Liver pain: causes and remedies

Liver pain: causes and remedies

Pain we experience in the upper right abdomen is often linked to complex digestive dysfunction involving the gallbladder, but it is much more common to refer to it as “liver pain”. The hepato-biliary system actually performs extremely articulated functions and the disorders can depend on various causes


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Having “liver trouble” is often a saying for painful forms , involving the upper right side of the abdomen.
In fact, in most cases the origin of the disorder is not to be traced properly to the liver organ , but to conditions relating to the hepato-biliary system in a broader sense, also because the liver itself does not hurt .

  • The pangs in the liver
  • Symptoms of pain in the liver
  • Possible causes of liver pain
  • How to tell if the liver is inflamed
  • The main liver diseases
  • Recommended feeding when the liver hurts
  • Natural remedies for liver pain

The pangs in the liver

The alleged pangs in the liver mainly concern:

  • gallbladder ,
  • inflammatory processes such as hepatitis,
  • digestive heaviness,
  • fatty liver disease (fatty liver), 
  • irritable bowel syndrome ,
  • gastritis ,
  • duodenitis,
  • pyloric ulcers,
  • food and inhalation poisoning.

Furthermore, in traditional Chinese medicine the liver and its associated viscera, the biliary vesicle, belong to the Wood movement , marked by particular character aspects, such as restlessness , anger , anxiety and if we think about it even in our popular sayings we speak of ” Get the big liver out of anger” , so there is also a psychosomatic component that affects the health of this very important organ.

Symptoms pain in the liver

But what are the symptoms associated with an imbalance of the hepato-biliary system? There are various symptoms, based on the nature of the disorder.
Generally, pains are felt in the upper right part of the abdomen and, which also radiate to the back at the dorsal level, the abdomen is enlarged, and headaches often appear involving the right eye.

Possible causes of liver pain

This kind of pain is often caused by problems related to steatosis of the liver , food poisoning that also extend to the stomach and intestines, with abdominal spasms, swelling , feeling of not having digested, flatulence, and dysentery.

In other cases, the pains in the liver appear as real colic , with terrible acute pains, which originate from the right side, radiate to the back up to the height of the kidneys and which literally “fold in two” those affected. 

These are typical of gallstones, which when they move inside the gallbladder create various ailments, some unbearable. 
It is always good to investigate the state of the art with a specialist, since calculose formations that can infiltrate and damage the bile ducts cause bile decantation , with the risk of seriously compromising health. 

In Shiatsu  the liver, when fatigued and in overmenage, is treated in sedation along the spine at the right shoulder height. The painful perception is to be attributed to the distension of the part that covers the liver and which is called Glisson’s Capsule .

In case of acute hepatitis, therefore of sudden inflammation of the hepatic system, the Glissian capsule undergoes contractions that can produce perceptible pain. Both in these cases and in cases of blockages of the bile ducts, directly consequent symptoms such as jaundice , vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue may occur.

There are also painful forms of a psychosomatic nature , due to chronic stress, real forms of “wear and tear of everyday life”: brooded and unexploded anger, restlessness, agitation, or even simple liveliness that cannot be expressed, often manifest themselves on the liver, with painful forms, or allergic forms and poison the hepato-biliary system.

The same seasonal allergies  of a purely spring nature, a period in which the liver and biliary vesicle are at their maximum energetic expression, are treated with therapies that act on this important system.

How to tell if the liver is inflamed?

An inflammation is accompanied by an enlarged liver , and some disorders appear due to a condition of imbalance:

  • fatigue,
  • pain in the upper abdominal part on the right,
  • abdominal bloating,
  • nausea and loss of appetite,
  • muscular pain,
  • icteric congestion, visible in the whites of the eyes, yellowing of the skin and bitter mouth.

Especially this last symptom must represent an alarm bell to investigate in depth.

The main liver diseases

  1. Cirrhosis : formation of fibrous scar tissue, often caused by alcoholism, hepatitis or intoxication.
  2. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease : excessive accumulation of fat inside the liver, usually asymptomatic, typical of obese people. 
  3. Hepatitis : are inflammations due to viruses, intoxications, and autoimmune diseases.
  4. Hemochromatosis : hereditary disease characterized by iron accumulation 
  5. Primary sclerosing cholangitis : inflammation of the bile ducts, which narrow and obstruct the outflow of bile, the accumulation of which damages liver cells.

Anger and the Liver in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Recommended feeding when the liver hurts

First of all, take care of nutrition to prevent liver and entire hepato-biliary system disorders: no to frying, no to foods rich in fat, no to alcohol, no to coffee and tea.

Drink plenty of plain water. The liver is an excretory organ, like the kidneys and as such it needs heat. Therefore, always keep it protected from sudden changes in temperature, from blows of air and from cold drinks from the refrigerator.

Always prefer water at room temperature or hot, detoxifying and draining drinks, which favor the physiology of the organ.
Let’s look at some herbal remedies that speak to the liver and gallbladder.

Natural remedies for liver pain

  • Artichoke

The artichoke  is rich in phenolic acids and cynarin . It performs an important protective action against  harmful free radicals and stimulates the regeneration of liver cells . The action of cynarin is also cholagogue and choleretic, that is, it stimulates the production of bile and its passage from the gallbladder to the intestine, detoxifies the liver, reduces cholesterol and triglycerides.

Contraindications : It goes without saying that the artichoke is not recommended for those who have undergone the removal of the gallbladder. 

How to use : we can take it in the form of herbal tea or hydroalcoholic extract in synergy with other remedies.

  • Dandelion

Dandelion  is purifying and anti-inflammatory . Rich in sterols, triterpenes and bitter principles, it detoxifies the liver freeing it from digestive catabolites, such as sugars, triglycerides, cholesterol, soothes inflammation and stimulates diuresis. 

Contraindications : it is not recommended for those suffering from low blood pressure, for those suffering from gallstones and ulcers, because the bitter principles can irritate the gastric mucosa and stimulate the movement of the gallbladder.

How to use : we can use dandelion both in herbal tea and in hydroalcoholic extract for a physiological effect.

  • Milk thistle

Milk thistle  is a female plant, rich in phytoestrogens such as silybilin which regulates the hormonal well-being of women. The high content of silymarin has a protective effect on the liver, against damage caused by alcohol abuse, toxic substances and regenerates the cells, with anti-inflammatory effects . Milk thistle carries out a cholagogue activity, thus stimulating the emptying of the gallbladder from the bile directing it to the duodenum. 

Contraindications : it is not recommended for people suffering from hypertension due to the tyramine it contains. 

How to use : herbal preparations can contain the whole plant or only the milk thistle seeds: in both cases they can be used in an infusion pot, leaving a teaspoon of preparation to infuse for ten minutes. The mother tincture can be diluted in water, to the extent of 30 drops for a glass.

  • Liver mixture

We can mix these 3 remedies together for a synergistic action:

  1. In equal parts herbal tea , we take 2 g of mixture per 150 ml of water in decoction 2 times a day
  2. In hydroalcoholic extract : 15 drops of each tincture (45 drops) in a glass of water to be taken 3 times a day

To know more:

  • Liver treated with phytotherapy

  • Liver, homeopathic natural remedies

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