With the exception of the heart, no other organ in the human body is attributed with the powerful emotions of the liver.
Ancient Greeks believed the largest organ in the body contained man’s deepest, darkest passions.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the liver is the seat of anger or unfilled creativity and desires.
In India, the liver is considered the source of courage, and one can figuratively offer one’s liver to another as a symbol of strength in a difficult time. The word liver is derived from old English, to live.
Modern medicine values the livers for it many physiological functions:
• In the liver carbohydrates and fat are turned into turned into sugars and are stored for times when blood sugars dip.
• The liver also assembles transportation vehicles for hormones from fat.
• Another fat based product the liver produces is bile. Toxins travel in bile as they are ferried from the body.
• The liver breaks down protein and builds blood, hormones, muscles, neurotransmitters and almost every other part of the body with it.
• The liver neutralizes food, drugs, alcohol and environmental toxins and prepares them for elimination, via the bile.
• It destroys sex, thyroid and adrenal hormones and old blood cells.
• The liver stores vitamins A, D, E, K and B12.
Today herbalists consider the biological functions and traditional psychology of liver when offering herbs.
Overworked livers are implicated in a number of chronic conditions ranging from premenstrual syndrome to eczema and psoriasis. Poor liver function is suspected in high cholesterol with high blood pressure.
Digestive complaints from constipation to heart burn are also associated with a sluggish liver.
Everything that enters the mouth eventually makes it way to the liver. There it is screened before being allowed to circulate through the rest of the body. Because of this, as with everything else, most herbs, in one way or another, influence the liver. There are however a special class of herbs that have a pronounced influence on the liver: the hepatics.
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is the most commonly used hepatic. It is sometimes recommended as an antidote for snake and mushroom poisons.
Herbs for Life is written by Abrah Arneson, a local clinical herbalist. It is intended for information purposes only. Readers with a specific medical problem should consult a doctor. For more info., visit www.abraherbalist.ca. Arneson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.