Your Liver Is Calling...
So pull up a chair and let’s have a sit-down with your liver. Out of every five patients I see, three have liver issues that have to be resolved before we can even begin to look at the rest of the body. Without the liver, every other system will be in distress. So if you’re unsure where to begin, this may be the best place to start. The Liver is the most important detoxifying organ in the human body. It controls not just the level of various important biochemicals in the blood, but also aids in immunity, endocrine balance, detoxifying capability and digestive balance. Now that all may mean nothing to you, but when you realize that you can’t live without your liver, you may sit up and pay attention. In fact, of all the organs and glands in the body, the liver is the most regenerative, which means you have a lot of control over how well it works!
The Chinese have studied the function of the liver for years and in fact, many oriental healing techniques, including acupuncture, see the liver as the key to health. This may be because over thousands of years, the Chinese have realized something very important. That the liver is also responsible for regulating movement of emotion and flexibility in the body. It processes thoughts and feelings the same way it breaks down food molecules. In conjunction with its partner organ, the gall bladder, the liver acts as a decision-maker. In addition, the liver is associated with warmth and kindness on the positive end of the emotional spectrum and anger and hostility on the negative.
When you’re forced to cope with more emotional input than you can comfortably handle, the liver gets overworked. In this way your emotional health creates a response in your physiological health. Emotional distress will force the liver to back up with toxic wastes which then spill into the bloodstream and the digestive tract. Its mother organ, the kidney, will then have to come to the rescue. The energy that the kidney would normally use for filtration, libido and strength of character, is used instead for coping. The end result could be a sex drive stuck in neutral.
So pull up a chair and let’s have a sit-down with your liver. Out of every five patients I see, three have liver issues that have to be resolved before we can even begin to look at the rest of the body. Without the liver, every other system will be in distress. So if you’re unsure where to begin, this may be the best place to start.
The liver is the heaviest gland of the body and the second-largest organ, weighing about 3 pounds in an average adult. It is located just underneath the ribs on the lower right side of your body. It is so regenerative that an entire lobe section of the liver can be removed, transplanted into another human being, and grow to full size in record time, while the donor’s liver will also regrow to full size without the lobe that has been removed. Amazing! And much of what the liver does is because it has unparalleled access to your body’s fluids such as lymph, blood and the digestive system.
When the liver is overworked, it loses its ability to efficiently handle the many jobs it has to perform, and the symptoms of this may be skin problems like eczema, psoriasis or hives or breathing issues such as asthma, chronic bronchitis and allergies. So when these symptoms become a part of every day, just what’s going on beneath the skin? Here is a bird’s eye view of the liver’s numerous jobs, and what your body symptoms might be if the liver is on vacation (hepatitis, Herpes, food poisoning, bacterial infection, alcohol abuse, chronic use of pharmaceutical drugs... just to name a few possibilities):
First, the liver helps to maintain normal sugar levels in your blood by storing and releasing excess sugar when the body needs extra energy.
Problem symptoms: sugar craving, low endurance energy. To compensate, you will eat larger amounts of sugar for fast energy, because the liver is not converting stored sugar into useable sugar for energy.
Secondly, the liver stores some triglycerides, or good fats, and makes special proteins to help transport fatty acids safely through the blood to and from cells. The liver cells known as hepatocytes synthesize cholesterol to make bile, an important fluid which both cleans the liver and helps to digest your fats. If the liver is congested, it cannot process lipids correctly and so it simply dumps fats into the blood stream. Bile is essential to cleanse the liver and since it is stored in the gall bladder, it is very easy for excess minerals and salts to be released into the bile and then concentrated in the gall bladder, forming stones, especially if the bile duct is sluggish or blocked.
Problem symptoms: improper digestion of fats, high cholesterol in the blood, too many salts in bile which create gall stones, fat deficiency issues like adrenal fatigue, low sex drive, poor fertility, dry skin, joint pain.
Next, without the role of the liver in protein metabolism, death would occur in a few days. The liver cells perform transfers of amino acids, convert toxic ammonia into urea to be excreted by the kidneys and synthexize most of your blood’s plasma proteins which control blood clotting and blood movement.
Problem symptoms: Kidney stones or kidney failure, gout, inability to heal, degeneration of structural tissues, high blood pressure, clotting diseases.
The liver also is the main body detoxifier of toxic material that you are exposed to, especially alcohol, drugs, environmental toxins, and even excess hormones from the body. Once neutralized, it will release these substances into the bile and through the gall bladder into the intestinal tract for elimination.
The process of liver detoxification has two steps. Phase I is where many chemicals are directly neutralized and excreted in the bile, such as environmental toxins, bowel toxins, bacteria and excess metabolic acids. Those that are not handled by this phase, such as poisonous substances, heavy metals, and drugs must be further processed by Phase II methods. In Phase II, there are four ways in which the liver can further break down substances into neutral components so they may be safely eliminated. These four ways are Sulfuration, Glutathionization, Glucoronidation and Methylation. Each process can be aided by certain enzymes found in foods, as well as specialized compressed vitamin supplements. Phase II is especially enhanced with Folic Acid B12, Betaine Hydrochloride [HCL] and choline.
Problem symptoms: Gall stones, hormone imbalances in the blood stream, cell death from toxic substances in the blood, damage to these structures from improper neutralization of toxins, intestinal damage leading to colitis, crohn’s or IBS.
But we’re STILL not done. The liver also stores large amounts of key vitamins such as A, B12, D, E & K along with minerals such as iron and copper.
Problem symptoms: Anemia, easy bruising, bone degeneration, low blood circulation, nerve problems.
The liver also performs quite a bit of housecleaning for us. It actually cleanses the blood of worn out cells prompting the release of new cells.
Problem symptoms: Excess blood clotting, development of blockages in circulation, low cell counts, poor oxygenation.
Did you know that your body actually makes its own Vitamin D? This is done in the skin, and the liver not only provides the building blocks for that in the form of cholesterol, but it also activates the vitamin D to promote bone development.
Problem symptoms: easy bone breakage, low bone repair.
So you can see how keeping the liver healthy may mean resolution of many different body symptoms. The first step in giving your liver a break is to clean it out. The main purpose of cleansing is to free up all the stored toxins in the liver so that the hepatocytes can perform their detoxification duties more effectively with less resistance. Storage of waste material can occur if at the time of initial handling of toxins, the liver does not have two essential things. First, a clear pathway for the release of bile and secondly, sufficient amounts of the ingredients needed for chemical detoxification to take place. Storage is the liver’s way of holding onto potentially harmful elements until it has what it needs to neutralize and eliminate them completely. The longer these toxins are stored, the more harm they can do. Symptoms that are specific to the liver are generally a sign of stored toxic overload. Non-viral hepatic inflammation, high liver enzymes in the blood or even the formation of cysts and nodules are all signs of toxic overload.
Programs for liver cleansing generally involve herbal formulas, an enhanced diet of liver-supportive foods, reduction in challenging choices (such as alcohol consumption), and therapies that help the liver, such as lymphatic drainage and acupuncture. The foods that are recommended during this time are those which support the two phases of liver detoxification, such as egg yolks, red peppers, garlic, onions, broccoli, spanish black radish, brussels sprouts, asparagus and cabbage. In order for these foods to really do the job, it is important that they not be compromised by alcohol, processed foods, high saturated fat foods or refined carbohydrates. For this reason, I recommend eliminating these substances from the diet before liver cleansing begins.
Herbs that are helpful are Milk Thistle, Schisandra, Rosemary, Turmeric, Garlic and Globe Artichoke. I recommend lots of strong organic green tea which is great for detoxifying the liver. Cleansing can take anywhere from 21 days to a few months depending on the history of the individual and whether there are heavy metals involved, or developed stones. Liver cleansing should never be done for short periods or intensively. It also should involve cleansing of the intestinal tract and the gall bladder, since it relies on these two structures for an unobstructed pathway for cleansing.
To take stock of where your liver has been, and give it a fresh start, especially if you have symptoms that interfere with your life every day. By cleansing your liver, you may have many more days than you can possibly imagine, and enjoy every one.