by Dr. Irina Matveikova
The liver may be compared to an intelligent “central processing unit” that filters, controls, and cleans a liter and a half of blood per minute and simultaneously processes around 500 vitally important biochemical metabolic reactions.
Some of these processes involve the division and breakdown of chemical substances (catabolism); others, involve synthesis (anabolism), primarily of protein molecules. Knowing how to cleanse your liver is knowing how to flush the body’s processor of nutrients.
The liver acts as a purification plant for the blood. It plays a vital role in the detoxification and excretion of a great variety of endogenous and exogenous compounds. The uncleaned liver is very fragile yet simultaneously a survivor: it regenerates rapidly and is grateful for care; it can regrow from just a tiny piece and function with only 10 percent of healthy tissue. Just 200 g (7 oz) of healthy or transplanted liver can save a human life, even if the entire organ weighs around 2 k (4.5 lb) or, when it is full of blood, up to 3 k (7 lb.).
The liver deserves its own book, and it would be an honor to be able to write it one day. But for now we’re only going to go over some of the terms and the basics of its functioning and that are particularly important for knowing how to detox your liver properly.
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THE ORGAN OF REGENERATION
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The regenerative properties of the liver made a famous appearance in Greek mythology, with the myth of Prometheus. Prometheus was, without doubt, the Titan who was most generous toward humanity, stealing fire from the King of the gods Zeus himself and distributing it as a gift among humans. For this, Zeus punished Prometheus by having him chained to a rock in the Caucasus, where an eagle picked at his liver every day. Every night, however, Prometheus’s liver regrew at the same rate as the eagle devoured it during the day. His torture continued for a long time until he was finally freed by Heracles.
There are many references in both ancient and modern medical literature to the influence of the liver on our mood, emotions, and intellectual state and instructions for how to cleanse the organ as well. According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), for example, the liver holds “the soul”; it is associated with the fire element and it is considered more important than the heart, an organ full of energy and powers, making it extremely important to cleanse the liver regularly. The liver manages everything, including moderating mental activity. In TCM, it is thought that if Qi (our vital energy) is unable to flow along the liver meridian, it ends up concentrating in the organ and showing up as irritability, insomnia, depression, anguish, melancholy, and doubt. The phlegm gets stuck, and the mind clouds over. The gallbladder, for its part, governs decision making, courage, and cowardice. If a patient’s gallbladder doesn’t function well and accumulates bile, he will have a fearful attitude to life. For this reason, in TCM, liver flushing is the treatment of choice for the maintenance of health.
Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates described four humors. One of them was the yellow bile of the liver. When you don’t understand how to detox your liver, the bile doesn’t flow, he said, it stagnates and is transformed into a thick black substance. The word melancholy means “black bile” and notably affects digestion and mood, altering the mental state of a person.
We use expressions such as “to be full of bile,” “to raise one’s bile,” and “to spit bile”; and a comment can be full of “black bile.” All of these phrases speak for themselves.
If you are filled with rage and fury, if you have negative feelings and everything irritates you, you may be right, but don’t forget your liver may need to be flushed. Help it and encourage it a little, so that your bile flows.
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Detoxing the Mind
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When you know how to detox your liver you know how to cleanse your mind, as innumerable treatises of traditional natural medical wisdom from around the world affirm. Liver flushing has a place in traditional medicine and is considered a very important therapeutic step. Following the development of modern medicine, we have lost the ancient tradition of cleansing and flushing the liver to help the bile flow; recently, though, I have noticed increasing interest from doctors on this subject.
Unfortunately, when a patient is permanently sad, lacks enthusiasm, and is in an emotional trough (that is to say melancholic), a doctor usually prescribes antidepressants or tranquilizers and this, in its turn, increases the saturation and congestion of the liver, making a liver flush and cleanse more necessary than ever.
As well as medications (if they are considered necessary) for the treatment of mood disorders, integrative medicine recommends the adoption of a light detoxifying diet, infusions of medicinal plants suitable for the liver, and liver flushing.
Mastering how to cleanse your liver is essential. The liver is the largest organ inside the human body. It is situated in the upper right-hand side of the abdomen, under the diaphragm. It receives a large part of the blood (85 percent) through the hepatic portal vein, the vein that drains almost all the blood from the intestine. This insures that all the food absorbed goes directly to the liver, where it can be stored for use when needed, and that all the toxins absorbed can be filtered and deactivated.
The cells of the liver, the hepatocytes, produce between 500 (just under a pint) and 1500 ml (2.5 pints) of bile each day. Bile is a dense yellow liquid that circulates from the bile ducts (vessels) to the common bile duct. Later it is stored in the gallbladder.
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Food + The Gallbladder
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The gallbladder serves as a reservoir for the bile secreted by the liver. Bile is concentrated tenfold by absorbing water, which is why it has a thick consistency and a dark color. The bile retained in the gallbladder can form a mud and condense the sands and crystals composed of bile salts. Over time, this mud can be converted into mineral calculi (stones) which require a liver flush and a liver detoxification and cleansing protocol to remove.
When we eat, foods taken into the digestive system, especially fats, cause the gallbladder to contract, thanks to its muscular layer, eliminating the bile concentrated in the duodenum. Bile acids act as a detergent that emulsifies all the fats in the diet and facilitates their digestion and absorption. Understanding how to detox your liver is they key to healthy bile production. Without bile, we could not digest fatty meals, which leads to a sensation of having a slow and heavy digestion, bloating, and problems of intestinal transit at both ends of the digestive tract.
Another important component of bile is cholesterol, which is produced in the liver. The body requires healthy quantities of cholesterol, as it is used for various metabolic and regenerative functions. The remains of the cholesterol and bile acids that have not been used are eliminated with the feces. Curiously, a portion of these are reabsorbed in the intestine and recycled by the liver, a miraculous organ, you are probably realizing at this point and one we should show our gratitude for by doing liver flushes, detoxes and cleanses regularly.
Occasionally, the amount of cholesterol produced by the liver and afterward reabsorbed and recycled can cause serum cholesterol levels to rise (sometimes with no correlation to diet or the consumption of fats). In such a case, a prescription related solely to dietary recommendations is not going to produce positive results: what is needed is to accelerate the elimination of natural cholesterol produced internally by the liver and to moderate its production through regular liver cleanses, flushing and detoxification.
If bile is not adequately expelled, due to a dysfunction of the muscles of the gallbladder (a “lazy gallbladder”) or for other reasons, sedimentation, accumulation, and congestion of the liver with bile becomes apparent. This provokes a sensation of feeling full after eating; heaviness, as if “blocked up” inside; bloating and frequent constipation; and stools that alternate between greasy and foul smelling liquid diarrhea and hard feces that look like “goat droppings.” This is when it is most critical to understand how to detox your liver and perform regular liver flushing.
The most recognized causes of bile retention and
gallbladder problems are:
+ Liver insufficiency
+ Irregular meals, fast food, and a diet lacking nutrients, fiber, and essential vegetable fats
+ Chronic stress
+ Prolonged use of paracetamol, contraceptives, hormonal medications, and other drugs
+ Excess alcohol and coffee
When we talk of a “fatty liver,” or a liver that needs flushing, we mean that the cells of the liver are saturated with fat (like liver paté) and that the intrahepatic bile ducts found inside the liver are full of dense bile with a high concentration of cholesterol (internal and external).
Fat accumulates in the liver because a person eats badly, is overweight or obese, has diabetes, or is on prolonged hormonal treatment; it also happens because of the recycling and assimilation of the body’s own cholesterol and because of problems in the gallbladder. A liver full of fat cannot continue to adequately perform its many vital functions in the body, leading to problems in assimilating carbohydrates and fats and a worsening ability to carry out its detoxification function. A liver flush and cleansing protocol is needed in order to return it to full working order and prevent the accumulation of problems.
Next week we’ll roll out how to do a Liver Flush safely within your own home, stay tuned.
TOP LIVER CLEANSING HERBS
FOR LIFELONG HEALTH
By Adriana Ayales
We know it’s not spring yet, but ongoing liver maintenance is key. These herbs can be taken individually and paired with anti-inflammatory foods to consistently nourish the liver and gallbladder. Below is a quick overview of just a few powerhouses used since ancient times as staple digestive remedies. Please be aware of self-diagnosing, particularly if you are taking blood medications, or have had a bleeding disorder, please consult your healthcare practitioner first.
1. MILK THISTLE – “TOXIN SCAVENGER”
Milk thistle is a powerful antioxidant that is well known for is toxic scavenging properties. It is also well known for its cellular protective properties, as it’s a powerful scavenger for toxicity and heavy metals. Although it is not very rich in nutrients like several ‘liver herbs’, it provides other active components, such as silymarin and inulin, to which it owes its medicinal properties.
Because of the silymarin, it is one of the most effective remedies for protecting and healing the liver. Silymarin is a substance capable of regenerating liver cells damaged by toxins and relieving liver tissue inflammation. Milk Thistle is therefore an excellent remedy for hepatitis and liver failure. It is also used to treat liver disorders caused by insufficient bile secretion, such as gallstones and biliary dyspepsia. It has good hepatoprotective (liver protective) effects to relieve symptoms related to overeating, and alcohol and drug abuse. As if this were not enough, thistle also stimulates appetite, it is diuretic, has a mild laxative effect, and helps reduce high cholesterol levels because it has lipid-lowering activity. In addition, it can be used externally as an anti-inflammatory to relieve sunburn and dermatitis.
In classic Greek medicine, milk thistle was used to treat liver and gallbladder diseases and to protect the liver against toxins. Historically, the seed of milk thistle was used as a cholagogue which stimulated the flow of bile. Stimulating bile ensures a smooth digestion — improving metabolism, breakdown, absorption, along with preventing stagnant bile which generally means toxic buildup in the Gall Bladder and subsequently the Liver.
2. DANDELION ROOT + LEAF – “THE WEED OF WONDERS”
This is one of those precious weeds that has hundreds of healing functions. It’s well known for its gentle liver cleansing properties, along with alleviating inflammation and assisting in bile production. Many studies also demonstrate its' blood purification properties, along with being deeply restorative to the liver and gallbladder. Studies have also demonstrated that its rich antioxidant makeup prevents free-radical damage to cells and DNA, slowing down the aging process in our cells.
It is rich in vitamin C and vitamin A, and its beta-carotene content increases the livers production of superoxide dismutase. Superoxide dismutase is an enzyme that helps break down potentially harmful oxygen molecules in cells, which might prevent damage to tissues. The ability to combat cancer is not a claim made lightly, but dandelion seems to show promise in study, after study, after study. Dandelion may slow cancer's growth and prevent it from spreading.
3. CHANCA PIEDRA – “STONE BREAKER”
The indigenous people of the Amazon have used chanca piedra (aka Stone Breaker) for centuries to promote the body's natural elimination of liver, gallbladder, and kidney stones. It also stimulates the liver to purge itself of harmful toxins and foreign particles. Chanca Piedra boosts pile productions, soothes the liver and overall digestive system, and may inhibit the formation of calcified stones in the body. Chanca Piedra is employed in the Amazon for numerous other conditions by the indigenous peoples, including colic, diabetes, malaria, dysentery, fever, flu, tumors, jaundice, vaginitis, gonorrhea, and dyspepsia. Based on its long documented history of use in the region, the plant is generally employed to reduce pain, expel intestinal gas, excessive bloating, to stimulate metabolism, assist digestion, expel worms, and as a mild laxative. [R, R, R, R]
Recommended products: If you’re looking for a friendly digestive aid for everyday use, our Chanca Piedra – “Stone Breaker “ is a gentle yet powerful remedy.
4. MANGOSTEEN FRUIT + PEEL – “QUEEN OF THE JUNGLE”
The cancer-fighting, heart-boosting, and skin protecting power of mangosteen is just a few of its many well known abilities. Its famous skin glowing powers is due to its powerful restorative effects on the liver and digestive system. The many benefits this dear fruit provides is supported by decades of experience in traditional Asian folk medicine, where the fruit is widely used to treat a variety of conditions in the liver and gastrointestinal system. Numerous studies have shown that gamma-mangostin, dramatically slows down the production of the COX-2 enzyme that precedes and leads to inflammation. Research scientists also suggested that the anti-inflammatory effects of gamma-mangostin on brain cells may have potential in helping with inflammatory conditions of the brain such as Alzheimers.
In a study, researchers monitored the pharmacological activity of two Xanthones in Mangosteen, alpha-mangostin and gamma-mangostin, and demonstrated that they had "serotonergic receptor-blocking capacity". Clinical experience indicate that conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) may be favorably affected when serotonin is blocked in the gastrointestinal tract where it is found extensively.
5. QUASSIA – RAINFOREST BITTER BARK
In the Amazon rainforest, quassia, also known as amargo, has been used as a bitter digestive aid for centuries. It is also used across South America as a tribal remedy for debility, digestive problems, fever, liver - gallbladder problems, as a natural insecticide (for plants and humans!) as well popularly used for viral and parasitic diseases like malaria. In more modern herbalism amargo is employed as a bitter tonic for the stomach, stimulating metabolism, increasing bile flow, cleansing the blood from toxicity. Many have effectively used it to clean the blood from a history of pharmaceutical medications and general toxic buildup in the liver. Read more on the incredible research done on this tree here.
Product Recommendation: You can find our organic quassia within our Amargo Bitters formula.
6. PAU D’ARCO – BLOOD PURIFYING TREE
Pau D’Arco belongs to a very special family of trees called Taheebo, all very well known for their anti-viral and immune protective properites. Pau D’Arco became well known in the west as a cancer fighting tree, along with popularly used as an anti-candidal. It contains several chemical compounds that have received great recognition, such as naphthoquinones, specifically lapachol and beta-lapachone. Naphthoquinones display very significant pharmacological properties--they are cytotoxic, they have significant antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, insecticidal, anti-inflammatory, and antipyretic properties. Lapachol specifically is a strong anti-inflammatory known for its analgesic (pain relieving) properties, known to fight parasitic dieases, lower bad cholesterol, and even aid in weight loss.
The taheebo tree species has been successfully used to fight bacterial and yeast infection. The great aspect about Pau D’Arco and other trees is that it has proven to impede the growth of over several strains of malignant gut bacteria, yet in all studied Pau D’Arco did not harm bacteria that are part of the normal healthy gut flora, such as various Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains [R].Together with antibiotics, beta-lapachone could combat hard-to-treat bacteria resistant to most antibiotics (MRSA) in test tube studies [R].
Ontop of all this, Pau D’arco has some interesting anti-aging, life-extension potential. In animal based studies, beta-lapochene prevented the age-related decline of the muscles and brain in animal. It increased energy use, the activity of energy metabolism genes, and protected the mitochondria .
Essentially, Pau D’arco boosts NAD+, the “molecule of youth“ based in the mitochondria. This is the same molecule that’s connected to its cancer fighting, and liver protecting properties. Traditional ways to consume Pau D’Arco is by simmering the tree bark, and drinking as a tea, or using it along with spices in a soup.
Used for more than 4,000 years to treat a variety of ailments, curcumin - the active ingredient in turmeric, has been successfully used as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and particularly effective against liver diseases. Curcumin has also shown significant success in
The antioxidant effect of turmeric appears to be so powerful that it may stop your liver from being damaged by toxins. This could be good news for people who take strong drugs for diabetes or other health conditions that might hurt their liver with long-term use. R
By reducing inflammation and lowering oxidative stress in the body, researches have seen significant potential for turmeric to prevent and treat several chronic conditions. Scientists have observed that curcumin may be a cholagogue, assisting in lowering cholesterol and triglycerides, and as a hepatoprotective, protecting and assisting the liver dispelling toxins.
Curcumin has shown potential in several studies to reduce toxicity induced by heavy metals, as well as modulate many signaling pathways involved in inflammation and antioxidant activity. It is of vital importance to use well sourced and organically grown turmeric, as like any plant, it absorbs heavy metals in the soil. Overexposure to heavy metals within liver cleansing can be serious and should be avoided if possible.
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