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Liver energetics in alcoholics.

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Not all deficient-looking livers are deficient.

A question on the herblist:
> If I were making a kidney and liver formula for a woman with a history of alcoholism, would the herbs be directed to correcting a deficiency in the kidneys, or would this be considered excess? And would it be the same for the liver?

Here's Michael Moore's intake form: page 1 (.gif), page 2 (.gif), and his Herbal Energetics booklet (which includes the intake form) (.pdf)

That intake form is fairly straightforward: checkmarks in the right-hand column (right next to the question) point towards a deficiency. Checkmarks in the left-hand column (not right next to the question) point towards excess. So if you have

(left/right-hand column,
  +++/--- : excess/deficiency)
      _X_ Dry, even scaly skin
  ___     Moist, sometimes oily skin
  ___     Hives from food or drugs
      _X_ Hay fever or asthma
  ___     Craves proteins, fats
      _X_ Craves fruit or sweets

then that's a deficient (cool) liver. Heat it up ... except if the liver is pickled in solvents or diseased. You don't need checkmarks next to every right-hand column question, it's enough to see 2-3 more on that side than on the other. If the liver is non-solvent (heh) and not diseased, that is.

A hot liver that looks cool

These people have hot (excess) (= overworked) livers that look cool (deficient), because their livers are in fact underefficient, hampered by disease and/or solvents:

  • alcoholics (alcohol is a solvent)
  • people who work with solvents:
    - painters (paint, thinner)
    - hairdressers (a lot of the chemicals they work with are solvents)
    - aromatherapists (essential oils)
    - gas station attendants (gasoline)
    - car mechanics (gasoline, thinner etc. )
    - furniture makers (paint, thinner, strong glue, etc.)
    and I'm sure I've forgotten a few solvent-prone occupations.
  • people with hepatitis A, B, C, D, E, ... (a diseased liver is always hot, but underefficient -> looks cool)
    Don't give liver herbs in acute episodes of hepatitis; there, it's better to strengthen the rest of the body. Help the digestion and the kidneys, that will lighten the load on the liver.

The kidneys are straightforward: solvents and insidious acute or chronic diseases like hepatitis don't affect them the way they affect the liver, so if the kidneys show up deficient on the intake form they are in fact deficient.

So usually, in alcoholics, it's: correct liver excess (use dandelion, burdock and the like) and correct the deficiencies elsewhere that stem from a very hard-working (= hot) but severly underefficient (= shows up as cool) liver.
Those other deficiencies: start with the kidneys and GI; the rest of the deficiencies will sort themselves once liver, kidneys, and digestion are in line.

And if she's a recovered alcoholic (that is, no drinking binges for at least a few months, preferably a few years), her liver has probably recovered as well and is as good (almost) as the next person's... no longer a "hot" liver that looks "cool".

Related entries: Hot vs. cold liver.
Also see: Archives: Cold and hot liver, western style - Archives: Michael Moore's Constitutional Intake form.


Great post Henriette, thanks.

If a person presents with a cool liver picture in themselves, yet has a history of antibiotics, steroids and other pharmaceutical drugs, do you treat their liver as 'hot' because of all the work it does and give liver cooling herbs, or do you give liver heating/stimulant herbs to support it doing all that work?

History doesn't matter, it's what's ongoing that matters. I look at the current balance and strengthen weak points where needed.

If it's ongoing: antibiotics are a strain on the gut, dunno about the liver.

Steroids, I give kidney herbs there ... nettle seeds preferably, but others (Panax quinquefolium leaf, or codonopsis root, or leuzea root, or ...) would work as well.

Other meds, which organ or organ system do they tax the most? That's what I'd help, with very gentle tonics.

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