Helping the liver
The body’s chemical laboratory
The liver is the largest gland in the body weighing between 1 and 2 kilograms.
The liver has sometimes been described as the body’s chemical laboratory as it contains a vast armoury of different enzymes which have the ability to work on molecules carried in the blood stream. In this way, the liver has a fundamental role in being able to change many of the substances carried in the blood.
Food substances are converted for storage (and vice versa); new substances essential for the body, such as vitamins and amino acids are synthesised; and toxic chemicals neutralised.
The main functions of the liver are
- It produces hormones, enzymes, cholesterol and bile which are all essential for health regulation.
- It stores glucose to help regulate blood sugar. Athletes depend on this release of energy when they are active.
- Your liver helps to build the quality of your blood by ensuring enough red blood cells are available as worn out cells die.
- It can detoxify drugs, caffeine, alcohol and other environmental toxins from your blood. In this way, your toxic load is kept in check.
- Your liver is required to screen all the substances you ingest and to only allow safe particles to enter into the circulatory system.
- It can repair itself, provided the eating and drinking habits that destroy and irritate it are stopped and regenerative measures are taken.
- Your liver regulates fluids and temperature in your body. And, if that were not enough, the liver also has to filter about 600 litres of blood every day!
Helping the liver
The liver and kidneys will function better when there is no congestion in the bowel and urinary tract. With the exit routes moving freely, it is sensible to cleanse and support the liver and kidneys in order to improve their ability to break down wastes and toxins.
Many cultures have traditions of cleansing in the spring and autumn, preparing the body for the seasons ahead. The liver benefits enormously from the bowel moving well. Toxins no longer get reabsorbed by the bowel only to be returned to the liver to be dealt with again and again. In turn, if the liver is working properly, bowel function tends to improve as bile is produced more effectively.
The entry of bile into the small intestine triggers peristalsis - the muscular wave that propels food through the digestive tract and moves waste through the colon.
Herbs that Help
Alfred Vogel put together Liver support. It is used as a liver tonic for the relief of stomach ache, flatulence, bloating, colic and to help support healthy liver function.
The herb Milk Thistle encourages regeneration while protecting liver cells from damage. It does not; however, cleanse the liver. This job is done by Dandelion root, a wonderful liver restorative that cleanses and nourishes liver cells, promoting better production and movement of bile, which in turn helps fat metabolism and general bowel function.
Artichoke helps the liver metabolise cholesterol and lipids. This function is shared with Milk Thistle - both herbs help the body handle fats better, a very useful property at the start of any weight loss program.
Boldo and Peppermint are both calming and restorative for the liver. Boldo helps empty the gallbladder and remove gravel but be careful if you have medium to big stones because they can block the passage, causing great pain.