For an organ weighing 3-4 pounds and about 6 inches, our liver is amazing! I like to compare it to the heart – the heart is incredibly complex – with 4 chambers, lots of vasculature, chordae, valves and more, yet it does one thing – it pumps blood. The liver, by contrast looks boring. Uniform in texture and color, simple in anatomy, and incredibly varied in its function. The liver has between 500 to 6,000 functions depending on how the functions are categorized. There are some that say the liver is related to every biological function in the body either directly or immediately indirectly. That’s pretty amazing!
To name a few functions: the liver produces bile, an enzyme that breaks down fats in the small intestines and whisks away waste products from the liver at the same time. It converts excess glucose into glycogen for storage for energy and to make available when needed. It regulates blood levels of amino acids (which become proteins). It is responsible for making immune factors and removes bacteria from the blood. It regulates blood clotting, clearance of bilirubin, processes hemoglobin, and detoxifies the body of many end products from biological processes and toxins from our environment. How much more varied can you get?
With all this (and tons more), it makes sense to take care of your liver. Fortunately, there are ways to do that.
First of all, not coincidentally, mother nature has provided a myriad of herbs that help the liver clear toxins, protect the liver, or unburden it. While many of these herbs are readily available, and some even in our back yards, it is important to remember that these herbs can cause medications to clear out of your system quicker, which may not be what you want. Judicious use of these herbs is important.
The liver also likes “clean” foods. Foods without chemicals, free flowing agents, colorants, preservatives, etc. which the liver has to clear, is preferable. Eating foods with high nutritional content is sound advice no matter which organ you are targeting.
Thankfully, the liver was designed to remove the toxins resulting from normal biological processes that our bodies generate. It was also designed to remove certain potential poisons we may encounter in life – that is, life more than a couple of hundred years ago. In a lifetime that wasn’t made up of so many chemicals and toxins in the abundance that they are now. In this lifetime we are continually bombarded with chemicals in such excess that our liver just can’t keep up. To help that, liver cleanses and other purification programs have been developed to help an overwhelmed system by giving it a hand. But not all programs are good, and many may not be appropriate for you individually. It is necessary to have an expert in this arena make that assessment for you.
The liver can do truly amazing things. Sometimes it needs help. How are you loving your amazing liver?
©2020 Holly A. Carling, O.M.D., L.Ac., Ph.D.