Our liver certainly is a hard worker. Treat it well, live longer and get more out of life. The liver is involved with many different functions of the body. Most of us understand that our liver is the major organ that carries out most of the detoxification, but it does a lot more. It is also responsible for bile production. In fact it produces up to a litre of bile per day. Bile needs to be at the right pH which is somewhere between 7.5 and 8.6. Bile consists mostly of bile acids, water, bile salts, cholesterol, bile pigments and a phospholipid called lecithin, plus several ions. Bile is required for emulsification of fats and for the activation of lipase enzymes needed for digestion.
The liver is the heaviest gland of the body and plays a major role in maintaining proper hormonal balance. It can chemically alter or excrete thyroid hormones and steroid hormones, such as estrogens and aldosterone. The liver is required to carry out detoxification of the bloodstream by degrading various waste materials no longer needed. There are two types of toxins. There are those, which come from outside the human body (exogenous), and those, which are generated by the processes within the body (endogenous). Xenobiotics are chemical compounds which are foreign to the body, (exogenous toxins) such as drugs, food additives and environmental pollutants. More than 200,000 xenobiotics that exist in our environment are metabolised predominately in the liver. This occurs through the cytochrome P450s enzyme pathways, where the xenobiotics are rendered water soluble, thus being readily eliminated from the body.
We (humans) belong to the ecosystem of this planet. In this sense, we are simply participants in the food chain. While we enjoy diversity from being at the top of the food chain, we experience disadvantages by way of bio concentration of xenobiotic contaminants (Toxins from the environment). Our exposure to all the environmental toxins including food chemicals, additives, preservatives and drugs that we may take from time to time place a heavier work load on our liver.
The liver is especially important in maintaining a normal blood glucose level. When blood glucose is low, the liver can break down glycogen and release glucose into the bloodstream. The liver also has the ability to convert certain amino acids and lactic acid into glucose, as well as converting other sugars such as fructose and galactose into glucose. When blood glucose is high, as is the case just after eating a meal, the liver converts glucose into glycogen and triglycerides for storage.
The liver is required to carry out Lipid metabolism, as well as Protein metabolism especially the hepatocytes that synthesize most plasma proteins (Such as alpha & beta globulins, albumin, prothrombin & fibrinogen). Our liver is also required for the excretion of bilirubin, which is derived from the heme of the red blood cells. It is absorbed by the liver from the blood and secreted into Bile. Most of the bilirubin in Bile is metabolized in the small intestine by bacteria and eliminated in the feces. In addition, the liver is a prime storage site for certain vitamins, such as Vitamins A, B12, D, E, K and minerals iron & copper. As well as storage of Vitamin D, the liver is involved in synthesizing active forms of Vitamin D. The Kupffer cells of the liver phagocytize aged red and white blood cells and some bacteria.
Our current lifestyles, environmental toxins, consumption of alcohol, food additives and drugs all place our liver under enormous stress and would be impacting on our health and wellbeing. Some of the symptoms that may indicate that our liver is not detoxifying properly are: Bowel wind, constipation, loose bowels, dry hair, split, ends, dry scalp, nails splitting or lifting at the edges, spoon nails, light coloured, stools, poor appetite, dermatitis, psoriasis, gout, bad breath, headaches, nausea associated, with fatty meals, headaches, immune weakness, tiredness & fatigue, sugar craving, insomnia, mood changes, anxiety, depression, skin rashes, joint pain, pre-menstrual, tension, high copper levels, loose bowels, indigestion, bloating, fatty liver, cirrhosis, hepatitis, tiredness, obesity, joint pains, hormonal imbalances, PMT, Irritability, Bile disturbances. So it is easy to see that with all the toxins we encounter in our environment, plus the toxins that our own bodies produce it is extremely important to maintain a healthy liver.
Cholesterol is synthesized in the liver through the H.M.G CoA reductase pathway. It produces about 700mg of cholesterol per day, while the remainder is derived from the diet.We produce HDL (the ‘good’ cholesterol), LDL and VLDL cholesterol in our liver, as well as the absorption of dietary cholesterol. All forms of cholesterol are not ‘bad’ all are necessary, as they are the precursors for steroids in the body (Such as corticosteroid, sex hormones, bile acids and vitamin D.). Problems with cholesterol arise when the ratio between the HDL, LDL & VLDL become unbalanced. Our liver can synthesize cholesterol, but it is also responsible for the removal of cholesterol. Our liver clears around 1g of cholesterol per day, which is eliminated through the bile.
Lecithin is involved with bile production and plays a major role in maintaining solubility of cholesterol. Solubility is important so that we do not develop cholesterol stones in the liver or gall bladder. While our liver can synthesize lecithin, dietary intake is also required. So, as you can see, it is vitally important to maintain a healthy liver. In doing so, we are also more likely to be in a position of maintaining healthy cholesterol levels.
It is in my opinion, given the level of Xenobiotics in our environment it’s necessary to supplement with liver nutrients. It would be best to seek a supplement that contains Silybum marianum ext, L. Methionine, L. Glycine, L. Cysteine, L. Glutamine, Inositol, L. Lysine, L. Taurine, Levocarnitine and Glutamic acid, Lecithin, Potassium, Magnesium, Zinc, Selenium, Folic Acid, Pyridoxal -5-Phosphate, B6, B12, Ascorbic Acid, Hesperidin and Rutin. These can all be found in one tablet and would be known as Hepatic Detox.
Given all the work our livers are involved with, it stands to good reason to ‘love your liver’ and treat it well, so that you may get more out of life.
© 2005David Woolcott Naturopath (MCMA),
Each tablet contains:
Silybum Marianum (St Mary’s Thistle) 3.5 g (Standardized to contain Silybum 35mg )
L Methioine 100 mg
L. Cysteine 50mg
L.Glutamine 50 mg
L. Lysine 50mg
L Glutamic Acid 25 mg
Potassium Aapartate 25mg
Magnesium Aspartate 25mg
Zinc Amino Acid Chelate 20 mg
Selenomethionine 12.5 mcg
Folic Acid 25 mcg
Pyridoxal-5-Phosphate 2.5 mg
Ascorbic acid ( Vitamin C ) 50 mg
Side effects: Sometimes one can have a slit headache at first for one to two days, it is best to drink 2 litres of water and this is unlikely to occur. The headaches are due to detoxifaction of the live and the body.
Drug interactions or interaction with other remedies: None known.
Vitamin Supplements should not replece a balanced diet.