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My Journey of Self-Healing

Julia Chang, M.Sc.

1. Introduction

I was very unhealthy for much of my life. In my teenaged years, I suffered from heart palpitations. At the age of eleven, I fainted in school. According to the doctor who saw me at the time, it was due to a hereditary heart problem. At the time, he warned me that I might continue to faint easily for the rest of my life. As I grew older, he seemed to be right: I fainted many times after that, and I often felt very light-headed. As an adult, I once fainted on the subway, and I also suffered from a variety of other problems, such as joint pain, bad skin complexion, ovarian cysts and other "womens' problems". At the time, I assumed I would suffer from these problems for the rest of my life.

However, in my late 40s, I learned about liver and gallbladder cleansing, and it changed my life: I am now in my 70s, and I am happy to say that I have not fainted once, nor suffered from joint pain, since I was 47.

About me: I have a Master's degree in chemistry and I worked for more than 6 years in the laboratory at a large hospital in Toronto, Canada. I grew up in Taiwan, where my family had a long history and strong tradition of traditional Chinese herbal healing practices. As a result of this background, I decided to try treating myself with a combination of Chinese and western approaches, using one to complement the other. Through a combination of exercise, cleansing, and diet (including Chinese herbal supplements), I gradually overcame my health problems.

Now I share my experiences with others, who may be struggling with similar problems. Life has taught me the truth of the saying: "experience is the best teacher".

2. The Importance Of The Liver

"Weighing in at just over one kilogram, the liver is a complex chemical factory that works 24 hours a day. It processes virtually everything you eat, drink, breathe in or rub on your skin and that's just some of its over 500 different functions vital to life." - the Canadian Liver Foundation.

Both western and Chinese medicine recognize that the liver is one of the most important organs in the body. It cleanses your blood by removing impurities from it, and it regulates the supply and flow of energy (glucode and fat) throughout your body. It also governs the levels and flow of important materials such as proteins, fats, minerals, hormones, and bile. If your body is like a construction crew, the liver is the foreman. In Chinese medicine, this activity is described as the flow of "qi", which the liver is said to control.

Unfortunately, our western lifestyle puts a great deal of stress on the liver. Not surprisingly, stress itself puts stress on the liver: we have very stressful lifestyles, often under constant pressure from work, family commitments, and financial issues. Worse yet, we often compensate for these problems by self-medicating: we use pain medications to deal with stress headaches, we use caffeine to compensate for lack of sleep, and we drink alcohol, often in excess, to relax when we finally have time for a break.

Painkillers, caffeine, alcohol, and pharmaceutical drugs are examples of chemical stresses we put on the liver, which western medicine recognizes by acknowledging that the liver must work hard to filter these substances out of our blood. However, in Chinese medicine, the liver is said to be sensitive to the emotions themselves. Chinese medicine has always paid more attention to the mind-body connection than western medicine, but western medical experts are starting to come around to this way of thinking, due to more recent research. In Chinese medicine, the liver is said to be an "emotionally sensitive" organ: if you are feeling unhappy or depressed or under a great deal of stress, your liver will respond poorly.

The liver is also related to heart health, because of the structural position of the liver as a bridge between the returning blood from the digestive system and the lower part of the body to the heart. A weakened and swollen or congested liver can obstruct the venous blood flow to the heart causing heart palpitations, or even heart attacks [2].

3. How My Weak Liver Affected My Life

I was very unhealthy in my early life, and some of these problems may have been hereditary. My father died of a stroke at the age of 59, after having been diagnosed with a weak liver. My uncle was luckier: at 67, after western doctors told him that his health problems were just a normal side-effect of aging, he went to a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner who prescribed a liver cleansing herb (Gentian) for him. He lived to be older than 90.

As I mentioned earlier, I had low energy and often felt weak and light-headed in my early life, fainting occasionally. I fainted in school at age 11, and I fainted on the subway as an adult. Unfortunately, that was just one of my many health problems: at 14, I was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis. I also suffered from heart palpitations, allergies, a number of "womens' problems", and periodic blurry vision. I even had oily skin and sleeping problems: I could usually sleep only 3 to 4 hours at a time, before waking up.

As you can see, I had a complicated list of health problems which may seem unrelated to each other, but I believe most of them had something to do with my weak liver.

My Experience with Constant Fatigue and Low Energy

After having lived with constant fatigue and low energy all my life, I eventually gave up on conventional medicine, and tried alternative methods. After a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner diagnosed me with a congested liver, he prescribed several herbs including Dong Quei, licorice, and ginseng. These herbs seemed to help my condition at first, because they improved my blood circulation. However, the problems eventually came back.

Still, even though the treatment offered only temporary relief, it made sense to me that the problem was a congested liver, as the TCM practitioner had concluded. After all, the liver filters your blood, so it is a bit like the oil filter in your car: if it is clogged, you will have flow problems. When the liver is weak and congested, the blood does not flow well, and when the liver is not working well, it is not filtering out toxins well. Therefore, the blood will be loaded with toxins. It will have less capacity to carry the oxygen and nutrients which are necessary for energy production. I reasoned that if my liver were clean and efficient, then I would have more energy, because clean blood will flow better and carry more oxygen and nutrients.

In my attempt to clean my liver, I first tried several popular liver cleansing herbs, such as dandelion, chrysanthemum and Swedish Bitters. I found that dandelion and chrysanthemum didn't have much effect: they were apparently too weak. Swedish Bitters helped for about 3 weeks, but my problems eventually returned, just as they did after the dong quei, licorice, and ginseng. I did some research into these herbs and found that they were "estrogenic", ie- they can increase estrogen levels.

If the estrogen was causing problems, then I realized that what I needed was liver cleansing and strengthening herbs which would not have this effect. I searched Chinese herbal medicine literature (including some ancient Chinese texts). Several herbs were mentioned as beneficial to the liver, including Coptis, Gentian, Self-Heal and Scutellaria. Chinese Gentian (Long Dan Cao) has been used by TCM practitioners for thousands of years to treat a variety of ailments such as fevers by "draining damp heat" from the body. It is also said to benefit the liver, aid digestion, strengthen the memory, and give lightness and elasticity to the body.

I recalled my uncle's very positive experience with the "Chinese Gentian" herb, so I decided to try it. From my TCM research, I knew that the Chinese herb Bupleurum (Chai Hu) increases "energy flow" in the liver. I decided to try that as well. Within a few months of using these herbs, in conjunction with daily morning exercise and diet control, I began to feel much better. My energy level improved, and I no longer had dizzy and fainting spells. I even began to sleep better and feel better: my body felt lighter, and stronger. The improvement was gradual, but steady.

Fasting and Cleansing

After my positive experience with cleansing and strengthening herbs, I began to research fasting and cleansing regimens. I was particularly interested in an organic apple juice cleanse, so I decided to try one of these regimens for myself. The result was dramatic. After just the first cleanse, my energy level was even better, and as an unexpected bonus, my joint pains and allergies seemed to be gone! Apparently, the malic acid in apple juice is excellent in dissolving the stagnant bile accumulated in the liver. I was really amazed by the amount of stagnant bile which came out during the apple juice fast/cleanse. Details of how to perform this fasting/cleansing regimen can be found here.

Note: it must be stressed that these herbs and fasting/cleansing regimens are not like medications. They do not treat these problems per se, but rather, they help nourish and strengthen your body's natural ability to fix these problems on its own.

After my experience, a friend of mine decided to try the liver/gallbladder flush regimen for herself, but she did not feel any better afterward. One difference may have been that she did not try using any cleansing and strengthening herbs beforehand, as I did. I suspected that she may have had a very congested liver, which might have limited the effectiveness of the flush. She tried taking the herbs for about one month before doing a second flush/cleanse, and this time it was successful.

Bile is produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder. When the gallbladder is occupied by stones, it tends to "overflow", backing up like a stopped drain. After many years of experience with liver and gallbladder flushing, I have come to realize the importance of bile flow in the flushing process. Certain herbs such as Coptis (Huang Lian) can therefore improve this process because they stimulate bile flow.

4. Liver Congestion and Stagnation

Unlike Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), conventional western medicine does not pay much attention to the idea of liver stagnation. In diseases recognized by western medicine, such as hepatitis or liver inflammation, tests can be performed which detect various substances. When I worked as a hospital laboratory technician, I would run tests to look for abnormal liver enzyme levels in the blood, which were a sign of ruptured liver cells. However, in liver congestion or stagnation, the liver cells are still intact, and enzyme levels are normal. Clinical tests will detect nothing wrong.

I had blood tests performed a few months before I was diagnosed with liver congestion by a TCM practitioner. These tests showed that my liver was normal and healthy. I never would have suspected liver problems if I had not gone to see a TCM practitioner. This was the turning point for my health problems. When my liver became healthy again through a lengthy process of self-healing, most of my chronic health problems disappeared.

According to Chinese medicine, all internal organs work as a team in the body; the liver is considered the "General" or "Chief of Staff". Unfortunately, many of our modern prescription drugs are damaging to the liver or kidneys. Over-the-counter drugs such as painkillers can also cause liver toxicity: in fact, overdoses of the popular over-the-counter drug acetaminophen are one of the leading causes of liver failure in the United States.

Therefore it is not surprising that many people over the age of 50 develop liver weakness or toxicity. Even among healthy people who are not dependent on drugs, the liver has been filtering blood day and night throughout their lives, without being "cleansed".

Weakening of the liver and eventual toxicity are usually slow processes. In many cases the only sign of liver weakness is poor digestion and low energy level. Most people pass this off as something that happens with age. As a result, they do little or nothing about it until it is too late. Fortunately, nature has endowed our liver with excellent regenerative powers. If we are able to understand the early signs of degeneration, we have an excellent chance of restoring our liver health in time.

5. Restoring my liver health

Diet and Exercise

As described earlier, I restored my liver to health by strengthening it with herbs and cleansing it with liver/gallbladder flushing, but it was also important to adjust my diet, and to exercise daily. I eliminated foods that weaken the liver and kidneys, such as white flour, white sugar, caffeine, chocolate, deep fried foods, citrus fruits, tomatoes, bananas, and cold drinks and foods which chill the liver and kidneys. I took supplements or foods rich in Vitamin B's, C and minerals to nourish my organs. I also took various Chinese herbs which are known to increase "Chi" (energy flow) in the liver.

Improved diet and liver cleansing work together. When you have a weak liver, many nutrients pass through the body without being assimilated. I took many vitamins, herbs, and minerals for years without any improvement, until I realized that I needed to cleanse and strengthen my liver. It was after my experience that I realized that supplements taken by individuals with weak livers may end up as waste products for the body to dispose of, because the supplements are not digested and assimilated well.

I also performed daily morning exercises which involve stretching and deep breathing, based on an exercise regimen widely practiced in Taiwan called Y-Dan (a simple and easy to learn alternative to Tai Chi with only 19 movements, without any high-impact activities that could stress the joints). You can find out more about Y-Dan here.

Exercise stimulates blood circulation. When blood circulates better, all organs function better. Stretching and deep breathing exercises early in the morning provide the most benefit for anyone with a sluggish liver. According to Chinese medicine, the liver works hard to filter our blood between 1 AM and 3AM, as we sleep. A fair amount of blood may be still retained in the liver when we wake up in the morning. Early morning exercises help to "get the blood moving", and move blood out of the liver and into circulation. One of the symptoms of excess blood retained in the liver is waking up in the morning with stiffness or numbness in the fingers, or dizziness due to lack of blood circulation.

Since I had a number of "womens' problems", I suspected that I had elevated estrogen levels, so I also tried to avoid "estrogenic" foods or herbs such as Don Quei, Licorice, Ginseng, Royal Jelly, fennel, anise, flaxseed oil, clover, red clover, evening primrose oil, etc. I also avoided taking all pharmaceutical drugs because many (some would say all) of these drugs are weakening or damaging to the liver or kidneys.

Lifestyle and Stress

Modern western medicine is slowly recognizing the importance of the mind-body connection, but in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the liver has long been known to be a very "emotion sensitive organ". Stress congests the liver and constricts the blood vessels. It causes poor blood flow and the whole body becomes sluggish. Furthermore, it is believed in Chinese medicine that anger (especially suppressed anger) injures the liver, grief injures the lungs, fear or fright injures the kidneys and worry injures the spleen.

As mentioned earlier, all these organs support each other and work together. Disharmony in one of these organs tend to produce disharmony in your emotions, and vice versa. According to Chinese medicine, cold and raw vegetables such as salads tend to weaken the spleen unless the individuals who consume them are robust and strong ("Yang" type people). A weak spleen could explain why many vegetarians look pale, although a Vitamin B12 deficiency may also be responsible. Also, most vegetarians eat a lot of salads, even though cooked vegetables are easier to digest. Cold salad is a very western way to eat vegetables. In Asian diets, vegetables are usually cooked.

One of the common signs of a weak spleen is dry lips or frequent thirst. Chronic diarrhea or loose bowel movements may be another sign of a weak spleen. Since the spleen is an important organ for red cell production, a weak spleen can be a cause of anemia, especially in cases that do not respond to iron supplements.

I mentioned earlier that I have not suffered a single fainting spell since I discovered liver and gallbladder flushing at age 47. I also had heart palpitations, which disappeared. Moreover, I found that my vision improved, and is actually better than it was in 1989 when I was still suffering from liver congestion. I had never used eyeglasses at any time during my life and I still don't need them.

The Chinese have a saying:

"The liver opens into the eyes. When the liver is harmonized, the eyes can distinguish the five colors".

Clean and nutrient-rich blood from a healthy, efficient liver can flow easily and nourish the eye tissues better. Stimulation of blood flow to the eyes by massaging also helps. I massage the pressure points for blood circulation to the eyes twice daily, morning and night when I lie flat in bed. In this position, blood does not have to flow against gravity.

I am in my mid-70s now and I can still read books and magazines without reading glasses, although I do have difficulty reading fine print.

6. Gallstones in Western Medicine

"Gallstones: A National Health Problem" - the American Liver Foundation[3]

Surgical removal of the gallbladder is performed more than half a million times every year in the United States. The reason this procedure is so common is simple: if you accumulate gallstones in your gallbladder, the simplest way for the doctor or hospital to solve the problem and ensure you won't come back to their office is to cut out the gallbladder.

In the 1980s, there was considerable research into non-invasive methods of destroying gallstones, such as ultrasonic waves or even drugs which would dissolve them[3]. But even if they worked, you could always develop new gallstones, and come back to the doctor looking for help again. From the medical establishment's point of view, as soon as they developed laparoscopic surgery, it became much more convenient to simply cut out your gallbladder. That way, they don't have to worry about return visits in the future.

Not everyone is comfortable with surgically removing the gallbladder, for various reasons. Some people doubt the medical establishment's assurances that your body has no need of a gallbladder. Others are uncomfortable with the risk: every time you undergo major surgery, there is a small but significant chance that you will suffer serious complications. People who believe in holistic healing oppose unnecessarily invasive medical practices as a general principle.

However, despite the medical establishment's tendency to recommend invasive surgery, natural alternatives do exist.

Fact #1: most gallstones are in fact naturally expelled by the human body. The medical establishment does not deny this at all. It is well-known that most gallstones are formed and then expelled without a person even realizing it. If they are small enough, they are simply flushed out in the bile ducts. This happens all the time, and a gallbladder attack only occurs when a stone gets stuck on its way out.

Fact #2: just as the human body naturally creates gallstones, the human body has certain natural mechanisms for softening or dissolving gallstones. Your body can create bile acids, which the pharmaceutical industry sells in high-strength concentrated form as a drug for (you guessed it) treating gallstones, at a cost of thousands of dollars per year for long-term treatment.

Despite what some may tell you, it is not "quackery" to point these facts out. Of course, there are certain extreme circumstances (such as large and calcified gallstones which cannot be broken down with bile acids) where invasive procedures become unavoidable, and we would be remiss not to mention that. But most stones pass right out of your body without you even noticing them, and many of the ones that are a bit more reluctant to leave can be coaxed out naturally.

Liver/Gallbladder Flushing

Click here to see our recommended liver/gallbladder flushing method.

7. Gallstones in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

In TCM, gallstones and kidney stones are said to form because of "stagnation", so cleansing the liver and gallbladder will help because it resolves the stagnation. While this may sound rather unscientific, one must bear in mind that this is the language of a healing method which is thousands of years old. In modern scientific language, one might express the same concept by saying that when gallbladder bile isn't flowing well or urine isn't flowing well, it becomes concentrated, which causes calcium salts or cholesterols to crystallize out of solution and form stones (gallstones or kidney stones).

Human body meridiansBased on the TCM gallbladder "meridians" (see Figure at right), gallstones may be associated with headaches, shoulder and neck pain. According to TCM, when gallstones are present, the weak gallbladder makes energy flow along the meridians sluggish, which results in a tense and tight feeling. If blood circulation becomes so poor that the blood flow becomes stagnant, pain is the result.

In TCM, gallstones are also said to weaken the spleen, because nerves on the spleen and gallbladder are connected to each other. TCM also ties gallstones to sleep problems, dizziness, bad taste in the mouth, vomiting of bile, pain in the flanks, and even psychological problems such as anger and depression, insomnia, and nightmares [1].

Women are much more likely than men to develop gallstones. I suspect that pregnancy and childbirth have a lot to do with this, by creating stagnation in the abdominal area. I used to think that gallstones only develop in people who are obese or have a high fat diet. However, I now believe bile stasis or gallbladder stagnation is a major cause of gallstone formation. I have never been on a high fat diet and have always been under-weight. I was never on birth control pills. However, when I tried my first gallbladder flush, I still flushed out more than 50 gallstones. Altogether, I flushed out more than 100 stones in my first 4 flushes.

I had a very congested liver which caused a lot of sleep problems for me. Not only was it difficult to fall asleep, but I would also usually wake up several times every night. It was not unusual for me to get only 3 or 4 hours of sleep a night. After my liver became healthier, I slept much better but I still had to get up at least once every night. I thought that I had no choice but to live with this.

Surprisingly, after doing the gallbladder flush, I started sleeping right through most nights without waking up at all. A friend of mine had headaches for more than 30 years. They also disappeared after she tried the liver/gallbladder flush.

8. Estrogen

"The hyperestrogenism occurs as a result of failure of hepatic removal of estrogens from the circulation" [4]

Estrogen is a perfectly natural hormone, but as Aristotle wrote two and a half thousand years ago, one should seek moderation in all things. In other words, too much estrogen appears to be bad for you. According to Dr. John R. Lee in his book "What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause: the Breakthrough Book on Natural Progesterone" (Warner Books, 1996), estrogen dominance is the cause of many women's chronic health problems.

We are living in a polluted world where we have environmental estrogens and endocrine disruptors and xenoestrogens (foreign substances which have estrogen-like effects) to deal with, in addition to whatever estrogen is produced by your body or found naturally in your diet.

The effects of all this environmental estrogen can be frightening: puberty is occurring as early as eight years old in some children, and researchers have discovered frogs which are becoming "intersex" and changing from male to female.

Contrary to popular belief, estrogen is found in both males and females, not just females. Even though estrogen is considered the "female" hormone and testosterone is considered the "male" hormone, men and women actually have both, just in differing amounts.

Estrogen occurs naturally in many foods, such as fruits (which contain phytoestrogens), flaxseed, sesame seeds, chickpeas, beans, peas, alfalfa sprouts, wheat bran, and soy-based products. Many of these foods are considered "healthy foods", so you may be consuming them in large quantity without realizing that they are packed with estrogen.

Side-Effects of High Estrogen

There are many known side-effects of high estrogen levels in women (from HealthLine):

  • Bloating
  • Swelling and tenderness in the breasts
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Headaches
  • Mood swings
  • Fibrocystic developments in the breast
  • Weight gain
  • Hair loss
  • Cold hands or feet
  • Feeling tired or lacking energy
  • Difficulty with memory
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Increased symptoms of premenstrual syndrome or PMS
  • Increased risk of breast cancer

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, high estrogen levels are also associated with endometriosis. Estrogen therapy has been shown to worsen gynecological conditions such as fibroids and endometriosis [5], and to have a pronounced effect upon the endometrium and induce endometrial mitosis (hyperplasia) [6]. Research also suggested that regular exercise may help to protect against endometriosis by decreasing the rate of estrogen production [7].

High estrogen has also been associated with female infertility. The following quotes are from the book "Physiology" [Selkurt, E.E. (editor), Physiology, Little, Brown and Company, Boston (1966)]:

"Estrogen administration can lead to failure of implantation of the ovum." (p. 757).

"Estrogens stimulate the smooth muscle of the oviduct to increase the peristaltic action in the direction from the uterus to the ovary. This may be of benefit to sperm transport but if the activity is too great, it prevents the passage of the ovum down the tubes to the uterus" (p.757).

"Progesterone acts on the reproductive tract and mammary gland in such a manner as to prepare the tract for implantation of the fertilized ovum and to maintain gestation and lactation." (p. 758).

"Pregnancy can be established and maintained only if adequate amounts of progesterone are secreted prior to and throughout the course of pregnancy." (p. 765).

Of course, high estrogen can have serious side-effects in men as well: men who have high estrogen can become infertile, suffer from erectile dysfunction, or even develop gynecomastia (male breasts).

9. How to Reduce Estrogen Levels

There are a number of well-known methods for reducing estrogen levels:

  1. Perform daily physical exercise, which reduces estrogen production and stress, and also reduces stagnation. It promotes a healthy circulatory system and activates the liver. I found the Chinese exercise Y-Dan, which I have been doing every morning for years, is very beneficial. However, it does not have to be any particular kind of exercise, as long as it involves a lot of deep breathing and stretching.
  2. Learn to relax and reduce stress. Relaxation opens up blood vessels and relaxes different organs.
  3. Perform cleansing and strengthening of the liver in order to eliminate estrogen more efficiently.
  4. Avoid or minimize estrogen-containing foods or herbs. Foods that weaken the liver or kidneys should also be avoided.
  5. Clean your fruits and vegetables: pesticides sprayed on fruits or vegetables often fall into the category of xenoestrogens. If you soak them in a water-vinegar mixture for a few minutes and then rinse them with clean water, you can remove many of these pesticide residues. Some commercial "vegetable rinse" products are also on the market, which are designed to help clean off these residues.
  6. Lose weight. I know this is advice you have heard all too often for many reasons, but fat cells produce estrogen, and the level of estrogen in your body is related to your body fat level.

The following is a listing of some of the herbs and foods that have estrogenic activity:

Anise, hops, fennel, black cohosh, milk thistle, clover, red clover, Don Quei, licorice, ginseng, royal jelly, peony, nettle, sage, fenugreek, evening primrose oil, burdock, chamomiles, rhubarb French bean, date palm, dates, garlic, pomegranate, apple, soyabean, chick pea, cherry, alfalfa, soya sprouts, cow pea, green beans, red beans, split peas, flaxseed, raspberry, carrot and squash (both have beta carotene), beer, and caffeinated drinks

10. Coping With My Endometriosis Problems

As an endometriosis sufferer for more than 15 years, I hope my experience can help other sufferers. In my early 30s, I began to suffer severe pain during my period. The pain increased over the years. In 1984, I passed out on the subway. The ambulance took me to a hospital where I was examined by a (female) doctor. She told me that I had a thick and hard uterine wall for unknown reasons. A gynecologist was then called in. He told me that I had a large fibroid in my uterus. An ultrasound examination "confirmed" the presence of the large fibroid. He suggested a hysterectomy immediately, but I refused.

Half a year later, my family moved and I went to see a top gynecologist in Toronto. He told me that my fibroid was actually very small and should cause no concern. But he also told me that I had endometriosis, and that this was the real source of my problems. When I told him that my fibroid was confirmed by ultrasound, he simply said "they must have mistaken water for fibroid". Unless the pain became unbearable, he advised me not to take any medications. I accepted the chronic pain as part of my life and tried to live as normally as I could.

During those years, I was plagued by constant fatigue and allergies as well, although I didn't think they might be related to the endometriosis. As I advanced in years, all the above problems became more severe, and new problems continued to appear. By my late 30's, I had problems sleeping, frequent urination, and my skin became dull, grey and yellowish with constant breakouts. In 1989, my thyroid problem started and my fingers sometimes felt numb in the morning.

Since western medicine did not appear to be helping me, I decided to see a traditional Chinese doctor. After reading my pulse, he told me that I had liver congestion. From my experience working for more than 6 years in the medical laboratory of a large hospital in Toronto, I recognized that (unlike liver inflammation or infections which show elevated liver enzyme levels in blood due to enzymes released from ruptured liver cells) liver congestion or weakness cannot be detected in blood tests. This is due to the fact that the liver cells are still intact and therefore do not release liver enzymes into the blood. In fact, I had two blood tests done prior to my visit to the Chinese doctor and they both came back as "normal". In general, blood tests will not reveal what TCM would diagnose as "liver congestion" or "liver weakness".

The Chinese doctor told me that I needed to try liver strengthening and cleansing. He prescribed Don Quei, ginseng, licorice, and royal jelly. I took this and it seemed to help for a few weeks, but then my pain came back, worse than ever. Frustrated and upset, I began to look into other options. I began to theorize that the herbs helped with the liver congestion, but must have had some other side-effect.

I decided to continue with the idea of liver strengthening, and I tried simply switching to different cleansing herbs, so I took Swedish Bitters. However, I had the same results that I did with the Don Quei, ginseng, licorice, and royal jelly. For the second time, it appeared that an herbal liver strengthening and cleansing regimen helped for only a little while, before the problems returned.

At the time of this struggle to become well, I happened to be the owner of a health food store, and one of the books we sold in the store was "Old Time Remedies for Modern Ailments", by Hanna Kroeger. In this book, there were instructions for a liver/gallbladder flush using apple juice, which I decided to try, since all other methods of becoming well had failed. Surprisingly, all of my liver problems dramatically improved after doing my first flush. I began to get compliments on my skin, which had never happened before. Even more miraculously, my joint pain and my period pain seemed to disappear, virtually overnight.

I was curious as to how a liver/gallbladder flush would improve my endometriosis symptoms, so I began to re-read my old physiology books from university. I discovered that the liver is the organ which breaks down and removes excess estrogen from the body. Cleansing my liver must have improved my liver function, thus allowing it to remove excess estrogen from my body more effectively. Suddenly, I realized why my previous attempts to improve my liver had failed: I had used herbs to cleanse my liver, but since some of these herbs had estrogenic activity, any initial gains were eventually reversed as my estrogen level went up again.

Putting these two ideas together (liver strengthening and estrogen removal), I was finally able to formulate a plan to keep my liver in good health and keep my endometriosis symptoms under control. I continue to use Long Dan Cao (Chinese Gentian) as well as Bupleurum for liver strengthening, because neither of these herbs have estrogenic activity. I also continue to do regular liver and gallbladder flushes, to keep my liver in good health. Following this regimen, I was able to become pain-free for the first time in many years.

My eventual regimen looked like this:

  1. Take 1-2 cups of warm water, first thing in the morning.
  2. Do Y-Dan exercises for 20 to 30 minutes. This helps get the blood flowing, and the liver working.
  3. Take a liver cleansing herb (in my case, I use Long Dan Cao, also known as Chinese Gentian, which worked better for me than other liver cleansing herbs). A liver cleansing herb should be taken in the morning, because your liver has been working hard all night, filtering toxins out of your blood.
  4. Wait half an hour before eating breakfast.
  5. Avoid foods or herbs which might increase my estrogen level.
  6. Avoid cold foods or cold drinks, which "chill" your organs.

Of course, I cannot guarantee that this would work for everyone. I can only relate what worked for me, and I continue to use this regimen to this day.


  1. A Barefoot Doctor's Manual, the American translation of the official Chinese Paramedical Manual, Running Press, Philadelphia, PA (1990)
  2. Neufeld, W.P., MD, The Liver Causes Heart Attacks, Morning Dawn Publishing Company, Surrey, BC, Canada (1987)
  3. Alan Rees, Consumer Health USA Volume 2, Greenwood Publishing Group, Westport, CT (1997)
  4. Selkurt, E.E. (editor), Physiology, Little, Brown and Company, Boston (1966)
  5. Cust, M.P, A Risk-Benefit Assessment of Estrogen Therapy in Postmenopausal Women, Drug Safety 5 (5): 345-358, Sept.-Oct (1990)
  6. Selkurt, E.E. (editor), Physiology, Little, Brown and Company, Boston (1966), p. 757
  7. Barbieri, R.L., Etiology and Epidemiology of Endometriosis, American Journal of Obstetrics Gynecology 162 (2): 565-567, February (1990)

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