The liver is the largest single gland in the body. It is located on the right side of the abdomen under the lower ribs and just under the diaphragm which divides the chest from the abdomen. Liver performs a number of important functions in the body. When the liver is healthy it works very smoothly. But the liver can be affected by a number of serious disorders, such as virus infections, parasites, disburtances of the circulation, stone formation in the bile ducts, injuries due to poisonous substances, and various kinds of tumours.
Most of the foods we eat are stored in the liver, after having been digested and absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. The liver has another very important function, that of detoxifying or destroying many harmful poisons and even certain medicines that are taken into the body for other purposes. When the liver is sick these functions are impaired and soon the whole body suffers.
Not only does the liver store food materials, it also produces bile, a golden-yellowish liquid that is needed for the absorption of fat from the intestine. Another important substance produced in the liver is cholesterol, part of which passes into the bile. It may even form stones in the bile ducts and gall bladder under certain conditions. Another important component is prothrombin, which is needed for the clotting of the blood. Urea, an important component of the urine, is also produced in the liver. The production of all these substances may be changed under certain disease conditions.
Jaundice is a disease marked by a yellow discolouration in the skin or in the whites of the eye. This is due to excessive amount of bile in the blood stream. Hepatitis is an acute inflammation of the liver caused by some infectious or toxic agent. The skin may be discoloured and the whites of the eyes turn yellow. Various substances and organisms may be responsible for hepatitis, including germs, viruses, and toxic agents.
Another important disease of the liver is the cirrhosis of the liver. It is mostly associated with alcoholism. Poor nutrition may be responsible for this condition also. In some cases chronic poisoning with industrial fluids, such as carbon tetrachloride, may also play a part. In the early stages of the disease there may be frequent attacks of gas and indigestion, with occassional nausea and vomiting and with abdominal pain and weight loss.
Cancer may occur in almost any organ of the body. When it begins in the stomach or large bowel, the liver may soon be involved mainly because the blood flows toward the liver from all the digestive organs including the pancreas and gall bladder. This is known as metastatic carcinoma.
HOME REMEDIES FOR LIVER CARE
Papaya has been found beneficial in the treatment of cirrhosis of the liver, caused by alcoholism and malnutrition. Take a tablespoon of juice by grinding the seeds, mix with ten drops of fresh limejuice, and take it once or twice daily for about a month as a medicine for this disease.
The herb trailing eclipta, botanically known as eclipta Alba (Bhringaraj ), has proved invaluable in cirrhosis of the liver. Take the juice of all parts of this plant in doses of one teaspoon, mixed with one teaspoon of honey, three times daily.
Picrorhiza known as picrorhiza kurroa (Katuki) is a drug of choice in ayurveda for cirrhosis of the liver among adults. Mix a tablespoon of the powder with an equal quantity of honey, take this thrice daily.
The juice of carrots, in combination with spinach juice, has been found beneficial in the treatment of cirrhosis of the liver. Mix -200 ml of Spinach juice with 300 ml of carrot juice to prepare 500 ml or half a litre of combined juices. Similarly, 300 ml of carrot juice, combined with 100 ml each of cucumber and beet juices can be used effectively.
The patient must stop taking alcohol in any form.
Vegetables such as beets, squashes, bitter gourd, eggplant, tomatoes, carrots, radishes, and papaya are especially useful in this condition.
The patient should avoid all refined, processed, and canned foods; spices and condiments; strong tea and coffee; fried foods; all preparations cooked in ghee, oil, or butter; all meats; and all chemical additives in food. The use of salt should be limited.
Application of hot and cold compresses, for two to three minutes each, on the liver area are beneficial.
Daily morning exercises, which involve stretching and deep breathing, are also effective in preventing the liver. Stretching and deep breathing kind of exercises early in the morning provide the most benefit for anyone with sluggish liver.
Soak 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of Bentonite clay in 1 cup of filtered water for 12 hours. Then add ½ to 1 tablespoon of psyllium husks or plantago seeds to the clay mixture and mix well. Drink and eat the whole cup of mixture immediately and then followed by 1 cup of warm water before bedtime. This is an effective home remedy for liver.
Drink at least 8 cups of warm water a day including 2 cups first thing in the morning.
Epsom salt may help in flushing out the stones from the gall bladder. Epsom salt dilates the bile duct.
One tablespoon each of Coptis and Curcuma can usually help to push out the stones or other blockages.
Take 2 tablespoons of GCG to crush the stone and wait for 1½ to 2 hours before taking 1 tablespoon each of Coptis and Curcuma again. The crushed stones appear to move easier and the pain is relieved. This is also an effective home remedy for liver.
Milk thistle is found useful in patients who have developed acute liver disease from drugs, environmental toxins or ethanol or mushroom poisoning.
A licorice root extract called glycyrrhizin has also shown good result as a possible remedy for chronic hepatitis C and liver cancer.