Liver – the facts

The liver is the largest chemical factory in the body and its role is to make
sure that the body absorbs everything it needs – and to remove anything it
doesn’t need. Most if the biochemical activity of detoxification takes place in
the liver and gastrointestinal tract. The liver is our largest single organ,
performing 500 distinct primary functions and over 2000 minor functions all
essential for life itself. Any weakness or debility of the liver, affects every
other organ system.

The liver carries out the following functions:
– acts as a storehouse for vitamins A, B12 and D and Iron.
– converts ammonia to urea (this is its most urgent life saving task) for removal from the body via the kidneys in the urine.
– breaks down fats for use in metabolic activities.
– manufactures triglycerides, lipoproteins and cholesterol.
– supplies the gallbladder with bile.
– enables you to digest, absorb and assimilate the fats in your diet.
– packages all the fats so they can move safely through the blood stream.
– disposes of unwanted cholesterol.
– removes harmful bacteria, viruses, toxins, yeast and other foreign substances from the blood stream.
– forms products needed for blood coagulation.
– regulates the immune system, forming products needed for immunity to infection.
– breaks down oestrogens.
– maintains body temperature.

Standard medical procedure carried out by medical laboratories is to use a
group of blood tests to look for liver damage in cases of infectious and
alcoholic liver disease. There are specialised laboratory tests that measure the
liver’s detoxifying and dismantling activities. This is coupled with a thorough
medical history and a complete physical exam to reveal if the liver is working
at full and normal capacity, and whether or not it is able to handle the burden
of the numerous chemicals, both natural and synthetic, that lifestyles impose on it.

However, these tests are not effective in showing the liver’s functional capability. It is not safe to assume that your liver is perfectly healthy just because it is not acutely diseased.

Signs of poor liver function
Include sluggishness – especially in the morning, frustration, fits of anger,
emotional instability, irritability and bad temperedness, depression, apathy, a
general feeling of tiredness, sallow skin colour and poor skin tone, dark
circles under the eyes, a yellow coated tongue, a bitter taste in the mouth,
migraine, bilious headache, constipation, skin disorders, food intolerance,
blood sugar problems, blurred vision, wind and congestion or bloating – even
after eating only small amounts of food, premenstrual tension, arthritis and an
inability to digest fats (recognisable by indigestion after eating high fat meals).

Other signs of poor liver function are split finger nails, nails that are
thin, break off, won’t grow or are spoon shape, or your hair is falling out,
splits on the ends and dandruff.

A compromised sluggish liver is also considered to be a major contributor to
the body storing excessive weight especially around the abdomen.

Jaundice, when the whites of the eyes go yellow, is also a sign that all is not well with the liver.
If these symptoms go unnoticed, they may lead to more serious consequences

An inflamed liver can swell, then turn into cirrhosis and possibly cancer.
Cirrhosis causes physical damage to the cells of the liver.

Things that can affect the liver:

Caffeine, alcohol and nicotine. These substances are consumed on a daily
basis and if you are consuming all three, you’ll be placing a strain on this
vital organ. For example, the liver can breakdown alcohol when consumed
moderately. When alcohol is consumed excessively, it severely damages the liver.

The use of the contraceptive pill (synthetic hormones) is thought to affect the liver.

Viral hepatitis is another nasty complaint which can also cause permanent damage to the liver.

A sluggish liver may also be due to inherited genetic weakness in the detoxification system, as well as the accumulation of toxins.

To help protect your liver from the onslaught, there are a number of
preventative measures that can be done to protect this amazing organ and help you to live long and happy life.

The B complex vitamins are of paramount importance to the liver and are crucial for the detoxification process. B vitamins are necessary for the ultimate conversion of ammonia to urea and for almost all functions the liver performs.

Vitamin C is needed by the liver for the conversion of cholesterol to bile, to increase the flow of bile from the liver and to assist the excretion of bile from the intestinal tract.

Vitamin E helps to prevent scaring.

The liver likes a high intake of calcium and a low intake of phosphate which means that it does not appreciate soft drinks, especially fizzy ones. It needs magnesium as a coenzyme for many of its functions and it needs trace elements including iron, copper, selenium,
manganese and zinc.

Taurine is the major amino-acid required by the liver for the detoxification and removal of toxic chemicals and metabolites from the body via the excretory routes of the bowels and kidneys. It is an essential part of cell membranes, is a key component of bile acids produces in the liver and plays a major role in providing good liver function.

Other beneficial nutrients
Lemon juice and water are good cleansers .
Beetroot, celery and carrot juice are particularly good tonics for the liver .
Lecithin helps to keep the membranes of the liver cells strong and healthy.

Herbal Tonics
Milk Thistle has also been found to reduce toxic fatty degeneration of the liver. Milk Thistle can be used in the following conditions: chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis liver damage, bile stagnation (gallbladder), alcohol and chemical induced fatty liver.

Dandelion has been used extensively for centuries as a blood purifier and a tonic for liver congestion. It is especially useful where theliver has been damaged or exposed to toxic  chemicals.

Globe Artichoke is another bitter tonic with liver protective and liver restoration actions, for use as a liver restoration in cases of liver insufficiency and damage, liver diseases, poor digestion, gallstones and chronic constipation.

Bupleurum has a long history of use in Chinese medicine, its major indication being gall bladder and liver dysfunction.