Imagine if you had a team task to accomplish, and you ended up doing the major part of the work. To add to the injury, you were given little to no credits for the task! What would you feel like? Perhaps like your liver?
Many people these days go to saunas, spas, steam rooms, sweat lodges, take special herbs and teas, diets, etc, for the purpose of detoxifying. However, our liver is specialized for that particular function.
Our liver is our body’s natural detoxification system. If it is well taken care of, our liver efficiently performs any detoxification functions required by the body.
The Liver – The most loaded and underappreciated organ of our body!
The brain is important, the heart is vital, the lungs are imperative. Well, what about the liver? It seems to get little credit, despite the tremendous work it does.
The liver is the largest cleansing organ of the our body. The liver is probably the most advanced detoxification centre in the universe. All in one, our liver is a/an:
- chemical plant;
- inspection station;
- garbage disposal;
- filtration system;
- metabolic energy generation centre and more than that.
The Liver works 24/7 and it rebuilds itself!
Yes, if your liver is given the chance, it has the capability to rebuild itself from a 25% state to a full 100%. Good news! If you are ready to give your liver and give your body a chance to survive, then you can actually revive your liver even if it endured a damage that destroyed 75% of it.
Believe me, no other organ can do that!
Functions of our Liver – Secret to Metabolism, Immunity, and Gorgeous Skin!
Located at the upper right part of the abdomen just below the diaphragm, the liver serves to perform major, important functions, and they are:
The liver converts poisonous and toxic materials like drugs, alcohols, inhaled insecticides and other environmental toxins, into harmless substances for excretion.
Carbohydrates are stored in the liver as glycogen. When sugar is taken in initially, it gets processed as glucose to be used as energy. However, when there is an excess of glucose, an hormone, insulin, is secreted by the pancreas, and this converts the excess glucose into glycogen for storage in the liver.
On the other hand, there could also be shortage of glucose. In this case, excess glycogen is converted back to glucose by the hormone glucagon. This ensures the body keeps up with its energy demands.
Regulation of Lipids
When there’s too much lipid, liver removes them from the bloodstream, converts them into glucose and oxidizes them to release energy during aerobic respiration.
Liver is also responsible for converting amino acids from proteins into energy. So, essentially, without the liver, we would have severe shortage of energy, and constant fatigue.
Production of Heat
Due to the tremendous amount of metabolism going on in the liver constantly without break, heat is produced to help maintain the body temperature.
Storage of Minerals
The liver stores important minerals like iron, magnesium, etc, and releases them for use as needed by the body.
A blood-engorged adult liver weighs over 5 pounds, whereas when the blood is drained, the liver weighs 3 pounds, which is still heavy. But the point is to show that a tremendous amount of blood is stored in the liver, and this can be released into circulation in emergencies.
Role in Digestion
Aside the fact that it converts nutrients to energy, the liver also has a part in the production of bile. Bile is a yellowish-greenish substance that is passed through bile duct to be stored in the gall bladder. The role of bile is emulsification (i.e. breakdown) of fats in the small intestine.
Our whole body suffers when our liver is not functioning well!
If the liver is not well taken care of, if could affect the whole assemblage of organ systems in the body. These are just a few of the effects that occur when the liver is unable to carry out its detoxification function:
- The brain suffers because there is a build up of toxins that adversely effect its functions;
- The eyes take on a yellow pigmentation because a substance called bile, that is to be regulated by the liver, could go haywire.
- The thyroid gland becomes enlarged and there is an imbalance in thyroxine levels.
- There’s risk of the kidneys developing glomerulopathy;
- The bones become brittle;
- Persistent fatigue;
- Abdominal pain;
- Sleep disturbances;
- Unusual change of weight;
- Mental confusion.
That’s a long list, but it is not exhaustive.
How we are collectively killing our livers?
Over the past few decades, there has been an increase in the incidence of liver conditions, particularly the Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD). NAFLD is the accumulation of fat deposits (particularly triglycerides) in liver tissues.
The incidence is higher in people who are in their 40s and 50s. It usually remains unnoticed till it advances and becomes Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH). This is to say that, it’s not only people who indulge in alcohol or other hard drugs that have to worry about getting liver diseases.
Our choices of Diet and Lifestyle is killing our Liver!
It comes as no surprise because over time, we have all evolved collectively to adopt a liver-damaging lifestyle.
- We get too many calories from (the wrong) food.
- We exercise less and less, so that there is an accumulation of calories that turn into fat, encumbering the liver.
- We take too much chemicals by way of food preservatives, additives, fertilizers, pesticides.
- We eat food packaged in containers that have drained toxins into the food before they reach our hands.
- Some are addicted to pain relievers, under/malnutrition.
- We embrace hormone based contraceptives.
All these actions over burden the liver. Eventually, it gets burnt out!
The sad thing is that, symptoms of liver problems usually won’t show up, or they go unnoticed, or if noticed, ignored, till these symptoms go beyond redeemable.
What Does Ayurveda Have to Say About the Liver?
The liver, being important as it is, can affect all three doshas if it is unwell, but the most affected is the Pitta dosha, since the liver is a pitta organ. Like the pitta dosha, the liver does the work of transformation. It transforms toxins to harmless wastes, converts food into energy.
Ayurveda classified liver diseases since centuries ago, and these classes match up with findings in modern medicine. Liver diseases are either classified as Pratyaksa (Direct) or Apratyaksa (Indirect).
Direct Disease of an ailing liver
The Pratyaksa include Yakrt (hepatomegaly), Yakrddalyudara (liver cirrhosis), yatrkgata dosa (chronic hepatitis).
Indirect Disease of an ailing liver
On the other hand, the Apratyaksa are diseases like the Kamala (jaundice), halimaka (jaundice complicated with fever), panaki (jaundice complicated with diarrhoea), kumbha kamala (jaundice complicated with ascited and oedema), alasa (chronic hepatitis), lagharaka (chronic hepatitis), and lodhara (chlorosis).
Health Conditions that commonly affect the liver
It is caused as a result of the inability of the liver cells to convert excess glucose in the blood to glycogen. This causes a build up of excess sugar in the blood, and this has to be excreted in the urine. More strain is placed on the kidney as a result. It also leads to constant dehydration because of the water that is lost alongside the sugar in urine.
Hepatitis is of different types, named by alphabets, so there could be Hepatitis A, B, C, and so on. It may be due to viral infection or poisoning. It leads to severe headache, yellow coloration of the eye.
They are objects which are formed in the bile duct and block the passage of bile. This is caused as a result of the precipitation of cholesterol in the gall bladder or bile duct. It leads to obstructive jaundice in which the skin acquires a yellow appearance due to retention of bile pigments. Also, it causes an inability to properly digest fats and oil.
In this condition, some parts of the liver cells die off, and they are replaced by hard, fibrotic tissue. These new tissues cannot perform the functions of the normal liver tissues, so the liver function is impaired.
Jaundice is also due to a problem with bile. A person with jaundice is seen yellow all over, in the eyes, on the skin, etc.
Ayurvedic Herbs for Liver Cleanse
Ayurvedic herbs abound in abundance to help take care of the liver and optimize liver function for total integration of all the body systems. Our aim at Medhya Herbals, with the use of Ayurveda, is to enhance the liver detoxification processes and prevent further liver damage, while simultaneously restoring whatever damage might have been done prior.
The Ayurvedic herbs listed below are proven to work on several biochemical pathways to enhance the function of several organs of the body, not even only the liver.
- Andrographis Aerial parts: This herb helps to reduce the risk of oxidative damage to liver tissue. It also protects against hepatotoxicity.
- Ginger Rhizome: It is used to promote digestion, and it also enhances the effectiveness of other Ayurvedic herbs.
- Trailing Eclipta leaf and root: It is used as a cholagogue (in that it aids bile secretion) and as a deobstruent (that is, it removes obstructions in pathways in the body), and is sued to treat hepatic enlargement, jaundice, gall bladder/bile duct obstruction, etc.
- Embella Fruit: Embella has a tremendous effect in rejuvenating the liver.
- Hellebore root: It protects against alcohol induced hepatotoxicity, cleanses the liver, and is efficient for treating hepatitis, biliousness, fevers and poisoning.
- Amla Fruit: Used for treating enlarged liver and for revitalization of the liver.
Other useful herbs for the liver include long pepper fruit, gall fruit, phylanthus aerial parts, and a lot of other free gifts of nature.
A Healthy Lifestyle to Support Liver Cleanse and Functioning!
- Avoid Alcohol. If you have healthy liver, then either you wouldn’t be reading this article or you wouldn’t be having alcohol in the first place! When it comes to protecting your liver, NO amount of alcohol is helpful. Alcohol degenerates liver cells, it exerts unnecessary pressure on the liver, which has to break down and assimilate the drink that you just poured down.
- Avoid popping in pain relieving drugs and fever subsiding drugs at the slightest hint of pain or rising temperature. These medications are addictive, and they contribute more toxin load for the liver to detoxify. In fact, if you have any pain or fever, it is an indication by the body that something inside is wrong. Try to fix the health issue, not your body’s signalling system.
- Take less pharmaceutical drugs, concentrated form of health supplements, and any unnatural substance that may be promoted as healthful. Eventually your lover will be the one, who will get busy breaking these pills/drugs down. So, if you do not want to load or hurt your liver, then prefer natural and wholesome form of supplements and least amount of medications.
- Make sure you get 6-7 hours of sleep every night. Sleep is the time when your liver detoxifies and naturally rejuvenates, so make best use of this time.
- Regular exercise helps to burn calories and prevent storage of excess fat to burden the liver with.
- Take less packaged food, particularly those packaged in plastic. Plastic contains bisphenol A, which is toxic when ingested.
- Be careful with even common household chemicals from fibers, adhesives, insecticides, gas cookers, etc, that you inhale. They get into the blood stream and gives your liver more strain of detoxification.
What should you eat for a Healthy liver?
- As the liver is responsible for the pitta humor, you should eat a pitta pacifying diet.
- Take anti-oxidant rich fruits and vegetables.
- Foods such as fish and other edibles containing omega three fatty acids should be embraced.
Interested to join like-minded people to share and learn about healthy food, Ayurvedic Diet and lifestyle? Join Medhya’s Ayurvedic Diet and Lifestyle Community on Facebook.