Does your liver need some love?

by Matt Elphick

Too many nights out bingeing on alcohol and process foods?  You’re starting to feel lethargic; you feel bloated and can’t sleep? Sounds familiar? Maybe your liver needs some love!

Your liver is a powerhouse organ. Every day it saves your life by processing waste products and toxins for safe elimination. In addition to detoxification, the liver is a vast metabolic factory, handling proteins, carbohydrates, and fat. The liver even regulates immune function and produces proteins that allow blood to clot.

Being multi-talented, the liver has the incredible ability to regenerate. In fact, the liver is the only organ in the human body that can grow new tissue. Even when 75 percent of the liver is removed during surgery, it has the capacity to fully regenerate over time.

As remarkable as the liver is, it’s not invulnerable. It can be overburdened by the onslaught of toxins that are present in everyday life. The liver employs a system of enzymes to neutralize and eliminate toxins and waste products. When you have a high toxic load from prescription drugs, alcohol, chemical exposure, pesticides, or poor diet, enzyme levels can become depleted and the liver gets stressed.

Some toxins will sneak through and not be eliminated efficiently. This leads to a variety of unpleasant symptoms and increases your risk of doing long-term damage to your liver. Fortunately, there are several actions that can help rejuvenate your liver. This article will cover the symptoms of a stressed liver and give you tips for repairing this most precious of organs.


Technically speaking, it’s incorrect to say that your liver needs a “detox.” Your liver is always “on,” going through the first two phases of detoxification:

In phase 1 detoxification, the liver filters and transforms toxic substances by removing them from the blood. Enzymes act on toxins to neutralize them by binding them with an antioxidant.

In phase 2 detoxification, the new molecule produced in phase 1 binds with an amino acid or sulphurous compound, producing a water-soluble molecule that is easier to eliminate via the kidneys or bowel.

Therefore, it’s more precise to say that your liver needs detoxification support. The enzymes and nutrients that are used to bind toxins in both phase 1 and 2 can be exhausted, leaving toxins to re-enter the bloodstream instead of being eliminated. 

This is where symptoms arise:


Fatigue is a common symptom of a poorly functioning liver (1). One of the liver’s main functions is to process carbs from your diet and store them as glycogen. When your blood sugar drops and you need more energy, the liver releases glycogen, helping to combat fatigue. If the liver is stressed it may be less efficient at regulating blood sugar, which leads to fatigue and sugar cravings.


A common side effect of a liver that is not able to keep up with detoxification is digestive issues. A poorly functioning liver slows the release of bile, leading to growth of harmful gut bacteria, which in turn can block detoxification pathways in the liver (2). This leads to inflammation in the GI tract and the appearance of other GI symptoms including flatulence, diarrhoea, and irritable bowel syndrome.


When the liver is under stress you may find yourself more sensitive to chemicals from pesticides, gas, solvents, renovation materials that contain BPA or other petroleum-based chemicals, cleaning products, formaldehyde, antibiotics, and other medications (2). Food allergies also arise as dietary waste products re-enter the bloodstream, triggering an autoimmune response that leads the body to launch a full on immune response when you eat certain foods. Itchy skin, chronic fatigue, unexplained pain, excessive sweating, dizziness, migraines, brain fog, and digestive issues are common symptoms that you are having an allergic response.


Chronic liver conditions have long been associated with sleep disturbances. The liver processes spent hormones that regulate the sleep-wake cycle, including cortisol and melatonin. In cases of chronic stress, the liver is not able to metabolize these hormones efficiently. When excess cortisol is floating around in your blood stream at night it causes your mind to race at bedtime. Conversely, when the liver is unable to efficiently metabolize the sleep hormone, melatonin, you will experience daytime sleepiness (3). People often treat daytime fatigue with caffeine or sugar, triggering a vicious cycle of impaired sleep.


Oestrogen is a vital hormone for both men and women, but only when it is balanced with other hormones. Many chemicals mimic oestrogen in the body, binding with oestrogen receptors, essentially raising your level of oestrogen. The liver is responsible for detoxifying these chemicals as well as any excess oestrogen. When liver function is impaired, oestrogen won’t be adequately bound and excreted, instead breaking free and re-entering circulation. Symptoms for women include PMS, mood swings, menstrual disturbances, and migraines. For men, symptoms include breast development, weight gain, and low libido.


An increasingly common problem is fatty liver disease—a bad situation that occurs in response to insulin resistance. In response to excess calories and inactivity, cells become resistant to insulin, which leads to higher levels of free fatty acids in the blood that are deposited in the liver. A type of visceral fat similar to dangerous belly fat, liver fat causes inflammation and damages liver tissue.

This process impairs the liver’s its ability to produce bile (which breaks down fat), messing up its ability to regulate blood sugar. The result is weight gain or weight loss resistance.

In tomorrow’s article we will discuss how we can show our liver some much needed TLC and what we can do to help it repair.

Article by Poliquin group

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