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8 Signs of Liver Problems: Is Your Liver Crying for Help?

Posted by Deborah Graefer, L.Ac., MTOM on

The liver is the second largest organ in the human body. In fact, it is so big that it contains 10% of our body’s blood supply at any given time. It’s also considered such a vital organ because it is responsible for more than a few hundred different bodily functions including digestion and detoxification – two processes crucial for survival. The liver and the bile (produced in the liver) play an important role in the breakdown and processing of fats, sugar, and proteins. Along with the kidneys, skin, and the GI tract, the liver also serves as the body’s built-in filter and detoxifier. These mechanisms alone prove how critical the liver’s role is. That’s why despite its resiliency and its ability to regrow and regenerate, the liver needs as much help and care as it can get. Poor liver means poor overall health. Liver failure can be fatal.


These are 8 tell-tale signs that your liver needs help:

  • Excessive belly fat and bloating
  • Acid reflux/heartburn
  • Pain or discomfort along the area of the liver
  • Bad skin and profuse sweating
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Jaundice
  • Brain Fog
  • PMS

Visceral Fat – Excessive belly fat is a great indicator of liver toxicity and possible liver problem. Toxins in the form of gluten, preservatives, and unhealthy fats among others, are stored in between the internal organ. In fact, numerous studies prove that visceral fat is directly correlated to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), making even non-obese subjects a likely candidate for liver diseases. It is also a possible culprit in the development of diabetes, cancer, and metabolic diseases.

Heartburn – Acid reflux progressing into gastroesophageal reflex disease (GERD) can be more than just a digestive concern. The burning feeling you may be feeling before or after meals can actually be bile reflux or duodenogastroesophageal reflux (DGER). Bile mixed with acid is more toxic in combination than either of them are alone.

Pain – Pain or discomfort is always a signal that something is wrong. Similar to a gallbladder attack, pain in the upper right side of the abdomen, just below the ribcage can be an indicator that your liver needs help. Pain can be caused by a number of conditions: these may include deterioration of liver cells and tissues in liver cirrhosis, accumulation of fats in the liver, excessive iron deposits, enlarged spleen, Wilson’s disease, or liver abscess due to bacterial infection.

Bad Skin – If the liver is sluggish and cannot perform its filtering function, then toxins in the body are bound to accumulate or find another way out. The skin can be an alternative route for exit. Thus, acne, rosacea, age spots, and itchy skin can happen. Aside from skin breakouts, too much sweating even without strenuous activity can be the body’s way of coping up with liver toxin build-up.

Chronic fatigue – Feeling tired all the time can mean a lot of things and an overloaded liver is one of them. Liver toxicity and conditions like NAFLD increases the presence of cytokines in the body. Cytokines are chemical messengers involved in inflammation, attracting and activating phagocytes, among others. Elevated cytokines have numerous effects like loss of appetite, decreased glutathione (our body’s natural antioxidant – to know more, see blog post), brain wave changes, and altered metabolism. All these contribute to the feeling of lethargy and chronic fatigue.

Jaundice – This is one of the most obvious signs of liver problems. Jaundice is a result of the accumulation of bilirubin when the liver fails to filter it from the blood or excrete it into the intestine via bile ducts. It is characterized by yellowish skin, nails, and eyes. Bilirubin is the waste product from the breakdown of old blood cells. It is the bilirubin which gives bile its brown or yellowish color.

Brain fog – Just like fatigue, brain fog can be a symptom of a lot of things - one of which is the accumulation of excessive toxins in the body. Since the liver affects the gut and the brain, toxic bile may cause forgetfulness, lack of mental clarity, and inability to concentrate.

PMS – Hormones are processed in the liver. Signs of PMS such as irritability, bloating, water retention, etc. and difficult periods as well, are both indications that the liver needs help. This is true in Chinese medicine especially, where the liver is the treatment choice for hormonal imbalances.

So how do we take care of our liver?

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and making better food choices are obvious solutions to a healthier liver. But unknown to many, regular detox can work wonders for your liver too.

To understand the importance of detoxification, it is good to know how the various ways that the liver expels toxins from our body. There are different means to an end – the liver filters the blood to remove large toxins. It also synthesizes and gets rid of bile that contains cholesterol and fat-soluble toxins. It also eliminates unwanted chemicals via enzymes that neutralizes or changes toxins into activated intermediates which can then be converted to less harmful chemicals. These processes can produce free radicals in the body. And though these reactive oxygen species are always present inside our bodies, too much can cause liver toxicity and damage.

An imbalance in the bile towards fat-soluble bile over water-soluble bile is also toxic to the whole system including the liver cells. Taking supplements that help to support that proper balance is also of paramount importance.

There are many factors that cause liver toxicity:

  • Inflammation
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Fatty and high sugar diet
  • Medication (drug-induced toxicity)
  • Environmental exposure to toxins
  • Toxic bile

Many of these causes can be addressed and avoided easily. Unfortunately, in the US alone, there are about 3.9 million adults diagnosed with some form of liver disease.


Natural Liver Detox Methods

1.Liver-friendly Diet

A radical change in food choices is an inevitable part of detoxifying the liver. This includes avoiding processed foods and common allergens that may induce inflammation and further burden the liver with toxins. For a list of what to eat and what not to eat, you may refer to our Gallbladder Diet page – because what’s healthy for the gallbladder is also definitely good for the liver.

2.Healthy lifestyle

There are so many things that we do to our body that causes toxin build-up. Here are some ways that we can help our liver detoxify and regenerate:

Exercise – We all know that exercising is good, we just don’t do it enough. Aside from its cardio-pulmonary and belly-busting benefits, sweating is a good way to remove toxins from the body.

Have enough sleep – It is important to have enough sleep as part of the detox period. This helps the body heal and revitalize. It also reduces fatigue and irritability.

Quit smoking – Smoking has no health benefits whatsoever. I think we could leave it at that.

Avoid or manage stress – Stress is no good for the liver and the body as a whole. It damages the mitochondria, affecting our cells’ energy, increases inflammation, and weakens the immune system.

3.Coffee Enema

Here at GallbladderAttack, we firmly believe in the detoxification and health benefits of coffee enema. As early as the 1930’s, this practice has been known to stimulate the liver and gallbladder to discharge bile. Substances found in coffee are also proven to promote the production and activity of glutathione, dilate blood vessels and counter inflammation in the gut, remove free radicals, and prompt the visceral nervous system to dilute and expel toxic bile. To know how to do this at home, visit our coffee enema page.

4.Flushes

The liver/gallbladder flush helps cleanse stagnant waste from the liver and the gallbladder, improving liver function and regulating bile flow. It also addresses a number of symptoms mentioned earlier like skin problems, chronic fatigue, and digestive problems. For liver flush directions, visit this page. Just a reminder, if you are having gallbladder attacks or in pain at the moment, doing a flush might not be a good idea until that has passed.

5.Liver Detox Supplements

To make supplement selection easier for you, we have handpicked two of our best liver and gallbladder detox products and bundled them into a Liver Detox Kit. Our kit contains these two tinctures: 

Gallbladder-ND Detox Tincture – When detoxifying your liver, you would want a supplement that can help stimulate bile flow, reduce inflammation, treat gallbladder and liver symptoms, and facilitate effective fat metabolism. The herbs in this formula are known for these actions.

BileCalm - We are very proud of this practitioner-formulated tincture that’s exclusively available from GallbladderAttack.com. It’s made up of 8 different herbs all chosen for their digestive and biliary (liver, bile and gallbladder) benefits. It may also favor the formation of water soluble bile over fat soluble, toxic bile.

The liver does a lot of things for our bodies and we cannot live without it. It just makes sense to support it and its functions. Don’t let your symptoms get worse. Do something about it now. If your liver is crying for help, change your diet, modify your lifestyle, and take natural supplements to help this major organ recover and heal.

References:

Gilmore, I., & Garvey, C. J. (2013). Jaundice. Medicine, 41(2), 99-103.

Gong, Y., Chai, Y., Ding, J. H., Sun, X. L., & Hu, G. (2011). Chronic mild stress damages mitochondrial ultrastructure and function in mouse brain. Neuroscience letters, 488(1), 76-80.

Ha, Y., Seo, N., Shim, J. H., Kim, S. Y., Park, J. A., Han, S., ... & Lee, H. C. (2015). Intimate association of visceral obesity with non‐alcoholic fatty liver disease in healthy Asians: A case‐control study. Journal of gastroenterology and hepatology, 30(11), 1666-1672.

McClain, C., Hill, D., Schmidt, J., & Diehl, A. M. (1993, May). Cytokines and alcoholic liver disease. In Seminars in liver disease (Vol. 13, No. 02, pp. 170-182). © 1993 by Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc..

Swain, M. G. (2006). Fatigue in liver disease: pathophysiology and clinical management. Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 20(3), 181-188.


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