Many of us do think about our hearts and cardiovascular system, but how many of you think about the health of your liver? We bet that not many of you do and in a recent informal survey where we asked about fifty of our acquaintances, only one of them responded that they thought much about liver health and function. It's not surprising in some ways; livers don't get a whole lot of media attention. When we think about liver, it's more likely to be about a dinner of liver and onions which it seems you either love or hate.
However, you only have one liver and it carries out some very important functions in the body. You cannot live long without a liver. A liver that is not functioning in a normal and healthy way will mean that you are likely to have some serious health issues. Do you know what your liver does for you? Weighing up to 3.7 pounds, your liver is the largest organ as well as gland in your body. And it has a lot of work to do.
One of it's jobs is to "inspect" every nutrient (and other things like poisons as well) that enters your body. Via the bloodstream, the liver processes and purifies and "figures out" what should be passed on to other organs as waste to be processed further, or what should be sent to other areas of the body for nutrition. As well, the liver aids in breaking down nutrients into their smaller components so your body can actually use them.
The liver also stores important nutrients and vitamins and produces protein while also converting fats and carbohydrates into glucose. As well, if all that is not enough, your liver is responsible for detoxifying your blood. It generally does a pretty good job, but the problem is that some toxins can remain in your liver, or if in high enough quantities, damage or destroy it. Natural antioxidants that you consume can help your liver do a more efficient job of this very important and vital task.
There are a number of things that can harm the liver. Most of us will think of the alcoholic's disease, cirrhosis of the liver. Cirrhosis is actually scarring of the liver and when this occurs, it cannot do it's job. If too much of the liver is scarred, then jaundice and other conditions will occur rather quickly. There is also the disease of hepatitis which affects the liver, liver cancer and fatty liver.
There are quite a number of herbs and foods that are either known or believed to assist in healthy liver function. Licorice root has long been believed to help liver function as well as treat other conditions like ulcers and respiratory infections.
Antioxidants like green tea are thought to be good for liver protection and strengthening.
This week, we look at two herbs, one of which has been used for centuries in the treatment of liver dysfunction (and other maladies), Milk Thistle. Today, there is mounting evidence of the efficacy of the compounds contained in Milk Thistle and better known as being part of the silymarin compound. Another herb that we profile this week is Borage, high in omega-6 fatty acids and also believed to help strengthen and possibly restore the liver.
Once again, we find that claims about herbs that have been believed for centuries to have therapeutic effects can now stand up with the scientific evidence. In nature, there just be something helpful or healing for every condition under the sun! For your own happy, healthy and beautiful life, consider giving your liver a helping hand, reduce your intake of known toxins, and give it some assistance at cleansing itself!
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