emotionally. The liver gets aggravated with heat and foods that create heat, so summer becomes a natural time to assist the liver. Afterall, it runs at 109 degrees Fahrenheit while performing over 500 functions in the body, from aiding in digestion to cleansing and detoxifying the blood, so Its importance to overall health is vital. Because it is such a workhorse, it can become burnt out without some gentle care.
Ayurveda asks that we focus on three components; herbs, diet and lifestyle.
Herbs and supplements to implement while liver cleansing
Chollera, burdock, dandelion, lemon balm, blue vervain, aloe, turmeric, ginger, licorice, milk thistle, moringa, nettle, coriander, bitter melon, chamomile, mint.
Ways to incorporate these can include; teas, cooked into food, in tinctures, capsules, in the bath, herbal steams, essential oils, or in an anupana (carrier) like honey and of course, you'll find a few included in our amazing shots!
Vitamins and minerals: B12 and magnesium are a couple of the more critical supplements here, but make sure your levels are sufficient on all vitamins and minerals.
Diet tips for liver cleansing
What: Think cooling, pitta pacifying foods and spices. Start with water, water is cleansing, adding some lemon, lime, cucumber, or rose can boost the benefits of your water for your liver, adding a cooling effect to the cleanse. Make sure your water is free of chlorine and other chemicals.
Foods: Cucumber, watermelon, rose, celery, carrots, radish, asparagus, beets, leafy greens, citrus, walnuts, sweet berries and coconut.
Culinary Spices: coriander, cumin, fennel, cilantro and cardamom.
Avoid spicy food, fried food, fermented foods, alcohol, caffeine, stimulants and pitta aggravating foods like sour apples, kiwi, kohlrabi and red meat.
How: Mindful eating; be sure that you are sitting to eat, that you are not working, scrolling, watching tv or doing anything that will distract you from the present moment of eating. Be aware of your chewing. Are you chewing twice and swallowing? Or chewing the adequate amount for proper digestion? These small things make a big difference in how our body assimilates the food and nutrients we take in. Remember, in ayurveda, food is medicine and not just what you eat but HOW you eat it.
Prepare food with love and gratitude and do not cook if you are angry. Slow down, take some deep breaths, come back to center and then move forward with your intention to create deeply nourishing food for your body (or others). If you are having trouble shifting your attitude, try putting on some music and dancing while cooking.
An important general rule is to eat your largest meal at lunch time as this is when your digestive fire is strongest. Breakfast being a medium meal and dinner being a lighter one as you prepare your body for deep rest so that the liver can recover.
When: Consistency is key here, while liver cleansing, try to eat at the same times of day everyday so that your body knows what to expect. Keep snacking to a healthy minimum with things like carrot salad, celery sticks or walnuts.
LIfestyle tips for liver cleansing
- Easy flow yoga for moving the heat and toxins out. This is not a “work out”, it is an opportunity to move your body with intention, it is gentle stretching combined with breathing used to move through emotions and mental fluctuations.
- Meditation - visualization, guided, silent or mantra all help to decrease stress. Choose one that works for you and commit to at least 5-15 minutes per day.
- Sheetali cooling breath (pranayama). This is a breath where you curl your tongue and breathe in and out through it like a straw. Inhale through your curled tongue and exhale through the nostrils.
- LSD breathing (long, slow, deep) breathe in through the nostrils for the count of 5, hold at the top of the inhale count of 5 and then exhale through the nostrils for a count of 5 or more.
- self massage (abhyanga) Use a cooling oil like coconut or neem and cooling essential oils like rose, chamomile, lemon balm and lavender to massage the whole body, paying special attention to your liver area.
- sweating - (svedana) spend some time in an infrared sauna, ride a bike or take a hot bath to aid in further detox.
- cut the screen time! Staring at a screen is congesting for the body's systems, if you have to be in front of the computer all day for work, take breaks to walk outside, get fresh air and sunshine. Stretch at your desk or do some rebalancing breath work like nadi shodhana, also known as alternate nostril breathing.
- Take it easy, make sure you get adequate rest and downtime and make sleep a priority. The body does its house cleaning while you are in dreamland. During liver cleansing aim for 7-9 hours a night.
- Time outside, this resets your natural rhythms and aligns you with the pace of nature. Take a daily stroll on the beach or a hike in the woods.
- Express emotions; in ayurveda, suppressed anger can lead to things like digestive issues, inflammation and even lupus. Journaling, talk therapy, and art therapy are a few ways to express emotion in a healthy way.
Now you don’t have to do all of these everyday. The key is to find a balance of things that feel good, that are easy to incorporate and make sense in your life. Chances are you still have responsibilities and a life to tend to while you are “liver cleansing”. So be gentle with yourself, it is not an all or nothing approach here. There is no on or off switch in the body as we are working on dialing into a notch that feels comfortable to the inner workings of the liver. We just want to make it happy because we love it and we’re grateful for all that it does for us, right?
In good health,