Friday, September 14, 2012

How Strong Is Your Liver? Part 1

Rainforest Herbs®
Hempedu Bumi Plus Information Sheet

Prepared by Benjamin Drewe, Medical Herbalist

Is our liver overworked?

The liver performs hundreds of functions, and is compared to a “chemical factory”. It is involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. It manufactures bile, filters impurities and toxic wastes from the blood, produces blood-clotting factors and destroys old worn-out red blood cells. It is not surprising that if the liver does not function well, our health is affected in many ways. One of the liver's primary tasks is to filter toxins, a function for which it is continually put under stress by various factors of modern living. If prolonged, these stresses can lead to liver disease and subsequent toxic overload.

Dietary Overload

The food we eat is an increasing source of unnecessary and sometimes harmful chemicals in the form of flavourings, colourings and preservatives, especially nitrates. In addition, pesticides, extensively used in agriculture, leave a great deal of chemical residues in and on our vegetables and fruits, and indirectly also in the meat products we consume due to the livestock being fed with contaminated grain products. This, together with the drugs given to intensively reared livestock, such as antibiotics and growth hormones, can have repercussions on our health. Also as with our oceans, industrial wastes have increasingly contaminate rivers and lakes, this has led to an alarming rise in levels of harmful chemicals and heavy metals in fish and other seafood.

Other harmful chemicals that enter our diets are the peroxidized oils from fried and oily foods. These are excessively high in free radicals, known cancer causing agents, that deplete our natural antioxidant enzymes and nutrients. Alcohol also puts an extra workload on the detoxification workload of the liver, and further increases free radical levels, leading to an increased risk of breast, colon and rectal cancers.

What is Toxic?

A substance is classified as “toxic” when it has the ability to produce undesired physical or mental effects on living organisms at relatively low concentrations; this may be because it destroys certain cells or impairs or upsets certain cell processes and organ functions. Examples are free radicals, also known as oxidants, that when are present in excess amounts lead to cellular destruction. Another toxin is the heavy metal lead, which targets the nervous system and when it reaches toxic levels, will disrupt the functions of nerve cells.Chemical toxins may accumulate in the body, when the elimination and metabolic process is slower than the rate in which the toxin enters the body. Without any noticeable symptoms these substances may be ingested for a long period of time, until the toxic level is reached and then illness results. Fortunately, our body has natural mechanisms to deal with toxins and wastes: our immune system, the skin, liver, kidneys, and bowels all help to metabolize, excrete and eliminate unwanted products. However, when the eliminatory capacity of these tissues and organs becomes overburdened by the excessive demands of the
collective load of toxins, it will result in their collecting in the different parts of the body. Eventually this may inhibit the elimination processes itself, creating an acute health crisis or chronic disorders.

Recovery from Hepatitis

Long after the resolution of a bout of hepatitis we may continue to feel signs of liver sluggishness in the form of indigestion, nausea and vomiting. Hepatitis can also lead to severe or long-term liver dysfunction. Herbal medicine has a great deal to offer in the gradual strengthening of the liver. Many of the bitter herbs have been shown to exert a liver protective effect and enhance bile flow. These however, should not be taken during the acute stage of hepatitis.

The Importance of Bitters for Healthy Digestion

Bitter herbs and foods, an integral part of the diet of many ancient cultures, have long been used for their beneficial effects on the digestive system. In our modern diet, many bitter foods have long been discarded, and replaced by excessive sweet and salty foods. This lack of bitter foods has contributed to the many health problems in modern civilization, including late onset diabetes. Bitter herbs stimulate the following reactions in the body. Digestion and appetite are improved as a result of stimulation of the flow of enzymatic secretions and digestive juices. This includes gastric secretion from the stomach, pancreatic digestive enzymes and bile from the liver. This aids many of the symptoms of indigestion, improves the absorption of nutrients, and reduces the tendency to develop food allergies. From improved digestion comes good elimination, as the organs of detoxification, the bowels, kidneys and most importantly, the liver remove the wastes from metabolism.

Signs and symptoms of liver weakness:

• Intolerance of fatty foods

• Nausea and vomiting

• Headaches and migraines

• Constipation

• Low energy leading to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

• Inflammatory diseases e.g. skin conditions

Allergies Malaysian Herbs for the Liver Indigenous to Malaysia is some of the most potent liver herbs used to improve gastrointestinal function and reduce the harmful effects of dietary imbalances.  These are:

1. Hempedu Bumi Andrograhis paniculata

2. Dukung anak Phyllanthus niruri

3. Kunyit Curcuma longa

...... will be continued

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