WHAT ROLE DOES THE LIVER PLAY IN THE BODY?
Often called the engine of the body, the liver plays an important role in digesting, metabolising and manufacturing essential compounds. For example, the liver is responsible for converting clear plasma to blood. The liver's job is to scan and identify toxins in the plasma and store them so they don't enter the blood. This maintains the purity of the blood by keeping impurities, known in Ayurveda as ama, from mixing with it.
The liver also produces bile to break down and digest fatty acids; it produces blood-clotting factors and creates protective elements that keep blood clots from blocking the circulatory system. It converts sugar into glycogen and stores it for use by the muscles in the form of glucose energy; it synthesizes proteins and cholesterol. The liver also stores valuable trace elements such as iron, copper and Vitamins A, D and B12.
HEALTH PROBLEMS RESULTING FROM AN UNHEALTHY LIVER
In Ayurvedic terms, the liver is the seat of Pitta dosha, so Pitta-based problems of skin inflammation can be a direct result of liver imbalance.
To understand what can go wrong, let’s examine the subtle functions of the liver.
The liver is composed of five digestive fires (known in Ayurveda as Bhuta Agnis) that correspond to the five Ayurvedic elements of earth, fire, water, air and space.
Each specializes in digesting a particular element in the food. To effectively transform the clear part of plasma to blood tissue, these five digestive fires must be in balance. If their ‘flame’ burns too high, or too low, or burns unevenly, then the plasma will not be properly converted into blood tissue, and toxins will enter the blood.
All of these functions are governed by one of the sub-doshas of Pitta called Ranjaka Pitta. When Ranjaka Pitta goes out of balance it can affect the blood and skin and result in inflammatory problems such as skin breakouts, acne, cold sores, and skin diseases such as psoriasis.
Toxins building up in the liver can also result in allergies, high cholesterol, hypoglycemia, constipation, digestive problems and fatigue.
If the imbalance continues for a long time, serious diseases of the liver can develop, including hepatitis, cirrhosis, jaundice and cancer.
WHAT MAHARISHI AYURVEDA OFFERS FOR LIVER HEALTH
Maharishi Ayurveda offers two main products that take care of the liver:
Liver Care (MA579) and Liver Care Syrup (MA936) Their ingredients are very similar and the syrup is faster acting. Both are designed to balance and support all the functions of the liver.
They help the cleansing function of the liver and clear the channels for toxins to flow out, and support the first stage of digestion and metabolism, which breaks down food in the stomach and small intestine.
Bitter and astringent tastes are particularly supportive to liver function. The two Liver Care formulas include several very bitter herbs including Wormwood, Bhumiamla (Phyllanthus), Neem bark, Gulancha Tinospora, Katuki (Picrorrhiza) and Wild Indigo (Tephrosia).
Research has shown that Bhumiamla is a powerful help in maintaining resistance to the Hepatitis B virus, Gulancha Tinospora has produced excellent results in maintaining freedom from jaundice, and Katuki has been found to support the liver on a daily basis and to maintain resistance to infectious viruses.
DIETARY ADVICE FOR KEEPING THE LIVER IN BALANCE?
First, avoid toxins in your food. Eat organic, freshly cooked foods. Foods that contain preservatives and chemicals, or that are processed or leftover, will make your liver have to work overtime to filter out the toxins. Eventually this will tax the health of your liver.
Minimise intake of alcohol (well-proven as the cause of cirrhosis of the liver). This is especially important for people of Pitta constitution. Stay away from cigarette smoke and air pollution and exposure to commercial household cleansers and other toxic substances. These are all taxing to the liver. In general, drink lots of pure water to flush out toxins.
One of the best ways to prevent liver imbalance is to keep Pitta dosha in balance. Eat a Pitta-pacifying diet in summer, favouring cooling foods with as sweet, bitter and astringent tastes, such as sweet, juicy fruits, summer squashes, cooked greens, sweet milk products, lassi, and grains.
Avoid sour or fermented foods such as vinegar, pungent foods such as chillies, and salty foods. If you have a lot of Pitta in your basic constitution, then favour this diet all year round. Start the day with a stewed apple or pear, to set the metabolism and cleanse the liver. Just eating a sweet, juicy pear every day can go a long way to soothing Pitta dosha and cleansing the liver.
LIFESTYLE TIPS FOR HELPING THE LIVER
Be careful not to skip or delay meals, especially if you are trying to balance Pitta or have a sharp appetite.
In the evening, retire early, well before 10:00, as you want to be sleeping before the Pitta time of evening starts (from 10:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.). If you are awake during this time, you'll only increase Pitta dosha and prevent the liver from performing its necessary cleansing and resting functions during the night.
Also, lack of sleep has been shown to throw off metabolism of glucose, resulting in weight gain. It also has been linked to an increase in anger. Both of these symptoms point to a liver imbalance caused by lack of sleep.
Avoid situations that cause conflict or anger. Avoid pressure situations during work. Practice Transcendental Meditation regularly to reduce mental toxins, and to prevent the stress and strain of daily life from taking its toll on your liver. Negative emotions create powerful hormones that flood your liver with toxins.
IN SUMMARY If you take care of your liver, you will enjoy more energy, clearer skin and stronger immunity throughout the year. For an all-year-round cleansing product to support liver function you can also use Maharishi Ayurveda Triphala with Rose twice a day.
Bryan Irving writes a monthly Ayurveda newsletter. Subscribe at http://www.maharishi.co.uk
Bryan Irving writes a monthly Ayurveda newsletter and works as Promotions Manager of Maharishi Ayurveda Products. he has personally used Ayurveda for over 20 years