A person’s liver is one of the most important organs in his or her body. It is required to perform over a hundred of tasks for the body to function well—these tasks usually include detoxification of wastes in the body, storage of energy and metabolism-related tasks.
Liver is also one of the organs that filters the substances that are truly considered to be toxic out of a person’s bloodstreams.
To be specific with some of the wastes that the liver detoxifies, they can be some chemicals that are potentially harmful to a person’s body, too much alcohol and some excess medications. Over time, the liver gets overused when a person does not live a healthy lifestyle.
Though liver problems are sometimes inherited, there are still factors that cause it to be damaged and have issues regarding its function and health.
Some of these factors are too much alcohol use, obesity and some viruses. With that being said, it is integral that a person takes care of his or her liver.
Ten of the best herbal medicines or supplements that can be of further help and assistance to having a healthy and well-functioning liver will be discussed right after understanding some of the basic or fundamental things about liver, how it functions, some diseases it can have and how to take care of it.
Table of Contents
Understanding the Liver
The liver’s location inside the body is at the top of the small intestines, right kidney and stomach. It is found right beneath the diaphragm and protected by the ribcage. When talking about internal organs in the body, liver is to be considered as the largest one in size—it is said to be compared with the size of a football and weighs approximately 3 pounds.
To physically describe the liver, it is an organ that has a reddish-brown color and a rubbery-like texture when felt by the sense of touch. A person’s liver is made up of two large sections—they are called the left lobe and the right lobe.
The liver’s left lobe is made up of eight small segments, and so is the right lobe. These segments are made up of 1000 lobules—a term used to describe small lobes. These lobules are the ones that are connected to small tubes or ducts. These small ducts are the ones that are connected to larger ducts.
These connections made by the lobules, small ducts and large ducts are what make the common hepatic duct. This so-called common hepatic duct is what transports the bile, which are produced by the cells of the liver, to the body’s gallbladder and duodenum—referred to as the first part of a body’s small intestine.
At any given instance, the liver approximately holds a pint, or 13 percent, of the body’s blood. There are two main sources that supply blood to a person’s liver are the hepatic artery and hepatic portal vein.
Oxygenated blood is what flows in from the hepatic artery while what flows in from the hepatic portal vein is blood that is rich in nutrients. Also, the liver helps a person digest the food he or she ate, convert the eaten food to energy and store it for a later use—usually when the body needs it already.
Primary Functions of Liver
Once the liver broke down all the harmful and poisonous substances, the end products are excreted into the blood and bile. The by-products from the bile enter the intestines and leave a person’s body in the form of feces while the by-products from the blood get filtered out when it passes through the kidneys and leave the body in the form of urine. Liver, truly has beyond a hundred of important functions; here are some of those:
1. Most of the chemical levels in a person’s blood is regulated by the liver. As mentioned above, it excretes bile—a product that helps in carrying away the wastes out of a person’s liver.
2. The blood that leaves the intestines and stomach passes through the person’s liver. While the blood passes through the liver, it processes the blood. It creates, after breaking down and balancing, nutrients.
3. Liver also metabolizes drugs in the body into forms that are non-toxic making it easier for the body to use.
4. Liver is also the one that is responsible for the production of some proteins for the body’s blood plasma. It is also responsible for the production of another type of protein and cholesterol too that help in carrying fats through the body.
5. Liver also converts the excess glucose in the body into the form of glycogen. Glycogen is used for storage and balancing the right amount of glucose needed. Glycogen can be stored and be converted back to glucose for a later use.
6. Liver processes hemoglobin and stores its iron content. Regulates the clotting of the blood.
7. It also converts poisonous ammonia into urea—this is a product of the metabolism of protein, it will be excreted in the urine.
8. One of its function is to clear bilirubin—this one comes from red blood cells. If the bilirubin gets accumulated, the eyes and the skin turn yellowish in color.
Liver’s Two Ways of Protecting Itself
Since the liver is exposed to harmful substances, it has its ways of protecting itself. The first way it has is by regenerating. It regenerates itself by repairing its tissues that are injured. The second way is that: it has way too many cells that when the others are injured, the remaining cells that are not perform the functions of the injured ones.
The symptoms of having liver diseases vary and depend on the causes. But there are still some common symptoms that give people some hints that they have some kinds of diseases in the liver. These general symptoms include vomiting, decrease in appetite, having nausea, having fatigue, bruises that easily appear, having itchy skin, having dark urine, having pale or black stool, having blood in stool, having yellowish skin, having yellowish eyes and having swollen ankles and legs.
Some of the Liver Diseases are listed here.
1. Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is a condition that may result from having an inflamed liver. This one is usually caused by several viruses. This type of hepatitis can be spread through the intake of contaminated food and water. The symptoms of Hepatitis A may stop even without being addressed by several medications. The recovery from this disease may take a few weeks.
2. Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B can spread through the contact with blood and semen. It can be acute, or it can be chronic—acute means shot-term while chronic means long-term. Nowadays, there is still no cure for Hepatitis B, but it can be treated. One of the early treatments is key to preventing permanent complications from occurring.
3. Hepatitis C
Just like Hepatitis B, this type of disease can either be acute or chronic. It can spread through having contact with the blood of a person having Hepatitis C. This type of Hepatitis does not show symptoms during its early stages. But it can cause some permanent damages to a person’s liver when not treated properly during those early stages.
4. Hepatitis D
Hepatitis D cannot spread on its own. It can only be developed in people who have Hepatitis B. This one is a serious type of hepatitis that needs proper medication. It can also be acute or chronic.
5. Hepatitis E
This type of Hepatitis can be contracted by drinking water that is contaminated. Normally, this type can clear up on just its own. This type also does not cause permanent damage or complications to a person’s liver.
Sometimes, gallstones get stuck in the bile duct that is draining the liver. Also, hepatitis or infection in the ducts can happen when gallstones are present.
Chronic damages to the liver from any causes might lead to permanent scarring. It is called cirrhosis. Subsequently, the liver will be unable to function fully or totally. Thus, causing the body to have imbalance in its organs.
8. Primary Biliary Cirrhosis
This is a very rare disease that gradually destroys or damages the bile ducts of the liver. Subsequently, permanent scarring develops.
Subsequently after cirrhosis, ascites leak from the liver to the belly. Ascites are fluids which leak from the liver after having cirrhosis.
10. Liver Cancer
Hepatocellular Carcinoma is the most usual type of liver cancer. Normally, it occurs after having cirrhosis.
11. Liver Failure
Sometimes, due to the excessive drinking of alcohol, some infection and genetic factors, livers fail to do its function anymore.
This type of disease allows iron to be deposited in the liver up to the point where it is already detrimental to the liver causing it to be damaged. Throughout the body, iron deposit also happens and subsequently causes numerous and serious health problems. This disease may be inherited from a person’s parents.
13. Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis
Just like Primary Biliary Cirrhosis, Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis is also one of the rare diseases that cause the bile ducts of the live to have permanent scarring.
14. Wilson’s Disease
This type of disease damages the liver by causing it to absorb copper instead of releasing it to the bile ducts. After reaching its capacity of storing copper, liver allows it to be transported through the bloodstream causing more health issues.
10 Best Herbs – That Will Regulates Your Liver Function
1. Artichoke (Cynara Scolymus)
Cynara Scolymus is the scientific name of the herb called Artichoke. Before the twentieth century, the importance of this plant has not been given much acknowledgement. But some of the pharmaceutical products that are used to treat liver diseases have Artichoke as their ingredient.
Artichoke has also been proven to be a remedy for biliary disorders and liver cleansing. It has been known to contain cynarine—a compound that increases the production of bile inside the liver; thus, helping the detoxification processes that happen inside the body to be more efficient.
The leaves of Artichoke are eaten commonly in places like Europe, Mediterranean and North America. Artichoke leaves are believed to contain silymarin. Silymarin is believed and known to have properties and abilities that are good protections for the liver.
Besides having good effects to a person’s liver, Artichoke leaves also help in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels for people who are at risk of developing corona heart disease.
2. Milk Thistle (Sylibum Marianum)
Sylibum Marianum is the scientific name of the herb called Milk Thistle. Milk Thistle is a plant that grows and is peculiar to places like Europe and North America. It is also native to Mediterranean Zones where it has been traditionally used during ancient times.
In several regions, it is a vegetable that is being served in parties such as Christmas Celebrations. Although some people say that is has a slight bitter taste, it is also known for having a delicately sweet flavour. Milk Thistle is not known by having too many nutrients in it.
Instead, it provides other components such as silymarin and inulin—to which it owes the medicinal benefits it possesses. Silymarin helps in the regeneration of liver cells that were damaged by toxins. It also provides relief to inflammations in the liver’s tissues.
Another benefit is that it is known as an effective treatment to liver disorders—such as biliary dyspepsia and gallstones— that are caused by insufficient bile production. Milk Thistle is believed to relieve the symptoms of liver diseases who have strong links to being overweight, drinking too much alcohol and abusing the use of drugs through its hepatoprotective properties.
Milk Thistle is really an incredible plant that it can also be externally used as anti-inflammatory remedy to dermatitis, sunburns and many more. Milk Thistle also has laxative effects and some properties that stimulate appetite and lower the high cholesterol levels in the body.
3. Dandelion (Taraxacum Officinale)
Taraxacum Officinale is the scientific name of the herb called Dandelion. Dandelions are weed-like wildflowers that grow throughout the world. Besides being known as a flower, it is considered as an herbal medicine and has a great property that cleanses liver.
Dandelion’s leaves are also an ingredient that gives salad and juices more flavor. Dandelions have great purifying properties that make it very essential in the process of detoxification. It has been considered as an ally to kidneys and livers—the organs that detoxify blood. Dandelions have choleretic effects—meaning to say, it is good for the increase in bile production.
They are also considered to have cholagogue effects—they facilitate the emptying of a person’s gallbladder. Those two properties make Dandelions one of the greatest helps available for the treating of liver disorders and malfunctioning of gallbladders.
Besides being an ally to the kidneys and liver, Dandelions also aid one’s digestion, stimulate one’s appetite and have laxative effects. Sometimes, Dandelions are used to treat overeating too which makes it one of the options if one wants to lose weight. Also, Dandelions are an effective treatment to skin problems such as eczema and rashes. Dandelions really have plenty of uses.
4. Fumitory (Fumaria Officinalis)
Fumaria Officinalis is the scientific name of the herb called Fumitory. This plant, just like Dandelions, has choleretic and cholagogue effects. It also has diuretic and cleansing properties. It has the ability to smoothen the functions of a person’s gallbladder and improve digestion.
It has some properties that help relieve difficult digestions, intestinal spasms and episodes of migraines. When used externally, it has the same effects as Dandelions have—effective treatment to skin problems such as eczema and rashes. Fumitory is considered as a sacred and mystical herb that has several health benefits to a person’s body.
5. Chicory (Cichorium Intybus)
Cichorium Intybus is the scientific name of the herb called Chicory. Chicory is a medical tonic herb that is also a considered as one of the powerful liver cleansing herbs there is. The leaves of this plant can be used either in medicinal purposes or culinary purposes; in addition, its roots can be an alternative to coffee. Not just a normal alternative, a healthy one.
Some people say that it has a bitter taste, but it goes along with other foods that counteract and compliment its flavor. Just like Dandelion and Fumitory, it has a cholagogue effect which helps in emptying the gallbladder and improving the flow of digestion. It is believed to improve the function of the liver by clearing it from toxins.
Chicory has laxative effects that help people who are suffering from chronic constipation. It also has a mild diuretic effect to prevent the retention of excess water in the body. Chicory is an herb recommended to be used by people who are suffering from liver problems, gallbladder disorders and poor flow of digestion.
6. Boldo (Peumus Boldus)
Peumus Boldus is the scientific name of the herb called Boldo. This plant has been used for centuries by people who live in Chile. It is believed to be a powerful herb for liver cleansing.
In Chile, their native people use the leaves of Boldo as a way of treating digestive disorders and stomach problems. Nowadays, it is already considered as one of the herbal plants that are most widely used in health stores and other pharmacies as way of treating gallbladder problems.
This plant has the ability to protect livers from being damaged. It also has choleretic effect that increases the production of bile in the liver. It also has cholagogue effect that helps in emptying the gallbladders. Boldo leaves are a great aid to digestion and gallbladder malfunctions.
Besides being a great help for livers and gallbladders, Boldo leaves have laxative effect which help people who suffer from constipation.
7. Marshmallow Root (Althaea Officinalis)
Althaea Officinalis is the scientific name of the herb called Marshmallow Root. The name of this herbal plant came from a Greek word that means “to heal.” It has been used traditionally as a treatment to sore throats. It is also believed to have antifungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Well, just like all the herbal plants mentioned above, it does great things for a person’s liver and kidney. As mentioned previously, livers can be damaged over time—especially its bile ducts.
Well, Marshmallow Root helps repair the damage in a person’s bile ducts because it has great antioxidant properties; it contains polysaccharides which is one of the best helps for healing wounds.
8. Parsley (Petroselinum Crispum)
Petroselinum Crispum is the scientific name of the herb called Parsley. Parsley is one of the most common ingredients to some cuisines in the world. But there is more to it than just being an ingredient. It is rich in vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and flavonoids.
Parsley is believed to have great liver detoxification properties. Most people do not know that bitter herbs are the ones who are of great help in stimulating the release of bile. Well, Parsley is considered to be a bitter herb too.
Parsley also helps in the production of glutathione which is a very essential thing that helps in protecting the liver from any damage it might experience. Parsley is also known to lower high blood sugar levels—having a high blood sugar level can inflame the liver of a person.
9. Beet Root (Beta Vulgaris)
Beta Vulgaris is the scientific name of the herb called Beets. Beets have been found in Egyptian pyramids way back the Third Dynasty. Egyptians consume it before even without knowing its health benefits. This plant has been eaten for thousands of years and is a great help in the detoxification of people’s livers and kidneys.
Liver is the organ in the body that protects a person from substances such as xenobiotics. People are exposed to xenobiotics daily—some examples are pollution and pesticides. These substances are considered as carcinogenic or aptly known as cancer-causing. Unfortunately, xenobiotics can still do considerable damage to a person’s liver and DNA too.
Consuming beet roots help increase a person’s antioxidant in the body; giving more protection to the damage that liver might experience. Also, the damage that xenobiotics can do to a person’s DNA can be reduced.
10. Ginger (Zingiber Officinale)
Zingiber Officinale is the scientific name of the herb called Ginger. Ginger is one of the most famous spices that people all over the world use for their food. Besides having one of the greatest flavors, it can also be beneficial to a person’s health too.
Researches, up to now, have no idea how Gingers do it; but consuming it, influences the fat-producing genes in the liver. Ginger also reduces inflammation and produces more antioxidants for the body. Ginger, without having to put more emphasis, really is a great herb that is a part of people’s daily lives.
The above-listed herbs are just some of the herbs in the world which are beneficial to protecting a person’s liver. There are still some of these herbs that are not put to the discovery yet. But it is one good thing to know that the herbs mentioned above have already been proven to help people in protecting their livers.
The importance of a well-functioning liver has been understood with the things mentioned above. Without it, the body will be put to jeopardy. People are exposed to detrimental substances daily, and liver is the one who helps in protecting the body and some organs.
Taking good care of the liver is as essential as eight glasses of water every day. That is why, taking supplements and eating healthy foods should always be a priority of people.