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Function of the Liver in detoxification: Ways to boost the process (part I)

Studies prove accumulation of synthetic chemicals and heavy metals starts taking place way before a human is born, at its embryo stage. The correct terminology for this phenomenon is chemical body burden that we must focus on, to comprehend what damages it inflicts and how our liver fights them back. We shall also see what the body loses in this fight.

Chemical body burden is an even mix of toxic chemicals, the total amount of which remains present in the human body at a given point in time.Single chemical body burdens involve considering a specific and single chemical, with lead, arsenic and mercury poisoning being the highest. They are available naturally or produced artificially as by-products or derivatives that often find way into the human body. Inhalation is one mode for taking them in; next, it’s through contaminated food or water, the latter also through the skin. All that makes pregnant women susceptible to passing the toxin onto the developing fetus. Some of these chemicals also create metabolites (any substance involved in metabolism, either as a product of metabolism or as necessary for metabolism), which the body can take care of and excrete within a short while. But a continuous exposure creates a persistent chemical body burden.

For example, while it’s 72 hours for Arsenic, for Uranium, it’s virtually infinite (the half-lives of uranium isotopes are 244 thousand years for 234U, 710 million years for235U and 4½ billion years for238U). There are also others that vary between the above mentioned. A midpoint could be chlorinated pesticides (e.g. DDT); these may remain in the body for 50 years. They all usually accumulate in blood, the adipose or fat tissue, in semen, muscle, bone or the brain-tissue. Minute amounts also accumulate in the rest of the organs. And there are approximately 80,000 of those chemicals used in the US, all or almost all becoming heavy for the limit set for the chemical body burden. An average set by the scientists is 700 contaminants, mostly industrial chemicals, with many of them yet to be studied.

A large majority of these contaminants enter through the digestive track and get filtered by the liver – in fact, any contaminant that may stay present in blood. The liver detoxifies blood (about two quarts each minute), produces bile and breaks down toxins to excreta. At its optimal stage of function, the liver filters 98% of all the toxins brought to it. Being a gland (organs synthesizing substances needed by the body and releasing it through ducts or directly into the bloodstream), it also secretes a fluid (bile) that aids in digestion, in the metabolism of protein, carbohydrate and fat; produces Vitamin A and anticoagulation agents and also separates the played out red blood cells or erythrocytes. The process is further aided by fiber rich foods eaten regularly; it helps in flushing the toxins out from the colon, preventing a re-absorption, but we shall discuss that later. The liver also neutralizes or decreases a toxin’s potency by transforming it to a more water-soluble form and expels it through urine.

Most of these extremely toxic metals also enter our body through drugs such as common cold medicines, alcohol and penicillin. A proper support for the liver is thus must and it should also aid in cleaning the liver itself apart from boosting its capabilities.

Ayurveda or the Indian Herbal Science has the remedy to it.

A few of the herbs and concoctions boosting the liver functions as well as detoxifying the whole body are: Himsra (Capparis spinosa), Kasani (Cichorium intybus), Mandur bhasma, Kakamachi (Solanum nigrum), Arjuna (Terminalia arjuna), Kasamarda (Cassia occidentalis), Biranjasipha (Achillea millefolium) and Jhavuka (Tamarix gallica). Together, they protect the liver from the effects of hepatotoxins that render the liver weak. For patients of viral hepatitis, alcoholic liver diseases, pre-cirrhotic and early cirrhotic conditions and protein energy malnutrition, the herbs have given wonderful results. Another symptoms these herbs rectify is loss of appetite while patients undergone radiation and chemotherapy-induced liver damage has recovered at a higher than expected rate. But what are the liver-processes these herbs boost? We shall see them in the next part.

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