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Hi, pod fam! 

This podcast season is all about connecting dots. We’re digging deeper into topics we’ve covered before—building upon previous convos and questions from this lovely OO community. And we’re exploring new topics that go hand-in-hand with past episodes. 

And speaking of past eps…you might remember our bonus episode from February on rose medicine, where I talked about the cooling properties of rose within Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). (ICYMI, give it a listen here.) This week’s ep builds on the value of cooling herbs (addressing heat/fire) and the concept of liver Qi stagnation.

I’m joined by our AMAZING Director of Digital Marketing, Mina Hadjian for a super juicy chat. We’re talking about liver stagnation: why it’s so common, how it’s connected to your hormones, what signs to look out for, and what happens if you ignore your body’s signals and let things fester. Most importantly, you’ll walk away with tangible steps to help support your liver and hormones. I really want this ep to be a reminder of the power that simple food and lifestyle changes can have on your hormones and your physical and emotional health.

Let’s get juicy!

The Liver (Organ) vs. the Liver Meridian (TCM)

This ep is all about the liver, but we’re not really talking about the literal physical liver organ, though there’s some overlap. The liver (organ) is your master detox organ, responsible for processing blood, breaking down nutrients, and filtering out toxins and harmful substances.

The liver meridian (TCM) is the cleansing center of the body, so it’s related in the sense of processes within your body. Just like your liver (organ) directs nutrients within the body and toxins out of it, the liver meridian directs energy (Qi) throughout the body.

The liver meridian spans from the top of the head to the bottom of the toe. It governs tendons, ligaments, eyes, and hormones. And it’s responsible for the free flow of Qi and hormones. When it’s healthy, here’s what it does:

  • Moving and sending Qi where it needs to go
  • Sending Qi to the brain to ensure strong mental focus & firm decision-making skills
  • Balancing hormones: regulating hormone ebbs and flows at the right times during your cycle

Psst: For the rest of this blog, when liver comes up, we’re talking about the liver meridian (TCM).

So, what’s this liver Qi stagnation you mentioned?

The liver’s main role is movement—directing the flow of Qi and hormones throughout the body. When that flow gets slowed down or interrupted, that’s when you experience something called liver Qi stagnation. And it’s suuuuuuuper common, unfortunately. In the framework of capitalism and our modern lives revolving around screen time and less movement, we tend to push ourselves too much. We’re living different lives that just aren’t in accordance with nature, rest, or our natural cycles—and it tends to take a toll on our bodies. 

Some common signs of liver Qi stagnation:

  • Your hormones are off balance (think: PMS, unsteady emotions, physical pain, clotting, cramps, cyclical headaches; endometriosis or PCOS in advanced liver Qi stagnation)
  • You’re angry 
  • Your perspective of the world is off
  • You can’t see a vision for your life 
  • You’re walking around feeling frustrated and stuck
  • You’re experiencing depression and/or anxiety 

Liver Qi stagnation, if left to fester, can also become liver fire or liver yang rising. Long-term stagnation leads to heat (which is where those cooling herbs I mentioned before come in), as you burn up your liver yin (the force associated with water, coldness, femininity, softness). This might show up as burning in eyes, irritability, anger, ringing in ears, worsening headaches, constipation, dizziness, migraines, twitchy eyelids, and overall discomfort. 

Can you get more specific about what causes liver Qi stagnation?

A lot of our everyday habits can contribute to liver Qi stagnation, so it’s not always easy to pinpoint one cause (it’s usually a lot of things adding up). Here are some of the most common:

Poor Diet – It’s this constant battle between free radicals and antioxidants in our bodies, and liver Qi stagnation usually means the free radicals have the upper hand. It can be the result of overconsumption of fatty, processed, deep-fried, cholesterol-loaded foods (these can slow down both the liver [organ] and the liver meridian) and/or a lack of plant fiber and fresh, whole foods.

Overeating Portion control is WAY off in the US. Our bodies can only process so much at once, so even too much of a good thing can overwhelm our digestive system and lead to stagnation.

Screen Time During Meals When we’re eating, we want our energy to be concentrated on digestion of food, absorption of nutrients, and filtration of toxins. Watching TV or scrolling through our phones or WORKING while eating distracts the liver (which is charged up through the eyes) from focusing that energy where it needs to go.

Chronic/Prolonged Stress Especially caused by unresolved emotions. Holding onto emotions, not setting clear boundaries, keeping things inside, maintaining anger—these things can all lead to stagnation.

Overconsumption of Alcohol – Having a couple of drinks to take the edge off might temporarily give you the feeling of not having liver Qi stagnation, but then you cross the line and end up making things worse for yourself. 

Exposure to Toxins – Pesticides on produce, cleaning products, unavoidable toxins in the environment—anything that gives the liver more work to do (to filter them out) can contribute to liver Qi stagnation.

How to Support Your Liver Qi (to Combat Stagnation)

First thing’s first: it’s not gonna be an overnight fix. Liver Qi stagnation didn’t happen overnight, so it’s not gonna get fixed overnight either. But we can take things one day at a time, making slow and steady changes, little by little, to address the environment in which you got sick. I also want you all to know that I love herbs (and I have liver- and hormone-supporting products—linked at the bottom of this blog—that I am so so proud of), but herbs are not everything. And they’re certainly not a quick fix either. But they can complement a lot of these lifestyle changes I’m about to get into really well. With that being said, here are some simple lifestyle changes you can implement to support your liver Qi.

Avoid screen time/distractions while eating.  

Limit your intake of deep-fried/oily/greasy foods.

Exercise. But not just any workouts. Know what type of exercise your body needs. If you’re a liver-type person (type A, pitta), for example, you might need more gentle yoga/stretching vs. high-intensity workouts, which produce more cortisol. It might not be the exercise you’re most drawn to, but it might be just what your body needs.

Limit your intake of refined sugar. 

Eat more greens. Cruciferous veggies are the “king of liver stagnation foods.”

Minimize your exposure to chemicals and toxins. Swap your cleaning supplies, by organic when possible (at least buy organic when it comes to the EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” list).

Combat the heat by addressing liver yin deficiency (which goes hand-in-hand with liver Qi stagnation). Bring in softness, juciness, cooling, rest (especially on your period). Some foods that help benefit liver yin include:

  • Mineral-rich fluids
  • Oats (oatmeal, milky oat infusions)
  • Beans (especially black and mung beans) 
  • Yogurt, dairy milk (if you can tolerate it)
  • Eggs
  • Nuts/seeds
  • Miso
  • Meat, bone marrow, seafood
  • Sweet potatoes, beets, mushrooms
  • Spinach, carrots, parsley
  • Seafood (seaweed, kelp, spirulina, sushi)
  • Fruit (apples, bananas, mulberries, peaches, grapes, cherries, plums, coconut)

Limit your spicy foods/heat-producing foods. This includes coffee, cinnamon, and ginger—which should always be balanced with milk, honey, or something cooling.

Get more sleep. Literally improves everything, doesn’t it? 

Acupuncture, yoga, stretching. All of these practices help soften tension, open pathways, and make it easier for Qi to move through the body.

Treat yourself. Do more to gently nourish yourself by journaling, spending time with people you love, practicing breathwork or meditation, getting a massage/facial, playing soothing music, turning off your tech devices, etc.

Take/use magnesium. Take magnesium supplements or add magnesium bath salts to your bath to help balance hormones and soothe the body.

Try Qigong or tapping exercises for the liver meridian.

I hope you’ll implement some of these practices to help support your liver Qi. Whether you’re feeling the signs of stagnation or not, we could all benefit from a little more self-love. As always, tune into the episode for allll the juicy goodness in this ep! Be sure to share your thoughts with me on IG: @shoporganicolivia.



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