The liver serves as the major filtering system for toxins and waste in the body. It removes microorganisms from the blood stream, which prevents them from getting deeper into the body where they may cause serious infection. It also converts fat-soluble chemicals into water-soluble chemicals so that they may be easily excreted from the body via the bile and urine. The liver also plays an important part in supporting and maintaining good digestion, fat metabolism, and immune response.
In fact, the liver is so important to overall health that I almost titled this post “Save The Liver,” in homage to the Saturday Night Live skits Dan Aykroyd used to do of cooking great Julia Child, but I figured no one would get it. Plus, maintaining a healthy liver is not really something to joke around about. Read on to see why…..
THE ALL-IMPORTANT LIVER & GALLBLADDER
Here’s a quick overview of what this amazing, self-generating organ does on a regular basis:
- Manufactures a quart or more of bile daily to break down fat. Bile is the yellowish-green fluid that’s produced in your liver and stored in your gallbladder; bile also plays an essential role in emulsifying—or breaking down—the fats you eat. Think of bile as a substance that works in the same way as a detergent that gets rid of grease from your dishes.
- Filters harmful toxins and substances (including alcohol) out of nearly 100 gallons of blood every day and allows nutrients to get to your cells.
- Produces more than 13,000 crucial chemicals and hormones including cholesterol, testosterone, and estrogen. Plus, your liver manages over 50,000 (are you kidding me!?) enzymes to maintain a healthy body.
- Regulates blood sugar levels and prevents dangerous spikes and lows.
- Detoxifies all internal and external environmental pollutants. If your liver didn’t continually remove metabolic trash and toxins from your blood, you would be dead in a matter of hours!
- Stores essential vitamins and minerals—including vitamins A, D, K and B12—to help keep your bones from crumbling.
(For in-depth information about the liver, how it functions, its detoxification processes, and more, go to Dr. Sandra Cabot’s website at http://www.liverdoctor.com.)
As you might expect with all the liver does, when it is over-burdened or not functioning properly many unhealthy or even life-threatening conditions result. Symptoms of a mal-functioning liver include abnormal metabolism of fats (which can result in elevated LDL levels and reduced HDL levels of cholesterol), blocked arteries that lead to high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes, cellulite, and excessive weight gain or inability to lose weight, even while dieting. Signs of a toxic liver might also be digestive problems like abdominal bloating, indigestion, constipation, blood sugar problems (like hypoglycemia), depression, allergies, skin rashes, and recurrent headaches.
One of the main jobs of the liver is to make bile, which is then delivered by way of tiny biliary tubing to the common bile duct. The gallbladder, which is attached to this duct, acts as a storage reservoir for the bile. Eating fat or protein triggers the gallbladder to release the stored bile and squeeze itself empty. The bile then makes its way down to the intestine, where it helps with fat metabolism and assimilation. Your liver is so important that medical experts agree that if your body was a corporation, the liver would be the president! And Chinese medicine considers the liver to be the most important organ in the body and the site where emotional dis-ease, especially anger, is stored (more on this in a future post).
Unfortunately, by the time you’re 40 the tubes and ducts leading to and from your liver start to get clogged with environmental toxins, undigested fats, gallstones, scar tissue, and metabolic waste. By age 50, you’re probably only getting one-fourth of the bile your body needs to break down the fats from the foods you eat. And when your liver can’t make enough bile, it shifts to “Plan B,” where instead of dissolving toxins, it encapsulates them, i. e. puts them into a storage form that your organs harbor for many years. Hmmm…I’m not too keen on Plan B.
For some people their biliary tubing is choked with gallstones, whether they have any symptoms or not. These stones can be black, red, white, green or tan colored. The more common green ones get their color from being coated with bile. At the core of some of the larger stones you might be able to see some unidentified objects which may be clumps of bacteria or dead bits of parasite that initially caused the stone to form. If you’ve done any previous liver cleansing you might also have stones that are composites—made of many smaller ones—showing that they regrouped in the bile ducts some time after the last cleanse you did.
As the stones grow and become more numerous, the back pressure causes the liver to make less bile, much like how water in a garden hose gets backed up when the hose is twisted. So instead of being flushed out naturally with the bile, stones begin to collect and grow. This also means that much less cholesterol leaves the body, and consequently levels begin to rise.
Gallstones are porous, so they can pick up all the bacteria, cysts, viruses and parasites that are passing through the liver since it is the main filtering system of the body. In this way “nests” of infection can form. Dr. Hulda Clark, author of The Cure for All Diseases, believes that no stomach infection, such as ulcers or intestinal bloating, can be cured permanently without removing these gallstones from the liver, either by surgery or doing a formal cleanse.
For those of you not yet ready to undertake a formal cleanse, such as the ones to be presented in a future post, there are a variety of natural substances you can use to at least tone and help detoxify the liver. Some of these are the amino acids glutamine, glycine, taurine, and cysteine, vitamins C, E and K, natural carotenoids, lecithin, selenium, zinc, essential fatty acids (EFAs) and the B vitamins 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 12, biotin and inositol. Alfalfa sprouts, cruciferous and green leafy vegetables, fresh raw vegetable and wheatgrass juices, green tea, and foods that contain sulfur, like eggs, garlic, onions, cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts, also pamper the liver. Milk thistle, which contains silymarin, acts as an anti-oxidant and is one of the most popular herbs used to insure good liver health.
Another way to support liver function is by using daily oil therapy. This routine helps take toxins out of the blood that the liver has not been able to remove or detoxify. The procedure is deceptively simple, yet highly effective for dealing with a number of disorders, including blood diseases, lung and liver disorders, tooth and gum diseases, headache, gastric ulcers and intestinal problems, skin diseases, heart and kidney ailments, nervous conditions, poor memory, female disorders, swollen face and bags under the eyes.
To perform this therapy:
- Use cold pressed, unrefined sunflower or sesame oil
- In the morning, anytime before breakfast, place 1 TBS oil in your mouth and slowly swish around, “chew” it, and draw it through your teeth for 10-20 min.; this thoroughly mixes the oil with saliva and activates the released enzymes which draw toxins out of the blood
- Spit out the oil—if you swallowed it you would just be reabsorbing the toxins! You’ll notice the oil is now a milky white or yellowish color (and saturated with toxins and harmful bacteria)
- For best results, repeat the process two more times, then rinse your mouth with ½ tsp baking soda or crystal salt dissolved in some water; you might also want to brush your teeth and scrape your tongue
Some of the visible effects of oil therapy include whitening of the teeth and alleviation of bleeding gums. During times of illness this protocol can be repeated three times a day, but always on an empty stomach.
For more in-depth information on oil pulling and it’s many benefits, refer to these Self-help Health posts:
And here’s more information, thanks to WhyDontYouTryThis.com, about keeping your liver in good running condition…..
Your liver is like the maid of your body, cleaning up all the toxins you put into it, and therefore keeping all internal systems running smoothly. The modern diet, environmental pollutants, and our increasing dependence on toxic personal care products have put our livers on serious overtime. For this reason, it’s important to know how to clean your liver thoroughly and effectively – oh, and naturally.
Your liver works to cleanse the blood and remove toxic substances that we’ve eaten, inhaled, or rubbed on our bodies. When it is overworked—as it is in many modern adults—or when you are under a significant amount of physical or even mental stress, your liver can struggle to keep up.
“The thousands of enzyme systems that are responsible for virtually every body activity are constructed in the liver,” explains Dr. Karl Maret, M.D. “The proper functioning of the eyes, the heart, the brain, the gonads, the joints, and the kidneys are all dependent on good liver activity. If the liver is impaired from constructing even one of the thousands of enzyme systems the body requires, there is an impairment in overall body function and a resultant greater metabolic stress on the individual.”
How to Clean Your Liver – No Products Required
So, what can you do about it? Well, you could try a quality liver detox supplement, or you could use some items found at your local health food store, your grocery store, or even some that are already in your kitchen. Here is how to clean your liver with 5 common food items.
1. Warm Lemon Water – Warm lemon water is a great way to detox your liver every single morning. This isn’t lemonade, so don’t add sugar or anything else. Just purified water and a healthy dose of fresh lemon juice. Some experts, like author A.F. Beddoe who wrote the book Biological Ionization as Applied to Human Nutrition, also believe that the liver produces more enzymes in response to water with lemon than to any other food.
2. Garlic – Add some garlic to your cooking or thinly slice a clove into your next salad. Garlic contains sulfur compounds that can help activate enzymes in the liver. It contains allicin and selenium, which are both good for liver protection.
3. Avocados – As if you need another reason to add avocados to your diet, a Japanese study found that avocados contain compounds that can protect the liver from damage. When compared with 21 other fruits, avocados had the most promise in protecting the liver from galactosamine, a “powerful” toxin that has been shown to produce a liver damage much like human viral hepatitis.
4. Cilantro – This versatile herb can be added to just about any dish, including salads or smoothies. This herb can help remove heavy metals from the body, something your liver could be struggling with right now.
5. Turmeric – Another powerful spice with a long list of benefits, turmeric is said to not only protect the liver from damage, but also encourage regeneration of liver cells. In addition, it increases natural bile production and aids in keeping the body toxin-free.
Source: Natural Society
Another routine I came across for keeping the liver happy and healthy is this simple process from Easy Health Options:
Olive oil is a main component of the Mediterranean diet, and has been found to offer protection against inflammation with its abundance of beneficial compounds. A study published in Current Pharmaceutical Design showed that one olive oil compound in particular, called oleocanthal, offers similar anti-inflammatory benefits to ibuprofen.
As part of a seasonal detox, I recommend a simple lemon and olive oil drink that helps support the liver and gallbladder, and reduce systemic inflammation.
To make this drink, blend one whole lemon (including peel), 1 tablespoon of organic olive oil, and 1 ¼ cups spring water in the blender. Strain the contents and drink before bed.
Many people report that the refreshing beverage helps them sleep better – another important factor in addressing chronic inflammation.
Just as important at eating what’s good for your liver is avoiding what’s bad for it, like high fructose corn syrup and processed trans fats:
Keeping your liver healthy and happy is crucial, so don’t hesitate to incorporate any or all of the protocols mentioned above. The oil therapy and the foods/spices listed will certainly help keep the liver in good condition and relieve it of toxins. You can also visit Global Healing Center and type in “liver cleanse” and come up with a longer list of foods for keeping the liver healthy. However to get stones out, a formal cleanse is really the only way to go besides surgery. So I will talk more about that and give you some options to choose from in a future post. Also, GHC offers a cleanse kit you can buy.
FYI, you can purchase quality coconut oil for oil pulling and the liver herbs mentioned at any good health or drug store, however I buy all my health supplies on-line at a couple of discount sites. One of my favorite places to shop is iHerb.com; use code CJG192 if you are a new customer and spend more than $40 and you will get a discount, plus can take advantage of their specials and trial offer section. Shipping is free on orders of $20 and up, and there’s no sales tax. There’s an extra 5% off on orders over $60.
Vitacost.com is another on-line favorite of mine. If you plan on shopping there, be sure to sign up for a free acct. at eBates.com (now known as Rakuten) if you don’t already have one. That way you can use the eBates/Rakuten portal to shop at Vitacost (and 100s of other popular stores, including iHerb!) and earn cash back on your purchases. Plus, also get some reward–I got a $10 gift card–when you place your first $25 order at a store through them. How does it get any better than that?!
4/12/14 Update – Read these Self-help Health post for information on liver cleanses:
5/10/21 Update – I just found out about this video with a simple and quick routine for helping cleanse and detox the liver and gallbladder based on Donna Eden’s Energy Medicine:
p.s. Be sure to subscribe to Self-help Health so you don’t miss any future posts, and tell your friends to do the same. Also check out my website’s To Your Health page and Evolution Made Easier blog for more helpful health tips, tools and information.
Disclaimer: Please note that any information here is provided as a guideline only, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, and/or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.