Situated in the upper-right part of your abdomen, the liver is a unique organ with its capability to regenerate and rejuvenate itself. With the ability to perform 64 different functions, it is one of the body’s most important organs. It is also the second largest organ in the body and carries out a number of very important functions related to metabolism, digestion, detoxification and the production and storage of chemicals and nutrients essential to bodily functions and processes. More specifically, some of the liver’s complex functions include:
- Manufacturing of proteins, including albumin to help maintain blood volume
- Eliminating potentially harmful biochemical products in the body
- Producing and secreting bile to aid intestinal absorption of fats and vitamins A, D, E, and K.
- Processing fats that are used to generate energy
- Processing carbohydrates as a source of glucose which is important for your red blood cells and the brain
Diseases of the Liver
The liver, unfortunately, is prone to some very serious diseases and illnesses that can be potentially lethal in nature. These ailments can be due to various causes including infection, genetic predispositions and the heavy use of prescription medications, alcohol or drugs. WebMD lists these conditions as follows:
- Hepatitis: Inflammation of the liver, caused by hepatitis A, B, and C viruses and non-infectious causes including alcohol, drugs, allergic reactions or obesity
- Cirrhosis: Permanent scarring of the liver due to long-term damage
- Liver cancers: Highly probable to develop following cirrhosis
- Liver failure: Liver failure as a consequence of infection, genetic diseases and excessive alcohol consumption
- Ascites: The leakage of fluid into the belly as result of cirrhosis
- Gallstones: Gallstones can get stuck in the bile ducts, potentially causing hepatitis and bile duct infection
- Hemochromatosis: Excess iron deposits in the liver which can spread throughout the body, causing other health problems
- Primary sclerosing cholangitis: A rare disease with unknown causes that leads to inflammation and scarring of the bile ducts
- Primary biliary cirrhosis: Another rare disorder that slowly destroys the bile ducts eventually causing cirrhosis
Risk Factors & Symptoms of Liver Disease
In a very informative section on the Mayo Clinic Website, you will find lists of symptoms and risk factors associated with liver disease. Some of the tell-tale symptoms of liver disease include discoloration of the skin, yellowness of the eyes, abdominal pain and swelling, unusually itchy skin, discolored urine and stool, fatigue, nausea and loss of appetite. If you develop any of these symptoms be sure to visit a medical professional without delay.
You can be more prone to contracting or developing liver disease if:
- Your work exposes you to other people’s blood and body fluids or chemicals and toxins without proper safety precautions
- You received a blood transfusion before 1992
- You have tattoos or piercings
- You consume excess alcohol and drugs(prescription or recreational)
- You have participated in unprotected sex
- You have shared needles while injecting
- You have diabetes
Teas for a Healthy Liver
It cannot be stressed enough that liver health is crucial to your overall well-being and lifestyle. If you have been diagnosed with any form of liver disease, it is of high importance to observe your prescribed treatments and medication. If you do consider any alternative remedies, please only do so under careful advisement.
However, if you have a healthy liver and you wish to take steps that can further strengthen it, there are a number of herbal teas that come highly recommended. Look for the following herbs that are known to improve liver health and function when choosing a tea or a blend.
Milk thistle has an ingredient called silymarin. This compound protects your liver by preventing harmful toxins from causing damage to your liver. It also catalyses the regrowth of new cells while producing chemicals that are important for detoxifying the liver. Milk Thistle is often found in tea blends specifically designed for detoxing.
Dandelion Root is an herb that is used widely for its healing powers for a number of organs and body functions. Dandelion Root Tea is safe to consume on a regular basis and is know to aid regeneration of the liver after being damaged by harmful chemicals and toxins. It’s diuretic properties make it an effective liver cleanser. The root also stimulates bile flow and is recommended by herbalists to manage cirrhosis.
Another popular ingredient of cleansing teas, turmeric has been used traditionally in eastern cultures for a number of healing remedies. It is made up of powerful nutrients that will benefit the health of your liver. It is know to kickstart the creation of certain enzymes in your system that help rid the liver of harmful substances and toxins including known carcinogens.
Green tea is well known for its usefulness to the human body across the board. It has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine. Rich in antioxidants, particularly catechins, green tea is believed to be extremely beneficial to the health of your liver by boosting its functions and detoxifying it at the same time. Drinking green tea regularly is associated with a number of effects that will improve your overall health.
Peppermint Tea is known to help stimulate bile flow by relaxing the bile ducts in your liver. It aids the metabolising of fats at the same time regulating the amount of bad cholesterol in your body, easing the burden placed on your liver.
Used in ancient and traditional Roman, Persian, Arabian and Indian medicine, chicory leaves and it’s root are believed to treat a number of liver related ailments which include jaundice, gallbladder and liver stones, constipation and indigestion.
The increasing number of reported cases of liver disease over the last few years can be attributed to the amounts of oil, sugar, preservatives and artificial ingredients that are part of our daily intake. Dieticians recommend staying as close to nature as possible to not only ensure a healthy liver, but also your general health. An article on The Huffington Post lists 10 foods that are beneficial to the health of your liver. Changing your eating habits can go a long way to this end. Increase the amount of fruits and vegetables that you consume and always keep yourself hydrated through adequate fluid intake including water, fresh juices and herbal teas.