Notes about the Liver

By Cat, beginning Feb 2018; moved from Notes: J-P on 9/27/21

Your liver’s biggest job is to keep your blood clean; it also plays a role in helping your body store, metabolize and digest nutrients; produces bile; plays an important role in regulating and balancing hormones; and converts excess blood sugar into storage fat (this has good and bad consequences). See Natural Liver Cleansing Diet site’s article on Where is your Liver, and What is the Function of the Liver for many other important functions.

12 Signs your Liver is in Trouble

The first 11 listed below are from a slide-show: 9 Strange Signs your Liver is in Trouble (the author has since added 2 more signs but did not update the title); the 12th is added by me (Cat).

The first one, “jaundice,” is something many people miss but it is the most important and a direct sign of liver trouble, because bile produced by the liver has gotten into your bloodstream. It was my Mom’s first sign of cancer in her liver. If you or someone you know has yellowing of skin/eyes, see a doctor immediately.

  1. Jaundice – yellowing of the skin and whites of the eye, due to bile in the bloodstream;
  2. Bloated ankles indicate there may be a problem with the liver, heart or kidney;
  3. Appetite changes (liver trouble is just one of many causes of this symptom);
  4. Diarrhea (loose, urgent stool);
  5. Strange and frequent bruises: bruises become more of a problem when there’s trouble in the liver;
  6. Intense exhaustion: As waste builds in the liver, it leads to lower oxygen levels, leaving us feeling tired all the time;
  7. Dark urine (orange, amber or brown), especially if stools are lighter than normal [note: if you take supplemental B-vitamins, they may be the cause of dark urine]);
  8. Pain in right shoulder, especially if there is cancer in the liver;
  9. Abdominal pain near the right ribs;
  10. Throwing up regularly;
  11. Changing personality;
  12. Itching of the skin and/or eczema, especially on the scalp and face (see my article: Eczema: Seborrheic Dermatitis for more).

One helpful action if you have any of these symptoms, is to do a coffee enema. See my article on Retention Enemas for instructions (Coffee Enema is the first on on that page).

Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)

See also “How to Unclog your Liver” section, below. Or go to stopfattyliver.com/unclog/ to sign up for a doc-series on this topic, and to get a free copy of Jonathan Landsman’s ebook:  “Top Ways to Unclog Your Liver.” The notes for each chapter below are from his article. NOTE: any text in square brackets […] is by me.

This section on NAFLD is from an ebook by Dr. Jockers: “Cleanse Your Liver Now;” I’ve saved the ebook at HEALTH-NUTRITION/ FATTY LIVER > LiverCleanse-ebook-2021.pdf. [The file is too large, and I don’t have his permission to provide a link to the pdf here.] See also (by Dr Jockers):

The Chapter sections, below, include are brief listings only (my notes from DR Jockers’ ebook).  I cannot provide link to his ebook for more detail because the file is too large..

I’ve not yet finished reading the ebook and adding learned info here, beginning with chapter 3….

Chapter 1: Fatty Liver Risk Factors and Causes

Risk Factors

  • Obesity: Waist circumference larger than 40 inches in men/35 inches in women;
  • High blood sugar: level over 100 mg/dL;
  • Triglyceride level: over 150 mg/dL;
  • Low level of high-density lipoprotein or HDL: HDL cholesterol below 40 mg/dL for men or 50 mg/dL for women;
  • High blood cholesterol.

Causes:

  • “NAFLD is linked to insulin resistance and high blood sugar.
  • Fatty Liver is caused by the accumulation of excess fat in liver cells in the form of triglycerides. If left untreated, fatty liver can increase the risk of cirrhosis and liver cancer. … It can occur at any age, but is most common in people ranging from 40-50 years and older, as a slower metabolism occurs as part of agin.”
  • Diet that is high in processed inflammatory fats, sugar and carbohydrates;
  • Obesity [typically from insulin resistance and Type-2 diabetes];
  • Medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood cholesterol and hepatitis.”

Chapter 2: Treatment for Fatty Liver Disease

  • “Safe and gradual weight loss through improved diet and exercise. To reduce fatty liver, it is necessary to lose 5-10% of total body weight, and above 10% to reduce liver inflammation.
  • It is very important to change eating habits to reduce carbohydrates fats, and sugars, and adding more fruits and vegetables.
  • Control risk factors by reducing high blood cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure to be at healthy levels.
  • Avoid alcohol consumption.
  • Avoid medications or food supplements other than those prescribed by your doctor.
  • Have an annual checkup.”

Chapter3: Testing your Liver Health 

PU Here (see saved pdf file: LiverCleanse-ebook-2021.pdf.)

This is a long chapter; I include brief listings only.

  1. Fat bomb test: “Eat 2-3 of these chocolate fat bombs and monitor how you feel over the next 3 hours. If you feel tired, have acid reflux, nausea, gas, bloating, diarrhea, cramping, floating stool, or other digestive complaints, you may have poor bile flow.
  2. Reflexology and meridian centers  (Chinese medicine):  “pain in any Meridian or trigger point may mean that the energy is stuck and not flowing due to a health issue.”  “Pain or cramping [in the following areas], especially between 11 pm and 1 am when the gallbladder is the most active, or between 1 am and 3 am when the liver is the most active, may mean that you have poor bile flow or compromised gallbladder and/or liver function.” [NOTE: the article provides more detail about what/where these areas are. An acupuncturist may also help you with this.]
    • “Pain on The Outer Portion of The Hand” 
    • “Pain in the Ilial Tibial Band”
    • “Pain Between Shoulder Blades”
    • “Cramping in 4th Toe, Knees and Thighs
    • “Liver Meridian Time: In traditional Chinese medicine, every organ has a specific 2-hour period of time where it is most active. The liver is most active between 1am – 3am. Consistently waking during these periods are signs of poor gallbladder and/or liver function.”
  3. Bile Flow Support Test: “Take 2 capsules of [his] Bile Flow Support supplement after meals that are higher in fat and see if you feel better after meals. If you feel better and have improved stools, you may have poor bile flow.”
  4. Comprehensive blood analysis: [Look for:]
    • High Bilirubin Levels: Normal range is 0-1.2 mg/dL
    • High GGTP: Normal range is 10-26 IU/L
    • High AST: Normal range is 10-26 IU/L
    • High ALT: Normal range is 10-26 IU/L
    • GallBladder Infection: This would manifest with high white blood cells and possible fever-like symptoms along with high levels of alkaline phosphatase, bilirubin and liver enzymes.
    • He also discusses “What if blood levels are low.”

Chapter 4: Symptoms, Causes, and Natural Support Strategies

pages 26-46…

Chapter 5: Top 15 Herbs to Support Liver and Gallbladder

page 47-69

Chapter 6: Detox Systems of the Body

page 70-80

Chapter 7: Beat Gallstones Naturally (Gallstone Flush)

page 81

How to Unclog your Liver, if you have NAFLD

See stopfattyliver.com/unclog/ to sign up for a doc-series on this topic, and to get a free copy of Jonathan Landsman’s ebook:  Top Ways to Unclog Your Liver. The notes, below are from that ebook (I”ve saved the ebook at HEALTH-NUTRITION/ FATTY LIVER > Fatty-Liver-Top-Ways-to-Unclog-Your-Liver.pdf). Here are my notes:

  1. Milk thistle: “Ancient wisdom confirms:  Silymarin in milk thistle helps to flush out fat from the liver.”
    • [I get milk thistle in my Liver support tincture from Swan Valley Herbs in Bigfork MT. 10/7/21: However, I’ve recently learned milk thistle is not well absorbed, but a liposomal version improves its absorption. “Liposomal” supplement usually means sunflower/coconut oil and black pepper/piperine is added. I currently take sunflower oil gel-cap at breakfast and dinner, about 1-hour after taking milk thistle tincture; I will move the sunflower oil dose to be with the tincture.]
    • [Or check out LiverLuv supplement (contains phosphatidyl choline from sunflower oil), and is recommended by Jonathan Landsman: naturalhealth365store.com/collections/glutathione/products/liposomal-liverluv-luvbynature-8-fl-oz.]
  2. Vitamin E“Conduct a ‘Pre-Emptive strike’ against NAFLD with vitamin E.” [I take MRM’s Complete E supplement( iHerb code MRM-81007), a full spectrum Vitamin E supplement with natural Tocopherols, Tocotrienols, Alpha Lipoic Acid and Vitamin C.]
  3. NAC supplement:  “N-acetylcysteine renews the all-important ‘master antioxidant’ within the liver.”
  4. Resveratrol:  “’Rev up’ healthy liver function with resveratrol.” [from grapes, or as a supplement; unfortunately, I have a food sensitivity to this.]
  5. Garlic  has ‘all the right moves; for reducing liver fat.” [I grow my own garlic and I love it.]
  6. Vitamin D: “Protect against NAFLD with the ‘sunshine vitamin.’” [vitamin D, which I get from fermented cod liver oil and a vitamin D supplement.]
  7. Mediterranean Diet:  “Promote liver health naturally with the plant-based Mediterranean Diet.” [I do a version of the mediterranean diet that includes wild-caught fish and meats from pastured animals.]
  8. Exercise: “ ‘Re-route’ fat from your liver with a regular exercise routine. “ 

The article also states:

  • “60 grams of whey protein  daily for four weeks decreased liver fat by a substantial 20 percent.” [I use Bob’s Red Mill Whey Protein Powder; it is the only brand that does not evoke a food sensitivity for me, because it is processed at low temperature.]
  • Avoid refined and junk foods:  “Steer clear of refined and added sugars, white flour, alcohol, GMOs, trans fats, fried foods, fast foods and junk foods.”
  • “Drink plenty of pure, filtered water to promote proper hydration and help to flush out toxins and excess fat.”

Liver Cancer: 3 Ways to Reduce Risk

from TTAC: thetruthaboutcancer.com/prevent-liver-damage/; see article for more detail.

  1. Stop eating processed pork products, such as smoked ham, sausages, bacon, and processed lunchmeat
  2. Avoid aspartame, an artificial sweetener such as brands: NutraSweet and Equal.
  3. Detox regularly. I do a 3 or 5-day veggie-juice fast 2-3 times a year.

Foods/Supplements to Protect your Liver

from Green Med Info: greenmedinfo.com/blog/these-five-substances-protect-your-liver; I currently take all of these.

  1. Curcumin (from turmeric);
  2. Coffee decreases risk of NAFLD, or risk of liver fibrosis for those who have NAFLD (like me);
  3. NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine supplement) helps with oxidative distress; also blocks acetaminophin (pain reliever) toxicity;
  4. Ginsenosides (from ginseng; or as supplement Panax Ginseng – see iHerb NFS-04173) also protects against acetomenaphin toxicity, has anti-inflammatory power, and promotes healthy metabolism of fat by the liver. May alleviate liver injury in patients with fatty liver disease.  I started this one only recently (9/8/21 as capsules, iHerb NFS-04173). Beginning 9/24/21 I will add  a bottled liquid extract (iHerb code POP-70123) of Panax Ginseng to my smoothie; 1 bottle/day is recommended but I’ll do ½ bottle/day along with half-dose capsules.
  5. Vitamin E (found in many foods such as wheat germ, nuts, seeds and green vegetables). Important for eye health. Significantly improves liver function and the quality of liver cells and tissues in patients with NAFLD. I take MRM’s Complete E (iherb MRM-81007), which contains all 8 naturally-occurring forms of Vitamin E – the natural tocopherols & tocotrienols.

Liver Detox/Cleanse

7 Amazing Foods that Cleanse your Liver Naturally

from PaleoHack blog: blog.paleohacks.com/7-amazing-foods-that-cleanse-your-liver-naturally/#; NOTE: I’ve reorganized the list in alphabetical order.

Liver Detox Diet

From Liver Detox Diet (livercleansing-diet.org)

  1. Avocado “contains glutathione, which is a powerful antioxidant that helps to protect the liver from incoming waste and toxins. It also assists the liver in eliminating these chemicals from your body and protects against cellular damage.
  2. Broccoli and “other brassica vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower … [also] contain sulfur compounds … that help to support the detoxification process and the health of the liver. In fact, these fibrous veggies can help flush out toxins from your gut, and they contain compounds that help support the liver in metabolizing hormones.
    • From a Mercola article: Broccoli sprouts have even higher levels – up to 100 times the amount of glucoraphanin, a precursor to sulforaphane …. – than broccoli.” [I add broccoli sprouts to my daily smoothie.]
  3. Citrus fruits  “are all natural sources of vitamin C and contain many potent antioxidants. Like garlic, citrus fruits have the ability to boost the production of liver detoxification enzymes.”
  4. Garlic contains sulfur compounds that are essential for supporting the liver and activating liver enzymes that are responsible for flushing out toxins and waste from the body. Garlic also contains selenium, an important mineral and nutrient that assists in detoxification and supports the thyroid gland.
  5. Leafy veggies: The bitterer, the better! Your liver loves bitter, so load up on dandelion, rapini, arugula, mustard greens and chicory. These leafy greens contain numerous cleansing compounds that neutralize heavy metals, which can slow down the liver’s ability to detoxify. Plus, they help to stimulate bile flow.” [Cat’s note: another great source of “bitter” is Angostura or Swedish bitters – add to a glass of water, seltzer, or soda water.]
  6. Turmeric “contains a boatload of antioxidants that help to repair the liver cells, protect against cellular damage and assist in detoxification. Turmeric is particularly good at helping the liver detox from heavy metals and assist in hormone metabolism. Turmeric also boosts the production of bile and improves the health of the gallbladder.” See my recipes for delicious turmeric beverages: Golden Milk (Turmeric Tea) and Ginger-Turmeric Latte. Or Paleo-Hack recipe for Pumpkin and Turmeric Soup.
  7. Walnuts contain high levels of l-arginine, glutathione, and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which help to detoxify the liver and support toxin elimination. Plus, they are great for fighting inflammation and supporting the health of the brain.”

The good news for me is that I eat all of these regularly.

Additionally, an herb known as milk thistle or silymarin, is also important for liver support. It is available as a medicinal tincture (for example, see iHerb code NTA-06457), or as an ingredient in some liver support supplements. See Heathline article for more about this herb. I get milk thistle in a Liver Support tincture from Swan Valley Herbs in Bigfork MT. I recently learned it is not well-absorbed unless you take it with sunflower or coconut oil, which creates a liposome around the milk thistle.

Liver Detox Diet

See also my Notes on Cancer Prevention and Treatment, which includes a section on the liver.

The following Liver Detox Diet is from livercleansing-diet.org, unless noted otherwise. Text is square brackets […] is mine. The article has lots of additional good info about the liver. It also advises:

    • It’s important that if you think you may be suffering from such a condition, you seek help from a medical professional first rather than relying on a liver detox diet to ‘cure’ you.
    • A change in diet may have little to no effect if you’re suffering from a serious liver disease and you’ll only end up putting yourself more at risk by delaying seeking professional help.

A liver detox diet should focus on fruit and vegetables. … In particular, you want to start eating a whole lot of green vegetables – both leafy vegetables like lettuce and the cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower (if it looks like a solid little shrub, it’s probably cruciferous).” The program includes the following, which help to maintain a healthy liver:

  • Lemon juice: “A mug of hot water with some lemon juice squeezed into it each morning should be enough to have a positive impact.” [see also “Lemon Juice: Why I Take It” above.]
  • Garlic: “Garlic helps the liver produce essential enzymes which play an important role in detoxifying the blood. … Just including garlic as part of your dinner or in a salad here and there is enough to give your body the benefits of this cleansing vegetable.” [I grow garlic in my garden.]
  • Grapefruit, apples, avocados, etc:  “Pretty much all fruit, vegetables and nuts can do you some good as part of a liver detox diet, although you need to be careful of unhealthy foods disguised as healthy foods such as salted peanuts.” [The article also gives more detail about the Apple Juice cleanse – see next topic, below.]
  • Nuts: “Raw, untreated walnuts are god for your liver, as are almonds and sesame seeds.”  [Also, per liver support.com, the nuts: Brazil nuts and pecans are  also good for your liver. But peanuts, which are legumes (not nuts), may be helpful, but evidence is conflicting.]

For a true liver detox, I do a 5-day juice fast from the Wellness Education Center in Kalispell MT, which detoxes not only the liver but the whole body using only fresh veggie juices, apple juice and specific supplements.

Apple Juice Cleanse – A 3-Day Cleanse:

“Apples contain malic acid, which helps move clogged up bile in the liver and gall bladder and restore normal liver function as a result.” It’s important to “cut out all alcohol, smoking and other drugs use for the duration of your liver detox diet.”

  1. On the first day, you’re required to drink two glasses of pure Organic apple juice every two hours over a 12-hour period. You’re not allowed to eat anything during this cleanse for the first two days. 
  2. On the second day, once again you’ll drink two glasses of apple juice every two hours a you did on the first day, but on day two you’ll also have an extra half-cup of apple juice mixed with a half-cup of extra virgin olive oil just before you go to sleep. [Cat’s note: no any extra virgin olive oil will do, as many brands replace much (if not all) of the olive oil with GMO corn, soy, canola etc oils; see my article: Olive Oil: The Real Deal, or Adulterated/Fake]
  3. When you wake up on day three,  you’ll drink a liter of water with the juice from a single lemon squeezed into it. About an hour after this you can start eating again, sticking to the kinds of foods described above [fruits, vegetables, nuts].”

Natural Liver Detox Tips

  • Milk thistle is one of the few herbs that has been proven to have real positive benefits for detoxifying the liver. [It acts] as a kind of ‘shield.’ It helps block toxins from entering the liver, allowing the liver more time to deal with the load of toxins it’s currently trying to filter.” [It also] “helps speed up the liver’s natural ability to regenerate.” [I take a liver-support tincture that contains milk thistle and dandelion root, plus burdock or yellow-doc.]
  • Green tea: … drinking large amounts of green tea (upwards of 10 cups per day) has been shown to correlate to a lower risk of liver disease in general. … [While it] is one weapon in your liver detox arsenal, … on its own it’s not enough to completely prevent liver damage if you have diet or drinking habits that are doing serious damage.”

In addition to the two tips above, I note that I take an herbal tincture to improve my liver health from Swan Valley Herbs in Bigfork MT; it include extracts from milk thistle seed and dandelion root as the base, to which burdock root or yellow dock root can be added, depending on what kind of help your liver needs.

The liver cleansing-diet.org article (see link, above) also provides several links about liver detox.

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