How to Detox your LiverJul 07, 2022
The hidden master organ
Why treating your liver is fundamental to anxiety and depression
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Trudy: Welcome to yet another great call on the anxiety summit season two. Today our topic is all about the liver, the hidden master organ, why treating your liver is fundamental to anxiety and depression. I'm your host, Trudy Scott. I'm a certified nutritionist, author of the anti-anxiety food solution and known as a food mood expert.
Today we are talking to Dr. Ameet Aggarwal all the way from Kenya in Eastern Africa. Welcome, Ameet.
Dr. Ameet: Thank you, Trudy. It's lovely speaking with you from warm sunny Kenya.
Trudy: Good, it's really great to have you here. Let me read your bio and then we'll get started and I'm going to just share a little bit about why I wanted to have you on this summit. So let's go through your bio first.
Dr. Ameet Aggarwal ND is a naturopathic doctor, psychotherapist and Gestalt therapy and family constellations systems therapist with years of experience treating stress, trauma, anxiety, depression and chronic disease. Ameet is the author of feel good, easy steps to health and happiness which teaches you why your mind and body are connected and how to release trauma and stress, nourish your body with nutrition and herbs and detoxify to achieve optimal long-term emotional well-being.
From Europe to Canada to Kenya and South Africa, Ameet has lectured around the world and brings to you his vast knowledge on integrating mind and body for emotional well-being. Born in Kenya he returned to his roots from Canada to run private practice, you can find him at drameet.com, and mobile clinics for remote Northern Kenyan underserved communities via the foundation for integrative medicine in Africa, fimafrica.org. He holds workshops for corporations on team building, communication and conflict resolution and runs emotional healing safaris in Kenya.
Wow, just I love what you do which is why I wanted to invite you on the summit. And thanks for reaching out after season one, I'm glad you did.
Dr. Ameet: Thank you, Trudy. I'd love to have you here sometime, so please make it happen, okay?
Trudy: I will. And I've got a real sweet spot for Africa obviously coming from South Africa. I was born in Zimbabwe, grew up in South Africa and actually went to Kenya and Tanzania for a honeymoon. And I just love Kenya, it's an incredible place and I know that you invite people to come to Africa and safari and have you as their personal healing guide for transformational coaching, and that just sounds wonderful. And I highly encourage anyone who's thinking about a trip to Africa - go to Kenya and connect with Ameet Aggarwal. All I can say is it's just a magical, magical place.
Dr. Ameet: Thank you, Trudy. Yeah, it's a very deep healing journey that people come on. So thank you for that.
Trudy: Tell us about some of the safaris that you've done with some people.
Dr. Ameet: Well, what we do is health retreats out here, so people come to a nice location, a nice lodge and we spend a few days combining yoga and partner sharing, a bit of psychotherapy, Bach flower therapies, homeopathy, a lot of deep emotional work happens. And at the same time you go on safari, you look at elephants, giraffes or you can go to the beach. So it's a very holistic holiday and it's very different from any other holiday.
And for students, medical students, I take them in the bush and we go and treat communities who have no medicines, we use homeopathy and naturopathic medicine. We combine that with camping with lions and waterfall jumping. So it's a whole personal growth adventure.
Dr. Ameet: It's a fun project.
Trudy: Sounds lovely. Personal growth, getting to see a beautiful place and getting to help people locally. That sounds so wonderful.
Dr. Ameet: Thank you, Trudy. Yeah, it's a blessing to do that actually.
Trudy: Well, I would love to come too. It's been a while since I've been there. And I know that you were born in the little town at the base of Mount Kenya, is that correct? That's what you told me.
Dr. Ameet: Yep, right on the equator, it's called Nanyuki.
Trudy: Magical place, I've got such good memories. Lovely. And then I wanted to just before we get into our topic you had mentioned that you just completed some kundalini training which is from what I've seen in the research very beneficial for anxiety and also for OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder.
Healing Trauma Meditation
Dr. Ameet: Yes, Trudy. Kundalini yoga is one of the best yogas I've found for emotional issues if done properly. A lot of people do yoga to keep fit and to keep mentally stable and healthy, and I find kundalini actually creates a whole transformation in your outlook in life, in the levels of anxiety that people experience. There's a real big transformation because kundalini also uses a lot of chanting and certain postures that rewire your brain to a healthier form.
Trudy: Excellent, good. Okay, let's get into our topic, the hidden master organ, why treating your liver is fundamental to anxiety and depression. So before we get started let's just talk about where the liver is located in the body and why you call it the hidden master organ and then go into natural ways to detox the liver.
Dr. Ameet: Thanks, Trudy. The liver is basically beneath your right rib, just tucked right underneath your diaphragm. And it's the master organ because in Chinese medicine we call it the master organ because it's really responsible for most of the functions in your body including blood purification, detoxification of drugs and toxins and also detoxifies the toxins that are produced by your body itself. Your liver also produces a lot of enzymes, produces bile, so it's responsible for a lot of your digestion, hormone production, protein production and it also helps with blood sugar storage and regulation. Not only that, it helps with immune cell activation and storage of vitamins and iron. You can seee so many natural ways to detox the liver.
Which hormones are produced by the liver
Trudy: I can see why it's called the master organ. And you've mentioned a few things here that I know tied directly to anxiety, iron, for example, it's a co-factor for making the neurotransmitters. And you talked about enzymes and then blood sugar, all of these things play a direct role in anxiety. And I know we're going to talk in more detail how issues with the liver can have a direct impact on some of the mood issues that we see. So let's go right into what it means to have a sluggish liver and how this can impact our mood and other areas in the body. what are the best ways to detox your liver?
Dr. Ameet: Okay, great. So your liver has a lot of enzymatic processes going on and it processes a lot of toxins. So because of stress and different factors your liver becomes sluggish because of excessive toxins. When your liver becomes sluggish there's a buildup of more toxins in your body because there's less detoxification happening. With more toxins in your body you get more inflammation going on and with more inflammation there's a larger demand for cortisol which is produced by your adrenal glands.
Now most people with anxiety do suffer with some level of adrenal fatigue. So if you have more inflammation in the body from a sluggish liver that means your adrenal glands have to work harder to produce cortisol, and so you basically burn your adrenal glands out even more. And with a cortisol imbalance that comes from adrenal fatigue you end up suppressing neurotransmitters such as GABA, serotonin, dopamine and melatonin - all related to anxiety and depression.
Trudy: Okay, and then we also find that you may need more nutrients to get through all of this.
How to Detox your liver
Dr. Ameet: Yes, because now when there's a lot of toxicity in the body there's a lot of blockage around the organs and so not enough nutrients go to your organs such as your thyroid gland, your adrenal glands and all the other organs so the amount of nutrients you need for those organs to function better goes up. So the amount of food you're eating is really not enough to have optimum nutrition. Here are some of the best ways to detox your liver.
And then also when your liver is sluggish it produces less bile and when less bile is produced you have poorer digestion. And bile lubricates your intestines and your stool, and with less bile and less lubrication you end up having more constipation. And when you have more constipation, of course, you have more toxin buildup so there's more inflammation and the cycle goes on.
The other thing that happens with less lubrication and less bile production and you have poor digestion. When your food is not digested properly it actually creates more damage in your intestines and creates what we call more leaky gut syndrome, and I think you're going to be talking about leaky gut in your summit. Basically it's when you have gaps in your intestinal lining which allows more toxins to go into your bloodstream and create more inflammation in your body.
The other thing is when you have a sluggish liver you have poor digestion so meaning less nutrients are actually absorbed in your body, which means less nutrition to create your important neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, GABA and melatonin. And therefore, you can see why a sluggish liver means poor digestion which leads to poor brain function.
Trudy: Yes, definitely. And it just seems like we've got these little cycles going on here where one feeds into the next. And we know how important inflammation is and we're seeing a big connection with inflammation and anxiety and depression and this whole issue of less bile production. Can you just tell us what bile is and how important it is for fat digestion?
Dr. Ameet: Absolutely, so bile is a substance produced by the liver and it's released into your small intestine via the gallbladder and it has a lot of bile salts which break down fats, right? So your body cannot absorb fat very easily, it needs to be broken down into little droplets, and that's what bile does. And bile also has certain salt in it and properties which activate enzymes coming from your pancreas. So the combination of bile and pancreatic enzymes is important for optimal digestion. Bile also has a lot of toxins that are being released by your liver, right? So really your liver releases toxins from your body into your feces through bile. So the release of bile is extremely important for detoxification as well as digestion and actually cholesterol control as well.
Trudy: Okay, great. So I know you have a focus on Chinese medicine and you talk about this sluggish liver and liver imbalance from a Chinese medicine point of view, can you tell us a little bit about that? Chinese medicine is not an area that I'm terribly familiar with but I believe that it's important to think about. What are other ways to detox your liver?
Dr. Ameet: Absolutely. So basically in Chinese medicine we talk about Qi and energy and blood, the movement of blood and the movement of energy. In Chinese medicine the most common pathology we see with the liver is called liver Qi stagnation, basically the stuckness of energy within the liver. And that just means that the processes are not working so well. And with liver Qi stagnation we often see hormonal imbalances, so for women you'll notice a lot of PMS symptoms, gas and bloating during menses, breast tenderness, maybe some clotting with menstruation. And generally, speaking for both men and women we will often also see some constipation or gas and bloating and irritability or impatience.
And the reason why that happens is because like your liver is the master organ and it also controls hormones, so if your liver is imbalanced you will see a progesterone deficiency and usually estrogen dominance. And as you know, Trudy, progesterone deficiency directly affects the function of GABA in your brain and so with liver Qi stagnation leading to progesterone deficiency we will see increased levels of anxiety.
Amino acids for Anxiety
Trudy: Great. And it's important that we keep this in mind because we'll often see women start to notice that they're feeling much more anxious around their periods or as they go into perimenopause or even going into menopause, and this could be related to hormonal changes which in turn could be caused by this sluggish liver, correct?
Dr. Ameet: Absolutely. So these are other ways to detox your liver as in addition to hormonal therapy or whatever treatment they're doing their doctor definitely needs to look at their liver function. And now western lab tests will not necessarily show elevated liver enzymes so most doctors will think there's nothing wrong with your liver, however, going to an alternative practitioner they can give you certain herbs which we'll talk about later to help balance your liver function so you get less PMS symptoms and less anxiety with menstrual changes.
Trudy: Great, great. Yeah, really important to think about the liver. Whenever I think of anyone with any kind of hormonal imbalance you've always got to support the liver, it's so, so important. And in this toxic world that we live in and with the stress that we have in our society it's so important to focus on the liver as you say. I'm really glad that we're talking about this because I haven't heard many people talking about it recently and I'm glad that you have a whole chapter in your great book, which is really great by the way. I love the cover of the book, I just love how colorful it is and how it's got all these positive words on the cover. What has it got? Let me have a look. It says, "Feel good, easy steps to health and happiness." Brain, it's got a big picture of the brain with words like positive and peaceful and confident. And I think it's important when you're talking about mood and overall health to talk about the liver so I'm glad we're covering this topic.
Dr. Ameet: Thanks, Trudy. It's definitely a core fundamental organ that needs to be treated for any disease especially [no audio 15:29]
Trudy: Now I want to just talk about lactate in the liver, so this is lactate in the liver, and not a lot of people talk about it but there is a direct correlation with high levels of lactate and increased anxiety. So let's talk about that a little bit.
Dr. Ameet: Great. Lactate now is basically lactic acid, it is produced when your body is producing energy with less amounts of oxygen. Now lactate is processed by your liver and converted back to glucose. So if your liver is sluggish, it's not working well, the conversion of lactate doesn't happen so well and high levels of lactate are related to a lot of diseases including anxiety, Trudy.
Trudy: Great, and there's some research supporting this, isn't there?
Dr. Ameet: Yeah, there's tons of research out there. And in 2008 there was a paper published in neuropsychopharmacology and basically they connected high lactic level to panic attacks. And it's really well explained why panic attacks ... basically when you have a panic attack you have faster heart rate, faster breathing and they saw a direct relation between these symptoms and high lactate levels. And the other thing that they showed is that when you have high lactate levels your body resets itself, meaning that so we have the sympathetic nervous system which is the fight or flight or anxiety state and you have the parasympathetic which is the resting state and your body after having high levels of lactic acid has a harder time going into parasympathetic or resting state.
And also what happens is your blood pressure regulation changes. So instead of being at a healthy level your body compensates and maintains your blood pressure at a higher level. It's almost like your body's trying to prepare you for another stressful event. Even though there's no stress anymore in your life your body stays in that state, it's called the barrel reflex resetting of arterial pressure.
Trudy: Great, so it's like there's a lion chasing you down and if you're in Kenya that could be a real situation, we always hear about the lion chasing you in Kenya. That could be the real deal.
Dr. Ameet: I think that's where they got the analogy from, someone saw it in Kenya and wrote a book.
How to detox your liver naturally
Trudy: And we've got to think about why do we get these high levels of lactate in the first place. And I first came across this connection between lactate and anxiety when I was reading Joan Matthews-Larson's book, depression-free naturally. And I write about it in my book, so I was really pleased to see that you write about it and you talk about it because it's not something that we care about often. And we'll hear some things that you need to think about quitting when you've got anxiety and you may think, "Well, why do I need to do that?" But things that can actually contribute to high levels of lactate in the blood are sugar, alcohol and caffeine, food sensitivities can raise your lactate levels, there's even some nutrients like niacin and B6 and B1, calcium and magnesium, that can actually raise lactate levels. So if you're deficient in these nutrients, and as you heard Ameet saying earlier, when you've got a sluggish liver you may not be able to use all these nutrients. So it's really important to think about some of these things that can cause the high lactate in the first place and then remove those so you're not going to have that issue with the lactate. Am I missing anything there?
Dr. Ameet: No, you're absolutely right. Because what I'm finding with caffeine, for example, long-term coffee use actually impairs liver function. Even though coffee ... the research is showing coffee is really healthy for people . Long-term coffee use impaired liver function, so diminishes the processing of lactate.
Also certain food, if you have a high sugar diet, of course, because high sugar is converted to lactate very fast and so you just have higher levels with that. Caffeine also stimulates your adrenal glands to produce adrenaline, and when you produce adrenaline your body releases more sugar and you get shallow rapid breathing, right? And so with more sugar and high stress levels the liver function is impaired and processes the sugar and ... sorry, processes the sugar and the lactate more ineffectively. And that's why you see higher anxiety levels when you're stressed and you're drinking caffeine which also stimulates adrenal function.
Trudy: Right, great. And there are some people that are more prone to the effects of lactate, high levels of lactate, and there are some people who are more affected by coffee. And I'm really glad you bring up coffee because it is such a big factor for so many people when it comes to anxiety. I have so many of my clients noticing such a big difference when they get off the coffee, and it is such a difficult thing for so many people to do, it's this drug of choice that so many people hold on to and they don't want to give up. And when they do they often say, "I can't believe how much better I feel without it, how much less anxious I feel. And that I thought I really, really needed it and I don't." But, of course, you've always got to look at the underlying reason as to why someone may need coffee in the first place - is it the adrenals? You've got to address that so they're not having to use this crutch of coffee. So I'm really glad that you support me on the coffee because there's a lot of people who are saying, "Yes, coffee has all these good benefits," but certainly for a lot of people it's not a good idea.
Dr. Ameet: We need to look at the individual, what they're suffering with, the health of their different organs, whether they can tolerate coffee, how much they're taking, how long they've been using it, all these factors are important, Trudy.
Trudy: Yeah, they really are. So we're going to come back to some other things that you can do that will help with the sluggish liver, coffee is one of them. We're going to talk about some foods and we're going to talk about some nutrients, but before we go there let's just talk about another way where we can see this connection between the liver and maybe some mood problems, and this is the thyroid because the liver and the thyroid are very, very connected. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Dr. Ameet: Yeah, there was a beautiful article written by Malik and Hodgson which really explains the connection between thyroid hormone and liver function. Basically thyroid hormones are processed by the liver. Some of the conversion of T4 into active T3 which is a thyroid hormone requires healthy liver function, right? So if your liver is sluggish you'll have lower levels of T3. And low levels of T3, of course, are related to feelings of depression, anxiety and mood disorders. And then vice versa, your thyroid hormones actually improve function of your liver cells amongst all the other cells in your body. So if you have a low thyroid function your liver function will be compromised, right? And as we know your liver produces bile and a lot of other hormones in your body. So low thyroid function means low liver function which means more constipation, more hormonal imbalances, so you'll see hormonal imbalances with a compromised thyroid function. So you can see it's a synergistic relationship. Thyroid hormones are necessary for good liver function and good liver function are important for good thyroid function.
Trudy: Right. Now I can really see how it is the master hormone, it's tied to so many different areas in the body. Wow.
Dr. Ameet: Yeah, definitely.
Trudy: And then I just wanted to mention that some of these papers and studies that Ameet is mentioning here we'll make sure that they are available on the blog for this particular topic, so this one that he's talking about is by Malik and Hodgson. And we'll make sure that there's links to these so you can go and read some of these as well. So before we go into some of the treatment recommendations, tell us what would make us suspect that we may have a sluggish liver?
Dr. Ameet: So a lot of people with anxiety or depression they either have adrenal fatigue or leaky gut syndrome and often there is a liver picture involved. What I look for is digestive symptoms first of all - gas, bloating, constipation is very common because of low bile production, and also hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids because there's veins in your rectum that go to the hepatic portal vein which is part of your liver, so if your liver is sluggish and tight this vein backs up and the blood in your veins in your rectum also backs up so you'll see hemorrhoids. So a key treatment for hemorrhoids is actually flushing your liver.
For women you'll often see breast tenderness, clotting during menses, a lot of cramping, some irritability - that's both men and women. And with compromised liver function or liver Qi stagnation you also see insomnia especially between 1:00 and 3:00 in the morning which is the Chinese medicine time for the liver. So these are all the symptoms to look for, Trudy, when assessing whether there's a liver involvement with anxiety and depression.
Trudy: Excellent. I'm glad you mentioned the 1:00AM to 3:00AM because that's a good clue that something might be going on. What about other things like stool color alternating from a lighter color to a darker color, is that something that you ... do you have your patients look at their stool to see what it looks like?
Dr. Ameet: Whenever there is irregular stool I'll often treat the liver because liver is compromised. Sometimes irregular stool is because of food sensitivities and inflammation going on in the intestines, but there is inflammation in the intestines there's usually toxicity in the body so the liver still needs to be treated as well as repairing the gut.
How to cleanse fatty liver
Trudy: Okay, great. And then someone may also not be able to tolerate high-fat foods because they're not producing enough bile which is needed for the fat digestion, would you say that that's a fair statement?
Dr. Ameet: Exactly, definitely, definitely.
Trudy: And then quickly let's just talk about gallbladder because a lot of people end up with gallstones or gallbladder attacks and then they get their gallbladder removed, and I just feel it's a very unfortunate situation because a lot of doctors will say, "You don't need your gallbladder," and unfortunately we do. And any comments on that, would you say that it would be better to hold on to your gallbladder? I'm sure you would say that.
Dr. Ameet: I definitely think that because each of your organs have meridian and each of these meridians connect to their energetic lines that connect to other organs and so they have functions not only physically but emotionally as well. And with gallstones and stuff like that you're looking at high cholesterol levels, so if you have a healthy liver and less inflammation going on in your body your cholesterol levels are often lower and therefore you produce less gallstones and keep your gallbladder healthier.
Trudy: I'm less concerned about high cholesterol, I'm more concerned about the fact that you don't have this repository to store the bile and you're removing something from the body that you actually need. So I'm more concerned about low cholesterol, but that's okay. I think we've covered how to suspect that liver maybe ... your liver may be sluggish. And I'm glad you mentioned the blood test because often it won't show up in the blood tests that there is something going on. If you did see something in the blood work, what are the markers that you would look at?
Dr. Ameet: You're looking at the transaminase enzyme, so it'll show up as ALT and AST. And other enzymes you're looking at is alkaline phosphatase and GGT as well. So these are all the markers you're looking for.
How to improve liver health
Trudy: And I actually look at look at blood work from a functional point of view, so I look at much narrower ranges. So keep in mind if you're getting blood work from your doctor the range that you're seeing is really, really wide because it's the average population that isn't terribly healthy. And we want to be looking at much narrower ranges. So sometimes we'll see, for example, the ALT or the AST a little bit elevated but it's not outside the lab range and that could be a clue that maybe you need some liver support.
Dr. Ameet: Definitely, definitely.
Trudy: So Ameet, let's talk about some of your treatment recommendations. Let's first talk about some things we want to eliminate, and we've talked about coffee so we're good with that one, but what about ... and obviously with the elimination it would be the sugar as well, the alcohol which is going to increase the lactate as well. Anything else that we might want to remove?
Dr. Ameet: Basically coffee, sugar and toxic foods, processed foods, all those things that add toxicity to your liver need to be removed, right? And the other reason why we remove coffee during anxiety, Trudy, is because coffee stimulates your adrenal glands without nourishing them. And a lot of people with anxiety have adrenal fatigue or the adrenal glands are not properly balanced so we don't want to stimulate them during anxiety, right? We want to remove stimulants so that they can rest and recuperate.
Trudy: Okay, really good, really good. What do we want to do when it comes to diet in terms of supporting the liver? There's just so much that we can do in terms of adding some lovely foods that are going to actually help support the liver.
Dr. Ameet: Beautiful question, Trudy, because that is the fundamental treatment for your body is through diet. And so eating lots of bitter greens and bitter foods, they stimulate bile productions, so you're releasing toxins and stimulating your liver really to squeeze itself clean. And then remember the liver processes a lot of toxins so it's prone to oxidative damage, so you need a lot of antioxidants - your berries and your beetroot and those sort of foods that protect your liver cells and help them repair from oxidative damage. And the third thing you need is a lot of fiber because when you're detoxifying you need fiber to bind to the toxins in your intestines and pull the toxins out through your feces. So have lots of green foods which are very leafy to provide a lot of fiber and a lot of mixed berries.
Trudy: Great. And obviously, these foods that we're eating should ideally be organic or not sprayed with pesticides because otherwise you're adding in additional toxins into the body that the liver is going to try and deal with.
Dr. Ameet: Exactly, exactly. So if you're juicing and trying to heal your liver, whether it's anxiety or cancer, do organic food because you need to get rid of the toxins.
Trudy: Right, good. Now something else that you talk about which is very interesting and it's not something that I'm terribly familiar with is deep diaphragmatic breathing. Tell us why this is important and then let's just talk about how you would do this.
Vagus Nerve stimulation
Dr. Ameet: I came across this concept that I found very interesting actually, somebody told me about this. Basically your liver is below your diaphragm, right? And when you're stressed you're breathing very shallow. And shallow breathing means you're only using the upper part of your lungs and that's why people get tight neck muscles when they're stressed because they're just using those muscles at the top here to help the upper part of their lungs breathe. That means you're not taking full deep breaths so your diaphragm is not going down enough.
And the thing is, Trudy, when you breathe deeply, when your diaphragm goes down it actually massages your liver so it helps in the detoxification process. That's why now we see people who are stressed their liver becomes sluggish because they're not flushing it out. And it's well known in Chinese medicine they always say that stress goes to the liver, and this is why. So really to help your liver detoxify deep breathing is very important. And that means basically breathing deeply like then you're ... basically it's called belly breathing. So breathing deep so your belly expands first and then bring the air all the way up to your lungs. That means you're really pushing the diaphragm down which massages the liver really well. And do this ... do 10 deep breaths three times a day and you'll really help your liver out.
Trudy: I love it. And I love that you talk about massaging the liver, what a beautiful concept?
Dr. Ameet: Yeah, we don't get enough massage in this world nowadays. I think we need to go back to grooming each other.
Trudy: Exactly. So 10 deep breaths you say three times a day.
Dr. Ameet: That would be wonderful.
Trudy: All right, excellent. So just talk a little bit more how you would do this. So you would breathe in from low down and then hold your breath or what do you want to ... how do you want to do this?
Dr. Ameet: You don't want to hold your breath for too long, no. It's just sit in a relaxed position, make sure you're comfortable. And if you're running around doing office work just find a quiet place to sit for a bit. And take a deep breath, focus on your breathing first, just focus your breathing and then take a deep breath and let your belly expand first and let the air fill up slowly up to your chest and then breathe out slowly, releasing from the chest first, then lower down until your belly becomes empty.
So really slow your breathing down. And then the next deep breath you expand your belly first let the breath go up and fill your chest. And again, and you can do this while you're listening to this seminar. And then release the breath slowly, releasing it, emptying your chest, and finally down to your belly. And do 10 of these three times a day.
Trudy: Excellent. I love it. And it's so interesting because as you're talking about it ... before you walked us through it I immediately started thinking how I was breathing. And you will, once you've heard this you'll start thinking about how you're breathing and realize how quick your breathing is, how you're not doing that deep breathing. So that was a great exercise. Thank you for sharing that.
Dr. Ameet: A pleasure, Trudy. A pleasure.
Trudy: It's really important. Okay, so now the other topic, again, something that I don't use in my practice but I know about as being beneficial, is homeopathy. And I know you talk about this as well as being beneficial for the liver so let's just talk a little a bit about how homeopathy can help with a sluggish liver.
Dr. Ameet: So homeopathy is really the magic of life for me because it's very dilute substances made out of nature and they're diluted so many times so much that there's no toxic substance left in the final remedy. And it actually works by stimulating the energetic forces in your body. And what I find is homeopathy really helps to treat the root cause of disease without suppressing any symptoms. And there's certain remedies that are really good for liver function, and I'll mention them here just so that the listeners can have a repertory of remedies available, the first one is nox vomica, it's excellent for when a person has stress, constipation and irritability. Lycopodium is also a great homeopathic remedy and usually people with a lot of gas and bloating will do well with lycopodium. Other remedies include cellodonium phosphorus and China, these are all great liver detoxifiers. And I definitely recommend seeing a homeopathic doctor or naturopath who specializes in homeopathy to find out what's the most indicated homeopathic remedy goes really well with the herbs and other treatments.
Trudy: Okay, great. And I'm glad you mentioned finding someone to work with because with the homeopathy it's not just a matter of use this, it's there's a lot of symptoms that are very specific to the formulation. That's correct, isn't it?
Dr. Ameet: Absolutely, you definitely need to find ... you need to look at your unique symptoms including your dreams, your food cravings and all that to determine the best homeopathic remedy for you. And that way you'll also get the best results, right?
Trudy: Right. So can you just mention those again just in case they're new to some people?
Dr. Ameet: Yep, nux vomica, lycopodium, cellodonium phosphorus and China. Those are the big liver movers.
Trudy: Okay, great. And do you find that homeopathy is something that you use with most of your patients or is it on a case-by-case ... obviously, it's on a case-by-case basis but I'm just wondering if this is a big part of your repertoire.
Dr. Ameet: Is probably used with every single patient that comes into my office unless it's like back pain or something then I'll use bone therapy. But homeopathy treats the root cause of disease, it also releases emotional experiences from the past so you can actually release trauma using homeopathic medicines.
Trudy: Very interesting.
Dr. Ameet: So it's really the key treatment that I use in a lot of my practice. And then I do a lot of charity mobile clinic, that's in the north, and there the only thing I use is homeopathic medicine.
Trudy: Fantastic, this is when you're doing the work with the underserved communities?
Dr. Ameet: Yeah, homeopathy works really well for these communities, they love it.
Trudy: Fantastic, that's wonderful. So now we're going to talk about some of the nutrients that I'm more familiar with that I use in my practice and a lot of nutritionists will obviously use and other holistic and integrative practitioners would use as well. And this is some antioxidants. You talked about how we've got this need for antioxidants when we've got the sluggish liver, so let's just talk about a few that may be beneficial and then we'll talk about some of the herbs that are very beneficial.
Detox liver foods
Dr. Ameet: So the two things you need to do with the liver - you need to protect the cells because there's a lot of toxins causing oxidative damage, so you need antioxidants and those are things like n-acetylcysteine, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, glutathione, alpha lipoic acid and coenzyme q10. These are all typical supplements. I wouldn't take all of them at the same time, so see a professional like a naturopath or somebody else to prescribe the best combination for you. And of course, the herbs are fantastic because they have a synergistic effect on the whole body.
Milk thistle is one of the most common herbs used for improving liver function. Now milk thistle protects your liver cells from oxidative damage and it also helps them regenerate. So if there's a lot of ... like they've done studies, a lot of studies where they've actually damaged liver cells and they give people milk thistle and the cells recover really well.
Trudy: Fantastic. Isn't it amazing how the liver can regenerate? So a lot of people think, "I've damaged my liver," but you give it the right nutrients and these herbs and it can actually totally recover.
Dr. Ameet: Yeah, nature is really wonderful to us. We have to be really grateful for nature. And the other herds that we use ... the other approach you want to use, so the other herb to protect liver cells is turmeric. In ayurvedic medicine it's well known that turmeric helps protect liver cells and it also has an antioxidant effect, antifungal, antimicrobial. So turmeric is another beautiful herb that you can add to your cooking.
Liver support supplements
The other thing I want to talk about, Trudy, is in addition to protecting your liver cells with antioxidants one must also stimulate liver function, the bile flow, to help flush out toxins. And that's where I use dandelion also known as terraxicum. This is a great herb, it's a bitter herb, that will help stimulate more bile flow and so it helps release a lot of toxins from your liver. So these are the three herbs that I often use to help move your liver. And there's other formulations that supplement companies are creating that have additional herbs in them and they all work really well to improve liver function.
Trudy: Fantastic. And so because of your accent I'm just going to say turmeric which you may think you've seen some research talking about curcumin and there's so much research on this. One of the, and I'll share some of the studies, and one of them that I really liked was titled pharmacological actions of curcumin and liver diseases or damage, and it's such, as well as being so beneficial for the liver, it's anti-inflammatory, it's an antioxidant and has anti-cancer activities. There's a ton of research being done on this as being beneficial for cancer. And interestingly enough, one of the main researchers on curcumin is also Dr. Aggarwal from a hospital in Texas.
Dr. Ameet: Yeah, I've heard of him. I've definitely heard of him, in fact, my family knows him I think.
Trudy: Oh, really? Interesting.
Dr. Ameet: It's funny, yeah.
Trudy: Very interesting, yes. And of course, we've seen so much research on curcumin for depression itself and anxiety itself. So it's interesting how these beautiful nutrients from nature can have so many mechanisms helping the liver, reducing inflammation and helping protect you against cancer, helping your mood. It's just lovely.
Dr. Ameet: Yeah, Trudy, we really got to go back to traditional ways of eating. There's so much knowledge and wisdom in old practices.
Trudy: Certainly is. And then I like that you mentioned rooibos tea because coming from South Africa I'm a big fan of rooibos tea, it's a herbal tea that's naturally free of caffeine and we actually talked about it on season one of the anxiety summit, I interviewed Dr. Amanda Swart, a South African researcher, who's doing a lot of research on rooibos tea and showing how beneficial it is for helping to reduce stress, a big connection with modulation of cortisol levels, that it can help lower your cortisol if it's too high or help balance your cortisol if it's too low. So very interesting to see that there's actually some research showing that it's very protective of the liver as well.
Dr. Ameet: Yeah, definitely. So rooibos tea in addition to helping cortisol levels actually what we call ... it has what we call a hepatoprotective effect which means basically it's protecting liver cells.
Trudy: Very, very interesting. And we've got some research on that that we'll share as well so you can dig a little bit deeper. But all of these amazing things that are so beneficial for so many areas and, of course, rooibos tea is a great option if you're wanting a hot beverage and you're giving up the caffeine, because remember we need to talk about giving up the caffeine and the coffee and you could switch to rooibos tea which is just wonderful.
I've always liked my rooibos tea pretty mild and Amanda Swart said you need to leave the tea bag in for at least five minutes or if you've got the tea leaves you need to brew it for at least five minutes. That seems to be beneficial. And then three to five cups a day is very beneficial. So I love it, I've grew up on it and I've always enjoyed it. Is it readily available in Kenya?
Dr. Ameet: It is, a lot of the stores carry it. And funny thing you mentioned about the five minutes brewing, I was in a restaurant in South Africa when I was giving a talk on anxiety and depression there and literally in the restaurant they bring the rooibos tea with a timer, with a fast timer that says this is the perfect time to brew your rooibos tea.
Trudy: Fantastic. What did they say the perfect time was?
Dr. Ameet: I think it was eight minutes actually.
Trudy: Okay, good.
Dr. Ameet: It was eight minutes, yeah. So it was very interesting.
Trudy: Very interesting. My aunt grew up or lived in Cape Town and she married an Afrikaans man and they used that the rooibos leaf tea and they would brew their rooibos on the stove for probably an hour, so it was really, really strong. And I couldn't handle it that strong. But five minutes to ten minutes I think is good.
Dr. Ameet: I'll try that next time, one hour.
Trudy: Okay. So Ameet, let's talk about something else that we don't often hear a lot about and I think it's a good thing that we could add to our repertoire when it comes to the liver, and that is using a castor oil pack.
What supplements are good for the liver
Dr. Ameet: Yes, Trudy, you do not drink the castor oil, that's very important for listeners to realize. Castor oil packs are basically applying castor oil over your liver area which is basically over your right ribcage. And how it works is you apply the castor oil then you put a very thin white flannel cloth or a gauze and on top of that you put a hot water bottle or a heating pad, and the heat dries the castor oil below the skin and into the lymphatics around the liver. And so your lymphatics carry a lot of toxins and castor oil helps the lymphatics flush out these toxins. And when the lymphatics around the liver have less toxins that means the cell in the liver can function better and therefore they detoxify better, they work on the hormones much better.
So I find that if somebody cannot take herbs either because of the medications they're on I'll often recommend castor oil packs. And castor oil packs are excellent also for fibroids and endometriosis.
The key thing to remember, Trudy, is do not do castor oil packs if you're pregnant or if you're menstruating and also seek professional advice if you have cancer or metastasis to the liver.
Trudy: Great. So if someone was going to do this, how often would they do it?
Dr. Ameet: I recommend every day for about three months depending on their condition. For women if their menses are regular it's three weeks on and then one week off during menses or adjusted accordingly depending on how your menstrual cycle is.
Trudy: So this would be part of if you're thinking I want to look after my liver and do kind of a liver detox you would do this for the three months and then repeat it once a year or twice a year.
Dr. Ameet: Yeah, once or twice a year depending on your lifestyle as well. Of course, if you're drinking lots of alcohol then you need to do it more often. But I would say, yeah, generally twice a year is enough. It has a very soothing effect, it helps with sleep issues as well. I often find people sleep improving when they're doing castor oil packs.
Trudy: Very interesting. And then just repeat again how long you would leave this on. I don't know if you said that or if I missed it.
Dr. Ameet: I didn't. You leave it on for about an hour. so what I recommend the patients to do is just when they're going to bed put the castor oil pack on and then as they're falling asleep it'll just fall off naturally after an hour. And the next day they'll just do another one.
Trudy: Okay, great. And what else was I going to ask about that? I think I was going to ask what time of the day, and you said when you go to bed. The other question I was going to ask - would you notice any kind of reaction to it? Like if you're very toxic might you feel worse initially and then you would want to slow down and do it for less duration or not every day or is it gentle enough that you're not going to notice anything like that?
Liver health supplements
Dr. Ameet: If you do notice a strong effects it's better to use less castor oil. And also remember to drink a lot of water, because what happens is you will notice looser stools because the castor oil is also softening your stools so you might think that you're getting diarrhea and things like that. So increase your water intake to help flush out the toxins. And if your stools are very loose or you're getting headaches or anything like that then just do it either for less time, maybe half an hour. And also, Trudy, very important, also if you're breastfeeding do not do castor oil packs or seek medical advice because when you release toxins some of those toxins go into your breast milk and you don't want your baby to be drinking that.
Trudy: Right, okay, good point. And then anything to be aware of when it comes to buying the castor oil? Is there anything that we need to look for in terms of good quality castor oil?
Dr. Ameet: [Unclear 50:16] and from a reputable health food store. So definitely check your sources, go to a reputable source.
Trudy: And is there organic castor oil or anything that we need to think about in terms of that?
Dr. Ameet: Well, everyone prefers organic, it's not always available, so I will use non-organic sometimes.
Trudy: Okay, great. And then just repeat again how much castor oil you would put on the area?
Dr. Ameet: The key thing is the white cloth that you put over your rib cage should be moist but not dripping. So it will probably be about five tablespoons.
Trudy: Okay, great. A few other things that I think are pretty useful when it comes to detoxing is doing a sauna session, what do you think about that?
Dr. Ameet: Saunas are great, Trudy, because they stimulate blood flow and also they open up the pores in the body so you sweat a lot. And your skin is one of the largest ... it is the largest detoxifying organ on the body, so if you can enhance detoxification by improving the skin's detox mechanisms you give a break to your liver and your kidneys and then everything just ends up working much better.
Trudy: Great. And then what about lymphatic drainage or lymphatic stimulation like using a little mini trampoline to promote lymphatic flow?
What herbs are good for the liver
Dr. Ameet: Trampoline and also dry skin brushing, Trudy, are great ways of moving lymphatics, the lymphatic flow around your body. See, the lymph carries a lot of toxins away from the interstitial space between your cells and sometimes if the lymph is not moving enough the waste stays around your cells. By using a trampoline or dry skin brushing you end up moving your lymph throughout your body and helping it drain to the veins basically where it flushes all what it's been carrying. And by doing that the lymph pulls the toxins from around your cells and now your cells can communicate with each other much better, the enzymes between the cells communicate better, they work better. So that means cells in important organs for anxiety and depression or emotional well-being such as your liver, your adrenal glands and your thyroid end up working much better and your tendency then, of course, to anxiety and depression significantly reduces just because you're moving your lymphatic system.
Trudy: Wonderful. And then one other final thing that I have found to be useful is an amino acid called taurine which is very calming and then also happens to provide liver and gallbladder support which I think is pretty cool.
Dr. Ameet: Definitely you can add whatever is suitable for the patient's individual picture. It's a fantastic idea.
Trudy: Okay, great. And just talking about all the liver and all this detoxification, we're exposed to so much environmental toxins; we've got mercury in the environment. I actually have interviewed a few people and we've talked about mercury and then some of these environmental toxins so having this additional support by the liver is just so important.
Dr. Ameet: Absolutely, Trudy, that's well done there. Like, people forget how important the liver is. And we need to remind everyone that when you're treating any chronic health issue, whether it's emotional or physical, always address the liver - always.
Trudy: Right, good, which is why we wanted to do this interview because it's so important and it's not often talked about as you say.
Dr. Ameet: It is, Trudy. It is.
Trudy: Okay, so now just taking a slight little detour from our topic because I think this is pretty interesting is a section in your book, you've got a whole chapter on it, and it's on improved sexual pleasure and performance and you write about this connection between prolactin and orgasm and I just thought it would be interesting to talk about because it's not something that you hear about much and I just thought it would be interesting to bring up. Can you just comment on that?
Dr. Ameet: Absolutely, yeah. Well, prolactin is released when men and women orgasm and for some reason it seems to affect men more because you'll find that men get more sleepy after sex. So actually having an orgasm actually improves your sleep, Trudy, it's very relaxing and it's due to this hormone called prolactin.
Trudy: Wonderful. So if you need a little bit of help with sleeping or a little bit of relaxation you can get a little bit of a prolactin boost like this.
Dr. Ameet: In moderation I'm sure.
Trudy: Yes, okay, great. Well, thanks for sharing that, that's a interesting addition to the calming effects of everything else that we've been talking about.
Dr. Ameet: Absolutely. And also sex improves your testosterone levels and testosterone is also known to help fight depression by the way.
Trudy: Excellent. And then also with all that hugging hopefully we're getting a bit of an oxytocin boost as well.
Dr. Ameet: Exactly, it's such a calming effect. And even emotionally energetically all the hugging, caressing, cuddling just calms your whole heart and neurological system down.
Trudy: Wonderful, great. Then let's end with an area that I know is of great interest to you and because you do this Gestalt therapy and you're psychotherapist as well and a naturopathic physician, tell us a little bit about this area of your work.
Dr. Ameet: This is I think my favorite part of healing and naturopathic medicine is what I call transformational coaching and awareness. I combine intuition with Gestalt psychotherapy and family constellations. Basically, Trudy, we all go through emotional experiences and these emotional experiences alter our perception of life and they affect us quite deeply. These emotions that we manifest or experience are stored in our limbic brain, the primal part of our brain, and even though the event is over these emotions still exist so we carry these feelings in us as if the incident will happen again or we're still kind of living that incident. And what that does is it actually causes our brain to create new nervous connections, neural connections we call it, using what we call neuroplasticity.
So a change in brain connection actually alters the entire physiology of your body, right? Because your brain sends signals to different organs. And that's why emotional experiences can actually cause a change in the physical reaction in your body. And so chronic disease can sometimes be healed, depending on the cause, can sometimes be healed by releasing that traumatic experience either using counseling, psychotherapy, homeopathy and emotional freedom technique. And that's why I really love it is because we're treating the root cause, Trudy, and that's really important, that's where people want to get to, right? Instead of relying on medications all the time they want to release these experiences that can actually set them free from hindering their full healthy physiology.
Trudy: Wonderful. So you've got the combination of addressing nutritional deficiencies, supporting the liver, healing the adrenals and then using this therapy technique to help release the trauma.
Dr. Ameet: You have to combine all approaches, right? Because as you're supporting the body using the nutrition and detoxification the brain is still signaling the body that there's something wrong based on old emotions. And so by treating the emotions with counseling, really releasing them and coming to terms with reality, the new reality in the present moment, the body suddenly relaxes and lets go of all trauma. And by doing that physically your body readjusts itself, all your organs calm down and they produce the right hormones in the right amounts and stress leaves your body so your organs just become healthier, blood flow improves. And it's a synergistic effect - so your body affects your mind and your mind also affects your body.
Trudy: Wonderful, really great. And I'm sure the fact that you are supporting the physical body with all these other modalities would make the therapy aspects much more effective.
Dr. Ameet: That's exactly what I write in my book, because if your body is unhealthy, your cortisol levels are imbalanced then your brain has a harder time creating new nervous connections even after emotional releases. However, if there's normal levels of cortisol and other hormones and your body is clean then when you do an emotional release the way your brain makes new nervous connections is much easier. So emotional healing and counseling you get better results when your body is healthier and that is why.
Trudy: What a great combination?
Dr. Ameet: Yeah, it's fun, it's fun, I love doing it.
Trudy: So which came first, did you become a naturopathic doctor and then learn about the emotional connection or did you start off with the psychotherapy and then become a naturopath?
Dr. Ameet: Well, in naturopathic medicine there's a lot of emphasis on the emotional connection to disease and physical health. And so that was ingrained in us, however, I did study Gestalt psychotherapy in Toronto at the same time as doing naturopathic college. So I combined the two at the same time and then they just blended really well, it just made sense; because psychotherapy and certain counseling techniques help the body release a stored emotion rather than analyze. And that's what you've got to look for - you've got to look for techniques that actually release stress and old emotional memories.
Trudy: Great. And now there's two terms that are in your bio that I'd love you to just clarify, one is organic psychotherapy, what is that please?
Dr. Ameet: When I say organic it means just the ability to transform and release rather than become an analysis.
Trudy: Okay, got it, so what you're just talking about.
Dr. Ameet: Exactly, exactly.
Trudy: And then what are family constellations?
Dr. Ameet: Family constellation is a system of therapy where you look at the influence of past generations on your condition now. So you were born into a system, a family system, and that system carries ... basically it is affected by the behaviors of your grandparents and their great-grandparents because the behaviors of your great-grandparents affected how your grandparents behaved and your parents behaved, right? And all these behaviors influence the entire system.
Effects of trauma on the brain and body
Now if there was a trauma that your grandfather experienced, for example, he will react emotionally and your grandmother will respond and the children born into that family, of course, then are responding to that initial emotional response to the trauma. And then next you're born into the system and, of course, you're feeling the behaviors of your parents which were affected by your grandparents' behavior. So can you see the interconnection down the line of generations?
Trudy: Yes, very interesting.
Dr. Ameet: And sometimes these behaviors actually alter your physiology. And there's ways to heal the impact of older generations on your present life and we use family constellations or systems therapy for that.
Trudy: Okay, great. So it's a very comprehensive approach, it's looking at so many different elements - physical, mental, family, history, everything - really, really interesting.
Dr. Ameet: Yeah, extremely important, Trudy. In fact, I wrote a whole chapter on that which I'm offering to the listeners on the website that they'll visit.
Trudy: Okay, great, so you've got a gift that we'll make available to everyone and we'll share the link to that on the replay page and in the blog that's going to go with this interview. So this is going to be a chapter from your book and it's called emotional experiences have a direct impact on your body, is that correct?
Dr. Ameet: Yeah. It gives details on how emotions are stored in your brain, how it alters your brain chemistry, the effect on your adrenal glands and different organs. And it lists a bunch of techniques we can use to release it. And then the whole first part of the book is actually full of techniques that you can use in order to release old emotional memories.
Trudy: Fantastic. Well, thanks for offering that. That's wonderful. We appreciate it.
Dr. Ameet: A pleasure, a pleasure, Trudy. Thank you.
Trudy: Well, this has been absolutely fantastic, very important topic obviously. I appreciate you sharing this with us. I'd love to just end with a little bit of something from you about the work that you're doing in Kenya. I know I've got a really soft spot for it, I came to Kenya when we actually ... just for our honeymoon. My husband and I came, it was just before we got married and we came there and had an amazing time. The country is absolutely fantastic. I love it. We went and saw some ... we went to some beautiful places and saw flamingos and we saw beautiful game and we met some of the amazing local people and climbed to the top of Mount Kenya. We actually spent two weeks on Mount Kenya.
Dr. Ameet: Oh, my God.
Trudy: We climbed to the top and then doing the hike around the mountain. It was absolutely beautiful. So it's really been special interviewing someone who's living there right now. So tell us a little bit about ... well, just Mount Kenya and then some of the work that you're doing.
Dr. Ameet: I actually live at the bottom of Mount Kenya right on the equator, a little town called Nanyuki. And my dream was to come back to Kenya after Canada to start mobile clinics for remote communities and supervise students and doctors from around the world which I started through a program called FIM Africa, foundation for integrated medicine in Africa. And basically we go to remote villages that don't have medical services and treat them for chronic diseases or acute diseases using naturopathic medicine, mainly homeopathic medicine, which works really well.
Because a lot of these communities suffer from just a lot of chronic disease but all they're given is antibiotics or anti-malarials which don't necessarily treat the root cause of the issue. So they love homeopathy because a lot of chronic disease is disappearing and they really notice the difference between the two types of medicine.
So it's my passion and I hope to continue doing it for the rest of my life. And my aim is hopefully one day to sell a million copies of my book and just do mobile clinics all day.
Trudy: Wonderful. What a great thing that you're doing? And the fact that people can come there as part of this tour that we mentioned earlier and then be part of going to some of these communities.
Dr. Ameet: It's an immersion experience that's what I would call it. It's really touching.
Trudy: Well, it's a wonderful. And when I read that about you and learned that about you it just made me want to interview you even more. I think it's wonderful what you're doing and we appreciate the fact that you are doing it and I'm sure the locals do too. It's really, really wonderful, so thank you for doing that.
Dr. Ameet: Thank you, Trudy. Thank you.
Trudy: Any final words of wisdom.
Dr. Ameet: Final words is a request. If you know any organizations that you want to support with employee wellness, give them a copy of the book for their employees because that will support the mobile clinics in the future. And I really appreciate that. And my second thoughts are always heal the mind, look at your childhood, look at your teenage years, always release those emotions because you never know whether they're affecting you right now. Even though you don't think they are, they do carry some weight and you will feel the difference. And you could actually save yourself from a lot of diseases as well as emotional pain by just doing the work, just doing the work.
Love yourself, you'll get there.
Heal here now www.drameet.com/
Trudy: Great. Well, thanks very much, Ameet. It's been an absolute pleasure having you on the anxiety summit. And I look forward to sharing your work and your book and your gift with everyone who's listening in on the summit. Thanks so much for spending time with us.
And everyone listening in on another great interview on the anxiety summit, thanks for joining us. And be sure to check in and listen to some of our other great interviews.
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