In This Article
The Invincible Liver?
The liver is the one organ that can take a lifetime of lickings and keep right on ticking—at least we thought so! Sadly, in recent years, the liver’s reputation for invincibility has been challenged by 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 will experience gallbladder issues.1 Cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal) is the most common elective abdominal surgery in America today, with over 750,000 per year. Gallbladder disease has increased 20% in the last three decades, costing America $6.2 billion a year in collective medical bills.2
What’s Underneath the New Liver/Gallbladder Crisis?
Processed food. The main ingredients used to preserve packaged foods are boiled, bleached, refined, and deodorized omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) or vegetable oils. These significantly extend shelf life of packaged food, but studies suggest they may shorten shelf life of those who consume them.
In one study, high consumption of these oils was linked to increased risk of liver, digestive, cognitive, and joint health concerns. In the same study, these risk rates went significantly down when consumption of refined omega-6 vegetable oils was reduced while increasing omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish oils.3 In fact, intake of omega-3 fatty acids is currently being researched for potential positive effects on liver cell health in at-risk individuals.4
In the past few decades, intake of omega-6 fatty acids has risen sharply, while consumption of omega-3 and saturated fats has markedly decreased. The quickest way to reverse this trend is to read labels on packaged foods, and make an informed decision from there. If there is a vegetable oil in the ingredients, 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. Herbs that help detoxify the liver are bitter, and, sadly, many of us tend to avoid that taste.
- Bhumyamalaki (Phyllanthus amarus) is Ayurveda’s most revered liver-supportive herb. In one study, it supported healthy function of liver cells when exposed to oxidative stress from alcohol and PUFAs.5 In another study, bhumyamalaki enhanced liver cell recovery from mild to moderate alcohol exposure via stimulation of liver enzymes that combat alcohol-induced oxidative stress.6
- Barberry (Berberis vulgaris) are extremely bitter vitamin C-rich berries used for centuries to protect the liver and increase bile flow, while supporting healthy cell replication4 and blood sugar. Barberry is rich in an alkaloid called berberine and is a potent antioxidant and liver-protectant, reducing effects of oxidative stress from alcohol exposure and environmental toxins.7
- Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a bitter rhizome with literally thousands of studies suggesting benefits for 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 liver and kidneys when exposed to a wide array of toxins, including heavy metals, environmental toxins, and pollutants. Guduchi supports 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 rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, and nitric oxide-producing compounds.12 It has been shown to support healthy liver cells by increasing superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase, and glutathione.9 In another study, one of the tannoids in amalaki demonstrated protection against alcohol-induced brain mitochondrial dysfunction.13
These five herbs make up the LifeSpa formula Liver Repair, which I suggest to anyone looking for natural gentle liver and gallbladder protection. Have you tried it? What did you notice?