Spokane Naturopathic Medicine | Doctor Lindsay Donahue
January 20th, 2018
It’s time to reach your health potential.

Do you have an Overworked & Sluggish Liver?

Milk Thistle Liver Stones

How to Identify and Help an Overworked Liver

Your liver has to metabolize everything you eat or are exposed to. The liver is one of the most important components of the gastrointestinal system. It is responsible for the processing of carbohydrates, fats, synthesizing essential substances such as: bile, glycogen, and proteins. The liver is also the body’s primary site of detoxification, of both environmental and metabolic toxins (poisons). The liver is the detoxification site of the body for impurities in the blood, whether they are chemical, bacterial, or allergic.

Immune & Detox Your Liver

Hepatocytes play a huge role in the immune system, they synthesize 50% of the lymph fluid, as well as 95% of plasma proteins-albumin and globulin. Globulin is the backbone for the immune systems antibodies. The liver also is responsible for the ability of the blood to clot (coagulation).

Kupffer cells line the vessels in the liver; these cells engulf bacteria, toxins, and other foreign matter that come from the intestines. 99% of bacteria escapees are trapped here. When the quantity of colon particulate matter/debris increases, there is a corresponding increase in Kupffer cells- but there are limitations, and eventually a toxic bowel will overwhelm the capacity of the liver. Kupffer cells also trap: bacterial and fungal toxins, large antigenic/allergic molecules and antigen-allergy complexes.

Hepatocytes detox the body through an elaborate microsomal enzyme system (P-450), detoxifying potentially poisonous compounds: herbicides, pesticides, industrial chemicals, food additives, hydrocarbons, metals, pharmaceutical medications, plant toxins, and alcohol. Liver enzyme systems also metabolize/detox our own hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, insulin, cortisol, and adrenaline.

Digestion & Cholesterol & Bile

The Liver is responsible for making bile, which is composed of bile salts (cholesterol, lecithin, and bilirubin) which emulsifies and allows the absorption of fats. Bile imbalances, leading to gallstones is caused from too much cholesterol and too little lecithin; a diet too high in: fat and sugar, and too low in fiber. Imbalances in bile leads to poor fat soluble vitamin absorption and poor essential fatty acid absorption.

Liver cells (Hepatocytes) make cholesterol. Cholesterol is the base molecule that eventually becomes adrenal hormones and sex hormones (estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, etc.). Cholesterol also has an important role as and antioxidant in cell membranes, reducing free radical pathology.

How Your Energy is Affected by Your Liver

The liver produces 60% of the useable energy derived from the metabolism of dietary fat. The liver also regulates blood sugar levels, converting glucose to glycogen (allowing sugar storage & removing excess sugar from the blood). The liver can also increase blood sugar levels by converting protein to glucose. The same cascade that the liver uses to make Cholesterol, it also makes CoQ10, which is important in cellular energy production.

How the Liver Affects Nutrients

The liver’s work is never done. It stores vitamins B-12, A, and D, and the mineral iron (as ferritin). It converts B vitamins from their in-active to active forms (i.e. B-6, pyridoxine to pyridoxal-5 phosphate). If your liver is overworked and sluggish you may not respond to inactive forms of the B vitamins, you may require activated forms. The liver makes glucose tolerance factor (GTF) which increases the function of insulin at the cellular level; as well as making glutathione, a critical antioxidant.

A Tired, Sluggish Liver

By now we can begin to understand that the liver is a busy, busy organ. A toxic bowel (i.e. constipation, etc.) leaks poisons into the bloodstream that travel down to the portal vein, and into the liver. If your liver is forced to take over your bowels work, its ability to detoxify the body will be compromised. Harmful substances then escape into the blood and circulate, injuring tissue and diminishing health.

Symptoms of an Overworked Liver May Include

  • PMS
  • Gallbladder problems
  • Allergies
  • Achy joints and muscles
  • Overweight
  • Sore feet
  • Acne
  • Slow wound healing
  • Elevated Blood Pressure
  • Itching
  • Fatigue
  • Dry skin
  • Depression
  • Rashes
  • Headache
  • Worry/Nightmares
  • Dizziness
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Nausea
  • Bowel Toxicity
  • Constipation
  • Insomnia
  • Bloating
  • Intolerant to fatty foods