Our body is made up of different complex systems. Therefore, you shouldn’t necessarily single out and look at the importance of just the one organ. But, in this case I believe we can.
Our amazing liver has more than 500 different functions in the body! If the liver is not able to work as it should, all of the functions that it is involved with will suffer. Other organs will try to pick up the slack for a while, but ultimately they will fail. This over time can make our bodies completely exhausted and sick.
I believe that it’s hard to take good care of something that we don’t understand. So, why not get a little better familiar with our super hero the liver? This short video gives an excellent summary of what’s going on. And if you are new to this blog, you can read a bit more about the liver here and here.
Let’s keep on learning to better understand our body! 😉
There is a rhythm to almost everything in life, and especially in our bodies. Knowing the rhythms of certain things can give us a lot of information. If we know what to look for that is. If we look closer at Traditional Chinese Medicine we find the Organ Clock, and it can help us getting some useful information.
Although the Organ Clock is not used in western medicine, “[Joseph] Takahashi and colleagues stated in a 2013 article that “almost every cell in the body contains a circadian clock.“ For example, these clocks, called peripheral oscillators, have been found in the adrenal gland, oesophagus, lungs, liver, pancreas, spleen, thymus, and skin.”
So, what does the Organ Clock tell us? It shows us when different organs in the body are very active. For instance, a lot of organs are doing their “house cleaning” during the night when we are asleep. It’s the only time they are not frantically trying to accommodate our demands, and so they have some time to clean house and prepare for the next day. OK, so how can this help us?
Let’s take a look at the liver. According to the Organ Clock it is the most busy during 1-3am at night. (Assuming you go to bed around 10-11pm.) If things are running smooth in the liver, you will never notice that it is working at all. However, if the liver is a bit backed up from too much stuff it has to detox, (ex:pesticides, pollution, medication, hormones, alcohol) the cleaning process will not be smooth. You might wake up during this time at night and feel very warm, and not feel very well. The liver can raise body temperature quite a bit as it is trying to burn through our garbage. Maybe you know the feeling of having been out partying and waking up really hot and sweaty in the middle of the night. It most likely is your liver trying to get rid of all that alcohol.
So, if you find yourself waking up often at the same time at night, check out what the Organ Clock says. Which organ is the most busy at that time, and how do you think this could relate to you and your lifestyle? Start taking some notes, and see what you can learn from the information gathered. It is of course no precise medicine, but I have found it a very useful indicator on many occasions.
It’s 2 am. I know what my liver is up to. Do you know what yours is up to? 😉
P.S. Also, a BIG thanks to all of you who came and listened to my talk “Walk of Health”. It was a blast! For those of you who signed up, you will have the keynotes from the talk within the next few days.
The question just recently came up from one of my new clients. “Why do I feel so tired after a sports massage?” It was her first session of a sports/deep tissue massage in a very long time, and she was in bed by 9pm that night. If it’s your first time in a while since a sports massage this might often be the case. It will get better after a few sessions, as the body starts cleaning out the gunk that has been stored in it for so long. Gunk, what gunk?
Stored gunk We store heavy metals, pesticides, pollutants and other toxins in the fatty tissue in our bodies. When there is an overexposure of these toxins, or the liver is under too much stress for other reasons, it cannot clear out all the toxins right away. As a protective mechanism the body then stores these toxins in the fatty tissue. This may be a good short term strategy, but with all the toxins that we are faced with everyday, we just keep accumulating toxins in our fatty tissues. The liver is under constant pressure to catch up with all the cleaning. This is on top of all the usual waste products that the liver has to clean up as well, like for instance lactic acid.
A thorough deep cleaning
As you are getting a sports massage, it’s in a way like a deep spring cleaning of your house. You will find dirt you didn’t know about and it will take some effort to get the house cleaned. Going deep into the tissues will help liberate stored toxins and waste products and get it out of storage and into the bloodstream. From there it gets transported to the liver, who can safely disassemble them and make sure the garbage leaves our body through the urine and poop.
It gets worse before it gets better
I had a client who used to smoke a lot and had recently quit, and the first couple of times she felt really nauseous after the massage. This was due to the built up of toxins from years of smoking that now were released out of the fatty tissues and into the bloodstream. As the toxins enters the bloodstream, it can make you feel worse at first, before the liver can take care of it. For the body it is like you just ingested all those toxins again.
Another client works as a painter and is constantly in contact with toxic fumes. Changing his line of work is not an option, even though from a body-toxicity exposure that would be better. Instead he has created a preventative strategy that works very well for him. On a regular basis he goes to the sauna, gets deep tissue massage, runs a couple of times a week, stays well hydrated and takes herbal supplements to support his liver. Twice a year he does a week of detoxification as well.
“It is unrealistic to think that we can all change our work or where we live based on the amount of toxicity that we are exposed too. But, we can certainly have an influence on how well the body is prepared to deal with it all.” 
It takes a lot of work and energy for the liver to deal with all the extra cleaning that comes from the toxins that just entered the bloodstream. By getting a deeper treatment you are helping the body to start the process of self-healing through detoxification and an increased blood circulation. Therefore it is very common to feel extra tired due to the energy expended.
From my experience, the better shape your body is in all around, the less tired you will be. Feeling relaxed after a massage, which you should be, is different from being tired. The life of your liver is very much like being M-O, and you are the one that keeps bringing in the dirt. So, take very good care of M-O. Help him out by bringing in as little dirt as possible, as he is doing his very best continuously taking care of you!
It is common to feel extra tension for 1-2 days in some areas of the body that felt very tight during the massage. After the very first couple of sessions you may even feel it for a few more days, but that should subside as your body gets used to the treatment. You should not have any bruises after a sports or deep tissue massage. If that happens let your massage therapist know so that they can adjust their work with you accordingly.
Make sure you are hydrated before the treatment and hydrate well after. It is the quickest way to make sure that the body has enough fluids to easily transport and disassemble all of the gunk that is coming out of storage. You will help the body to recover quickly and you are making it easy for M-O (the liver) to do his job. If you are, or know that you have been exposed to a lot of toxins, it might also be a good idea to support your liver with some herbal supplements.
Take good care of M-O and have a great weekend! 😉
quote from Nathalie Visser
Photo by Jeremy Bishop, Hernan Sanchez, Pan Xiaozhen, Tim Mossholder and Matt Hoffman on Unsplash