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For a Sturdy Liver

I have been suffering from indigestion, nausea and poor appetite for several weeks. I am 42 and work in a public relations company. I suffered from jaundice about six months ago. My doctor says I need to eat a healthy, low-fat diet to keep my liver in good shape. What else can I do?

Shipra Seth 

The liver is the largest internal and metabolically most complex organ in humans. It is a wonderfully resilient and complex organ that nurtures and protects our body day in and day out. The liver performs over 500 different functions including fighting off infections, neutralising and disposing of toxins, manufacturing proteins, regulating sex hormones and cholesterol levels as well as supplying our body with vitamins and minerals.

Because of its wide-ranging responsibilities, the liver often comes under attack by viruses, toxic substances (including alcohol), contaminants and disease. Often, people with liver problems will be completely unaware because they may not have any symptoms at all!

There are many forms of liver disease. The good news is that many of them can often be prevented by understanding risk factors, taking precautions and by making healthy lifestyle choices. 

Prevention: 

1. Avoid alcohol or keep it to a bare minimum. For the liver the safest amount of alcohol is no alcohol at all. 

2. Eat a healthy and balanced diet which contains fibre-rich and plant foods, which are low in refined sugar and fat. l Eat foods that are free from pesticides and pollutants.
3. Minimise your intake of salty and sugary snacks.

4. Exercise regularly — regular exercise keeps weight under control and helps to prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. 

5. In fact, not getting enough exercise and eating too much unhealthy food can damage the liver in the same way alcohol can!  

6. Drink plenty of water, at least two litres per day.

7. Some cholesterol-lowering drugs/painkillers may have side-effects and cause liver problems in the long term. 

8. Recreational drugs are hepatotoxic, so strictly avoid them.

9. Prevent hepatitis. Viral hepatitis is a serious disease that harms the liver. 

10. Please get vaccinated against hepatitis. 

Nutrition:

Certain vegetables can contribute to the overall well-being of the liver. These include garlic, green leafy vegetables, turmeric, lemon, beets and carrots.

1. Garlic is known to activate liver enzymes that flush away toxins. 

2. High in plant chlorophylls, green leafy vegetables are great detoxifiers.

3. Turmeric boosts liver detox by flushing out known dietary carcinogens.

4. Drinking freshly-squeezed lemon or lime juice in the morning helps stimulate the liver.

Beets and carrots help the liver by eliminating toxins like heavy metals from the body. 

Herbs:

Consumption of the following herbs as supplements regularly will keep your liver healthy and disorders at bay.

1. Triphala: about 20 ml of decoction with a teaspoon of honey, twice daily before food. 

2. Trikatu (a combination of black pepper, Indian long pepper and ginger) — about 1 gm powder to be consumed with honey/water – after food.

3. Haridra (turmeric) — 2 gm of turmeric paste mixed with three teaspoons of juice of amalaki (Indian gooseberry) could be administered once or twice a day.

Triphala, trikatu and haridra are available in tablet form from Himalaya Wellness.

1. Pippali (Indian long pepper) — regular consumption of 2 gm of long pepper powder with a teaspoon of honey, once or twice a day for about a month.

2. Bhumyamalaki, katuki, kalamegha, kiratatikta — all these bitter herbs are established hepato-protectives — 5-10 ml of fresh juice / 2-3 gm powder of any of these herbs can be taken along with honey.

Medications: 

Liv.52, from Himalaya, is still the undisputed ‘par excellence’ medicine useful in all types of liver disorders; it is available in multiple formulations to suit various age groups — drops/syrup (for children), tablet and DS tablet (for adults) — take 5-10 ml of syrup/1-2 tablets, before food.

Arogyavardhini vati (Sri Dhootpapeshwar Ltd or Baidyanath) – 2 tablets, twice/ thrice daily, after food.

Guduchyadi Kashaya/Drakshadi Kashaya (Vaidyaratnam Oushadhasala, Thrissur/ Arya Vaidya Sala, Kottakkal) — 10 ml, diluted with 30 ml of boiled and cooled water twice daily before meals.

Pipplyasava/Rohitakarishta/Punarnavasava (Vaidyaratnam Oushadhasala, Thrissur/Arya Vaidya Sala, Kottakkal) — 20 ml diluted with equal water, twice daily after meals.  

Dr Srikanth is a postgraduate in Ayurveda and has been a consulting physician for the past 17 years. He is currently  National Manager, Scientific Services,  at The Himalaya Drug Company.

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