The liver plays a critical role in fertility, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine. Along with paying attention to the state of kidney energy, practitioners have long relegated great importance to the state of ‘Liver Blood’ in treating infertility, and a range of other gynacological problems that commonly affect women.
In fact, the Liver is one of the primary organ systems targeted for any menstrual problems from dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation), amenorrhea (absence of menstruation) to menorrhagia (excessive bleeding) and irregular and missed periods (only sometimes in the case of pregnancy).
Given the proven high success rate of treating infertility with acupuncture, including with those already on an IVF program, it stands to reason that the treatment protocol for this range of women’s diseases is correct: the liver is an organ intimately related to women’s reproductive health.
This connection has never even been hinted at by Western Medicinal science, where the focus is on hormonal intervention and supplementation. Until now, that is.
A new report in the February issue of Cell Metabolism, a Cell Press publication, shows that estrogen receptors in the liver are critical for maintaining fertility.
What's more, the expression of those receptors is under the control of dietary amino acids, the building blocks of proteins.
These findings in mice may have important implications for women with some forms of infertility and with metabolic changes that come with menopause, the researchers say.
"This is the first time it has been demonstrated how important the liver is in fertility," said Adriana Maggi of The University of Milan in Italy.
Scientists had known that the liver expressed estrogen receptors and that those receptors played some role in metabolism.
In studies her group was doing on mice, "We saw that the organ that always had the highest activation of estrogen receptor was the liver," she said.
Initially they thought it must be a mistake and disregarded it, but over time they began to think maybe the mice were telling them something.
They now report that the expression of those estrogen receptors depends on dietary amino acids. The researchers suggest that this connection between amino acids, estrogen receptor signaling in liver, and reproductive functions may have clinical implications.
For instance, Maggi said, this may explain why people who are anorexic are generally infertile. It suggests that diets loaded with too many carbohydrates and too little protein may hamper fertility.
The results also provide new clues for understanding the increased risk of metabolic and inflammatory disease in menopausal women. Maggi says that those changes may be explained in part by the lack of estrogen action in their livers and its downstream consequences.
Today, given concerns about hormone replacement therapy, menopausal women are often treated with drugs that target one organ or another to protect against specific conditions, such as atherosclerosis or osteoporosis.
Given the liver's role as a central coordinator of metabolism and producer of many other important hormones, she says, drugs that "target only the liver may solve all the problems."
It is extremely satisfying to read a scientific validation for the basic tenets of Traditional Chinese Medicine some of which go back to between three and five thousand years, deeply rooted in what is commonly known as Ancient Wisdom.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Liver is a most important organ, if for no other reason that it is considered to be the ‘Seat of the Soul’, the very unique life spark that expresses ‘who’ we are and how we live our lives.
When we self-nourish, living in harmony and resonance with our Soul, then we come into a state of inner peace and exemplary health………..and are highly fertile or…….. sailing through menopause……….and our Livers prosper!
Things our Livers Love (or how to Love our Livers)
absence of stress, regular life-style (shift-duty is a liver no-no!), harmonious relationships, healthy regular sex, flexibility (yoga's good), clear decision-making, healthy assertion, absence of over-fatty diet, low intake of alcohol, low sugar intake, regular exercise, plenty of water, lots of fun (laughter's good), relaxation and good night's sleeps. Avoid fatty foods, and greasy vegetarian diet (too much cheese), holding on to your anger (it is so toxic) and over-exposure to chemicals.
Sound boring? I must admit that it has taken me almost two-thirds of my life to learn how to love my liver….and it feels good……lucky I am no longer fertile!