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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.


Ooh! Ooh!

How cool; all nice and neat and in one place... well worth the wait... thanks Henriette...

i am a bit confused, appreciative of your opinions. i like to eat fresh dandelion all the time. how could it possibly be bad for me? you mention females switch between hot & cool at least once a month. are you recommending females avoid dandelion/burdock or ...?

"If you use liver cooling herbs with a cool liver you're making the problem worse"

Shannon: do read Michael's Herbal Energetics booklet. Ask again if you still have questions after that.

I have a friend who was told by a doctor in China that he has a 'hot liver'. My friend used to drink a lot in university. Are these things connected?

The Chinese look differently at things, but:
In the western herbal energetics of Michael Moore, the liver of an alcoholic is hot (cos it works very very hard at things) but it looks as if it's cold (cos while it tries, it still doesn't work all that well).
So you get the usual cold-liver patterns of allergies and aversion to fatty foods, but you can't give liver-heating herbs.
Ditto for people with hepatitis.

Hehe, they told me I have major depressive disorder, but I might just have a hot liver...

You said that dandelion cools the liver... would Lactuca virosa work too? After all it's a close relation. The reason I'm asking this is that I've been taking the latter every day for about a year, and I'm feeling so much better with it.

Sorry, I haven't tried the lettuce.

Thanks for all the great information : )

Is there any information on how pregnancy might change liver energetics and/or recommended treatment? FWIW: It seems clear to me that i have a hot liver, now exacerbated by my sweet & fat cravings of pregnancy.

Sorry no.

How can one live with hepatitis b. What foods should you take. what drugs are you to take and not take. How long does it take a hepatitis B patient to live if he/she adheres to all the rules/

Find a herbalist or nutritionist close to you to work with, against payment.
As to how long to live, well, decades, if you do things right ...

I have printed off Michael Moore's manuals on Energetics and Constitutional Intake Forms and am trying to become familiar with them before I use them with every patient. Why does 'hepatitis in the past' carry a right-hand tick to indicate a cool liver?

It's a sign of liver weakness, and just might still affect the livers efficiency.

Hi Henriette,

my name is Marco and I'm a Herbalist from Italy. Your topic really helped me understanding Michael Moore's view and I find it really useful in my daily practice. I'd like to ask you two questions to be really clear on this topic:

1 - What about fumitory? Does it "cool" the liver, as cynara, dandelion, burdok, etc.... or does it "warm" it as berberis, romex, gentian, etc...?

2 - In my practice I sometimes find some folks that show both the liver patterns without being alcoholist, without having hepatitis and without working with solvents. For example:

- they get thinner and thinner under stress
- they have very oily hair
- the skin is oily and dry at the same time
- they have the tendency towards constipation, with episodes of loose motion
- they have food cravings for fats and proteins

What would you do in such cases?

Thank you very much.

1. I'd compare Fumaria to Corydalis; they're quite close to each other. Michael thought of Corydalis as "warming" the liver.
2. In addition to liver patterns, there are thyroid stress patterns.
I'd take the symptoms one by one:
- "get thinner and thinner" under stress means that they react with the thyroid.
- oily hair + skin -> help the fat digestion.
- constipation mixed with diarrhea points towards a food intolerance.
- crave fats and proteins -> well DONE! Great! Wonderful! That's the way to go! Now add some greens and your diet is perfect!

I am unable to find this anywhere on the net now... can you advise?

?? Click on the link in the blog post ... or go here and clicky "herbal energetics" on that page.

Oh. Sorry. That day, your links and his site would not come up, with a notification that it could not be found. And, when I read that he had passed on, I thought perhaps it was no longer available.
Thank you. Rachel

Yourself and Michael Moore state that Burdock is cooling - and therefore suppressive - to the liver, while Yellow Dock is warming - and therefore stimulating. However, Matthew Wood - writing in the Earthwise Herbal - describes Burdock as warm, indicated for liver congestion, and Yellow Dock as cool, indicated for torpid or sluggish liver.

As a student of herbal medicine trying to understand the finer points of herbs for the liver, I'm confused by this. Matthew Wood's view would seem to be contradictory to yours, or am I missing something?

It could just be semantics. Did you read Michael Moore's "Herbal energetics" booklet, specifically the bit about the liver?

Sure did. My personal experience with burdock certainly suggested that it depressed liver function; as of yet I have no personal experience with yellow dock.

I plan to experiment a little with wormwood next. Would you agree with Michael Moore that wormwood is strongly warming to the liver?

I also note that Moore lists dandelion root as being mildly suppressive to the liver, but being fairly bitter I would have expected it to be mildly stimulating, on the same side of the spectrum as wormwood. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to this! Is there a pattern that can help when learning, or is it all just on an individual herb basis?

Thanks for your advice.

Those which you can give to liverdamaged people (hepatitis, solvents) without making things worse are cooling.
Also, all of the diuretic liver herbs are cooling (I think). Partly because underactive liver and underactive kidneys go hand in hand, and underactive kidneys means low blood pressure, which means don't do diuretics (unless you also add more salt to your diet).
I detest the taste of wormwood, so haven't really used it.

That's all very helpful, thanks Henriette.

One last question - Michael Moore doesn't include wood betony in his table of herbal energetics. How would you classify Stachys? Would it be similar to vervain, strongly cooling?