Treatment of Excess Type Liver Qi Stagnation and Liver Fire
From early in life we consume dense, heavy foods: cheese, baked goods, meats, fried potatoes, ice cream etc. push a thick, dense substance through a strainer, and eventually the small openings get clogged, rendering the strainer less and less effective. The same thing happens with our Liver. Faced with a daily stream of dense blood from rich food, accompanied by waste matter that results from indigestion, the Liver channels are gradually suffocated. The residual waste jamming the Liver, known as phlegm in Chinese medicine or Ama in Ayurveda, causes stagnation in the Liver’s blood flow. One outcome of this condition is the formation of internal fire, “hot blood”, which is a major cause of acute inflammations throughout the body, feeling irritable, angry or frustrated, and elevated blood pressure.
Improper diet and erroneous eating habits are a major cause for Liver Qi stagnation. The most influencing factor is overeating. Overeating causes food retention, formation of phlegm and stagnation of Liver Qi. People with Liver Qi stagnation tend to overeat when feeling anger because it relaxes their nerves, especially rich and greasy foods, sweet foods, spicy foods, and hot foods. Eating calms them down temporarily but in the long term worsen the stagnation. Breaking the vicious cycle of anger and overeating is not an easy task. The healthy solution to nervousness and anger is physical movement like walking, or talking, but not eating.
When Liver Qi stagnation is a result of excess food, blocking the flow in the Liver (for example caused by an overly rich or industrial diet), foods that decongest and aid the Liver include vegetables, bitter foods and dark leafy greens such as kale are appropriate. For Qi stagnation on behalf of Qi and Blood deficiency, a more nourishing approach is needed. For treating Liver Qi stagnation caused by deficiency, please click here.
Dietary reasons for excess type liver Qi stagnation:
Overeating of any of the foods listed below:
Overeating, even of “healthy” foods
Rich and greasy foods, heavy, dense, sticky, and moist foods
Sweets and flour products of all kinds, cakes, cookies, pastries, sugar
Dairy products, soft and hard cheeses, delicacies, cream cheese, cream
Fatty meat, fish, eggs
Distilled oils, fried oil, saturated fat, hydrogenated oils
Industrial foods with preservatives and food coloring
Any food or cooking method that creates stagnation and heat such as frying, grilling, and baking
Eating too often, before the previous meal has been digested
Swelling in different parts of the body such as the thyroid, breasts, groin, hips
High blood pressure
Development of benign and malignant tumors
Tendons and ligaments inflammation
Skin diseases such as acne, eczema, seborrhea, carbuncles, atopic dermatitis
Skin or respiratory airborne allergies
Heavy menstrual bleeding, irregular menstruation
Solution for excess type Liver Qi stagnation:
Reduce heavy foods and foods that obstruct and/or damage the liver
Eat slowly and carefully
Emphasize the bitter taste in the menu
Load the menu with fresh organic fruits and vegetables
Celery is the magic medicine; celery juice is excellent (possibly mixed with water)
Vegetable soup, vegetable juices, raw salads
Wheat grass juice
Sprouted mung beans, mung beans cooking water
Drink herbal tea (marigold, dandelion, chrysanthemum, olive leaf, sage, chamomile, nettle, milk thistle)
Minimize quantity of fat in the diet. Use cold pressed organic oils (olive oil, flaxseed oil, grape seed oil)
Is raw food recommended for resolving Excess type Liver Qi stagnation?
Foods that stimulate the Liver out of stagnancy are raw food, especially vegetables, sprouts, fresh fruits, sprouted grains, legumes, and seeds. The amount of raw food in the diet should be regulated according to the severity of the stagnation, body type and to the capabilities of the digestive system, since raw food may be difficult to digest for someone who is unaccustomed to eating raw food items or if digestive power is weak.
When is it suitable to combine raw food in your diet?
When digestion allows it or when there is excessive fire in the digestive tract
When there is excess heat in the body
During the hot seasons, spring and summer
If you are doing a lot of physical exercise
Moving quality food list recommended for calming fire and cleaning mucus from the liver:
Foods with moving quality are moderately pungent foods and spices like mustard greens, horseradish, basil, bay leaf, dill, and cumin. Mild pungent herbs are all types of mint, lemon balm, rosemary, and ginger. Vegetables with a moving nature that are not pungent are beets, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, which because of their intense moving quality may also cause gas and intestinal gurgling. Some anti-stagnant fruits are cherry, strawberry and peaches.
Too much pungent foods may aggravate Liver Qi stagnation or Liver Fire, especially in people with heat signs. There are moving quality foods that are not extremely pungent such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, Chinese cabbage, beetroot, turnip, kohlrabi, cauliflower, and broccoli.
Spices to use generously: Turmeric, cloves, coriander seeds, fennel, mint, melissa
Spices in moderation: lime, lime peel, horseradish, cumin, ginger, black pepper, cardamom, bay leaves, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, ajuwan, fenugreek, mustard
Vegetables to use generously: celery, cucumber, asparagus, green beans, green peas, fennel, zucchini, pumpkin, Jerusalem artichoke, carrots, parsnip, potatoes, pepper.
Vegetables in moderation due to their pungent or sour taste: radish, Japanese radish (daikon), leek, onion, garlic, tomato, eggplant.
Green leafy vegetables to use generously: coriander, endive, round lettuce, Arabic lettuce, alfalfa sprouts, mung bean sprouts, dill, parsley, spinach.
Green leaves in moderation: mustard leaves, watercress, marjoram, radish leaves, basil, rocket, green onion, chives.
Fruit: strawberries (organic), cherries, peaches, plums, Chinese orange, apples, pears.
Seeds and nuts in moderation: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, fresh and organic ground flax seeds, almonds, chestnuts
Cereals: barley grits, brown/red/black rice, brown basmati rice, Quinoa, buckwheat, millet
Legumes: Tofu, tempeh, mung beans, black beans, lentils, white beans and all other legumes are also suitable
Sweeteners: organic honey, stevia
Animal protein: best avoid. In some cases consume once a week organic chicken or white fish.
Herbal tea infusions: Melissa, verbena, lemon grass, mint, white leaved savory, sage, chamomile, and dandelion. During times of depression occurring on Liver Qi stagnation background, drink a glass of hot water with a teaspoon of honey and a teaspoon of organic apple vinegar. Replace the vinegar with lemon juice if heat signs are involved.
Herbal formulas and supplements that promote movement of Liver Qi*:
Xiao Yao San
Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San
Si Ni San
Long Dan XieGan Tang
High in chlorophyll foods: Blue green algae
* Consult with your health care provider
You should avoid:
Reduce high-protein foods
Reduce the amount of sour foods; sour flavor should be moderately consumed
Reduce coffee and alcohol
Avoid foods high in saturated fat (meat, cream, cheese, eggs), hydrogenated oils (such as margarine), low quality oils (refined or spoiled oils), peanuts, too many nuts or seeds.
Avoid foods or water with chemicals (preservatives, food coloring, and hormones) such as soft or carbonated beverages, flavored water.
Reduce medication, consult your physician which medication can be reduced immediately and which requires gradually reducing.
Avoid processed, distilled or deep-fried foods (tin cans, snacks.
Avoid white sugar, white flour, milk, white rice, chocolate, cakes and cookies, artificial sweeteners (sucrose, aspartame).
Reduce very hot foods such as hot pepper.
Avoid any type of flour except high quality rye bread in small quantities.
Start a liver cleansing process with three days minimum of cooked grits and mung beans (without frying), organic vegetables (fresh and steamed), vegetable juices and herbal tea. Afterwards add foods from the food list mentioned on top. There is no need to eat all the foods specified but you can diversify.
For three weeks: drink five cups of unsweetened herbal tea a day.
Once or twice a day, morning and between meals, drink a cup of celery juice or half a cup of wheat grass juice
Start moderate aerobic exercise 3-4 times a week (vigorous walking is recommended activity)
Follow the following recommendations:
Reduce meat consumption to once a week. Eat organic meat (preferably chicken or fish).
Eat three meals a day at regular times.
Reduce the amount of food
Chew slowly and consciously
Balance between cooked vegetables and fresh vegetables
Make sure fresh, leafy, green vegetables will appear daily in the menu
Example for daily menu:
Fresh green salad with a little olive oil and a little vinegar or lemon, spices, rye bread, homemade pesto/olive oil and hyssop/vegetable spread/bean spread and herbal tea.
Quinoa with cauliflower and broccoli and mung beans dish.
Oven grilled organic chicken breast, green salad and steamed vegetables with a little olive oil and spices.
Lentil, barley grits and vegetables soup
Brown rice and tofu with cooked vegetables
During this diet the body begins to release both physical and mental toxins that have accumulated in the system for years. This process can cause a certain pain, physical or emotional. Pain may arouse the desire to eat foods that are not recommended and it is best to overcome the need and avoid it.
Be aware to the phenomenon of emotions and thoughts that overwhelm consciousness and understand this is part of the cleansing process and a temporary phenomenon.
Be sure to practice daily activity that focuses consciousness such as breathing exercises combined with physical exercise, to maintain focus and willpower in the cleansing process.