Holistic Wellness- feel, be, live well

What does the Liver have to do with it?

There are so many health related topics to discuss that it is difficult to decide where to begin. It occurs to me that this blog should not only educate people on various wellness topics, but also allow the reader to get to know me as a practitioner and the thought process that contributes to my philosophy and approach to wellness. With that in mind, it becomes apparent that there is only one place to begin…the liver. What does he the liver have to do with it?

 

As well established in Traditional Chinese Medicine, I consider the liver to be the heart of our wellness and longevity. Weighing in around 3.5 lbs, this irregularly football shaped gland performs over 500 functions per day. The liver often referred to as an organ is actually a gland due to its bile production and excretory functions. Bile is an essential component to the liver’s digestive function particularly with regard to the emulsification (breaking down) of fats. With two blood supply sources, the detoxification functions of the liver can make or break our ability to prevent life threatening diseases. Volumes can be (and have been) written about the liver and its functions.

 

Here is a brief list of daily functions for the liver to perform: Bile Production, bile secretion, digestion, protein production, blood filtration (1500 mL per minute), toxin removal, transformation of food into energy, glucose storage, blood glucose levels, cholesterol production, activation of vitamin D from sun rays, metabolism of proteins, fats and carbohydrates, conversion of ammonia to urea and alcohol to acetaldehyde.  In other words, without a well-functioning liver we would experience a backup of toxin and bacteria infested sludge. At this point, you may be asking yourself, “What can I do to protect and support my liver?” The answer is simple, but the practice may be challenging to some. It involves good nutrition, supplementation and detoxification.

 

Nutrition is the top contributor to liver health followed by supplementation and regular detoxification or cleanses. Eating mostly non starchy vegetables, a variety of fruits, limited coffee consumption, and severe restriction or complete elimination of alcohol and tobacco is all it takes! Animal based proteins should be of the free range, organically grass fed, non GMO and antibiotic free varieties. Fish should be ocean caught via sustainable methods and limited to 2-3 times per week. If grains are to be eaten, they should be organic, non GMO, WHOLE grains. As the adage goes, “you are what you eat, eats!” Here are a few items to include in your diet.

  • Avocado: Helps production of glutathione, an antioxidant that assists in detoxification. Walnuts are a natural source of glutathione.
  • Garlic: activates enzymes that flush out toxins
  • Grapefruit: flushes out carcinogens and toxins.
  • Leafy Greens: neutralize metals, chemicals and pesticides found in foods (both naturally occurring and additions)

 

Supplementation is extremely important in maintaining liver health.

  • Milk Thistle: The active ingredient in Milk thistle is Silymarin. A powerful antioxidant (also for intestines, brain and CNS), inhibits oxidation of cell lipids, detoxification, protection from toxins, rejuvenation,  protects from poison of Amanita mushroom and toxicity of acetaminophen, possibly reduces blood sugar levels and stimulates the immune system. Although milk thistle is helpful in most liver disorders, such as Cirrhosis (both alcohol and Hepatitis induced), a few people are cautioned about its use. People allergic to ragweed, marigold and daisy may experience adverse reactions. Due to its blood glucose lowering action, people taking insulin or diabetes medication should consult with their physician prior to supplementation as it may exaggerate the effects of these drugs. *
  • Dandelion Root: probably the second most important liver herb, benefiting; bile production, internal environment protection, blood filtration, foreign substance removal, enzyme production, excess estrogen breakdown, temporal headaches (often associated with liver problems), liver decongestant and strengthener, Cirrhosis and hepatitis. *
  • Licorice: detoxifies chemical pollutants, reduces toxicity of caffeine, cocaine, nicotine, and others. Protects liver against damage and improves function with hepatitis. Like Milk thistle, there are certain cautions regarding its use. People allergic to legumes and taking digitalis should avoid licorice; it may raise blood pressure due to potassium excretory affects. Contraindicated for people with heart, thyroid, basil metabolic issues. Be sure to use only Deglycyrrhizinated forms known as DGL. *

 

Detoxification of the liver should be performed regularly depending on your lifestyle and toxin exposure. There are many detoxification supplements on the market that can be used safely. Be sure the above herbs are part of the detox program and should be accompanied by a colon cleanse. As the liver eliminates toxins from the body, it is extremely important to ensure that those same toxins do not become trapped in or attached to the colon on their way out. Fiber will most likely be included in the colon cleanse, therefore, it is important to note that any fiber supplement should not be taken at the same time as other supplements and prescriptions, as they will bind these substances for elimination before they have a chance to be absorbed as needed by the body.

 

What is truly amazing about this gland?  It can regenerate itself and it can continue to perform all its functions even when as much as 80% of it has been removed or damaged †. It is easy to see why the Chinese considered the liver as a key component to health and longevity and made connections between many illnesses to the general health of the liver. A couple indications that your liver may be in trouble are the occurrences of temporal headaches and consuming feelings of, or over expression of, anger.

 

 

Notes:

* Schechter, Steve, NHI’S Student Manual: Clinical Master Herbalist Program, 2006, Natural Healing Institute of Naturopathy Inc, Encinitas, CA.

† What You Need To Know About Liver Cancer™, http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/liver/page8, posted 4/29/2009.

 

Anne-Jeanné Rothchild is not providing medical services and she cannot diagnose, prescribe, nor treat symptom, defect, injury, or disease pursuant to California Business and Professional Code 2052. She can do health counseling or therapies as a Board Certified Drugless Practitioner in the capacities of Clinical Nutritionist Consultant (C.N.C.), Clinical Master Herbalist (C.M.H.), Clinical Aromatherapist (C.A.), or Holistic Health Practitioner (H.H.P.). Nothing she states should be considered as a substitute in any way for consultation, diagnosis, and treatment by a licensed primary health care provider, such as a Medical Doctor (M.D.)  Anne-Jeanné Rothchild is not a licensed M.D. or licensed primary health care provider. I am communicating with her for educational purposes only.  If I want medical advice or treatment, Anne-Jeanné Rothchild encourages me to consult with a licensed primary health care provider.  I consult with Anne-Jeanné Rothchild in her capacity as a holistic health counselor who conveys self-help information that people can use to increase their own

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