At first glance, the eyes and liver have about as much in common as milk and champagne. And, if you imbibe too much of the latter during the holiday season, you may be excused for thinking that bubbly’s only link to eyesight is to induce drunken double vision.
But according to Dr. Marc Grossman, O.D., L.Ac (author, lecturer, and consultant to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point), in traditional Chinese medicine – a discipline that goes back more than two millennia – all diseases involving the eye are closely related to the liver. Specifically, he says the cornea and the iris are most connected to the liver.
Blurry vision, myopia, floaters in the eyes, dry eyes, and color blindness are all connected to some extent to liver blood deficiencies. This deficiency can occur due to scarring of the liver or anemia. Both of these problems prevent the flow of blood through the liver. We need a healthy flow of blood from the organ – complications in the eyes are linked to liver heat. This is usually associated with an inflammation in the liver. One of the most common causes of liver heat is alcoholism.
Your eyeball turning upwards or moving involuntarily may have to do with internal liver wind. This normally occurs when there is extreme heat in the liver. This can be caused by high blood pressure or emotional stress.
Strange as it may seem, your liver and your eyes really are linked in many ways.
The head bone’s connected to the neck bone.
Echoing the core principle of holistic medicine, Dr. Grossman declares, “The body does not work as a series of parts in isolation, but as a dynamically integrated living system. Every cell in the body has receptors for neurotransmitters, so in a real sense every cell is a nerve cell… This biological awareness of every cell is really the foundation of vision.”
The webzine Natural News further explains: “A healthy liver is soft and open. This softness permits the free flow of blood and energy throughout the body directly to the eyes. A healthy liver keeps the blood clean and pure and thus directly improves eyesight.”
Thus, when we rejuvenate the liver, we directly promote healthy vision. And the good news is, it’s actually quite easy – though maintaining a healthy liver is about more than just laying off the champers.
Natural News calls diet the “foundation of all rejuvenation regimes” and notes that beta carotene – found in carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, dark green leafy vegetables, cantaloupe, squash, and cabbage – is a powerful immune booster. As well, leafy greens cleanse the blood and eliminate liver inflammation.
Notable liver-regenerating herbs include:
- Scute root
You can purchase these in the form of easy-to-use liver-cleansing products at many drug and grocery stores.
If, like many other people, you are unable to incorporate all the healthy foods you need in your normal everyday diet, you may want to consider a vision-improving vitamin supplement. This way you will know without all the testing and measuring that you are getting the right amounts of nutrients that your body needs on a daily basis.
You may know these nutrients better as antioxidants. Two strong antioxidants that help in removing free-radicals from our liver and eyes are lutein and zeaxanthin. You can find both of these antioxidants naturally in the eyes, in relatively high concentrations in the lens and retina of the eyes.
Lutein and zeaxanthin act to protect our eyes from damaging ultra-violet blue light. As we age, it is important to make sure that our bodies have these antioxidants to protect the eye. With proper amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin it is possible to prevent the development of age-related macular degeneration.
Another important antioxidant for both the liver and eyes is alpha-lipoic acid, or ALA. This antioxidant has been shown to help prevent cataracts in the eyes and helps to dissolve toxic substances.
Traditional Chinese medicine holds that, to function optimally, the eyes require an abundance of yin essences (blood and other bodily fluids that moisten and nourish the organs and tissues). In this view, dry eyes reflect a yin deficiency. Natural News recommends combating dry eyes with such classic herbs as eyebright and goldenseal, which are very effective in clearing inflammation from the liver channel. Chinese herbs such as rehmannia and lycium also promote eye health by refreshing and maintaining the blood, as well as the yin essence that circulates to the eyes.
Dr. Grossman also advocates avoiding carbonated, caffeinated, and alcoholic beverages, and instead drinking eight to 10 glasses of purified water a day to hydrate your eyes. Excessive caffeine and alcohol are very hard on our livers. Cirrhosis of the liver is just one problem that comes with excessive alcohol use. Water on the other hand helps to flush impurities out of our bodies.
Whether you prescribe to Chinese medicine or not, it’s crucial you get all the important nutrients your eyes need for optimal health. Eating foods that benefit your liver will also benefit your eyes. Win-win!