Since you are here, I assume that you have some interest in bettering your life, feeling your best and are inspired to express health. Therefore, one of the key things that you must understand is the great importance of your liver. Your liver is one of the most important organs in the body, performing over 500 functions a day, and most of us could not even name one thing that it does. So that is all going to change, because after this post, you will be a liver lovin’ worshiper. Because yes, the liver is just that awesome. That is why we are going to learn about liver function and cleansing.
The liver is the largest organ in the body, weighing about 3 pounds. It holds about 1 pint of blood at any given time, which is about 13% of the body’s blood supply. There are two sources that supply blood to the liver; oxygenated rich blood flows in from the hepatic artery and nutrient-rich blood flows in from the hepatic portal vein. Being the only internal organ in the body to be able to regenerate itself, the liver is in charge of processing, converting, distributing and maintaining the body’s vital ‘fuel’ supply, making it vital to human health in almost every aspect.
Fun Facts: It’s peak hours of function are 1-3 am. This is very important because when you are frequently waking up between 1-3 am it is usually related to the liver. For example, liver flukes.
What are the Main Functions of the Liver?
1. Digestion/ Assimilation
The liver produces and secretes 600 to 1,000 mL of bile daily. Bile is a material that contains water, bile salts, acids, pigments, lecithin, cholesterol, phospholipids and electrolytes. Bile is stored in gallbladder and acts as an emulsifier by processing fat molecules. When you eat food that contains fat, it goes through the stomach and into the small intestine. When it hits the small intestine, the body stimulates the release of bile (with a hormone CCK), which then not only carries waste products away from the liver but also processes the fats in the small intestine. Some of these broken down fats and other nutrients and then carried back to the liver for further processing.
The liver helps process the nutrients from our food so that they can be utilized by the cells in our body. One example would be that it converts existing amino acids into proteins for use in a process called protein turnover. These proteins are the main building blocks of the cells (blood plasma), hormones, neurotransmitters, genes and the blood clotting proteins prothrombin and fibrinogen.
The liver plays a vital role in the storage of nutrients. The liver stores the important vitamins A, D, K, B12 and folate as well as the mineral iron (iron is recycled from hemoglobin). It also stores glucose (a form of sugar that is our vital source of energy) in the form of glycogen, so that we have access to energy whenever is necessary. In addition, the process of storing glucose in the form of glycogen also allows the body to regulate blood sugar.
2. Detoxification and Conversion
The liver is the ultimate detoxifier, without it, our bodies would become so toxic that we would die. The liver breaks down or converts substances through phase 1 and phase 2 detoxification. It detoxifies substances like ammonia (byproduct of protein), metabolic waste, worn-out cells, drugs, alcohol and chemicals, so that they can be excreted safely, via the bile, from the body.
Being the primary detoxification organ in the body, the liver uses two processes to handle all of our daily toxin exposure. This exposure includes everything from the food we eat, the air we breath, the water we drink (and bath in), the personal care products we use and the drugs, alcohol and medications we take. Luckily, our liver has a most efficient process called Phase 1 and Phase 2 detoxification, that is if it does not become to overburdened with toxic exposures.
Phase 1 and Phase 2 Detoxification uses the cytochrome P450 enzymes, cofactors and nutrients to chemically biotransform lipid- (fat) soluble substances into water-soluble substances so that they can be safely excreted. During this process the toxic substance is converted into a highly reactive and often more toxic compound between phase 1 and phase 2. Therefore, it is vital that we have all the nutrients necessary so that this process can occur quickly, reducing any possible damage incurred. * This is important because lipid-soluble toxic substances can easily be stored in fat deposits (think cellulite) if the liver becomes to overburdened, run down, or lacks nutrients necessary. Once the compound is converted into its water-soluble state through Phase 2, it is excreted through urine or bile.
Please take note that MANY nutrients are needed for proper detoxification, without them, you risk toxic build up in the body and damage. The list of needed nutrients are listed in the diagram above (I would also include Coenzyme Q10) but some include: B vitamins, Milk Thistle, Glutathione, Vitamin C, Selenium and Vitamin E. Therefore, it is essential to have these nutrients present when performing any detox or cleansing program. These are a vital part of liver function and cleansing.
3. Hormone and Cholesterol Production
The liver manufactures cholesterol from sterol fats, about 800 to 1500 mg daily which are then used to make vital compounds. Cholesterol is used to produces sex hormones such as testosterone and estrogen, the adrenal hormones (such as cortisol), bile acids and vitamin D. Furthermore, the liver secretes IGF (insulin-like growth factor) and aids in the metabolism of hormones, such as estrogen. Therefore, the liver actually plays a vital role in hormone balance in the body.
The Liver’s Role in Chinese Medicine
Chinese Medicine tends to have a more holistic view of the body and looks at the body as a whole and its interactions with its environments. These viewpoints can be very helpful so here are some perspectives from Chinese Medicine.
- Controls the health of muscles, ligaments and tendons
- Stores and Cleanses the blood and maintains a smooth flow of energy and blood
- Expresses health in the eyes, nails and nervous system
- Reflects emotional harmony and movement
Signs of Deficiency in the Liver:
- Impotence, pain in thighs, pelvic region and throat
- Irritability, vertigo, depression, dry eyes, dry skin, asthma, hernia and difficulty raising head up and down
- Frustration, resentment, repressed anger, lump in throat, feeling stuck
- Anger, discontentment, compulsive energy, irritability, feeling bad
- Red tearing eyes, bitter taste, headaches, muscular tension, insomnia
- Justifying fault finding to deceive oneself, chronic complaining
- When the liver is weak, one dreams of “fragrant mushrooms,” “lying under a tree without being able to get up,” or ” “forests in the mountains”
- When liver is in excess, in dreams one feels angry
Now that we have gained some respect for that dear old liver of ours, maybe we should start thinking about taking care of it a little better. Other than diet, which is paramount, I would suggest doing a Liver Gallbladder Flush as well as getting on a supplementation program. You should also think about reducing your overall toxin load by switching to an organic plant-based diet, investing in a water filtration system as well as replacing your toxic personal and home care products for natural ones as well (don’t worry, we will be going over those in no time).
If you think that your liver is doing just fine, the truth is it probably is not doing as well as it could, and we all need a clean-up. That is if you want to have beautiful skin, great energy, and a calm, peaceful mood. If you need a little more guidance, some tell-tale signs you need a liver cleanse and supplements, here are a few. These will help you further improve liver function and cleansing.
- Receding hair line, losing hair
- PMS, Menopause symptoms
- Yellow tint to the eyes
- Allergies (food and environmental)
- Poor eyesight
- Repressed and Irrational Anger
- Chronic Pain
- Hormone Imbalance
So how do you get started with improving liver function and cleansing? Try my Liver Gallbladder Flush program. I have done this over 15 times and have had amazing results. It is one of the most effective and easiest ways to take back your health and to improve liver function. Check it out to learn if it is right for you.