Your liver is a gland that works tirelessly to digest your food, detoxify your blood, and aid your metabolism. The liver performs over 500 separate functions in your body, which is why you’ll certainly feel badly if your liver isn’t working efficiently.
The liver helps the digestive process, including the function of digestive enzymes, and it also helps maintain your blood sugar. It is critical for your brain to have enough sugar in the blood, so when blood sugar levels fall, the liver converts glycogen to glucose. One of the first symptoms, therefore, of a damaged liver is hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar.
The liver is also the storage site for many nutrients used by your body, including iron, copper, B12, and vitamins A, D, E, and K. The liver is also the production site for red blood cells. These cells carry oxygen to the entire body.
One of the liver’s most famous functions is detoxifying the blood. Two quarts of blood per minute travel through the liver by the portal vein. Bile from the gallbladder acts as a carrier for the toxins, and the liver sends the polluted bile out of the body.
In order for the liver to detoxify the blood, it must have an adequate storehouse of sodium. The easiest type of sodium for the liver to use is found in vegetables such as zucchini and bitter herbs. Meat broths also contain an easily useable form of sodium, as does Celtic sea salt. If there are so many toxins in the blood that the liver’s store of sodium is rapidly depleted, liver cells will die. Even though too much sodium can be harmful, if you salt your food to taste, your body will help you regulate the amount you need.
Foods that are toxic to the liver include transfats and hydrogenated oils, excess sugars, and those that contain pesticides.
There are many symptoms of a liver that is unable to keep up with the body’s demands for detoxification. Too easy symptoms to detect are an intolerance to caffeine and an intolerance to perfume. Since both caffeine and smells are filtered through the liver, if it’s not working efficiently, you will be more sensitive than usual to these substances.
The other symptoms of a toxic liver are numerous, including fatigue, slow metabolism, frequent headaches, constant aches and pains, recurrent colds and flus, digestive problems, allergies and environmental sensitivities. Other symptoms include skin or eye irritation, bad moods or mood swings, foggy thinking, fuzzy vision, sinus or chest congestion, insomnia, restless sleep and hot flashes.
It is very possible to repair a toxic liver. The liver is an amazing organ, designed by God to be able to rebuild missing or damaged cells. The liver can function on less than 20% of the whole organ, and it can still regrow cells even if as much as 90% of it has been removed.
First, be sure to stop filling the liver with toxins, by changing your diet. (Listen to our online health classes for information on a liver-supporting diet.) Eat foods that are nourishing to the liver (because they are high in sodium).
Secondly, get to bed early each night. The gallbladder dumps toxins each night between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m., and if you are not sleeping, these will back into your liver. The adrenals also recover during this time, and since their hormone production assists your liver, you will have more efficient blood sugar regulation if you’re getting adequate sleep.
Third, God created several herbs that are healing to the liver. The most famous of these is milk thistle (silybum marianum). Milk thistle protects the liver from toxins and stimulates regeneration of damaged cells. It also contains antioxidant properties, helps protect cell membranes, stimulates the flow of bile, and much more. The standard doseage is 70-210 mg three times per day.