A Detox Protocol to Heal Your Liver
Written by: the Editors of goop
Updated: July 7, 2020
Photo courtesy of Marta Bevacqua/Trunk Archive
“I have found that the majority of diseases that manifest physically originate in the etheric energy body,” says naturopathic physician Linda Lancaster. Two decades ago, Lancaster founded Light Harmonics Institute, an energy-healing clinic in Santa Fe that uses her own system of medicine. It draws on Ayurveda, homeopathy, yoga, anthroposophy, traditional Chinese medicine, and naturopathy to create personalized protocols to help people optimize their well-being. This shouldn’t be a spoiler: This is a system of medicine that operates well outside of the conventional one. And it’s resonated with many over the years.
Now Lancaster’s fascinating healing philosophy—and how she sees energetic health as inextricably linked to every other aspect of well-being—is the subject of her first book. In Harmonic Healing, Lancaster breaks down the factors that she believes lead to imbalances in our health, such as pollution (a few kinds), chemicals, and stress.
These factors contribute, Lancaster says, to an overtaxed liver, which can have a ripple effect on the rest of the body. Her recommendation: By regularly detoxing your body and energy field, Lancaster believes you can give your liver a rest—and “live in a polluted world healthfully.”
A Q&A with Linda Lancaster, ND, PhD
We’re just not just a physical body; we have a subtle makeup, too. Our energy field, or subtle energy, is what our life force is made up of. I understand subtle energy to be etheric energy. In the five-element theory that is the foundation of natural healing systems, ether is the first element from which the others (air, fire, water, earth) arise. It is the subtle electromagnetic energy that pulsates across space, which is why it’s important to recognize that your body has a physical makeup and a subtle makeup, too. Your etheric energy is the reservoir that feeds and creates your physical vitality and encompasses your potential for healing and exists as a subtle body in and around your physical body.
Our subtle or etheric energy is where health and disease begin. I think of our cells like batteries, each with a positive and negative charge. When we are following a lifestyle that strengthens the frequency of our cells through good food, good water, good air, and good thoughts and actions, the energy becomes balanced, and consequently, our etheric energy is balanced and vibrates at a rate that is optimal for us. This creates a state where physically, we feel energized, resilient, and able to withstand pathogens and stressors.
When there is a disruption to our subtle energy field, it weakens the energetic frequency, leading to a state of imbalance. If left unaddressed, it can take a toll on our physical body expressed as tired adrenals, a depleted immune system and feelings of exhaustion. Have you ever felt pulled in so many directions that you feel like there is no energy left to draw upon, and the smallest thing might push you over the brink? This is not just a feeling; it’s real. It’s because your reservoir of subtle energy is low. And when your subtle energy becomes weakened, you are more susceptible to the disease process.
It’s also important to note that your etheric energy is the conduit for your thoughts and emotions to move peacefully throughout your physical and subtle bodies; it allows your emotions to be felt, processed, and released. When your etheric body is in balance, so are your mental and emotional states. This state of harmony between the physical and etheric bodies creates a ripple effect of good health. It’s what we’re talking about when we talk of a balanced mind-body connection.
There are many things that can create an imbalance, but one of the main contributors is pollution. Pollution is multidimensional, which is why I categorize environmental pollution as a collective group of disrupting factors. These include heavy metals and chemicals in food, water, and the air; radiation in our space from technology; disturbances in our personal relationships; and going through mental and emotional shock. The tendency to live in a “go, go, go” state at all times—even during hardship—makes it worse.
In my forty-year career as a practitioner of subtle medicine, I’ve found that this invisible accumulation contributes to adrenal shock and a variety of different illnesses. Our adrenals are the first line of defense. They are our survival glands, the first to deal with many of the onslaughts of our day-to-day lives. They’re part of the endocrine system, the spark plugs of the body and are connected to our entire nervous system. When the adrenals are grounded and supported, we’re grounded. We’ll feel a desire to be physically active in life. When they’re imbalanced, we feel exhausted and we lack desire. Many people who come to see me complain of fatigue, and I typically see that their adrenals are overtaxed.
After your adrenal glands, in my experience, your digestion and your liver take the next hit. A stressed gut leaves you unable to properly absorb critical nutrients and fortify your organs, oftentimes making you feel weak. The liver—our most important organ for detoxification—filters out heavy metals, chemicals, fungicides, radiation, and on top of that, emotions. An overtaxed liver can lead to a slow and congested system, fatigue, and depression and hormonal imbalances, too.
When we clean the liver, we’re giving our body a chance to process all that we’re going through. Food heals. Nature heals. When we give our bodies foods that allow the liver to get back into what it’s supposed to be doing—simple foods, with strong mineral content and electromagnetic energy—and practice conscious eating, we begin to digest better and heal.
Yes! Cleansing the liver periodically is critical because the liver does so much for us, on a physical level, and on the more subtle levels of mental and emotional health. On a physical level, the liver metabolizes proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, and it processes environmental toxins from heavy metals, chemicals, and radiation. It also stores vitamins and minerals. On an emotional level, it helps us process our emotions and thoughts. It’s a filter, a metabolizer: It helps to move things through and out of us, so that unwanted things (physically and mentally and emotionally) do not build up, congest us, and ultimately inflame us.
I liken the liver to the central headquarters of our health, managing everything that needs to get processed and released. When you clean the liver, you are switching on your healing capacity. I choose to restore the liver through simple, healing foods. I share in the book why it’s important to incorporate food with a strong mineral content and electromagnetic energy. It’s incredible what begins to heal in the body and mind when the liver works smoothly. You begin to digest your food and your life the way nature intended.
The program also helps nourish the adrenals, by addressing pollution. Whether we’re putting it in our bodies, inhaling it, or eating it, there are a lot of chemicals coming at us from all directions, which is why we should cleanse our adrenals frequently. We also need to look at how we can work to balance our mental and emotional states through things like meditation. I include a simple mediation by Father Thomas Keating, which I recommend to many of those who come to see me. When we look at the trauma or the shock that we’ve experienced in life or think back to what kind of a childhood we had, oftentimes we find we can’t move out into the process of healing because we’re still stuck in a state of shock. We’ve all experienced shock and trauma whether we know it or not, and in order to move forward into the process of healing, we need to let go of what we’re hanging on to. Part of the program is simply acknowledging that this may be at play for you. I share different ways of releasing shock, grief, or trauma so that the subtle energy can flow and vitality can return.
If you’re living a fast-paced life and not cooking at home a lot, then I recommend doing the six-week cleanse in the book once or twice a year. After that, you can go into the maintenance phase.
If you’re a frequent traveler or have a lifestyle where it’s too difficult to do the whole six-week program, then I recommend doing a strict liver-cleansing program for three weeks. After that, you can modify your diet as best as you can according to the recommendations in the book.
Whether you’re cleansing or not, I always recommend steaming, poaching, braising, and roasting and stews and soups like your grandma would make. If you have a sensitive digestive system, you’ll want to cook your foods in a slow, gradual way.
Eat foods that help cleanse the liver, like beets and leafy greens and a variety of vegetables. Don’t fry or cook in a way that’s overwhelmed with heavily sautéed foods. When cleansing, I like to use olive oil after cooking and add a sprinkle of sea salt flakes.
Eat consciously, recognizing that food has subtle spiritual energy. We have to look at both what we’re putting in our mouth and how we are eating it. We cannot eat just because we want to be healthy; we have to eat because it’s going to nourish us so that we can be the best that we can be. We are nature, so what feeds us and takes care of us is nature. Nature heals. We look to nature to heal ourselves, whether it’s in sleeping, movement, drinking, eating, how we think, or how we feel.
It’s also great to cook at home and invite people over, since it becomes a celebratory and communal activity.
Above all, don’t be scared. We learn more every day about the challenges of our polluted world; the key is to focus on how you can live in a polluted world healthfully. Use the program’s tools to help clean your liver so it can continue to process all that you’re constantly exposed to, while also fortifying your entire body. This will make you less susceptible and more resilient, and more in harmony in body, mind, and emotions.
Dr. Linda Lancaster is a board-certified naturopathic physician and homeopath, who has been in practice since 1981. She founded Light Harmonics Institute, an energy-medicine clinic and educational center based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and shemaintains clinics in Santa Fe and New York City. Her training includes classical homeopathy, radionics, medical radiesthesia, subtle energy healing, emotional/spiritual/grief counseling, nutrition, herbal medicine, Ayurveda, and detoxification methods. Her health and cleansing programs have been offered to her patients for more than thirty years.
This article is for informational purposes only, even if and regardless of whether it features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. The views expressed in this article are the views of the expert and do not necessarily represent the views of goop.