The liver is vital to life. It has a multitude of functions. Herbs can be used to optimise liver function.
Here are some of the functions of the liver.
Removing and excreting body wastes and hormones as well as drugs and other foreign substances These substances have entered the blood supply either through production by metabolism within the body or from the outside in the form of drugs or other foreign compounds. The main enzyme system in the liver is known as the p450 system. Fat soluble toxins get excreted in bile and water soluble ones are excreted via the kidneys. Certain herbs stimulate the secretion of bile. This helps with the removal of toxins.
· Synthesizing plasma proteins, including those necessary for blood clotting Most of the 12 clotting factors are plasma proteins produced by the liver. If the liver is damaged or diseased, it can take longer for the body to form clots. Other plasma proteins produced by the liver include albumin which binds many water-insoluble substances and contributes to osmotic pressure, fibrogen which is key to the clotting process, and certain globulins which transport substances such as cholesterol and iron. Adequate amino acids are vital for protein synthesis.
Producing immune factors and removing bacteria, helping the body fight infection The phagocytes in the liver produce acute-phase proteins in response to microbes. These proteins are associated with the inflammation process, tissue repair, and immune cell activities.
Other important but less immediate functions include:
· Producing bile to aid in digestion Bile salts aid in fat digestion and absorption. Bile is continuously secreted by the liver and stored in the gallbladder until a meal, when bile enters the beginning of the small intestine. Bile production ranges from 250 mL to 1 L per day depending of amount of food eaten. Bile emulsifies fat so that there is a larger surface area for fat digesting enzymes to work on. Again certain herbs stimulate the production of bile therefore aiding digestion..
· Storing certain vitamins, minerals, and sugars The liver stores enough glucose in the form of glycogen to provide about a day’s worth of energy. The liver also stores fats, iron, copper, and many vitamins including vitamins A, D, K, and B12.
· Processing nutrients absorbed from digestive tract The liver converts glucose into glycogen, its storage form. This glycogen can then be transformed back into glucose if the body needs energy. The fatty acids produced by the digestion of lipids are used to synthesize cholesterol and other substances. The liver also has the ability to convert certain amino acids into others.
It is interesting to note that people with a weak liver will have problems losing weight. Tuning forks are a way of strengthening the liver. This is achieved by getting Qi to flow through the liver meridian.