Liver-Loving Herbs

The liver has an incredibly hard job making sure the body absorbs everything it needs and dumps everything it doesn’t. Improve your liver health with these liver-loving herbs.

| November/December 2006

The liver is a truly remarkable organ that most of us fail to appreciate, considering the many vital functions it performs. But medical doctors and natural health-care practitioners both understand the importance of keeping the liver healthy, open and functioning smoothly. The liver is the major organ of digestion and assimilation, helping to provide the nutrients that maintain health and repair diseased or damaged tissue. It also plays a crucial role in helping to eliminate toxic wastes from the body.

An Enormous Job Description

The liver’s job is to make sure the body absorbs everything it needs and dumps everything it doesn’t. If one were to write a job description for the liver, its list of major duties would look like this:

WANTED: Highly functioning, multitasking major organ that works well under pressure, eliminates toxins and can function in a high-paced environment. Duties may include:

• Metabolizing proteins, fats and carbohydrates, thus providing energy and nutrients
• Storing vitamins, minerals and sugar
• Filtering the blood and helping remove harmful chemicals and bacteria
• Creating bile, which breaks down fats
• Helping assimilate and store fat-soluble vitamins (A, E, D, K)
• Storing extra blood, which can be quickly released when needed
• Creating serum proteins, which maintain fluid balance and act as carriers
• Helping maintain electrolyte and water balance
• Creating immune substances, such as gamma globulin
• Breaking down and eliminating excess hormones, drugs and exogenous chemicals

As you can see, that is a lot of work for a single organ to do, even under the best of conditions. Unfortunately, the modern lifestyle burdens the liver with many stresses, making its job even more difficult. Adding to the insult of oily, processed foods that the liver must contend with today are human-made chemicals, such as lead from gasoline, countless food additives, preservatives, pesticides, herbicides and many other compounds.

Other common liver stressors are alcohol and recreational drugs. Furthermore, drugs administered for therapeutic purposes affect the liver as do excess hormones, such as adrenaline, which our bodies create constantly in response to our fast-paced lifestyle. When stressed, the liver can store hormones for up to a year, which increases the odds for emotional imbalances, such as depression and anger, as well as stress-related imbalances, such as immune-system depression.

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