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Liver: Metabolic and detoxification centre

The liver, which is termed hepar in Greek, is not just the body's largest digestive gland, but is also responsible for detoxifying our body. Every day it is confronted with metabolic products, toxins and often medications and must convert and metabolise them and then prepare them for excretion. It is, thus, the metabolic and detoxification centre of our body. Not only medicines and toxins such as alcohol put a strain on it, so does a poor diet with large amounts of protein as well as a lack of exercise.

If toxic metabolic products are insufficiently excreted due to liver function disorders, they can also damage brain metabolism and its signalling substances. Symptoms noticed by sufferers are e.g.,

  • Fatigue
  • Lack of drive
  • Irritability
  • Lengthened reaction time
  • Concentration and memory disorders

Where is the liver and how is it built?

The organ weighing around 1500 grammes is in the right upper abdomen directly below the diaphragm. The liver consists of 2 large and 2 small hepatic lobes. A healthy liver has a soft, uniform structure and is a dark reddish-brown colour. A capsule of connective tissue, the liver capsule, surrounds the organ.

What is the function of the liver?

As a digestive gland , it produces bile which is stored in the gall bladder and which is secreted into the duodenum at mealtimes. Bile digests fats in the food.

As a metabolic centre , the liver controls the metabolism of sugars, fats and proteins. It produces the storage substance glycogen from the simple sugar glucose and breaks it back down to glucose when energy is needed. It regulates the blood glucose level using the hormones insulin and glucagon.

The liver also stores fats, some vitamins and blood in addition to glycogen.

It synthesises important endogenous compounds out of food components: for example, the very important cholesterol as well as bile acids from cholesterol and also a variety of fatty acids and blood proteins – e.g., coagulation factors.

As a detoxification centre, it primarily uses enzymes from the group of cytochrome P-450 isoenzymes to degrade old blood cells, metabolic end products and other toxins in preparation for excretion. Many products of metabolism are toxic – e.g., ammonia. The liver converts this to soluble urea so that it can be excreted safely by the kidneys.

What kinds of liver disease are there?

A common liver disease is fatty liver. Fats are stored in the liver cells. The causes are usually overeating, lipid metabolism disorders and alcohol abuse. However, medicines, toxins and other poisons, diabetes mellitus, pregnancy and protein deficiency can also cause a fatty liver.

Hepatitis describes inflammation of the liver. There are numerous causes for this – primarily infections. If another underlying disease results in this inflammation of the liver it is referred to as concomitant hepatitis.
Hepatitis can be acute or chronic. It is termed chronic if it has not healed after 6 months.

Liver cirrhosis develops over years to decades and is the final stage of chronic liver disease. The most common causes are alcohol abuse and chronic hepatitis. Scar tissue forms which impairs circulation and severely impairs functionality.

If you notice symptoms, consult your doctor or alternative practitioner at once! Liver disorders always need a detailed evaluation by a specialist! Treatment is often required. However, drugs from the pharmacy are not a replacement for avoiding the causes of liver damage (e.g., alcohol).

What are liver function tests?

Liver function tests are enzymes that can be measured in the blood and which provide information on the state of health of the liver. If liver cells are damaged, these enzymes are released into the blood in increased numbers – elevated liver function tests result. The enzyme that is elevated provides information on what kind of damage there could be.

Usually, the values of four liver enzymes are measured:

  • got = GOT = glutamate oxalacetate transaminase
  • gpt = GPT = glutamate pyruvate transaminase
  • ggt = Gamma-GT = gamma-glutamyl Transferase
  • AP = alkaline phosphatase

Gamma-GT is the most sensitive marker for damage to liver cells. This means that it is often the first value that increases, but GOT and GPT are also important markers.

Detoxify the liver?

Only the liver can do this. As the body's detoxification centre, it is the control centre of all detoxification processes in our body. If it fails to fulfil this task, the liver cells are damaged and die. This becomes noticeable in the elevated liver function tests.
We can support our liver in its detoxification function and its many other tasks by leading a lifestyle that protects the liver (see below), through spring cures and drainage and detoxification measures.

What should you do when liver function tests are elevated?

When liver cells start to die this results in elevated liver function tests. The causes can be a variety of diseases but also the way of life. You can do a lot to improve your liver function tests as the liver has an enormous capacity for regeneration: dead cells and areas can renew themselves – provided that the cause for damage can be eliminated. Therefore key advice for improving elevated liver function tests:

  • Avoid alcohol and other harmful substances!
  • Review your diet! Avoid huge meals.
  • Avoid excesses of animal fats.
  • Eat your main meal as early as possible, preferably before 5pm.
  • Preferably eat foods that contain omega-3 fatty acid (examples: Herring, grape seed oil or linseed oil).
  • Take plenty of exercise – preferably gentle endurance training in the fresh air.
  • Seek advice on therapeutic fasting, deacidification and/or intestinal rehabilitation from your doctor or alternative practitioner.
  • Reduce stress or learn and practice relaxation techniques!
  • Use protective silymarin in milk thistle with the power to regenerate liver cells.

Liver strength is vitality

Liver function is a key, but often neglected, component of psychological health. In ancient times the liver was already considered to be the seat of the soul and well-being. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) the liver also symbolizes the balance between tension and relaxation. If this balance is disrupted – such as by too much stress – the body responds with despondency or anger. In Western culture we would say: It reacts cholerically or melancholically - either with exuberant or deficient "liver energy". Both words contain "chol" designating the "juice of the liver", bile.

Liver protection with milk thistle: Hepar-Pasc ®

Milk thistle fruits with the main active ingredient silymarin can stimulate the regenerative capacity of liver cells and protect them from poisons. The herbal drug Hepar-Pasc® contains a concentrate made from milk thistle fruits and is therefore suitable for supporting the treatment of chronic inflammatory liver disease and toxic liver damage. Ask your pharmacist!