The Sluggish Liver Explained

sluggish liver

Do you live in the 21st century? Do You suffer from chronic fatigue, headaches, constipation, gallbladder disease / gallstones, aversion to fats, terrible hangovers etc? These are some common symptoms of what is known in naturopathic terms as a sluggish liver, or in other words a sign that your liver is overburdened by too many toxins. Herbal medicine, nutritional supplementation, dietary and lifestyle approaches can treat this condition naturally, without the use of pharmacological drugs.

The liver

The liver performs a wide range of functions like detoxification, protein synthesis and production of biochemicals essential for digestion.

It produces bile, an alkaline compound which helps in digestion through the emulsification of lipids.

The liver also performs different biochemical reactions involving highly equipped tissues for synthesis and breakdown of small and complex molecules. Some other functions performed by the liver are:

  • Generation of fats emulsifying substances
  • Glucose to glycogen conversion
  • Manufacturing of amino acids (proteins)
  • Removal of toxic substances from the blood
  • Storage of vitamins and minerals, Iron B12, fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E & K.
  • Maintaining proper levels of glucose in the blood

The liver also performs methylation

What is methylation?

In simple terms, it is a process in which certain chemicals called ‘methyl groups’ are added to various constituents of proteins, DNA and other molecules. These are needed to keep them in good ‘working’ condition. For example, if the antidepressant, “feel-good” brain chemical serotonin is not methylated it will become inactive which leads to depression.

Methylation and Homocysteine

Probably the most important methylation process is when it is applied to homocysteine. Homocysteine is a by-product of the amino acid methionine and is what remains when methionine is used to methylate your proteins and DNA. Homocysteine needs to be methylated to convert it back to methionine. If this process is impeded there is an increased risk of many diseases including heart disease, osteoparthritis, eclampsia and even cancer.

Methylation and Histamine

Histamine is also methylated in the liver. Some people are over-methylators which leads to low histamine levels, whilst others are under methylators, leading to high histamine levels. As latest research in mental illnesses shows, histamine imbalance is associated with depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, OCD anorexia/bulimia and even autism. This is due to problems with either over-methylation or under-methylation and needs to be INDIVIDUALLY determined. You cannot say for example that all people with depression are under-methylators.

As histamine is also associated with allergy, allergy itself indicates a sluggish liver. It is not necessary for total elimination of suspect allergens. It is enough to reduce and rotate whilst treating the “cause” of the allergy which is not wheat etc. per se, however excess histamine resulting from poor methylation by the liver. As naturopaths, we should always treat the cause. Interestingly in TCM there is no such thing as an allergy. Allergy symptoms such as itching and rash are a Liver pathology. Also interestingly histamine is metabolised by a B6 dependent enzyme called diamine oxidase. Without B6 you cannot metabolise histamine.

Hormones, homocysteine, histamine and even heavy metals are all methylated in the liver.

What causes a sluggish Liver?

Excessive accumulation of fat within the liver cells due to alcoholism, obesity, diabetes, drugs (like corticosteroids, tetracycline and aspirin) or elevated serum triglyceride levels can lead to impeding liver function.

Another cause for sluggish liver function is intrahepatic problems which occur due to overexposure to food additives, solvents (cleaning materials, formaldehyde, toluene, benzene, etc.), heavy metals (lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, nickel, and aluminium), and other toxins.

Viral infections of liver like hepatitis, inherited disorders like Gilbert's syndrome, hyperthyroidism, consumption of anabolic steroids/synthetic oestrogens/oral contraceptives are some other factors that can restrict the bile flow in the liver and cause impaired liver function.

Lack of physical activities, poor nutritious diet, aging, etc, are some other common causes for sluggish liver function.

Water

Toxic heavy metals in water


Lead
Lead contaminates drinking water when lead building materials or paint leach into rainwater tanks, or when house pipes contain lead solder (legal in Australia until 1989). House pipes end up in landfill. Monitoring for lead in the municipal distribution system will not detect contamination in the home. At the same time, a test of home water may miss the problem, because the majority of the lead is suspended in the first flow of water in the morning, so running your tap for a few minutes is important but does not conserve water!

Mercury and cadmium
Mercury and cadmium enter the groundwater primarily from fossil fuel emissions, industrial smelting and mining operations. Mercury in amalgam fillings, fish, seafood, cosmetics, pesticides, paint, plastics, pesticides, fungicides, fabric softeners, adhesives, floor waxes/polishes, laxatives, suppositories, hair dyes, batteries and of course broken mercury thermometers all end up in groundwater.

Fluoride contains the heavy metals mercury, arsenic and lead
Fluorosilicic acid is the most corrosive chemical agent known to man. It is derived from toxic gases produced in the manufacture of phosphoric acid and phosphate fertilisers. The fluorosilicic acid is recovered from chimney pollution scrubbers as a substance known as scrubber liquor. It contains lead, mercury, arsenic, and high concentrations of radionuclides, hence it is radioactive.

Manganese is in drinking water
According to results from a 2010 study, higher levels of exposure to manganese in drinking water are associated with increased intellectual impairment and reduced intelligence quotients in school-age children.

Stop Drinking Plastic or out of Plastic!

Plastic in bottled water globally

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced a review into the potential risks of plastic in drinking water after a new analysis of some of the world’s most popular bottled water brands found that more than 90% contained tiny pieces of plastic. A previous study also found high levels of microplastics in tap water.

In the new study, analysis of 259 bottles from 19 locations in nine countries across 11 different brands found an average of 325 plastic particles for every litre of water being sold. In one bottle of Nestlé Pure Life, concentrations were as high as 10,000 plastic pieces per litre of water. Of the 259 bottles tested, only 17 were free of plastics, according to the study.

Scientists based at the State University of New York in Fredonia were commissioned by journalism project Orb Media to analyse the bottled water. The scientists wrote they had “found roughly twice as many plastic particles within bottled water” compared with their previous study of tap water, reported by the Guardian.

Plastic in Tap water globally

A study reveals that tests show billions of people globally are drinking water contaminated by plastic particles, with 83% of samples found to be polluted

The scale of global microplastic contamination is staggering with studies in Germany finding fibres and fragments in all of the 24 beer brands they tested, as well as in honey and sugar. In Paris in 2015, researchers discovered microplastic falling from the air, which they estimated deposits three to 10 tonnes of fibres on the city each year, and that it is also present in the air in people’s homes.

The Solution

The Carahealth Eco Water Filter filter microplastics to .7 microns. This is the best solution to address microplastic contamination in drinking water. It is better than reverse osmosis which not only makes demineralised dead water that is not fit for human consumption but is also an environmental nightmare. Imagine the idea of every person on the planet using electricity to filter water? This is unfathomable. The Carahealth gravity fed water filter uses no electricity. It is the most environmentally friendly way to achieve fluoride free, chemical free, plastic free healthy water that is good for you and good for the planet

Symptoms of a Sluggish Liver

Here are some signs or indications that may help to identify if the liver is sluggish or not functioning properly.

  • As 80% of the cholesterol is generated by the liver, if the liver is not functioning well there will be abnormalities in the level of fats in the blood like elevated LDL cholesterol and reduced HDL cholesterol and elevated triglycerides
  • A sluggish liver leads to poor digestion, bloating or flatulence after the meals.
  • Since the liver plays an important role in eliminating toxins from the body skin disease is considered as the first sign of liver damage. Rashes, psoriasis, eczema, boils or acne indicate the liver is removing toxins through the skin.
  • The liver also helps regulate blood sugar levels, hence signs that the liver is not maintaining blood sugar levels may include, loss of appetite, weakness or dizziness, nausea and vomiting.
  • As the liver filters hormones, a sluggish liver in women results in symptoms including heavy or clotted menstruation, irregular periods, fibroids in breast or uterus, hot flushes, ovarian cysts, mood swings or menopausal problems.

What to do?

As I always say food isn’t rocket science! It is time to spring into action and flush your liver with a detox. Eat a diet low in bad fat high, in good fat, high in soluble fibre, nutrients and clean water. Avoid alcohol and processed food and incorporate plenty of fruits and vegetables in your daily diet along with lean protein foods like fish, tofu, legumes, etc. This will work to assist liver function.

Below is an example of a liver tincture that is part of my range. When it comes to benefiting the liver, there is no pill that can do what a tincture does. The bitter taste stimulates the bitter receptors on the tongue, which stimulates the vagus nerve (the main nerve of the parasympathetic nervous system {Las Vagus nerveJ}) to promote salivation, bile flow, pancreatic juices and stomach acid. Order online or text my mobile number at the end of this article.

Herbal medicine for a Sluggish Liver

Carahealth Liver Plastic & Heavy Metal Detox Tomic

Milk thistle Silybum marinarum Bupleurum/Chai Hu柴胡 Bupleurum falcatum Globe artichoke Cynara scolymus Barberry Berberis vulgaris

Carahealth Liver contains herbs that regenerate liver cells, promote the flow of bile and assist liver functions in particular, digestion and detoxification. It is recommended for liverish conditions such as irritably, melancholia, nausea, feeling sluggish and particular disorders of the liver. The tincture treats organic liver disease such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, alcoholism, hemochromatosis, cancer of the liver, Wilson's disease, an autoimmune disease of small bile ducts, Budd-Chiari syndrome, obstruction of the hepatic vein and Gilbert's syndrome and assists detoxification, especially of heavy metals.

Please consult a naturopath or your doctor before taking natural remedies if you are on medication or if symptoms persist.

Carina Harkin BHSc.Nat.BHSc.Hom.BHSc.Acu.

Cert IV TAE. ARCHTI mem.