This witty word play by 19th century American philosopher William James serves as a reminder that the health of the liver organ is of utmost importance in living a healthy life. If you want to live, you have to have a liver.
Of the approximately 500 functions of the liver, the most important include synthesis of amino acids and cholesterol; metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats; and the production of bile which assists digestion in the small intestine. The liver plays several roles in the regulation of the blood, breaks down insulin, breaks down toxic substances and allows them to be excreted. In short, the liver supports almost every other organ in the body.
In Chinese medicine, the Liver is the yin organ of the Wood Element. Since spring is the season of the year in which Wood energy is at its peak, spring is the best time to support this organ. Eat plenty of fresh dark green vegetables. Kale (like that pictured in my garden this morning) is one of the best foods to cleanse the liver. Sour foods such as lemons and limes, and fermented foods such as sauerkraut are also terrific. If you’ve been thinking of doing a liver cleanse, then start right now. If you live in the southern hemisphere, the ambient Wood energy will support you greatly.
Perhaps the best acupoint to aid your dietary efforts is Liver 3, Supreme Rushing. This is one of the great tonic points of the body. As the source point of the Liver meridian, it directly treats the organ itself. It also influences many conditions associated with the Liver and the Wood Element. For example, it treats conditions of the eyes which are the sense organs of Wood. It helps with abdominal distension and pain, menstrual irregularities, urinary and genital conditions, all of which occur in areas of the body through which the Liver meridian passes.
Supreme Rushing helps ease insomnia and disrupted sleep as well as headaches that are the result of Liver Qi stagnation. If you’ve eaten too much fatty food, drunk too much alcohol or taken a lot of medications, this point will support their metabolism by the Liver.
At the psycho-emotional level, anger is the emotion of the Wood Element. Anger that does not flow freely tends to lodge in the Liver. Therefore the point can soothe agitation, irritation, frustration and anger. It calms the mind and imparts courage and clarity. Where there is depression caused by suppressed anger and frustration, it can liberate a person’s aliveness and fuel the upward rising energy necessary to allow active engagement with the world.
So if you want to give your Liver a jump start this spring, Supreme Rushing can rush to your aid.
The Liver source point lies on the top of the foot in a large hollow between the first and second toes, halfway along metatarsal bones. There will probably be a sensitive spot. If the liver is very congested, the point itself may feel thick and swollen.