Lemons, Limes & Your Liver

Find yourself craving sourworm lollies, salt and vinegar chips, citrus, lemons and limes or even greek yogurt? These foods all have something in common. They are all sour and this may show your liver needs a tune-up.

In the previous blog entry we talked about the five flavours of chinese medicine, their functions and how to use them in cooking. Today we will look at the organs associated with these flavours.

In the body, the organs use the 5 flavours provided to them in attempt to balance health. Understanding the organ system and patterns of disease allows you to fully grasp how to cook and prepare foods suitable for your bodies health.


The relationship between organ and taste is as below. Today we will examine the liver.

Liver – sour

Heart – bitter

Spleen – sweet

Lung – spicy/pungent

Kidney – Salty

Liver and Sour:

Do you suffer from headaches, dizziness, red eyes and high blood pressure?

Perhaps your liver is in turmoil.

In Chinese Medicine the liver is known as the ‘Governing General’, like the general of the army it is responsible for giving instructions and sending troops to where they are needed. In the body, the liver sends qi and blood to where they are needed. It controls circulation. The liver also controls the emotions; when qi becomes stuck one may feel an sensation of frustration which may manifest in a short temper.

Stagnation in the body can also lead to accumulation of heat. Like the flames of a fire rise upwards so also does the heat in our bodies, this explains why a liver disharmony may display signs of dizziness, headaches and high blood pressure. A red face and red eyes will also result.

Have you ever been to a bar and seen that irritable old mad with the red cheeks, eyes, wrinkled skin and fiery temper? He is usually holding a beer in his hand. This is a classic example of the kind of qi stagnation and heat seen in a liver problem.

Other common conditions associated with the liver include menopause, PMS and hyperthyroidism. For these conditions sour foods are recommended to help soothe and calm the liver.

Tip: Try adding vinegar to some of your dishes. Or with the added benifit of probiotics, try some kimchee or sourkraut!

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