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FUNCTION OF THE LIVER
The most important factors involved in dealing with all diseases
of the human organism are liver and gall bladder congestion. In
fact medical doctors have found that in all serious diseases,
particularly cancer, the liver was in extremely poor condition.
If the liver is 100% clean, (virtually impossible these days) and
functioning correctly, we would be practically free of disease
and even the aging process would slow down considerably.
Of course, as herbalists we know that when an organ is full of
mucus or pus and not functioning correctly herbs can be a
definite aid, but the body has to heal itself...
and that requires energy and time.
This will come through detoxification, with correct diet,
fasting, poultices, compresses, exercise, water therapy,
patience, etc. Only then, after this has been achieved, will
herbs help correct any functional disorder. That is not to say
that herbs do not work in congestive or inflammatory disorders,
but through experience the results are more effective when the
herbs are used in conjunction with dietary changes and
detoxification. It is important then to realise that regardless
of the area of the body dis-eased, without liver cleansing
results will be minimal.
The liver, is the largest and most complex organ in the body. It
cleanses 600 litres of blood daily, processing all matter, food
or otherwise, that finds itself in the system. All toxic material
ingested through the portal vein system (via the stomach and
intestines) will be acted upon by the liver and neutralized, thus
preventing absorption into the main bloodstream. This
includes chemicals, preservatives, nicotine, alcohol, artificial
substances, etc, (This is why prescription drugs have to be
of a high enough dose to overcome and bypass the detoxification
and neutralization process of the liver). Even the most natural
and purest of foods can be poisonous to the body if the liver is
not functioning properly. Sugar will be changed into glycogen for
storage for example, but excess amounts will pass on into the
general blood stream affecting other organs such as the kidneys.
Fats can also accumulate in the liver from over consumption of
foods such as meat, milk, cheese, white flour and even brown rice
if eaten to excess. The ducts of the liver and gall bladder
become obstructed with thickened bile and stones due to the
excess cholesterol and bile caused by the over-consumption of
foods and fats. These conditions are the direct or indirect cause
of most disease today.
Among the liver's many functions is the processing of bile from
blood, (approximately one pint daily in a normally functioning
liver). This liquid (next to the blood), is the most important in
the body. Other functions of the liver are the processing of
glucose, haemoglobin, transformation of protein and fat, vitamin
and enzyme production, regulating levels of iron and body
temperature, cholesterol levels and lipid metabolism,
detoxification and the production of substances to prevent
infection. Nearly all of the compounds used by the body are
produced in the liver. When this organ is overloaded toxins
remain and eventually the kidneys are left to deal with this.
Then, with both organs unable to operate correctly, the liver
becomes enlarged. It is at this point that it ceases to function
appropriately and toxic waste finds itself into the general
bloodstream. Overeating, as well as too
much of any food, can also cause an enlarged liver.
Chills and fevers are the liver's response to congestion, an
overactive liver suffering from heat in the summer and an
insufficient liver not tolerating cold in the winter.
The bile, which is stored in the gallbladder in a more
concentrated form, is of extreme importance in all areas of the
body. The gallbladder actually draws the bile into itself from
the liver duct. Many back problems in fact are the direct result
of inadequate bile flow. The synovial fluid around all joints
will decrease if bile flow is low, sometimes causing terrible
pain. Many people will take cortisone injections for relief
believing it, mistakenly, to be arthritis or some other
inflammatory disease. The cure of course comes with liver
Another area of the body that can suffer from lack of bile are
the sinuses. This soothing lubricant (bile) keeps mucus membranes
moist, otherwise they become dry and inflamed. Most allergy
conditions can be traced to liver congestion. Avoiding foods that
create a reaction bring relief but will not cure the allergy.
Allergies and sinus conditions will often disappear after the
liver has been cleansed.
Some of the many herbs that can be used to relieve liver
Dandelion, Cascara, Oregon Grape root, Gentian root, Culvers
root, Poke root, Black root, St. Benedict, Sage, Agrimony, Myrrh,
Tormentilla, Celandine, Artichoke, Woodruff, Barberry...etc.
These are herbs that promote bile flow.(Many of these herbs if
taken indiscriminately, can cause severe reaction. Always seek
the advice of a qualified Herbalist).
Signs and symptoms.
There are many signs or symptoms that indicate the liver or
gallbladder are congested. Insomnia and waking between 1 and 3
a.m., or sleeping all night and waking up feeling that you
haven't slept at all along with weakness, sluggishness and
tiredness. When there is no bile in the stomach there can be
nervousness and migraine headaches and digestion is seriously
Emotional upsets such as sudden anger and depression
are sure signs. No bile can also cause gas in the stomach
producing pain around the heart and sternum area and water may
develop around the heart and in the lungs. Visual problems may
develop, neck and shoulder pain, low back pain or pain in the
joints especially the knees, weakness and pain in upper front leg
muscles and calves, pain in the arms and top of the right hand.
There is likely to be dry or oily skin, itchy ears, muscle pain
after working, heartburn, diarrhoea, constipation, frequent
urination, pain between the shoulder blades, colitis, ulcers,
hiatus hernia and digestive problems, (especially after eating),
too much sleep, nausea, vomiting, certain foods repeating, (such
as radish, green peppers, cucumber and onions), pain in the right
side radiating to the back, colic, mental problems, pain in the
liver or gallbladder area, headaches and a bitter taste in the
Reddish blue colouring under the eyes and over the forehead and
other areas of the body. Two vertical lines between the eyebrows,
yellow eyes or skin, a red nose etc. Other problems caused
directly by liver congestion are spastic colon, worms,
infections, chills, anal itching, anaemia, diabetes, obesity,
underweight, appendicitis and heart palpitations. Liver
congestion can also lead to ear problems, swollen legs (edema),
skin diseases, rheumatism, arthritis, glandular imbalances,
menstrual problems, nervous disorders, muscle weakness,
bronchitis, sclerosis, T.B., cancer, sterility, impotence,
thyroid conditions, etc. etc. There are many other related
conditions but they could fill a book. Obviously it is important
to keep the liver clean by eating properly, walking in the fresh
air, breathing deeply and taking proper rest and meditation.
It can readily be seen then, when dealing with any disorder of
the body, that the liver must be taken into proper consideration
to enable any treatment (herbal or otherwise) to be effective. In
the next issue of the Newsletter I shall look at the specific
applications of the herbs and their various benefits.