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This is part of a series on the Digestive System. Please see our other articles in the Vital Organ Series here. 

Hello All! Thank You for Tuning in Again.

As you know, I am keen on visceral massage. I love teaching people about their abdominal cavity, where each organ is located and what its respective function is.

Throughout my practice, I have found that easy gentle manipulation of the abdominal area can create comfort and familiarity as well as reduce pain. You can’t beat that! Last time we discussed the stomach, the largest organ in the upper left quadrant of the abdominal cavity. I hope you have had a chance to view the stomach manual manipulation video and to affect some changes. You are your own best healer.

Today, It Is All About the Liver

So, let’s talk LIVER…an organ found exclusively in vertebrates (those that have brains inside sculls and spinal columns). This wedge-shaped organ sits in the upper right quadrant of your abdominal cavity. For our purposes, the liver has two functional lobes. They are different in size and shape. The liver is the largest organ and the largest gland in the human body and lies just to the right of the stomach and cradles the gallbladder. This huge organ has the greatest potential for regeneration i.e.: regrowth, which I find intriguing!

digestive system diagram

Imagine what we can do with intention, a solid Low FODMAP diet and specific manual manipulation of this amazing organ! Think about this beautiful vital organ. Its’ weight varies but generally is between 2.6 and 3.3 pounds. The liver is a needed accessory gland which produces bile. What is bile? It is an alkaline liquid that aids in the breakdown of fats. Our liver secretes bile continuously and our gallbladder stores it. After we eat, the bile stored in the gallbladder is released into the duodenum, which is the small intestine.

Assisting the Liver with Massage

We can assist the liver in its function by gently and specifically manipulating it with gentle massage. The liver produces substances that break down fats. It is a converter of glucose to glycogen. It produces urea from protein digestion waste (via urine). It filters harmful substances from the blood (such as drugs and alcohol). It makes amino acids which are the building blocks of proteins. It is a storage unit for vitamins and minerals (such as A,D,K and B12). The liver produces approximately 80% of the cholesterol in the body.

The liver can create pain locally or it can refer pain to the shoulder and/or the mid-thoracic spine (the mid back) and the low back.

Simple Self Massage Technique
Let’s begin to get familiar with palpating the liver. Please see accompanying video below for guidance.

1. Lie down comfortably with feet on the bed or floor and your knees up.
2. Take your left hand and bring it across the body to the right ribcage.
3. Gently feel the ribs noting where they stop and the abdominal softness begins.
4. Take some time to breathe and visualize the large organ under the ribs on the right side of the body.
5. Begin to feel around with your fingers, just slightly and gently curling them under the ribs.
6. Moving your hand and fingers in a counterclockwise position, gently massage the liver area. The hand and fingers can move from the center of the abdominal area, just under the sternum, all the way to the right near the waistline.
7. Continue to palpate and massage, taking time to breathe and note any movement or noise, creaks or groans coming from the viscera. Those sounds are fine and it means the energy is moving through, as it should.

As with any self-care technique do not do anything that will hurt yourself. Listen to your body’s messages- if something is too painful refrain from this activity and seek professional medical care or advice. 

Below is a simple video that one can follow to palpate the liver successfully and alleviate pain in that region and any referral region.

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