Monday, October 22, 2007

Rib Pain, Gall Stone Pain, Hepatitis, Jaundice and Acupressure

Liver and Gall Bladder

Rib pain (intercostal neuralgia)
Gall stone pain

The liver and gall bladder system play an important role in maintaining health. The liver is the largest gland in the body, situ­ated in the uppermost part of the abdominal cavity on the right side beneath the diaphragm. It is largely protected by the ribs. The liver develops in the embryo as an outgrowth of the intestine and always retains a close link with the digestive system. We can think of the
liver as the largest chemical factory in the body in that it carries out most of the intermediate metabolism. That is, it changes the nutri­ents absorbed from the small intestine and makes them suitable for use by the body tissues. The liver also modifies waste products and toxic substances to make them suitable for excretion in the bile or the urine. Enzymes in the liver stimulate the production of glycogen (a complex sugar), which is derived from carbohydrate foods such as whole grains and vegetables. This substance is stored temporarily by the liver cells and converted back into glucose (a simple sugar) by enzyme action when needed by the body tissue. Along with this liver function, insulin, a secretion by the pancreas, controls the blood sugar level at the normal level of 80-100 mg/lOOcc of blood. Some of the materials in bile ( a digester of fats) are made in the liver.

When the liver receives the building blocks of protein (amino acids) it separates the nitrogen from the amino acid part. This nitrogen in the form of ammonia is converted into urea (a waste product). Urea is removed from the body by the kidneys and excreted in the urine.

The liver makes substances essential for blood clotting. It also stores and distributes glycogen, fat, vitamins, and iron. The liver also maintains body temperature and protects the body as a whole. As a detoxifier, it removes drugs, alcohol, waste products formed from protein metabolism, and other harmful substances from the blood stream.

The gall bladder is a pear-shaped muscular bag situated on the undersurface of the liver. It is about 3-4 inches in length and holds about two fluid ounces of bile. The gall bladder acts as a storage place for bile. It also serves to concentrate the bile that is stored in it.

Within half an hour of taking food, bile flows into the lower
part of the duodenum which connects with the stomach. The flow is not continuous but occurs only when foods enter this lower part. Bile is an alkaline fluid made by the liver cells. Pigments in the bile color the stool. Bile salts digest fats and aid in their absorption.

The liver and gall bladder are subject to various troubles. The liver may be ruptured by injury which can cause serious bleeding. Toxic degeneration and cirrhosis (hardening, sometimes associat­ed with alcohol consumption) affect the liver. Its function is im­paired when congestive heart disease, as well as cancer, produces symptoms of jaundice, vomiting, and fluid retention in the abdo­men (ascites).

The gall bladder can become infected or can be blocked by the presence of gall stones. Stones in the gall bladder and the cystic duct do not cause jaundice. But when they block the common bile duct, jaundice can occur. If a stone passes down the bile duct it may cause severe pain called biliary colic. Stone production has been linked to excessive cholesterol and calcium in the body.


Liver trouble is often the result of overeating. Therefore, in treating the liver and gall bladder, it is best to perhaps fast or eat small amounts for a period of time. Also chewing well is important. The food should be liquid by the time it is to be swallowed. When se­vere pain is present the diet should be restricted to brown rice soup with cooked green leafy vegetables. Salty foods and animal prod­ucts should be avoided. After several days the diet can be widened to include regular macrobiotic foods, but fish and other animal foods should be avoided until symptoms have subsided.

In the case of jaundice the individual should avoid all dairy foods, eggs, sugar, and oily or greasy foods, and should eat the stan­dard macrobiotic diet. Daikon radish can be eaten daily as it helps
to dissolve mucus or fat accumulations in the blood stream and body. The sour flavour en­hances the liver's function, therefore foods such as sauerkraut, salted plums (umeboshi), plum extract tea, and mugwort tea can be used beneficially. Traditional Oriental medicine has used the extract of clam for treatment of jaundice. This extract is known as "cobicula" and is available in natural food stores.

In the case of gall stones, foods which contribute to mucus or fat formation should be discontinued. Beef and cheese are examples of high fat and choles­terol foods. By-products from protein and fat digestion join with cal­cium to form calcium carbonate and calcium phosphate, these are the major ingredients of gall stones. These hard stones are either formed or lodged in the gall bladder, creating gall bladder pain and inflammation. Fall and winter sweet squashes such as acorn, but­tercup, blue hubbard, butternut, and banana can be eaten regularly to help prevent stones from being formed. The passing of a stone can be extremely painful. When the stone be­gins to move, you can place hot ginger com­presses on the painful area and drink several cups of hot twig tea. This will relax the mus­cles, expand the duct, and allow the stone to pass through more freely. For this condition shiitake mushroom tea can be used as an al­ternative to twig tea.

Ginger Compress

In all conditions involving the liver and gall bladder, ginger compress can be used. In the case of a painful and swollen liver, the ginger compress can be followed by a taro potato plaster. If there is water trapped in the abdomen, then the ginger compress can be followed by a buckwheat plas­ter which can remove this retained fluid.


In Oriental medicine the liver function is to maintain the unrestricted flow of vital energy. When the liver fails in this function we observe depression, irritability, or fits of anger. It is because the liver energy is stag­nant and unable to move freely that symptoms arise. Shiatsu is effective in reestablishing the free circulation of vital energy, thereby strengthening the liver.
When possible complete a full shiatsu session. If you can only apply shiatsu to specific areas, choose the fol­lowing:

Have the receiver lie face down. Near the spine begin at Ty and continue until L^. Do thumb shiatsu pressing down leaning your body weight into the back while the receiver is exhaling. Repeat the two bladder lines which travel down the back. The first line is located 11/2 inches from the vertebrae and the second line is 3 inches away from the spine. You will find several very tender spots at the level of Tg.TjQ on the back. These are liver acupoints.

Massage the bottoms of the feet and each toe.

Have the receiver lie on the back. The area under the right rib cage is where the liver and gall bladder are located. This area will

be tender. The right shoulder and top of the right eye may be tender in the case of gall stones. Press around the liver with the tips of your right hand to evaluate the degree of pain present. If the receiver can tolerate pressure, press with the thumb along the edge of the rib. If the pain is too intense for shiatsu, you can apply palm healing here.