As we go through our day, how many of us often stop to think about our liver? I would say a whopping 0% of us do. And why should we? After all, when our liver is functioning as it should, there’s no reason to notice it.
As we sip away at our cocktails, rub in our nightly face cream, or nitpick at our partner for not taking out the trash, it’s easy to forget that our liver is processing everything we put in our body – everything.
Just because our liver is working quietly, doesn’t mean it isn’t working hard. In fact, our liver has hundreds of important jobs that keep us healthy around the clock. While we’re sleeping, it’s working. While we’re enjoying a night out with friends, it’s working. And when we’re in danger, it kicks into overdrive. Our liver is always on our side, acting in our best interest 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Our liver never takes a break. It’s constantly creating, delivering, sorting, and converting hormones, bacteria, toxins, blood, and nutrients in the body - all for our highest benefit. It’s always looking out for us.
In return, it’s critical to treat our liver well, which means minding what we put into our body and how often. If we don’t, we compromise our liver’s ability to function. When this happens, we need to step back and adjust, even cleanse the liver and give it a reboot.
But this begs the question, how do we know if our liver isn’t functioning properly?
Here are 10 surprising signs your liver may need a pick-me-up.
1. You have spider veins – One of the liver’s jobs is to metabolize estrogen. A build-up of estrogen can cause spider veins in the legs. If you notice them, ask your doctor to check your estrogen levels, seek natural supplementation, and eat a liver-supporting diet to promote healthy liver function and ensure better estrogen metabolism.
2. You have cracked heels – The liver helps us absorb vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids – both of which affect the skin. When we are deficient in these nutrients, it can cause cracked, dry heels, and it may be an indicator that the liver is not running at full speed. Note: Itching or pain on the bottoms of feet can also indicate a backup of fluid and toxins in the liver.
3. You have bloodshot eyes and/or dark circles or puffiness under your eyes – Every area of the face (and tongue, for that matter) corresponds with various organs in the body. The eyes connect to the liver and gallbladder, and bloodshot eyes can indicate inflammation in the liver. Dark circles under the eyes could also indicate that the liver and kidneys need support. Note: Google “Face mapping,” a simple, yet profound diagnostic tool many functional medicine and Eastern practitioners use to assess problems inside the body.
4. You get angry often – In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), our emotions play a massive role in our physical health. The Liver processes anger. It’s essential to find a healthy way to express and work through our emotions for better Liver functioning.
5. You wake up between 1-3am – According to TCM, the body is governed by cycles of the day and their corresponding organs. The Liver rules the hours between 1am and 3am, a time when, ideally, we should all be sleeping. During this time, the Liver is working hard to release toxins and purify our blood. If you often wake at this time, there may be a blockage in the detox pathways in your Liver.
6. You have frequent pains in your sides, hips, inner thighs, or lower legs – Our body operates on 12 meridians, or energy pathways, which extend all throughout our body, from our head out to our fingers and toes. Each organ sits on a meridian - the liver’s meridian, specifically, extends down our sides, hips, inner thighs and lower legs.
Pain in the body can be an indicator there is an issue with the organ on the same meridian. Imagine a long highway with a traffic jam far ahead – it’s going to affect everything on that highway for miles down the road.
7. You eat a high-sugar diet – Regardless of whether or not you feel symptoms, sugar is one of the most toxic substances we can put in our body. Everything in moderation, of course, but when we consume a lot of sugary foods and sweetened beverages, our liver has to work overtime to process, convert, and detox it. If this is a regular pattern, you can pretty much guarantee your liver will suffer from overwork.
8. You consume more than two alcoholic drinks a day – Don’t shoot the messenger! Despite its social appeal and temporary feel-good effects, consuming even as much as one alcoholic beverage daily can lead to serious health consequences. Alcohol can damage liver cells, decreasing its ability to process alcohol altogether, not to mention its many other functions.
9. You feel fatigued or tired frequently – Understanding how much the liver does for us, it should come as no surprise that if your liver’s batteries are running low, it will leave you feeling fatigued, drained, and sluggish.
10. Your poop is yellow or white – I know, I know. It’s “gross” to mention poop, but it’s an important part of understanding your overall health. Bile helps give poop its brown color. But if the liver is unable to produce enough bile, or there’s an obstruction, stool can become light in color (yellow or white). If this happens once or twice, it’s probably okay to write it off as “something bad you ate.” But if it continues, there may be obstruction in the bile duct or malfunctioning of the liver.
If you find yourself relating to these signs it may be beneficial to support your Liver with herbs and nutrients like milk thistle, dandelion, artichoke and beetroot, which are key in aiding your liver’s function.
Milk thistle contains silymarin, a group of compounds containing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that both nourish and rejuvenate the liver. Artichoke supports digestion and detoxification. Dandelion encourages the eliminations of excess water and beet root supports healthy circulation.
Finding a comprehensive daily support formula like our Total Liver+ is an important step in liver wellness. This formula includes over 25 of nature’s most effective liver detoxifiers like milk thistle, dandelion, artichoke and chanca piedra, beet root, turmeric and more to ensure potent, fast acting support.