My Personal Journey of Healing

Julia Chang, MSc

10. Other liver-related problems: headaches, diabetes, thyroid disorders, and skin problems


It is well known in Chinese medicine that headaches can be caused by liver or gallbladder problems.  If the pain is on the sides of your head (as is the case with migraine headaches), it is caused by liver problems because the liver meridian goes through the sides of your head.  If the pain is in your forehead or the base of your skull in the back, it is caused by gallbladder problems because the gallbladder meridian runs through those areas.

A 45 year old woman had migraine headaches for more than 30 years when she came to see me.  She tried everything possible without any improvement.  After only one successful liver and gallbladder flush, her headaches disappeared completely.

However, on her second day of apple juice fasting, her headaches were so severe that she was not sure if she should continue the program.  Fortunately, she did persist and flushed out a large number of stones on the next day even though she had never been diagnosed with gallstones.  Her migraine headaches did not return.

I believe that her severe headaches on the second day of her apple juice fasting were caused by toxins being released too quickly.

Dizziness and Fainting

It is well-known that both dizziness and fainting are caused by low blood pressure in the brain, which is why a common fainting scenario even among relatively healthy people is someone feeling a sudden “head rush” as he or she abruptly stands up after sitting or lying down for a long time.  This is also why fighter pilots can experience blackouts during certain situations known as “high-G” maneuvers, and they wear special suits which squeeze the lower body in order to force blood to the head.

I used to feel dizzy quite often when I was sick.  I also fainted more than 10 times in my life.  After I cleansed my liver and gallbladder at the age of 47, both the dizziness and fainting spells disappeared.

According to Chinese medicine, the spleen provides energy to the heart, and if the spleen is functioning poorly, then the heart will also function poorly, and it will not be able to pump enough blood to the head to maintain adequate blood pressure there.

A poorly functioning spleen is often the result of a congested liver, because the spleen provides blood to the liver and if the liver is congested, the blood can “back up” into the spleen.

It is for this reason that foods which weaken the spleen, such as cold foods, cold drinks, and other foods mentioned in Section 3 under the heading “Control of Diet” should be avoided or minimized.

Diabetes and Hypoglycemia

According to Chinese medicine, diabetes and hypoglycemia are related to a weak liver, spleen, and pancreas.  This will cause deficient production of insulin (diabetes) or overproduction of insulin (hypoglycemia).

It is well known that diet, obesity, food allergies, viral infections, and stress are all contributing factors for diabetes, but my understanding is that these factors either cause or are caused by a weak liver, spleen, and pancreas.  For example, obesity is the result of poor diet and/or a sluggish liver which causes a sluggish metabolism.  A sluggish liver is often associated with gallstones because the liver and gallbladder are interconnected.  And gallstones are formed because of “bile stasis” due to a sluggish gallbladder.  Fatty liver (a common complication of diabetes) is also an indicator of liver weakness, and chronic diarrhea (yet another common diabetes symptom) is caused by a weak spleen according to Chinese medicine.

Diet and exercise are important for the treatment of diabetes, as western medicine has taught for a long time.  Foods that weaken the liver and spleen (as mentioned in the “Gallbladder Flushing” section under the heading “Control of Diet”) should be avoided or minimized wherever possible.  In their place you should eat cooked whole grains, vegetables, and beans.  Daily morning exercises (to “activate” the liver) are necessary as well.

In addition to diet and exercise, liver and gallbladder cleansing may also be helpful.  The liver, spleen, and gallbladder are all interconnected, so a weak liver and spleen will tend to be accompanied by a weak gallbladder and vice versa.  This explains why diabetics have a very high incidence of gallstones.  Once gallstones are formed, the liver, spleen, and pancreas will not be healthy until those stones are eliminated.

Our experiences have shown that the use of Chinese Bitters to decongest and cleanse the liver, in addition to diet control and daily morning exercises, have helped many people deal with diabetes, particularly if they have not yet started taking conventional medications.  For diabetics who are already on oral medications such as Metformin or Glucophage, they would have to do the complete program of liver and gallbladder cleansing before their blood sugar levels become normal.  Unfortunately, anyone who has been on insulin therapy for a long time will have trouble reversing their diabetes problems because their pancreas has probably become non-functional, and their bodies are now totally dependent upon the insulin, although I am aware of a number of people who were on insulin for years and were able to stop using it after drinking taheebo tea (pau d'arco) and cleansing their livers and gallbladders.

Although hypoglycemia and diabetes have opposite symptoms, they can both be related to a weak liver, spleen, and pancreas.  When these organs are not functioning well, their ability to regulate your blood sugar levels is compromised.  Insulin can be overproduced (hypoglycemia) or under-produced (diabetes), or the liver's ability to convert glycogen into glucose can be affected.

I have never had diabetes, but my hypoglycemia began when I was in my teens.  I always felt weak, shaky, and prone to fainting when I was hungry.  But when I cleansed my liver and gallbladder at age 47, my symptoms improved significantly.  They did not disappear entirely, but after I did parasite cleansing several years later, they improved even further, to the point that they are not noticeable at all.

The parasite cleanse was an interesting experience.  I noticed that my lips were covered with blisters on the second day, but according to Chinese medicine, the spleen “opens to the mouth”, meaning that problems with the spleen manifest themselves in the mouth.  Therefore, I concluded that the blisters on my lips were due to the strain put on my spleen by the parasite cleanse and that the problems would disappear once the spleen was clear.  They did, and my hypoglycemia symptoms appeared to disappear along with them.

Thyroid disease and liver health

My thyroid disorder (hyperthyroidism) did not start until 1989, the year that I was told I had badly congested liver.  It was another stressful year for me.  My choice was either surgery to remove part of my thyroid or taking radioactive iodine to inactivate part of my thyroid.  I declined both because they often lead to hypothyroidism.  I started taking large amounts of dulse leaf powder (1 heaping tablespoonful every day) to reduce my thyroid activity because high dosages of iodine inhibit thyroid activity even though small dosages of iodine stimulate thyroid activity.  The combination of liver cleansing and high dosages of iodine obviously worked in my case.  My thyroid problems disappeared in a few months.  I found through my experience helping many people with thyroid problems that almost everyone with thyroid problems has congested liver.

The use of thyroid hormones may produce instant boost of energy, but continuous use may suppress your own thyroid hormone production.  A 63-year old woman was on Synthroid for 22 years.  Her own production of thyroid hormones stopped completely and thyroid pills eventually did not work for her any more.  She could not sleep and could not have bowel movement without enema.

With hypothyroidism, if thyroid hormone therapy has only been taken for a few years, the use of thyroid hormone pills may become unnecessary within a few months of taking small doses of iodine (seaweed) combined with liver cleansing and strengthening. Cruciferrous vegetables such as cabbage and cauliflower contain thiocyanate which has thyroid-inhibiting effect should be consumed in moderation or minimized.

A 40-year old woman was on thyroid pills for 3½ years. She felt tired and could not sleep well.  After 4-5 months of taking Chinese Bitters (before breakfast) and Shou Wu (before lunch), doing morning exercise and watching her diet, she did not need thyroid pills any more.  However, one year after she took the herbal products, her doctor told her that her thyroid hormone level was still low and tried to convince her to take Synthroid again.  She told the doctor that she slept better and had more energy and the number for her thyroid hormone level did not mean anything to her.  It took her two years of taking the herbal products before her hormone level was normal and she did not need the herbal products any more.

Shou Wu strengthens and stimulates the liver and kidneys in addition to providing a natural source of iodine.  It is very helpful for hypothyroidism.  However, for women with “woman's problems” (typically associated with too much estrogens), Chinese Bitters in conjunction with seaweed such as dulse leaves is recommended because Shou Wu may stimulate estrogen production by stimulating the kidneys and the adrenals.  For more information about these herbal tinctures (Shou Wu and Chinese Bitters), please visit our products page.

Skin problems

I always had poor complexion due to my poor blood circulation. Acne and various skin problems started in my early teens.  I assumed that I was born with poor skin.  However, I learned in my 20's the correlation between my skin breakouts and menstrual cycles.  My skin problems seemed to be worse just before my period when my estrogen level was high.  But I did not know what to do with it.  I also noticed that deep fried foods and stress aggravated my problems.

The Chinese term for acne is “youth pea”.  Having acne during the teen-aged years is considered normal.  When I still had acne in my 40s, I knew something was not right and it could not be “youth pea” any more.  When I started taking Chinese Bitters to decongest and cleanse my liver and Coptis to stimulate my bile flow, I noticed improvement in my skin condition even though the improvement occurred rather gradually.  After I did my first liver and gallbladder flush, my skin condition cleared up completely.  In fact, on the second day of my first apple juice fast, I received a compliment on my complexion, for the first time in my life.

Hormone production increases rapidly during teenage years.  Since the liver is the organ that eliminates estrogens and testosterones, a weak liver that fails to handle the increased work load may end up weakening all its functions including blood filtration.  The higher than normal toxins and hormones in blood may clog up the hair follicles and sebaceous glands in the skin, causing inflammation which leads to breakouts.  If the liver is so weak that blood is never filtered efficiently even though hormone production is not increasing, then the skin problems can occur at any age.

When the liver is congested, foods that cause this congestion should be avoided or minimized.  These foods include roasted nuts, spicy foods, deep-fried foods, and even onions.

Skin breakout is a kind of skin inflammation.  According to Chinese medicine, inflammations are basically caused by a weak liver and spleen.  The spleen provides blood to the liver.  A congested liver will limit blood flow from the spleen and can weaken the spleen easily.

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