The liver is the one organ that can take a lifetime of lickings and keep right on ticking—at least we can hope! In recent years, the liver’s reputation for invincibility has been challenged with a growing incidence of liver and gallbladder-related concerns and conditions.
In today’s world, gallbladder concerns have become the norm. Worldwide, one out of four women over 60 years of age will experience gallbladder issues. (1) Cholecystectomy (the removal of the gallbladder) is the most common elective abdominal surgery in America today with over 750,000 per year. (2)
Gallbladder disease has increased by 20 percent in the last 3 decades, costing America $6.2 billion a year in collective medical bills. (2)
What’s Underneath the New Liver/Gallbladder Health Care Crisis?
Processed foods. The main toxic ingredients used to preserve packaged foods are boiled, bleached, refined and deodorized omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) or vegetable oils. These significantly extend the shelf life of any packaged food, but studies are suggesting they might actually shorten the lifespan of those who consume them.
In one study, high consumption of these oils was linked to an increased risk of liver, digestive, cognitive and joint health concerns. (3) In the same study, these risk rates went significantly down when consumption of refined omega-6 vegetable oils was reduced at the same time as increasing the intake of omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish oils. (3) In fact, the intake of omega-3 fatty acids is currently being researched for potential positive effects on liver cell health in at-risk individuals. (4)
Read the Labels!
In the past few decades, the intake of omega-6 fatty acids has risen sharply, while the consumption of omega-3 and saturated fats has markedly decreased.
The quickest way to reverse this trend is to read the labels on the packaged foods you are considering, and make an informed decision from there. If there is a vegetable oil in the ingredient, it is likely there as a preservative. You may find it difficult to find a packaged food without a refined and processed omega-6 vegetable oil!
5 Herbs to Support a Healthy Liver
Even thousands of years ago, Ayurvedic experts suggested herbs to shield the liver from toxins, poisons, stress and the environment.
Today, these herbs are needed more than ever to ward off higher levels of stress, pollutants, and toxins. The herbs that help to detoxify the liver are bitter in nature, and many folks tend to avoid that taste in their diet.
These 5 Ayurvedic herbs have been used for thousands of years in Ayurveda to support the liver, and new research has confirmed this ancient wisdom.
They are: Bhumyamalaki, Barberry, Turmeric, Guduchi and Amalaki – which make up my Liver Repair formula.
- Bhumyamalaki (Phyllanthus amarus) – is Ayurveda’s most revered liver-supportive herb. In one study, it supported the healthy function of liver cells when exposed to oxidative stress caused by alcohol and PUFA exposure. (5) In another study, Bhumyamalaki enhanced liver cell recovery from mild to moderate alcohol exposure via the stimulation of liver enzymes that combat alcohol-induced oxidative stress. (6)
- Barberry (Berberis vulgaris) – are extremely bitter, vitamin C-rich berries that have been used for centuries to protect the liver, increase bile flow, and support healthy blood sugar (4). Barberry is rich in an alkaloid called berberine and is a potent antioxidant and liver-protectant, reducing the effects of oxidative stress from short-term alcohol exposure and environmental toxins. (7)
- Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a bitter rhizome that has literally thousands of studies suggesting benefits for the skin, digestion, brain, and liver. (8) For the liver, turmeric has been shown to boost the body’s natural antioxidants and liver- and brain-protectant properties when exposed to alcohol-induced oxidative stress. (9,10)
- Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia) – has been shown to exhibit antioxidant effects protecting both the liver and kidneys while exposed to a wide array of toxins including heavy metals, environmental toxins, and pollutants. Guduchi supports the production of powerful liver-protective enzymes, such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase and glutathione peroxidase, which are all depleted when exposed to alcohol. (11)
- Amalaki (Emblica officinalis) – or Indian Gooseberry is a small fruit that is rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, and nitric oxide-producing compounds. (12) It has been shown in studies to support healthy liver cells by increasing natural production of superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase and glutathione. (9) In one animal study, amalaki demonstrated protective effects against short-term alcohol-induced brain mitochondrial dysfunction. Scientists theorize that this may be a result of amalaki’s antioxidant and free-radical scavenging properties. (13)
Want to go deeper? Check out my free podcast, “Safe Liver Cleansing.”