In some foreign countries the liver is deemed so
important to health that the groom promises his liver to his bride as opposed to
his heart. In fact, in most places outside the US, the liver is considered
critically important to good health, and natural liver therapy abounds to
maintain this critical organ. Could it be that we might learn a thing or two
regarding the relationship between the liver and good health?
The liver is literally the body's filter. It
makes sure that everything we need is absorbed, and everything that we don't
need gets dumped. Just a few of its major jobs are:
Accesses the energy we need from
proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.
Stores vitamins, minerals, and
Filters the blood, removing all
kinds of harmful substances.
Metabolizes, helps utilize, and
eliminates excess hormones.
Creates substances that enhance our
immune system (like gamma globulin).
Stores extra blood for emergencies.
Helps maintain our electrolyte and
Helps us utilize fat-soluble
vitamins (like A, D, E, F, and K).
Creates bile, which breaks down
and Your Health
bile produced by our liver is stored in the gallbladder, then excreted into the
intestines to break down fats. At any given moment in the US, it is estimated
that 20 million people are suffering from gallstones. A great percentage of
these people develop stones due to bile stagnation, a bile that has become too
thick, or liver damage from drugs, alcohol, birth control pills, and
prescription drugs that cause the bile to become stagnated.
Stagnant bile results in poor skin tone, acne,
poor blood clotting, poor vision, an upset antioxidant system in the body,
immune dysfunction, and a liver that holds onto toxic chemicals that would
normally be cycled out of the body in the bile.
Many of the ancients recognized these facts, and
herbs were routinely used to keep the bile running smoothly. They knew that when
the bile is stagnant, sadness and disharmony can result. In fact the word
"melancholy" comes from the Greek melanos (black) and chole (bile)--or "black
Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine relate anger with poor liver and gallbladder
function. Someone who is chronically angry would be prescribed liver therapy to
open, cleanse, and cool the liver and bile.
Ancient healers held that the liver and bile flow
are critical to healthy, normal appetite. When the bile does not flow smoothly,
loss of appetite and a bitter taste in the mouth result. Fat-soluble vitamins
can not be used in these cases, and immune weakness and dysfunction can result.
The ancients were also convinced that too much or
too little bleeding during menstruation was related to poor liver function. It
was felt that the liver's function of storing and releasing blood was interfered
with in such cases.
Finally, these healers of the past also felt that
the liver "ruled" the tendons and is manifested in the health of our nails. Sore
joints and weak, brittle nails were often attributed to poor liver health.
Modern Health Concepts
today's drugs-and-surgery approach to health care, the old concepts related to
liver health are all but forgotten. In the holistic camp however, the liver is
paid close attention. The following is a little quiz to help you judge the
health of your liver. If you answer yes to five or more of the following
questions, it's important that you pay more attention to liver health.
1. You suffer from dry, brittle nails and/or
chronically painful joints.
2. You have persistent skin problems (especially
3. You have a habitual bitter taste in your mouth.
4. You have constant dry eyes (which are not caused
by prescription drugs).
5. You have menstrual problems.
6. You have chronic indigestion when eating fatty
7. You have burning feet.
8. You often have a generalized queazy feeling.
9. Your stools are perpetually light-colored.
10. You have periodic bad dreams or nightmares.
11. You have a history of gallbladder attacks or
If the above represents you, it may be time to
start rehabilitating your liver and gallbladder.
Natural Liver Therapy
An old-time professor in one of the medical
schools used to tell his students not to be telephone poles along a patient's
path toward good health. The story behind this advice is the path from disease
to health can be compared to a walk down a sidewalk --blindfolded. Your innate
intelligence knows the way and guides you. Your only dangerous obstacles are
telephone poles. In some cases, you bang into one more than once as you attempt
to proceed toward your goal. Hence the advice, "Don't be a telephone pole."
There is a concept of healing called "retracing"
that many of today's medical doctors don't understand. However, the old-time
healers knew that the path to recovery is often in stages, especially for those
with long-term chronic illness. When undergoing a true cure, the symptoms and
stages of a disease peel off like an onion with the most recent symptoms
disappearing first until you get to the core of the problem. Often you must
revisit symptoms you have not experienced in years. After returning to fight one
last battle with your immune system, these symptoms disappear for good.
Another concept of healing is called the
Herxheimer reaction. It occurs when our body is killing and throwing off
microbes (bacteria, viruses, yeasts, etc.) in larger amounts than our organs of
elimination (kidneys, bowels, etc.) can handle. This phenomenon is a good sign
that something is being accomplished in the body. However, the symptoms of this
reaction can be quite severe depending on the toxicity. These flu-like symptoms
can include rash, aches, pains, fever, diarrhea, constipation, exhaustion, and
headache, usually occurring on the last few days of a three week detoxification.
So it's important to plan a liver cleansing to end on a day or days when you can
take off work if necessary. Do not take the liver system and its detoxification
The answer to a Herxheimer reaction is to go
slowly. If the dose calls for 9 daily, start with one for a day or two to test
the state of your liver. If things go well, build up to the full dose. If you
begin to have a reaction, slow down your treatment, whether it be nutrients or
whatever, while increasing your body's ability to throw off toxins and dead
microbes. This means more pure water, some fiber to increase bowel function,
some light exercise, and plenty of rest.
of the liver's hundreds of jobs is to filter toxins from the body and release
them via the bowels or kidneys. When the liver becomes overloaded, it can no
longer keep the body free from toxins, and we will absorb, reabsorb, and have
toxic chemicals circulating in our blood. The effects of this can be so slow and
cumulative that we can easily mistake them for poor health or diseases that
develop over time.
Nothing can demonstrate the reality of retracing
or Herxheimer reaction like a liver detoxification program. Being a
self-detoxifying organ, once the liver is encouraged to discharge the stored
toxins and cleanse itself, a remarkable thing can happen. Both retracing and
Herxheimer can occur. The symptoms or diseases that plague us can become much
worse for a short time during the detoxification. And problems and symptoms that
we never dreamed could come from the liver will show up and be exaggerated.
The remarkable thing about the retracing
phenomenon when it comes to liver detoxification is that some or even most of
the "diseases" we have had were not diseases at all. Rather, they were
auto-intoxication or self-poisoning from a toxic and congested liver.
Another remarkable thing about discovering that
our "diseases" were really caused by toxins is the shock over the folly of
treating these diseases and symptoms with drugs and medicines. In fact, in most
cases of this type of disease, the treatment with drugs only makes the situation
worse by adding more toxins to the mix. If these cannot be released from the
body, they too will have to be detoxified at some time in the future. We may
need to detoxify our liver two, three, or even four times depending on how toxic
Beets and Other Therapies
best way to start is with beets, preferably organically grown. Beets and beet
tops are the richest source of betaine, a natural liver detoxifier and bile
thinner. Use chopped or shredded raw beets combined with a little raw flax oil
and lemon juice daily. It's easy to include whole beets in our diet. They can be
baked, roasted, grated raw in salad, or juiced with other vegetables.
To get a jump start, Dr. Bruce West from
Health Alert recommends 2-3 AF Betafood tablets per meal for
three to nine months. This product is a concentration of the liver detoxifiers
and bile thinners from beets. For any of the symptoms associated with sluggish
bile, this product can be a miracle. A surgeon friend of his from New Orleans
testified that he performs less than 10% of the gallbladder surgeries he once
did now that he prescribes AF Betafood.
If you have the type of liver problems related to
joint pains, arthritis, and tendon problems, he uses 2-6 Betacol,
tablets daily and claims fantastic results. Betacol is a strong liver detoxifier
which also contains the Wulzen Factor (the anti-stiffness factor) from
Arthritics have a toxic liver and often suffer from
constipation. Guanidine resulting from this scenario ends up being stored in the
liver. Guanidine is the most alkaline substance known. When it is released into
the bloodstream from a toxic and overloaded liver, the end result is calcium
deposits in the joints and resultant osteoarthritis.
Betacol helps correct this chain of events. And it can be very
powerful. With some folks, when the liver is highly toxic, less than one capsule
a day can be tolerated. That is because Betacol is an efficient liver
detoxifier, and the body cannot tolerate too many poisons being released from
the liver in a short time. If that's the case, you may want to use half a
capsule and slowly work up to 3-6 capsules daily. In addition, try using AF
Betafood in conjunction with Betacol to keep the bile thin and facilitate the
release of toxins from the liver.
A tablespoon of raw flax oil when combined with AF Betafood
and Betacol is often very helpful. In some instances, he uses a tablespoon of
flax oil and 6 Livaplex tablets daily (especially with people who have a
liver problem manifesting itself in the skin). Livaplex is a combination of the
products discussed along with other nutrients. All products except flax oil are
produced by Standard Process Labs.
Coffee enemas are one of the therapies that the doctors like to scoff at most.
Perhaps they do not remember when coffee enemas were an accepted medical remedy
noted in the Merck Manual (the medical standard). Regardless of
the ridicule heaped on this procedure, coffee enemas remain a powerful means to
detoxify the liver.
In brief, coffee is brewed and cooled. It is then
introduced to the lower bowel via a one-quart enema. The fluid is retained for
15 minutes (or as long as possible). The chemistry of the coffee results in its
being transmitted directly to the liver, inducing a detoxifying purge. Poisons
are dumped into the intestines for elimination with the stools.
Caution should be used with coffee enemas. If you
have bowel or heart problems, check with your doctor before using them. For most
people a coffee enema daily for ten days, followed by one per week for six weeks
provides a good liver purge. As usual, liver therapies can be enhanced when
utilized in combination with one another.
thistle extract is the most effective herbal preparation for enhanced liver
health. And some practitioners have found that milk thistle seed extract can be
very helpful in psoriasis cases. This herb is used extensively in Europe, and
provides psoriasis help in about half the cases. When combined with the other
therapies discussed, results are superior.
liver is a lifesaver but it can also be the source of your problems if you
do not treat it well. I hope this information helps guide you toward better
health if you liver is indeed the source of your health concerns.
Hobbs, Christopher, Natural Liver Therapy, Botanica
Press, Box 742, Capitola, CA 95010
"Silymarin Reduces HyperinsuIinemia, Malondialdehyde Levels and
Daily Insulin Need in Cirrhotic Diabetic Patients", Velussi, M., et al, Current
Therapeutic Research, May 1993;53(5):533-545.
"Liver, Gallbladder Cleanse", Health Alert, Vol.8,
"The Liver in Sickness and Disease", Natural Fitness
Newsletter, Vol.3, No.12.