The liver is your body’s built-in filtration and detoxification system. But when it becomes overwhelmed (thanks largely to the toxic burden placed on our bodies living a within a modern industrial environment), the liver can no longer do its job. But did you know that you can support a healthy liver function (and even help reduce stress!) with ashwagandha and turmeric? Let me tell you more…
The liver does a lot for the body, including the filtering of blood, which is key to detoxification. At around 3 pounds in adults, the liver is not only one of the largest organs in the body but it also filters 1.4 liters of blood per minute. That’s equivalent to 47 ounces or 5.8 cups.
Saying that the liver works hard is a bit of an understatement. Normally, the liver’s main task is to help remove metabolic waste that is the normal byproduct of the billions of cells in the body. When this waste passes through the liver, a percentage is transferred to bile created by the gallbladder that then leaves the body through the bowels.
But what happens when the liver is asked to take on even more tasks? Alcohol, prescription drugs, pollution from the air and water, metals, and processed foods are things commonly found in the modern world. Because we grew up with these things we don’t give them a second thought. But the liver is a different story.
While the liver is adaptable, it hasn’t quite evolved to handle many toxins found in the world today. When overworked, as it often is today, toxins can build up inside the body. This can cause a chain reaction that harms other organs or biological systems, leading them to function poorly or cease function entirely.
Am I at Risk?
For the average person that tries to follow a healthy lifestyle the risks may be reduced. Unfortunately, you don’t always know what you are being exposed to during the day. From the region you live, your proximity to roadways and industrial centers, and even stress can all be having an impact on the function of your liver.
There are signs that will help to tell you if your liver is keeping up and properly detoxing the body. But if not, you’re not out of luck. In fact, there are many ways to help support your liver and detoxify the body.
We’ll touch on some of the options you have to support detoxification, but for now let’s talk about ashwagandha and turmeric.
Ashwagandha and Stress Relief
Stress is directly linked to several factors that affect liver health, including decreased blood flow, an increase to the hormone cortisol that can affect liver homeostasis and result in liver damage, and an increased size of “natural killer cells,” which are produced in the immune, and in the liver can contribute to or worsen liver damage.
Whatever your method for dealing with stress, try combining it with ashwagandha. This herb has been studied for its ability to support many areas of the body, including how the body deals with stress. Ashwagandha contains compounds known as adaptogens that, as it sounds, helps the body to adapt to changing conditions. Adaptogens act as a kind of regulator for the production of hormones in the hypothalamic, pituitary, adrenal glands (HPA axis). When adaptogens act on these glands they produce fewer of the stress hormones cortisol, DHEA, and norepinephrine. This, in turn, helps to reduce the effect that stress plays on the body.
Turmeric for Healthy Liver Function
Turmeric is a plant that is prized for its rhizome (the root). The root has a distinct orange color that you may be familiar with if you are a fan of curry; turmeric is a main ingredient in the dish. The root also contains a compound known as curcumin that research shows provides a range of benefits, including support for detoxification.
As mentioned previously, the gallbladder produces bile that transports toxins through the bowels. Researchers have found that turmeric increases gallbladder contractions and therefore bile productions when compared to those that did not take turmeric. This increase in bile allows more toxins to be carried away and may help the liver to function properly.
Turmeric also provides protective effects on liver cells in the form of antioxidants. In a study looking at compounds linked to liver damage, healthy liver cells first exposed to turmeric were damaged less than liver cells without first being exposed to turmeric. Similar studies also show that turmeric helps to protect the liver from arsenic, alcohol, and potentially harmful microorganisms like bacteria.
Discover The Toxins in Your Life
Avoiding toxins is the best way support your liver, but this isn’t always possible. So knowing what toxins are a part of your life will help you to to take a holistic approach to detoxification. This means that while herbs may support your liver in few small ways, you may need to take a different approach if you’re being exposed to lead, mercury, or the many harmful compounds found in some skin care products.
Click here for References+
- Informed Health Online [Internet]. “How does the liver work?” PubMedHealth. Last Update: August 22, 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072577/
- Center for Liver Diseases. “What Does the Liver Do for the Body?” UPMC. Sept. 11, 2015. https://share.upmc.com/2015/09/what-does-the-liver-do-for-the-body/
- Franciscus, Alan. “Stress and the Liver.” HCV Advocate, HCSP Fact Sheet. Version 4.2 Jan. 2015. http://hcvadvocate.org/hepatitis/factsheets_pdf/stress_liver.pdf
- Morin, Amy. “7 Ways Mentally Strong People Deal with Stress” Psychology Today. July 27, 2015. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201507/7-ways-mentally-strong-people-deal-stress
- “Ashwagandha – Stress and Frustration Support.” Natural Health Concepts. https://www.nhc.com/what-is-ashwagandha
- “Turmeric Root – Potential Health Benefits and Uses.” Natural Health Concepts. https://nhc.com/turmeric-root
- Subash C. Gupta, Sridevi Patchva, and Bharat B. Aggarwal. “Therapeutic Roles of Curcumin: Lessons Learned from Clinical Trials.” AAPS J. 2013 Jan; 15(1): 195–218. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3535097/