The Liver is the largest organ in the body. It fills the upper right part of the abdomen. It is covered by the ribs on the right side of the body.The liver performs over 500 functions and holds approximately 13% of the total blood supply at a given time. About 60% of the liver is made up of liver cells called hepatocytes. These cells absorb nutrients and remove harmful substances from the blood. The liver also controls the level of fats, amino acids and glucose in the blood.
The Liver performs more than 500 jobs in the body. Some of the most important functions are:
- It helps fight infections. The liver contains over half of the body’s supply Kuppfer cells, which destroy bacteria that they come into contact with. When the liver is damaged in any way, it is unable to fight infections effectively. It makes antibodies that protect us from disease.
- The liver heps to process digested food from the intestine. Bile from the liver secreted into the small intestine plays an important role in digesting fat.
- Some materials produced by the body are toxic if accumalated in large amounts. The liver’s job is to keep that in check. It neutralises and destroys all drugs and toxins.
- The liver breaks down food and turns it into energy. Carbohydrates are broken down to glucose and stored mainly in the liver and muscles as glycogen. When energy is required, the liver quickly converts the glycogen back into glucose ready for use.
- The protein fragments (amino acids) that are made in the intestines from meat could be deadly if they got into the blood stream. The liver changes them from amino acids to human proteins.
- The liver stores iron, vitamins and other essential chemicals. It is responsible for making enzymes and proteins, which are responsible for most of the chemical reactions in the body, like clotting of blood and repair of damaged tissues.
- The liver helps the body to rid itself of waste. Some of the waste products that are not excreted by the kidneys are removed by the liver.
Causes of Liver Disease
The main causes of liver disease are obesity, undiagnosed hepatitis infection and excessive consumption of alcohol. These causes can be easily prevented by making sure that you have the right BMI, avoiding excessive amounts of alcohol and taking measures to prevent getting hepatitis. Drugs too can cause liver disease. Some drugs are directly injurious to the liver, while the liver converts some others into chemicals that can cause injury to the liver directly or indirectly.
The liver conditions can be hepatitis, which is basically inflammation of the liver, which is caused by viruses like hepatitis A, B and C. Hepatitis may also be caused by heavy drinking, drugs and obesity. Cirrhosis occurs when there is damage to the liver which leads to permanent scarring. The liver is unable to function properly. Cirrhosis can also lead to cancer of the liver.
Liver failure can be caused by various factors like infection, alcohol and genetic diseases. Ascites is a condition where the liver leaks fluid into the stomach, making it heavy and bloated.
Mind Body Connection and Liver Disease in Ayurveda
In Ayurveda, the mind, body and spirit are believed to be integrated part of an inseparable whole. It is believed that our emotions and state of mind can affect liver health. Therefore, it makes more sense to treat both the mind and body. Liver is considered an organ that has a penchant for volatile emotions like anger, envy, irritability, resentment and frustration. Due to social conditioning, most of these emotions are suppressed, which leads to a pile up of toxic emotions which is very unhealthy. These unresolved emotions harm the liver. Positive emotions are also affect the liver if they are not kept in balance. Hence, keeping all the emotional energies in balance is considered very critical for liver health.
Some of the methods that can help us deal with the mind body conditions are meditation, pranayam and yoga. Fifteen to twenty minutes of meditation or pranayam can work wonders. These practices are incredible calming, grounding and soothing to the mind. The kapalbhati pranayama is considered good for liver health. Some of the yoga postures are Ardha Matsyendrasana, Dhanurasana, Gomukh Asana, Naukasana
Natural Home Remedies to Treat And Prevent Liver Disease
The best way to treat a disease is to prevent it. Nature has given us a lot of natural ways to keep the liver healthy. Fruits, plant extracts and herbs, have been traditionally used for treating liver diseases. Herbs play a very important role in keeping the liver in health and good working condition. The herbs mentioned below cleanse and help treat fatty liver.