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Chinese Medicinal Herbs for Liver Support From Your Garden


dandelion growing in the sun

In the realm of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the liver is considered a vital organ responsible for the smooth flow of qi (vital energy) and blood throughout the body. When the liver's function is compromised, it can lead to a variety of health issues, including digestive disturbances, emotional imbalances, and hormonal irregularities. While TCM offers a plethora of herbal remedies to support liver health, many of these herbs can be cultivated right in your own garden. In this blog post, we'll explore a selection of Chinese medicinal herbs that you can grow at home to nurture and nourish your liver.


1. Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)

Milk thistle is a renowned liver tonic that has been used for centuries in TCM and Western herbal medicine alike. The active compound in milk thistle, silymarin, has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which help protect the liver from damage and promote regeneration of liver cells. Milk thistle is a hardy plant that thrives in sunny locations with well-drained soil, making it an excellent addition to any herb garden.


2. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Often considered a pesky weed, dandelion is actually a valuable medicinal herb with a plethora of health benefits, particularly for liver support. Dandelion root is rich in bitter compounds known as sesquiterpene lactones, which stimulate bile production and enhance liver detoxification. Additionally, dandelion leaves are packed with vitamins and minerals that support overall liver function. Dandelions are easy to grow and adapt well to various soil conditions, making them a low-maintenance addition to your garden.


3. Chinese Skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis)

Chinese skullcap, also known as Huang Qin, is a key herb in TCM renowned for its liver-protective properties. It contains bioactive compounds called flavonoids, which have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Chinese skullcap helps regulate liver function, reduce inflammation, and alleviate symptoms of liver conditions such as hepatitis and fatty liver disease. This perennial herb prefers well-drained soil and partial shade, making it suitable for cultivation in most garden settings.


4. Bupleurum (Bupleurum chinense)

Bupleurum, or Chai Hu, is a versatile herb commonly used in TCM formulations to soothe liver qi stagnation—a condition characterized by feelings of frustration, irritability, and emotional volatility. Bupleurum root has a gentle yet profound effect on the liver, helping to regulate its function and promote the smooth flow of qi throughout the body. This hardy perennial thrives in full sun and well-drained soil, making it an excellent addition to herb gardens and ornamental borders alike.


5. Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis)

Schisandra, also known as Wu Wei Zi, is a prized adaptogenic herb in TCM renowned for its ability to support liver health and enhance resilience to stress. Schisandra berries contain unique compounds called lignans, which possess hepatoprotective properties and help optimize liver function. Schisandra is a climbing vine that prefers partial shade and moist, well-drained soil, making it suitable for growing on trellises or arbors in the garden.


Cultivating Liver-Supporting Herbs

Growing Chinese medicinal herbs in your garden not only provides you with a sustainable source of liver-supporting remedies but also offers a deeper connection to nature and the healing power of plants. Whether you have a sprawling backyard or a small urban balcony, there are herbs suited to every space and growing condition.


When cultivating medicinal herbs, it's essential to research their specific growing requirements and ensure they receive adequate sunlight, water, and soil nutrients. Additionally, practice sustainable gardening techniques, such as organic cultivation methods and water conservation, to promote the health and vitality of your herbs and the surrounding ecosystem.


By incorporating liver-supporting herbs into your garden, you not only empower yourself to take charge of your health but also contribute to the preservation of traditional healing practices and the biodiversity of our planet. So roll up your sleeves, dig in the dirt, and let nature's pharmacy flourish in your backyard oasis. Your liver will thank you for it!



Kelsey Bru is a licensed acupuncturist and TCM Herbalist in the Comox Valley, British Columbia. She loves working with women's health, hormones, menopause, fertility, mental health, and beyond through her online articles and at her clinic, The Remedy Room, on Cliffe Avenue, Courtenay. Call for an appointment at 250-800-7738.

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