The liver is the largest organ in your body, being responsible for many vital roles. And because it has so many metabolic functions, meaning it engages in a high level of chemical activity, it produces a lot of heat as a by-product.
The liver produces the green/yellow fluid called bile, associated with the choleric temperament, one of the Four Temperaments of ancient Greek medicine (2). Choleric types tend to anger easily if there is too much bile production and can be 'hot headed' (think of all that heat produced by the liver!). Traditional herbalists would treat the liver of this personality type with care, as too much stimulation can increase bile flow and exacerbate anger issues. We are all familiar with the expression, 'it galls me to see...' The gall bladder is a storage depot for the bile that the liver produces.
Bile emulsifies fats and thereby aids their efficient digestion. Bile is also important for removing waste products of liver metabolism by transporting them to the gut for excretion. Bile is our natural laxative too. Without it, bowel motion can get blocked leading to dry and uncomfortable toilet experiences! Herbalists have an array of medicinal herbs that improve bile production or increase bile flow.
Detoxification is perhaps one of the most frequently cited functions of the liver, as it has become a common topic in health articles and is a fundamental consideration amongst natural health practitioners. Since we live in a world that is becoming increasingly toxic to living beings, whether through chemical pollutants in the home or toxic agrichemicals that enter our water systems and food chains, it is essential that we ensure our liver's detoxifying mechanisms are functioning optimally.
The efficient and timely breakdown of hormones by the liver is important to regulation of hormone effects in the body. Herbalists invariably include treatment to support liver function for people with hormonal imbalances. This helps ensure, for example, that an excess of oestrogen does not accumulate in the system.
Below is a summary of liver functions to help you appreciate why it's important to love your liver.
REASONS to love your liver
Produces bile – important for fat digestion and absorption
Detoxifies and removes natural waste products of metabolism, such as nitrogenous waste, which is converted to urea for excretion via the kidneys
Deactivates and neutralises ingested toxic substances such as alcohol, drugs, certain chemicals and bacteria
Metabolises fats, proteins and carbohydrates – important for regulating blood sugar levels
Produces hormones that regulate storage and release processes
Deactivates hormones produced from other glands after serving their purpose
Synthesises specific proteins essential for regulation of blood volume and blood clotting
Stores fat-soluble vitamins and iron
Produces heat that can be used to assist body temperature regulation
Acts as a reservoir for blood, which assists blood volume regulation
Acts as a safety check on toxic or unwanted substances entering the body via the digestive system, as blood from the gut first passes through the liver before being distributed to the rest of the body.
HOW to love your liver:
And if you want the Rolls Royce treatment, then consult a herbalist for a liver boost program. This will be a regime with a herbal mix that will either stimulate liver function or heal and aid regeneration of the liver, depending on your case history. Taking a case history is the best way a Herbalist can prescribe a bespoke prescription for you, assisting the liver's extraordinary capacity to bounce back!
Amanda Frescura PhD MIRCH MURHP
RESTORING HEALTH NATURALLY