Healing Glands 3 - Liver and Gallbladder
The Liver is the largest gland in the body, forming 2.5% of total body weight. Its position and size however can vary considerably form person to person (see Roger Williams’ “You Are Extraordinary”).
It is highly complex organ with many functions and can lose up to 70% of its functioning capacity before symptoms become apparent.
It functions as a storage depot for iron and also vitamins A, D, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, biotin, folic acid, pyridoxine, B12 and C. It contains sufficient vitamins A, D, and B12 to last 6 months to 2 years in a well-nourished individual. It is an activation site for all vitamins, e.g. it converts thiamine, riboflavin, nicotinamide, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid and biotin into phosphate complexes. It converts folic acid to folinic acid; vitamin B12 to its coenzyme forms; vitamin D to 25-hydroxy cholecalciferol; vitamin A to retinoic acid, and cholesterol into bile salts. All of these conversions must take place before they can perform metabolic functions.
It is a production site for proteins such as fibrinogen and prothrombin (blood clotting agents utilising vitamin K) and heparin (anticoagulant). It excretes the bile pigments biliverdin and bilirubin. It filters out and destroys bacteria present in the blood. It regulates blood volume and body temperature. It metabolises fats (lipids) and manufactures cholesterol (a major constituent of bile), and the proteins albumin, transferin and glycoprotein from amino acids. It regulates the production of many hormones including sex hormones.
Two of its main functions are:
1. Receiving blood from the portal system through the portal vein. It is therefore the first organ to receive blood from the intestines. Glucose is removed and synthesised into glycogen which is then stored. (Excess glucose that is not used in protein synthesis is converted to fatty acids, carbon dioxide and water.)
2. Manufacture and secretion of bile - between 500ml and 1000ml per day, which is passed via the hepatic ducts into the common bile duct, the terminus of which is called the sphincter of Oddi. When closed, bile flows back into the gall bladder via the cystic duct where it is stored and concentrated.
The gall bladder is a small sac (3” in length, 1” in diameter) lying under the right lower lobe of the liver. It absorbs water and sodium from the bile, thereby concentrating the fluid up to 10 times (maximum storage approximately 70ml). The gall bladder contracts periodically due in part to parasympathetic stimulation (from the combination of conditioned reflexes due to the thought, sight and smell of food to be ingested and the unconditioned reflex due to the taste of the food) and to chemical stimulation (the presence of fats in the duodenum cause the secretion of cholecystokinin which stimulates the muscular wall of the gall bladder).
Bile consists of cholesterol, lecithin, and inorganic alkaline salts, fatty acids and bilirubin and facilitates the action of pancreatic lipase in the duodenum. It forms water-soluble complexes with some water-insoluble substances e.g. cholesterol and fat- soluble vitamins, and promotes their absorption in the small intestines. Bile salts are reabsorbed and recycled. Without bile salts, fatty acids are lost into the stool which leads not only to a deficiency of essential fatty acids but also to a deficiency of the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Substances that the kidneys are unable to filter out are removed from the blood by the liver, and dissolved into the bile passing into the duodenum and then into the bowel by way of the bile ducts.
There are two primary types: Haemolytic and Obstructive.
And one secondary type: Dietary.
Jaundice is found in the following conditions
Intra and extra-cellular hepatic obstruction.
Serum and infectious hepatitis.
Infectious mononucleosis (glandular fever).
Drug or alcohol induced hepatitis.
Haemolytic jaundice is characterised by:
Yellowing of the skin.
Normal stool colour and odour.
Bilirubin is not present in the urine.
Obstructive jaundice is characterised by:
Possible yellowing of eyes and skin.
Stool is light coloured and has a foul odour.
Bilirubin is present in the urine. This is due to gallstones or other obstructions in the gall bladder, with bile spillage into the blood from the liver canaliculi.
Dietary jaundice occurs through carrot juice fasting, causing yellowing of the skin but not the eyes and is not pathological.
Bitter, metallic taste in the mouth in the mornings.
Painful or difficult bowel movements (patient often uses laxatives).
Frequent skin rashes.
Upset by greasy foods.
Stools light coloured.
Pain between shoulder blades.
Lower bowel gas several hours after eating.
Indigestion half and hour to three hours after eating.
Stomach bloating after meals.
Burning stomach sensation relieved by eating.
Gas shortly after eating.
The liver has such a massive and important role in the body that one could make a case for giving it support in all chronic conditions. Apart from the above symptoms, to determine the most needy cases for support, perhaps one should look for evidence of venous congestion such as dilated veins over the chest or abdomen, varicose veins or haemorrhoids; kidney pathology, or degenerative, wasting conditions, and problems in water balance.
Fortunately, the liver has a remarkable capacity for healing. The liver is also able to regrow. In a transplant, the liver can be divided and shared between two people. The livers grow back to their previous size in just a matter of weeks.
A liver that is below par is probably best treated with a short fast on fresh grapefruit and grapefruit juice for 2 or 3 days, followed by primarily fruits, salads and steamed vegetables for a week, or as needed. Coffee enemas are sometimes recommended.
Dr. Geo. S. Weger who had extensive experience in treating gallstones reported a high degree of success without having to resort to surgery by simply fasting and dieting the patients. With this treatment “stones soften, disintegrate and pass out with but slight discomfort.....this softening occurs very rapidly on a complete fast”. He found this method more satisfactory than the more commonly used therapies based on olive oil.
Herbs, Juices & Supplements
Robert Peshek D.D.S states that “the proper flow of bile is probably the most important biological regulator of health that we have in the body”. He recommends betaine as a good supplement to use for thinning the bile and improving flow. Betaine as found in green beet leaf juice is a good source. Alfalfa also contains this metabolite of choline and is considered to have strong detoxification properties. Choline itself is used to remove accumulations of abnormal quantities of fat in the liver, together with its partner, inositol.
Dandelion greens and tea, black cherry juice, radish juice, milk thistle and mustard greens are also considered to be good liver cleansers and bile flow improvers.
Vitamin C protects the liver by detoxifying poisonous substances and boosting the immune system. The absorption of vitamin A and E may have been depressed in biliary stasis and require supplementation together with bile acids directly and raw glandular.
The kidneys should also be supported.
This article was first published in Enzyme Digest No. 33 Spring 1997
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