Boosting liver health to remove toxins from the body has been an integral part of Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine practices for thousands of years. Referred to as the ultimate multitasking organ, ancient practitioners believed that the liver was one of the primary organs that needed to be treated in sick patients. In ancient Chinese medicine, it’s said that “the physician who knows how to harmonize the liver knows how to treat the hundred diseases.”
Today we know that without a healthy liver, it’s impossible to have a properly working metabolism, healthy circulation, balanced hormones, clean blood and strong digestion. Experiencing symptoms like fatigue, abdominal pain, bloating and hormonal imbalances? These can all be signs that your liver isn’t functioning properly. In this case, it might be time for a liver cleanse and other liver-boosting lifestyle changes, such as adding more bitter foods to your diet and using herbal medicines, for example.
What Is the Liver?
What is the liver, and why is it considered one of the hardest working organs in the body?
The liver, the largest internal organ in the human body, is a digestive organ that sits on the upper right side of the belly. What does the liver look like? It’s described as being “meaty” due to its reddish-brown color. If you were to touch your liver, it would feel rubbery and semi-firm.
The liver is always communicating with other digestive organs, receiving information about the level of available nutrients or the presence of threats like prescription medications, heavy metals or toxic substances.
As the main organ involved in detoxification, it’s the liver that recognizes toxic substances and converts them into harmless material that can be released. As described in the World Journal of Hepatology in a 2017 article, “Beyond the metabolic functions, the liver recently has been defined as an organ of immune system (IS) … The liver keeps a delicate balance between hepatic screening of pathogenic antigens and immune tolerance to self-antigens.”
The liver is said to be of the “wood element” and is crucial for the transformation of food into energy, or qi, according to Chinese medicine. Since it’s associated with wood qi, the liver is characterized by “upward momentum and the innate desire to be straight.” A healthy liver results in better blood flow upward and outward, throughout our vessels, veins and capillaries, which transport oxygen and nutrients to our cells.
What can improved liver function do for your health? A well taken care of liver can help bring you:
Increased energy levels
More regular menstrual cycle with reduced PMS
Freedom from sinus pain
Fewer infections and stronger immunity
Less digestive complaints and more regularity
Fresher breath and oral health
A positive mood and sharper mind
Liver Anatomy and Structure
Where is the liver located in the body? An adult human liver weighs in just over three pounds and sits in the upper right side of the abdomen, underneath the rib cage, where it’s connected to the gallbladder. The gallbladder is where bile is stored, which is also very important for digestion. The liver takes up the space below the diaphragm and most of the space under the ribs.
There are two large sections/lobes that make up the liver. Within the liver, there’s a specific type of tissue that is made of lobules, which transport blood and cells.
The liver has two main veins, one that delivers blood from the gastrointestinal tract and the other that supplies blood from the heart. The liver connects to other digestive organs via a system of tubes that collect bile, digest foods, and drain waste.
Liver Function: What Is the Liver’s Purpose?
What is the liver’s function? The main functions of the liver include: