The Best Ayurvedic Herbs for Liver & Gallbladder Health

Learn more about the role of the liver and gallbladder and which herbs can best support their health.


A recent national survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults revealed that 74% of the American population report episodes of digestive distress a few times a month or more.
There are only a handful of reasons that accurately explain this phenomenon, and they are:
-A diet of processed and refined foods.
-Pesticides on foods that kill digestion-promoting microbes.
-Excessive stress that directly inhibits optimal digestion.
-Eating out of season.
Poor liver and gallbladder function as a result of reasons 1-4. See below for new herbal strategies for healthy liver and gallbladder function.

Eating Out of Season
The microbes in the soil dramatically change from one season to the next. Each new seasonal microbe migrates from the soil to the roots of plants. Eating these plants in-season delivers a new a stable of spring, summer or fall/winter beneficial microbes into your gut whom are engineered to protect us from the extremes of each season. (2) Living under stress may only be outranked by actually eating while under stress. When you eat stressed or on the run, the sympathetic “fight-or-flight” nervous system engages to address the stress. The fight-or-flight response activates the muscles to “run for your life” and significantly inhibits proper digestion. When you take time to relax during a meal, the parasympathetic nervous system, also called the “rest-and-digest” nervous system, turns on.

This increased parasympathetic activity while relaxing and enjoying a meal encourages your digestion, while stress during a meal literally turns it off. A stressful lifestyle amps up the fight-or-flight nervous system, overruling hunger hormones and digestive impulses – all in the name of survival. (3,4) There are microbes in the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and small and large intestines who manufacture digestive enzymes that are critical for optimal digestion, health and longevity. Studies suggest that exposure to pesticide-laden, non-organic foods can kill these digestion-provoking microbes and slowly compromise our digestive ability. (5)

Processed and packaged foods are most well-known for their ability to sit on a shelf for extended periods of time – sometimes months – without going bad. This miraculous ability is attributed to the cooked, bleached, deodorized and boiled vegetable oils that are used to preserve them. These vegetable oils are highly indigestible and can be directly linked to congestion of the liver, gallbladder and a host of blood sugar concerns. (6) Processed foods are refined in such a way that makes them easier to digest and, thus, they deliver energy (in the form of sugar and refined carbs) into the bloodstream at a rate too fast for the body to handle. The excess energy, if not used, will store as fat and will slowly congest liver and gallbladder function. Today, the #1 elective abdominal surgery in America is the removal of the gallbladder.

The kingpin of your digestive strength is the liver and gallbladder. All of the above factors play a major role in the functionality of the liver, gallbladder and the optimal flow of bile. Congestion can contribute to a host of digestive complaints, and while gallstones are the most well-known gallbladder concern, congested, thick, viscous bile is another major culprit – and it mostly goes undetected!
The medical term for this is “bile sludge.” This is the result of congestion of the bile ducts, the liver (which is in charge of making bile), and the gallbladder (which is in charge of storing bile).

Bile is required to do the following: (7)
-Scrub the intestinal wall of toxins (8)
-Clean the liver (8)
-Create regular bowel movements (8)
-Buffer the digestive acids in the stomach (8)
-Stimulate the flow of pancreatic enzymes (8)
-Digest fats (8)
-Balance blood sugar (8)
-Stabilize mood (8)
-Detox environmental pollutants and chemicals (8)

In many of my liver and digestion articles, I have written about ways to support decongestion and cleansing of the liver and gallbladder as a means to boost digestive strength using whole foods and herbs. I also wrote about this in my Safe Liver & Gallbladder Cleansing eBook. (8) I have also formulated a handful of herbal supplements to support the natural decongestion of bile sludge – such as Beet Cleanse, Liver Repair and my many digestive formulas.The nation-wide breakdown of the digestive system has reached alarming levels. I am seeing more and more people who are not only intolerant to wheat and dairy, but are also reactive to all grains, nuts, seeds, beans, soy and many more foods that we have been digesting as a species for millions of years.I view liver and gallbladder health as critical to the health of the lymphatic system and the lining of the intestinal tract.

The following are a handful of the herbs in LifeSpa’s new Bile Flow HP formulation. They are backed by good science to support healthy liver and gallbladder function.
Guggulsterones are the active plant steroids found in the resin of the guggul plant (Commiphora mukul). Guggul is widely used in Ayurveda for its effect on blood lipids, and research suggests that guggulsterones can modify the rate and amount of bile salt transported out of the liver. (8-10)
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) has been used medicinally as far back as the 10th and 11th centuries to support digestive health, and kidney and liver function. (8) It is a bitter rhizome that offers antioxidant support and natural detoxification support to the liver. (9) Dandelion is a cholagogue, clearing the liver and gallbladder while also removing cholesterol from the blood. Dandelion has also been shown to support healthy fat metabolism in the liver. (10,11)
Greater Celandine (Chelidonium majus) is an herbaceous perennial plant that exhibits a broad range of biological activities. (12) Studies demonstrate its support of bile production and flow, as well as its protective effect on liver cells. (12-14) Greater celandine has shown to help relieve minor digestive and abdominal complaints related to the biliary system.
Taurine is synthesized in the body from the amino acids methionine and cysteine, and is considered a conditionally essential amino acid. It is required for efficient fat absorption and conjugation of bile acids, which solubilize cholesterol and increase its excretion. Studies suggest that taurine is also important to various aspects of cardioprotection (15,16) and the scavenging of low-density lipoproteins (LDL). (16)
Choline is a macronutrient involved in lipid transport and metabolism. Without adequate choline, lipids can accumulate in the liver. Although the body can synthesize small amounts of choline, exogenous sources are needed to maintain optimal health. (17)
Inositol – Niacin (IHN) Using a niacin derivative that consists of one molecule of inositol surrounded by six molecules of niacin, there is no niacin flush. IHN is believed to work in the body in the same way as niacin: It decreases the mobilization of free fatty acids, inhibits cholesterol biosynthesis in the liver, and decreases the breakdown of HDL cholesterol. (18-20)
About Bile Flow HP
This formula supports healthy liver and gallbladder function, balances good and bad cholesterol, and increases the production and flow of bile in the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts and intestines.
While my Beet Cleanse formula acts primarily to scrub the bile and pancreatic ducts of bile sludge, and my Liver Repair formula helps the liver manufacture more bile while supporting overall liver health, Bile Flow HP accomplishes BOTH of these tasks with alternative herbs to bring the liver and gallbladder back into good health. Bile Flow HP is particularly effective in maintaining healthy HDL and LDL particles as well as triglycerides by delivering the needed lipid-protecting antioxidants.
Who Would Be Best To Use Bile Flow HP?
Anyone struggling with poor digestion, indigestion, food intolerances, bloat, gas, elimination concerns or has a history of cholesterol concerns can use this formula.
It can be combined with both Beet Cleanse and Liver Repair – as sometimes all 3 formulas plus an upper digestive formula (Warm Digest, Cool Digest or Gentle Digest) are needed in concert for a short period of time (1-3 months) to get the best results.
It can also be used in the spring and fall as part of a liver and digestion reset.

References

  1. http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/11/22/survey-shows-74-percent-americans-experience-gi-discomfort.html
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23645937
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1592668/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15740474
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3945755/
  6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14747241
  7. https://lifespa.com/self-help/ebooks/safe-liver-cleansing-ebook/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19102680
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18078436
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12525500
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11814465
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20980763
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7617771
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10495621
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19343117
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15118255
  17. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/othernuts/ choline/
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/499296
  19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22607011
  20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22646128

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