The Liver is an amazing vital organ. It has an incredible ability to regenerate it’s cells, and performs approximately 500 functions in the human body. In short, we can’t live without our liver (hence it’s name)!
Some of the important functions of the liver include:
– storing our venous blood
– regulating blood sugar by storing glycogen and releasing glucose
– stores vitamins A, D, and B12
– produces bile
– deactivates toxins in the blood
– converts ammonia to urea
– produces fat for storage
– forms blood coagulants
– synthesizes amino acids and cholesterol
– much, much more
In short, taking care of our liver is paramount to good health. From an ayurvedic perspective, a subdosha of pitta, ranjaka pitta, resides in the liver. When we don’t take care of our liver, we can create many problems in the body, such as:
– abdominal swelling
– hyperglycemia after eating
– abnormal bleeding
– pain in upper right quadrant
– enlargement upon palpation and percussion
– red nose, cheeks, palms
So how do we take care of our liver?
My answer may be so simple that it surprises you:
Don’t eat meals after 9 pm, and get to bed by 9 pm.
Yeah, that’s right. You see, there is a vata, pitta, and kapha time of day for everything:
6 – 10: Kapha time. When we are most stable and solid. Best for preparation of your dharma (purpose for the day) and getting ready for what the day will bring. Since kapha is at work here, we often are slower, just waking up or getting sleepy. This is the best time of day for light exercise and yoga asanas, mental warmups, memorization, etc.
10 – 2: Pitta time. When we are working hardest. Best for productivity, the performance of your dharma. This is when work is at it’s peak not only mentally but physically as well. Eating your largest meal at noon is paramount because that is when all organs of the body are at their most productive. Digestion especially is easiest for us here and will reduce the chances of creating ama in the body. Our liver is doing it’s best work at this time.
2 – 6: Vata time. When we are at our lightest. Best for reflection, being creative, and decompressing. Meditation practices, bigger picture ideas, those sorts of things work best at this time.
This timetable is for both am and pm. You may notice that if you are not asleep by 10 pm, your mind is racing. Solving problems, suddenly unable to go to rest. That is because the pitta time has taken over. Or even when dreaming I often notice my craziest dreams are during the vata time. Even if I wake up and return to sleep, if it’s between 2-6 I have crazy dreams about dinosaurs flying through outer space pooping rainbows. For example.
Following this timetable, if we eat too late in the evening, all our vital organs have to kick into work. They should be resting, after all they have evolved to work best in accordance with the flow of the sun. But when we put food into our bodies at 9pm, then try to sleep at 11, our liver (amongst other organs) has to work overtime. It never gets a chance to regenerate or rest because we are making it work nonstop with no breaks. Midnight snacks are a nightmare for our liver. Staying up late watching netflix is a nightmare for our liver. But if we take care of our liver, it will take care of us. Remember, it has so many jobs to do! Let’s respect it and give it the time it needs!
Some of you may be feeling like we are humans and surely we can change this cycle. If I work nightshifts, eventually my body can adjust to a different schedule right? We are adaptable, amazing humans!
To that I say this:
We are not separate from nature. We are a part of nature.
I know where the mentality of “I’m invincible and I can create my own timetable” comes from. We have egos, and they don’t want to change. Couple that with the fact that society is not setup to follow this sort of schedule, and it makes it very tough to follow the natural flow of things. In India, people take lunch breaks and sit down with their family and have huge meals. They eat light at night and go to bed at 8 or 9. They wake up when the sunrises. It’s just part of the culture. That may never really be a possibility with how entrenched our society is with it’s 9-5 workday, but we still can try and plug into this timetable as much as possible. Try and find ways in your life where you can reorganize duties to see if they fit more into the doshic times of day, and take note of the effect. Is it easier? You may actually save some trouble in the long run!
Maybe the day will come thousands of years from now where humans have evolved to not need to follow the cycles of the sun. But that day is not today. So take heed of those times of day, and if you can follow one rule let it be to give your liver a rest. Don’t make it work for you after 9 pm (that will buy you an hour to fall asleep).