The liver breaks down dangerous environmental toxins, drugs, alcohol and even pathogens, so that they can be eliminated from the body. When the liver is congested or overworked, there is a much greater possibility for drug toxicity, allergy and serious side effects which can also cause digestive disorders, diarrhea, headaches, malaise, etc. The liver also processes proteins, fats and carbohydrates for energy production and glycogen storage, as well as vitamin storage to provide nourishment and energy for the body. Because the liver also helps to remove excess hormones from the blood as well as providing a feedback for the release of certain hormones, a toxic liver can result in sexual dysfunction, infertility, emotional imbalance, PMS and excessive anger.
So who needs to be concerned with the health of their liver? Probably the entire civilized world, since toxins are everywhere in our air and water. A basic program of good nutrition and antioxidant therapy is essential for all of us. Chapters 2-3 in Christopher Hobbs book "Foundations of Health" covers this topic nicely. Managing anger and stress is very helpful too.
Mother Nature's bounty provides us with some excellent herbs for the liver, which can be taken as a tea (the mildest form) or a liquid extract. A few may be available as capsules or pills. Herbs Etc. makes an excellent liver tonic extract. I am particularly partial to Eclectic Formula's milk thistle/dandelion combination. Milk thistle, or silybum marianum, is one of the most potent and beneficial of all herbs for the liver with a 2,000 year history of use. It protects the liver through its antioxidant activity via an increase in glutatione, it stabilizes liver cell membranes making it less permeable to toxins and it stimulates regeneration of liver cells. Its dose in acute disease is 420 mg. (2 droppersful), 3 times daily for 8 weeks or until enzyme levels have dropped, and then a maintenance dose of 240 mg (1 dropperful), 3 times daily thereafter. Dandelion, or taraxacum officinale, is an excellent decongestant and anti-inflammatory for the liver. The root is used for the liver while the leaves are an excellent diuretic. It can be harvested from your back yard in the summer, if no weed killers have been used. Simmer 1 oz. root in a pint of water for 20 minutes and drink warm or cool.
There are several other herbs to be considered as well. Golden Seal, Oregon grape root, yellow dock, turmeric, licorice, astragalus, burpleurum, and ginseng are all excellent herbs for the liver. Daniel Mowrey's book, "Herbal Tonic Therapies," has a nice section detailing these herbs. It is beyond the scope of this article to go into all of these herbs, but you can e-mail me at Judidaye@mindpsring.com, visit me at the Eckerd Drugs on Ponce de Leon Ave. in midtown Atlanta, GA, or go to your favorite book store for more information.
Finally, for those adventurous "health nuts," a 10-day liver flush in the spring is a great idea. It should be done upon arising and one hour before meals or drugs. Combine one cup of grapefruit or lemon juice, two cloves fresh-pressed garlic, and one tablespoon of olive oil. Have a happy, healthy liver and prosperous month. See you next time.