Life Herbs Blog

The importance of our liver and gallbladder

Of all the organs in our body the liver is the most easily regenerated. It completely replaces itself every seven years making it the longest organ to regenerate. When patients ask me if their liver will ever fully recover I inform them that provided they manage to stay alive and do everything they can with herbs and diet that in seven years they will have a totally new and healthy liver.

The list of the liver’s many jobs is extensive. It is a metabolic powerhouse of detoxification, chemical organisation, and regeneration. It actually performs a staggering 500 functions in the body. No wonder it weighs 3 lbs.

All of the blood leaving the stomach and intestines pass through the liver. In fact, at any given moment, our liver is holding 13% of our body’s blood supply.

The liver is responsible for breaking down old and damaged blood cells. Specifically, it clears bilirubin (a by-product of the breakdown of haemoglobin). Its accumulation will turn the skin and eyes yellow, which is recognized as jaundice and indicative of liver failure.

It also converts ammonia- an end product of protein metabolism which is toxic in the bloodstream- to urea. Urea is less toxic and is carried by blood to the kidneys where it is diluted with water and leaves the body in the form of urine. The liver metabolizes drugs and other chemical substances.

Foods to promote a healthy liver

The most important foods are garlic, grapefruit, green tea, and green vegetables.

  • Garlic contains numerous sulphur-containing compounds that activate the liver enzymes responsible for flushing out toxins from the body. This bulbous relative of the onion also contains allicin and selenium, two powerful nutrients proven to help protect the liver from toxic damage, and aid it in the detoxification process.
  • Grapefruit is rich in natural vitamin C and antioxidants. Both of these are powerful liver cleansers. As with garlic, grapefruit contains compounds which boost the production of liver detoxification enzymes. It also contains a compound which encourages the liver to burn fat rather than store it.
  • Green tea contains antioxidants which eliminate liver fat accumulation and thereby promote healthy liver function. It also protects the liver against toxins which would otherwise accumulate and seriously damage our health.
  • Green leafy vegetables e.g. rocket, spinach, mustard greens, coriander and chicory shoots all contain numerous cleansing compounds which neutralise heavy metals. If allowed to accumulate these heavy metals will have a serious negative impact on the liver’s health. Furthermore they eliminate pesticides and herbicides from the body and their bitter taste encourages the liver to produce bile. Bile is the means by which the liver cleanses itself. The vegetable bitter gourd acts in a similar way.
  • Turnip is good for liver disease in general.
  • Oyster mushroom helps when there is chemical damage to the liver.
  • Bilberries are good when there is fatty degeneration of the liver.
  • Okra (ladies fingers) help protect the liver.
  • Herbs which are good for our liver and gallbladder

    An ailing liver is rejuvenated by the Ayurvedic herb Punarnava. This herb also detoxifies the liver as does the herb cat’s claw.

    Milk thistle is excellent for the liver and improving its general health. Along with Bilberries and the medicinal mushroom Grifola, can be used for fatty degeneration of the liver. It is even applicable for use with liver cirrhosis, along with dandelion leaf and cat’s claw.

    Gall bladder

    If you are unlucky enough to develop gall stones garlic oil is very helpful. Also shitarke mushrooms Assuming they aren’t too large, a way of flushing them out is by using 2 tbsn olive oil with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. The addition of magnesium citrate 300mg per day will help relax the bile ducts. Herbs like Fringe tree will help liquefy the bile. All hard fats need to be avoided and eat more vegetables, nuts, seeds, oily fish etc.

    If your stones are too large to be flushed out, they will need to be softened first. The link below will take you through step by step how to naturally remove them without having to resort to surgery.

    For chronic (long term) gall bladder complaints I like to use Century. This is a native herb and nice and gentle in its astringent action. It can also be used to stimulate and remove gall bladder obstructions along with Greater Celandine. The Ayurvedic herb Wahoo is good for gall bladder tension and motherwort can be used for any spasmodic pain.