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The liver and its role in the human body


Each of us has heard about the liver at least once in his life, about its important role in the human body and that it needs to be "cleaned" periodically. But few people understand how to properly take care of their liver and how and when to carry out this "cleansing" (or detox in a scientific way). Let's figure it out.


What is the liver?

The liver is a vital gland of the external secretion of vertebrates, including humans, located in the abdominal cavity under the diaphragm and performing a large number of different physiological functions.

The liver is the main human organ that provides homeostasis - dynamic constancy of the composition and properties of the internal environment to preserve the physiological functions of the human body. That is, our ability to live and exist is directly related to the liver. The liver performs about 500 different functions, the violation of which affects the functioning of almost every organ in our body.


The main functions of the liver:

  • neutralization of various foreign substances, in particular, allergens, poisons and toxins, by converting them into harmless, less toxic or easier to remove from the body compounds;

  • neutralization and removal from the body of excess hormones, mediators, vitamins, as well as toxic intermediates and end products of metabolism;

  • providing the energy needs of the body with glucose and converting various energy sources into glucose (the so-called gluconeogenesis);

  • replenishment and storage of rapidly mobilized energy reserves in the form of glycogen and regulation of carbohydrate metabolism;

  • replenishment and storage of depots of some vitamins (especially large reserves of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, water-soluble vitamin B12 in the liver), as well as a number of trace elements. Also, the liver is directly involved in the metabolism of vitamins A, B, C, D, E, K, PP and folic acid;

  • participation in the processes of hematopoiesis - only in the fetus. The liver is one of the important organs of hematopoiesis in prenatal development;

  • synthesis of cholesterol and its esters, lipids and phospholipids, lipoproteins and regulation of lipid metabolism;

  • synthesis of bile acids and bilirubin, production and secretion of bile;

  • also serves as a depot for a fairly significant volume of blood, which can be released into the general vascular bed with blood loss or shock due to narrowing of the vessels supplying the liver;

  • synthesis of hormones (for example, insulin-like growth factors).

  • participation in pigment metabolism (the pigment bilirubin is formed in the spleen as a result of the destruction of red blood cells, and in the liver it is absorbed by hepatocytes and excreted with bile)



One of the features of the liver is that there are very few pain receptors in it, which is why even with a significant increase in the liver, the patient does not feel pain, but only a certain feeling of heaviness. This also determines the asymptomatic nature of the vast majority of chronic liver diseases. However, there are some symptoms that may indirectly indicate liver disease. These include, for example:

  • Feeling tired

  • Stomach problems including nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain especially on the lower right side of the rib cage

  • Changes in urine, urine may have brown color

  • Easy bruising and bleeding, liver has an essential role in helping the blood to clot

  • Abnormal blood vessels

  • Erectile distinction due to failure in the regulation of hormones

  • Swelling in the ankles, feet and belly due to fluid imbalance

  • Appetite and weight loss

  • Yellow skin and eyes due to accumulation of bilirubin

  • Itchy skin

  • Confusion due to inability to remove toxins



Causes

Liver disease has many causes.

There are the most common causes of liver dysfunction.


Infection

Parasites and viruses can infect the liver, causing inflammation that reduces liver function. The viruses can be spread through blood or semen, contaminated food or water, or close contact with a person who is infected. The most common types of liver infection are the following:

  • Hepatitis A

  • Hepatitis B

  • Hepatitis C

  • Epstein-Barr

  • Cytomegalovirus

  • Herpes simplex (HSV)


Alcohol

Alcohol is a psychoactive, potentially toxic and addictive substance. It is rapidly absorbed by the body where it is detoxified by the liver. Additional risk factors include gender (women are more susceptible), a genetic predisposition and co-occurring liver disease. Individuals consuming excess alcohol can develop alcoholic liver disease (ALD). There is no exact level of consumption that can predict the onset of ALD. But there are studies that show that eventual scarring (cirrhosis) and even liver cancer, is a process that begins on as little as four drinks a day for men and two for women (according to the information of The Johns Hopkins University). By the time you show symptoms, your liver may be already severely damaged. The good news is that when people stop drinking at the fatty liver stage their poor liver condition can be reversed. Your liver can repair and even regenerate itself!


Obesity

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a disease of the liver characterised by fatty infiltration with or without inflammation (non alcohol steatohepatitis or NASH). Simply saying it is too much fat stored in liver cells and it is a term for a wide range of liver conditions affecting people who doesn't drink alcohol or drink very little.

Previously thought to be benign, it can progress to fibrosis and cirrhosis in 15-20% of patients. It can also result in liver cancer. Development of NASH and fibrosis is associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and high triglycerides. In European and US studies, NAFLD affects 3-30% of the population, in the United States, it is the most common form of chronic liver disease, affecting about one-quarter of the population.

Please remember overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health. A body mass index (BMI) over 25 is considered overweight, and over 30 is obese.





Other

Additional, common causes of liver disease include:

  • Genetics

  • Autoimmune disease

  • Certain prescription or over-the-counter medications (antibiotics, Tylenol or any other drug containing Acetaminophen, anti-inflammatory)

  • Certain herbal compounds

  • Spray aerosols


Why is it so important to diagnose early on of liver disease and take precaution measures?

Early diagnosis may prevent damage from occurring in your liver. Liver is an incredible organ due to its ability to repair and regenerate itself. Even if you are diagnosed when some scar tissue has already formed, your liver can still be repaired with a well-managed treatment plan.

Please remember!

Many people with liver disease do not look or feel sick even though damage is already happening to their liver. At a certain point in the progression of liver disease damage can become irreversible leading to liver failure, cancer or death.


Treatment

Today, thanks to modern research and development, there are several techniques that can successfully and in a fairly short time significantly improve liver health.

More recently, scientists have discovered biologically active substances that promote liver regeneration in case of injuries and toxic damage. There are various approaches to stimulating liver regeneration in case of liver damage or massive resections. Attempts have been made to stimulate regeneration through the introduction of amino acids, tissue hydrolysates, vitamins, hormones, and growth factors. One of the methods of stimulation is laser therapy, which has proven itself for decades as one of the safest and most effective therapies in the best clinics in Germany and Switzerland.


The treatment plan, which includes antioxidant, restorative therapy, vitamin therapy, as well as laser therapy in combination of these procedures prevents the destruction of cell membranes and stimulates the regeneration of hepatocytes, thereby having a positive effect on liver function. The liver's resistance to pathological influences also increases, its detoxification function is enhanced by increasing the activity of enzyme systems, which contributes to the restoration of its functions in various injuries.

Such a treatment plan helps the liver to restore its functions and strengthen the immune defense, which has a beneficial effect on the work of the whole body.


What to Ask Your Doctor

The best thing that anyone can do for their health is to engage in their healthcare. Be an active member of your healthcare team, regularly visit your attending physician, follow-up when necessary, make the most of your doctor visits, ask questions and lear more about your health.







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