Stressor Spotlight: Liver
As the largest internal organ in the body, the liver makes up about 2 to 3% of a person’s total body weight. But it isn’t just taking up space. Playing a key role in hundreds of body functions, it’s no wonder that the first 4 letters of the word “liver” are “live.”
After looking at the structure, we’ll describe these key functions that the liver carries out to keep you alive and healthy. And, as always with our stressor spotlights, we’ll look at several things you can do to show your liver some love and keep it functioning at its peak.
The liver is situated on the right side of the abdomen below the lungs and above the stomach. Often classified as both an organ and a gland, it has a wedge-like shape and is made up of two distinct lobes. These lobes are separated by the falciform ligament, which along with the two triangular ligaments and coronary ligament, helps anchor the liver to the diaphragm.
The right lobe of the liver is the larger part of the liver and includes two other lobes: the caudate lobe and quadrate lobe. On the left lobe, the liver can further be divided into two different sections. Furthermore, the leftmost section is divided into 4 segments by a fissure called the porta hepatis.
The liver receives blood from the hepatic artery and portal vein. The hepatic vein transports oxygen-rich blood to the liver, while the portal vein collects blood containing digested nutrients from the gastrointestinal system, spleen, and pancreas. These two blood vessels disperse into smaller capillaries which then lead into the functional lobules of the liver.
As you can see by its structure, the liver is a complex organ. It not only supports the digestive process in a variety of ways, but also assists with detoxification, metabolism, immune function, and storage of vital body substances.
The liver aids in digestion by producing bile, which passes through the bile ducts and is then stored in the gallbladder. This bile is then released to emulsify fats from food when needed. Additionally, the liver processes nutrients that are absorbed from the small intestine, and digests red blood cells that have become worn out. These old blood cells are broken down and then passed on to hepatocytes, which metabolize hemoglobin to provide the body with energy.1
The liver is the body’s main detoxification organ. Hepatocytes make up roughly 80% of the liver’s mass, and they are responsible for removing toxic substances from the blood before it is distributed to the rest of the body. Toxins filtered by the liver come from external sources such as harmful food ingredients and air pollution, as well as from internal body processes such as the burning of fats, proteins, and sugars.2 The liver has a two-phase process to handle toxins:
- Phase I – Liver enzymes are released to convert a toxic chemical into a chemical that is less harmful. This process may result in the creation of free radicals, which can be neutralized by antioxidants.
- Phase II – Liver cells add a molecule such as glycine, cysteine, or sulphur to make the toxin less harmful. This makes the toxin water-soluble so it can then be removed from the body.
The hepatocytes of the liver have many important functions related to metabolism. These functions include:
- Producing energy from fatty acids in the form of ATP
- Regulating glucose levels by storing it and then releasing it between meals
- Processing amino acids into ATP or glucose molecules
- Synthesizing cholesterol and phospholipids
- Removing ammonia from the body
- Synthesizing clotting factors for blood coagulation
In short, the liver plays a primary role in all of the body’s metabolic processes.
The Kupffer cells of the liver play a critical role in immune function. These cells capture and digest parasites, bacteria, viruses, and worn-out blood cells. Along with natural killer (NK) cells, Kupffer cells support the body’s innate immunity. They also support adaptive immunity by manufacturing antigen-presenting cells. These cells help the body identify antigens so they can be recognized throughout the body. The T-cells of the liver make copies of antigens to make this body-wide recognition possible.3
We mentioned that the liver stores glucose to be released when it is needed, but it also stores another essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that pass through it. It stores the minerals copper and iron for use when needed, as well as vitamin A, B12, D, E, and K. With the exception of B12, these vitamins are fat-soluble. According to the National Institutes of health, vitamin A and niacin (vitamin B3) can harm the liver when consumed in high doses.4
The liver is one of the 5 major organs of the body along with the heart, stomach, lungs, and kidneys. Carrying out more than 500 functions, this dynamic organ is often referred to as the commanding general of the body in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Along with being responsible for the smooth flow of blood, it is also responsible for the energy flow of the body known as qi, or chi.5
The liver organ is, of course, energetically connected to the Liver TCM Meridian, which is said to govern our growth, drives, desires, and ambitions. It’s also closely connected with the following teeth and vertebrae:
- Canine teeth (T6, T11, T22, T27)
- First cervical vertebrae (C1)
- Middle thoracic vertebrae (T4, T5, T7, T8)
In addition to these relationships, the liver is responsible for the flow of emotions in the body. Because of this, it is affected by stress and emotions more than any other organ.6 More specifically, the liver is most closely connected with the emotion of anger. Thus, excess stress and anger in your life are not good for the liver. Similarly, any physical issue with the liver can cause you to experience more stress and anger.
Common liver diseases
Common diseases of the liver include hepatitis, cirrhosis, fatty liver disease, hemochromatosis (iron accumulation), and liver and bile duct cancer. Cancer of the liver and bile ducts is responsible for an estimated 31,780 deaths per year.7
Causes of liver diseases can be infection, which is the case with hepatitis, as well as genetics and immune system abnormalities. Chronic alcohol abuse is also correlated with liver disease, especially cirrhosis. A fatty liver is present in a large majority of alcoholics as well.8
If you have any of the following symptoms for an extended period of time, make an appointment with your practitioner to check on the health of your liver:
- Tendency to bruise easily
- Stomach problems
- Dark urine
- Pale, black, or bloody stool
- Loss of appetite
- Yellow skin and eyes9
Lifestyle tips for a healthy liver
As diseases of the liver are on the rise, it’s important to take steps to support and maintain the health of this vital organ. One of the most important things you can do to protect your liver is to drink alcohol in moderation, or not at all. Drinking in moderation means only having 1 or 2 drinks a day at a maximum.
Avoiding unprotected sex, drugs (especially shared needles), and exposure to other people’s blood and bodily fluids will also help you protect your liver. In the same vein, avoid abusing both prescription and non-prescription drugs, and don’t mix medications with alcohol.
Because an excess of toxins and chemicals can overwhelm your liver, you should also make sure to protect yourself with a mask and have proper ventilation when spraying toxic chemicals or insecticides. Also, protect your skin when using these and other toxins by wearing gloves and long sleeves. Better yet, avoid using products with toxins all together and opt for natural ones instead.
Maintaining a healthy weight is also important for liver health, as obesity and diabetes are associated with liver disease.10 Consistency is more important than intensity when it comes to your liver. So, taking a walk every day will generally do your liver more good than exercising intensely for only one day a week.
Exercise is also good for managing stress, another benefit that your liver will thank you for. Other ways to manage stress in your life for liver health include:
- Practicing meditation, yoga, qigong, or tai chi
- Getting 7-9 hours of sleep
- Making time for your hobbies
- Spending time with the people you love
- Expressing gratitude often
- Practicing deep breathing
- Doing dry skin brushing
Diet & nutrition for liver health
Your diet has a profound impact on your health, and the health of your liver is no exception. We mentioned that excessive alcohol consumption is especially bad for your liver. Other foods that may diminish liver function include refined grains, fried or salty foods, sugar, and packaged and processed foods.
On the other end of the spectrum are foods that support the health and function of the liver. Some of these foods include:
- Leafy vegetables
- Unprocessed whole grains
- Coconut oil
- Raw local honey
- Green tea
Along with liver-healthy foods, supplements may also support liver health and function—especially if you aren’t getting adequate nutrients from your diet alone. B vitamins and vitamin D are especially important for the liver.
Research has shown that certain herbs can be beneficial for the liver as well. At the top of the list of liver-supporting herbs is milk thistle, which has shown to have antioxidant and toxin-blocking properties.11 Two other herbs, artichoke leaf and dandelion root, are also often recommended to support liver health. Artichoke leaf in particular has shown promise in reducing markers of liver damage in people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.12
While supplementation may benefit the liver, you should also be aware that certain supplements and herbs may be damaging to the liver—especially when taken in large doses. Supplements that can be damaging when taken in high doses include vitamin A, niacin (B3), and iron. Additionally, the following herbs have been associated with liver damage to varying degrees:
- Black cohosh
- Green tea extract
- Red yeast rice13
Liver stressor Virtual Item
A digital signature representing the liver is available to scan in the ZYTO Select and Elite software. This Virtual Item is also automatically scanned in the Balance and Compass 5.0 software. Scanning for this item will reveal whether you have an in-range (normal) response, or a response that is out of range. A scan will also reveal the extent to which this Virtual Item is out of range.
Virtual Items related to the liver can also be scanned with the Select and Elite. These include the following:
- TCM Liver Meridian
- Liver Mu point
- Liver Shu point
- Liver Tissue
- Liver: Anger
- Duct, Bile
- Duct, Hepatic
- EAV Liver Meridian
Liver balancer Virtual Items
Once the liver Virtual Item and other stressors are scanned, digital signatures representing balancers are typically scanned afterwards. These may be supplements, wellness services, or other lifestyle options. After a balancer rescan, you can see which Virtual Item specifically brought the Liver item into range. This information is displayed in the Biomarker Progress Chart, which is available in the Balance Advanced Report as well as in other biosurvey reports.
In addition to a ZYTO scan, our perception reframing software provides an opportunity to work through the emotional issues associated with liver health. For example, your perception of anger can be reframed so that you have a healthier relationship with this emotion.
1. Barclay, Tim. “Liver.” Innerbody. Innerbody.com.
2. Wisely, Rene. “What Does the Liver Do, and How Do I Keep Mine Healthy?” Regents of the University of Michigan. Healthblog.uofmhealth.org.
3. “Cloning an Army of T Cells for Immune Defense.” Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Biointeractive.org.
4. “Vitamins.” National Institutes of Health. Livertox.nih.gov.
5. “Liver/Gallbladder According to Five Element Theory.” Traditional Chinese Medicine World Foundation. Tcmworld.org.
6. “Five Major Organs.” Traditional Chinese Medicine World Foundation. Tcmworld.org.
7. “Common Cancer Types.” National Cancer Institute. Cancer.gov.
8. “Liver Disease Statistics.” American Liver Foundation. Liverfoundation.org.
9. “11 Signs of Liver Disease.” Smart + Strong. Hepmag.com.
10. “Diabetes, Obesity, and Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease.” Hepatitis B Foundation. Hepb.org.
11. Abenavoli, L., R. Capasso, et al. “Milk thistle in liver diseases: past, present, future.” Phytotherapy Research 24, no. 10 (2010): 1423-1432.
12. Panahi, Y., P. Kianpour, et al. “Efficacy of artichoke leaf extract in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: A pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial.” Phytotherapy Research 32, no. 7 (2018): 1382-1387.
13. “Supplements & Liver Damage.” ConsumerLab.com, LLC. Consumerlab.com.