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Hot vs. cold liver.

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Michael Moore's liver energetics explained.

There's two major types of stress in people: anabolic and catabolic. (Actually there's also a third, thyroid stress, but that doesn't involve the liver.)

Anabolic people get bigger and bigger and bigger under stress.
Catabolic people get thinner and thinner and thinner under stress.

They have different "liver energies".

If you look at the liver in the catabolic person, it makes mostly fuel and little body building materials. This is a "cool" liver; it doesn't work all that well, preferring to do the easy things like glucose over harder things like fat and protein digestion.

The anabolic person, on the other hand, has a liver that runs slightly "hot", because it makes mostly building materials and little fuel.

Either is easier to spot under stress.
Either is easier to spot in men, because women go from anabolic to catabolic to anabolic to catabolic every two weeks, in sync with menses.

Some people don't show their stress patterns in their liver energies at all; they don't have a hot or a cool liver, they're neutral.


If you have a "cold" liver, you like light foods because your liver can't handle fats, proteins, or really rich foods. Too much just sticks in your throat. If given the choice between lasagna and a lunch salad, you pick the salad. If nothing but lasagna is available you leave most of the cheese for the next person - or on your plate. You're prone to allergies, and because you eat high glycemic foods (potatoes, rice, bread and the like) (because your liver can't handle rich foods), you're also prone to blood sugar yoyos.

This diet will enhance your liver's "cool" tendencies. You should eat more vegetables and less simple carbs.

If you have a "hot" liver, you like rich fatty foods. You go to the salad bar because you've been told to, and perhaps there's that yummy creamy salad dressing again - a few token salad leaves, lots of dressing, and you're happy with your healthy diet. If there's cream cake you take a look around, then scoop some extra cream onto your plate when you think nobody's looking. You seldom have allergies, but sometimes your liver runs so hot that you get a rash.

This diet will enhance your liver's "hot" tendencies. You should eat more vegetables and less fats and proteins.

If you have hepatitis A, B, C, D, E, or whatever other letters they've come up with lately, you by definition have a hot liver - inflammation is always hot. Use liver-cooling herbs, even though your lifestyle shows that you have a "cool" liver: a diseased liver cannot do all that it's expected to do, no matter how hard it tries.

If you work with solvents (hairdressers, aromatherapists, car mechanics, gas station attendants, furniture makers, painters etc. etc.) your liver is under severe stress from those same solvents, and while it might look "cool" it is in fact hot. This goes for alcoholics, too: alcohol is a solvent.


Cool liver folks look hot -- they bounce off the walls, driving everybody around them crazy with their energy. (They have all that sugar to burn off.)

Hot liver people seem slow - they don't really move much, preferring a comfy chair and everything within reach, thank you very much. (They're busy building more of themselves and don't have all that much bouncy energy.)

It's good to remember that the terms "cool" and "hot" describe liver energies, not people energies.


Herbs that cool the liver are dandelion and burdock (root and leaf of both), among others.
Herbs that heat the liver are mahonia, berberis and rumex, among others.

Silybum is neutral, as far as I can tell.


If you use liver heating herbs with a hot liver you're making the problem worse.
If you use liver cooling herbs with a cool liver you're making the problem worse.

A good way for a cool liver person to get rid of most allergies, most liver-related problems, is to take tincture of Berberis (or other liver-heating or liver-neutral bitters) 15-30 minutes before each major meal.

A good way for the hot liver person to help his/her health is to keep dried dandelion or burdock root slices in a jar on the table, and to munch on these whenever they remember.


Both the hot and the cool liver person will benefit from moderate exercise. The cool liver person will see less blood sugar problems and more bodybuilding (have you seen people who simply cannot gain weight? This is one possible reason. Heat their liver.), the hot liver person will see some shrinkage of body mass.


The above is a synopsis of what Michael Moore teaches about liver energy at the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine in Arizona. Some parts are my observations. This works very nicely in practice.

You'll find more details on hot and cold liver in Michael's "Herbal Energetics" booklet.

Related entries: Liver energetics in alcoholics - Gomasio (and sodium for the cold liver) - Indigestion
Also see: Archives: Cold and hot liver, western style and Archives: Michael Moore's Constitutional Intake form.