The liver has everything to do with how we live, that’s why it is called the liver. The state of your liver will have a huge bearing upon how well you live, how long you will live and how you will look and feel. In today’s world, the liver has to work harder than ever before, and all over the world we find that liver problems are increasing.
Globally, one in every ten persons suffers with some type of liver, bile duct or gall bladder disease. Liver cancer is one of the most common cancers in men and has a poor outlook. 350 million people worldwide suffer from hepatitis B which kills more than 2 million annually. Hepatitis C is the most rapidly spreading infectious disease in many countries and is a time bomb waiting to explode. These problems are increasing, and thousands of people are waiting anxiously for liver transplants that many of them will never be lucky enough to receive. There are 25 million Americans with liver disease with thousands waiting for liver transplants. Unfortunately there are not nearly enough donor livers to meet the ever-increasing demand and so more than ever the message is that we need to take care of our livers from an early age.
Thankfully nutritional medicine has been able to give many people with liver disease, from hepatitis B and C, to auto-immune disease, a healthy normally functioning liver. It is never too late as the liver has remarkable powers of healing and regeneration. A number of diseases can affect the liver such as acute and chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis and tumors. The underlying causes of these disease states include viral infections like hepatitis A, B and C alcohol, drugs, metabolic disorders and immunological factors. Chronic liver disease passes through a long period of minimal vague symptoms until the final stages of jaundice and mental confusion appear.
This is different to liver disease in that the liver has not yet sustained permanent or sufficient damage to cause gross impairment of its vital functions. In those with a dysfunctional liver, the routine blood tests of liver function are generally normal. A dysfunctional liver is not working efficiently, and is overloaded, toxic or sluggish. Liver dysfunction is much more common than liver disease, and may be a forerunner to liver disease. In my experience of over 20 years of clinical medicine, I have found that approximately one in every three persons has a dysfunctional liver. Even if the level of dysfunction is only slight, it will still have a negative impact on your immune system and energy levels.
Many people suffer with the symptoms and signs of a dysfunctional liver for years, and yet the treating doctor or Naturopath does not recognize the significance of these symptoms. The result is that the symptoms get treated while the underlying problem of an overloaded, toxic and inefficient liver is ignored or only partially treated. Inevitably, the patient’s symptoms deteriorate, and increasing doses of drugs such as antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medication, immune-suppressants, pain killers, cholesterol lowering drugs etc., are needed.
The full range of symptoms indicative of “dysfunctional liver syndrome” can only be defined after a study of Eastern and Western medical disciplines. Chinese doctors have long considered the liver to be the most important organ in the body and indeed they call the liver, the “General of the Army” of the body. I consider the liver to be the most strategic organ in the body, because by improving its function we are able to help many other body systems.
Symptoms associated with Liver Dysfunction
You may have a dysfunctional liver if you suffer from:
Abnormal Metabolism of Fats
- Abnormalities in the level of fats in the blood stream
- Elevated LDL
- Cholesterol and reduced HDL cholesterol and elevated triglycerides
- Arteries blocked with fat, leading to high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes
- Build up of fat in other body organs (fatty degeneration of organs)
- Lumps of fat in the skin (lipomas and other fatty tumors)
- Excessive weight gain, which may lead to obesity
- Inability to lose weight even while dieting
- Sluggish metabolism
- Protuberant abdomen (pot belly)
- Fatty liver
- Roll of fat around the upper abdomen – (liver roll).
- Gall stones and gall bladder disease
- Intolerance to fatty foods
- Intolerance to alcohol
- Nausea and vomiting attacks
- Abdominal bloating
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Pain over the liver – (upper right corner of abdomen & lower right rib cage)
- Blood Sugar Problems
- Craving for sugar
- Hypoglycemia and unstable blood sugar levels
- Mature onset diabetes (Type II) is common in those with a fatty liver.
- Mood changes such as anger and irritability
- Metaphysically the liver is known as the “seat of anger”
- Poor concentration and “foggy brain”
- Overheating of the body, especially the face and torso
- Recurrent headaches (including migraine) associated with nausea.
- Allergies (sinus, hay fever, asthma, dermatitis, hives, etc.)
- Multiple food and chemical sensitivities
- Skin rashes and inflammations
- Increased risk of autoimmune diseases
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Increase in recurrent viral, bacterial and parasitic infections.
- Coated tongue
- Bad breath
- Skin rashes
- Itchy skin (pruritus)
- Excessive sweating
- Offensive body odor
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Yellow discoloration of the eyes
- Red swollen itchy eyes (allergic eyes)
- Acne rosacea – (red pimples around the nose, cheeks and chin)
- Brownish spots and blemishes on the skin (liver spots)
- Red palms and soles which may also be itchy and inflamed
- Flushed facial appearance or excessive facial blood vessels (capillaries/veins).
- Intolerance to hormone replacement therapy or the contraceptive pill (eg. side effects).
- Menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes may be more severe.
- Premenstrual syndrome may be more severe.
All of the above symptoms are common manifestations of a dysfunctional liver. However, they can also be due to other causes, of a more sinister nature. If you have three or more of these problems, it is likely that you have a dysfunctional liver. We advise you to have your liver function checked by a medical practitioner.