What Does the Liver Do?
The liver is the main detoxification factory of our body. However, the complexity of the detox process is vast, and our exposure to various toxins, immense. We can be very health conscious yet be exposed to many toxins from environmental, agricultural, chemical, and medical sources, not to mention the ever increasing food additives in processed and commercial food.
It is important for us to understand what the liver does for us on a day-to-day basis to fully understand the consequences of toxic overload onto our liver.
Oriental medicine and the acupuncture field have traditionally placed emphasis of our health on the proper function of the liver. The liver has traditionally been called the central station organ of the body where all traffic passes through exchanging nutrients and waste. Additionally, processing, refinement, information exchange, and more occurs during this process.
Traffic jams at the central station are disastrous for transportation elsewhere; and this is exactly the case with the liver. The term most frequently used in Oriental medicine for the liver is “decongestation” – just like traffic. Thus, there is reason why the liver is the most metabolically active organ of our body.
Components of Liver Function:
- Secretes bile to help digestion of fatty food
- Stores glycogen to maintain a healthy blood glucose level
- Houses essential reaction steps to burn fat (beta oxidation)
- Converts and stores excess sugar and fat
- Synthesizes cholesterol and phospholipids
- Synthesizes and breaks down protein utilizing many liver enzymes
- Synthesizes blood clotting
- Central factory of detox – In the liver multiple steps of biochemical reactions take place to convert water insoluble toxins into water soluble form so they can excreted with bile to be eliminated through feces or filtered through our kidneys and eliminated through urine.
- Produces antibodies through the immune system to fight diseases. The antigen complex at the end of their use is metabolized through the liver.
Poor liver function has been correlated with problems with the immune system.
Did you know not all toxins are from external sources?
Many of our internally produced substances, once utilized, need to be efficiently eliminated. For example, each month a female cycles through peak production of 4 major hormones. If any of the hormones are not eliminated timely and effectively at the end of its cycle, it will linger around and affect the hormone that should take center stage next. In this case the inefficiently eliminated hormone specific to one stage of the hormonal cycle becomes a toxin to the body at the next stage. There are many other ways inefficiently eliminated hormones can affect our natural hormonal functions.
Results of Toxic Overload
When we have toxic overlad that ties up most of the resources, the other important functions of the liver (see above) get affected as a consequence, including metabolism of our carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in the liver. As a consequence of toxic overload in the liver, the following are common
- Weight gain
- Poor sleep
- Poor lymphatic drainage
There are many natural herbs and substances that support a healthy liver function, bile production and secretion. This include dandelion, milk thistle, ginger, vitamin C, beet concentrate, and panax ginseng.
Many vitamins, minerals, and amino acids are also very important for supporting the detoxification biochemical reactions. Here are some examples: vitamin B6, riboflavin, methionine, cycteine, glycine, choline, potassium, magnesium, copper, zinc, selenium, etc.
A good thorough liver detoxification support should include a combination of liver supporting herbs, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that are known to support the conjugation/detoxification pathways in the liver.
Good liver detoxification is ideally done 2-4 times a year, depending on your diet, stress level, and physical activity level. It is best done with a diet with low or no allergenic (allergy inducing) component for 1 to 3 weeks. It will drastically reduce your toxic load, and resets your liver function. As a result, most people experience some degree of weight loss, better energy, feeling lighter and cleaner, and sleeping better.
Please feel free to ask our doctors any questions you have about liver detoxification at your next visit or call us at (858) 481-1438 for more information.