According to ancient healing medicine, a healthy liver ensures that our physical, emotional and spiritual needs are balanced.

The Liver/Gallbladder system is considered our creative channel. When this channel is working in harmony, our physical, emotional and spiritual needs are balanced, and creativity and Qi (energy) flows smoothly.

But when liver energy is blocked or congested, anger and frustration arise, and a lack of creativity can follow. This is when the doldrums hit and you don’t feel inspired to do anything. Nothing is flowing well in your life and everything seems out of balance.

Some signs of the liver being out of harmony include:

  • Intermittent fevers
  • General fatigue
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Menstrual irregularities/PMS
  • Ringing in the ears/deafness
  • Liver/blood disorders and liver cancer
  • Hepatitis
  • Depression, lack of enthusiasm
  • Anger, quick to overreact
  • Irritability, frustration

In both ancient Japanese medicine (Kampo) and Chinese medicine (TCM), a specific root, Bupleurum chinense, was used to clear heat from the liver channel and promote the flow of obstructed Qi (energy).

Bupleurum is a member of the Apiaceae family (Umbelliferae, parsley, carrot, etc.), and has been a staple in Eastern Medicine for over 2,000 years. It’s Chinese name means “kindling of the barbarians.” If you are feeling angry or frustrated and want to destroy everything in your path (like a barbarian), or you are irritated and overreacting to petty things, this might be a really good herb for you.

From my own personal experience with this ancient healing plant, I felt a BIG burst of anger and I expressed things that were frustrating me, and then it dissipated throughout the day. When “liver heat” disperses, it rises and can affect the heart. Your heart, according to TCM, is connected to your tongue. The dispersed liver heat gives rise to what needs to be expressed. So… make sure you don’t project your anger (liver heat) onto anyone in your vicinity. Just get it up and out of your system; write it out, yell it out, stamp your feet and throw a hissy fit – just don’t put that anger or frustration onto anyone in particular. This is your anger – own it, and get clear on what’s bugging you.

Bupleurum chinense contains phytosterols (steroid compounds similar to cholesterol that inhibit intestinal absorption of cholesterol and improves lipid profiles), saikosaponin, spinasterol, coumarins, linolenic acid, palmitic acid, and quercetin.

The root of the plant is the part used in medicine and it is anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, hepatic, hepatoprotective, and immunostimulant, bitter, acrid, and cooling. Bupleurum is rarely used alone and is often combined with ginseng, ginger, licorice, peony, scutellaria and other herbs.

Traditionally this plant was taken as a tea. I’ve found that it’s gentler in tea form, rather than as a tincture. Bupleurum should NOT be used during pregnancy because it can affect hormone balance.

Below is a delicious tea you can use for 14 days and then stop. Bupleurum should NOT be used as a long-term medicine. It has a purpose – to move stagnant energy. I recommend using this tea in the spring if you are feeling that the winter blues have not yet lifted, and you are feeling physically, emotionally and spiritually stagnant.

Liver Harmonizing Tea

  • 2 tbsp. Bupleurum (Bupleurum chinense)
  • 1 tbsp. Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
  • 1 tbsp. Goji berries (Lycium barbarum)
  • 1 tbsp. Lemon Balm (Melissa officinales)
  • 1 tbsp. American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius)
  • 1 tbsp. Hawthorne berries (Crateagus oxycanthus)
  • 1 tsp. Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

Put all ingredients into a French press or a large mason jar. Cover with 24 ounces of boiling water. Steep 20 minutes. Drink 2 cups daily for 14 days.

That ought to kindle your barbarian and get you back into good flow!

If you want to learn more about other specific foods and herbs that can harmonize and support liver health, check out my Detoxing the Liver cooking class.

Have a happy, creative and flowing spring!