Many medications are very hard on the liver and when on medications your liver enzymes should be checked on a regular bases by your doctor.
The liver is the largest glandular organ in the body and performs many vital functions to keep the body pure of toxins and harmful substances. It is a vital organ that supports nearly every organ in the body in some facet. Without a healthy liver, a person cannot survive.
The liver plays a central role in all metabolic processes in the body. In fat metabolism the liver cells break down fats and produce energy. They also produce about 800 to 1,000 ml of bile per day. This yellow, brownish or olive green liquid is collected in small ducts and then passed on to the main bile duct, which carries the bile to a part of the small intestine called the duodenum. Bile is important for the breakdown and absorption of fats.
In the metabolism of carbohydrates, the liver helps to ensure that the level of sugar in your blood (blood glucose) stays constant. If your blood sugar levels increase, for example after a meal, the liver removes sugar from blood supplied by the portal vein and stores it in the form of glycogen. If someone’s blood sugar levels are too low, the liver breaks down glycogen and releases sugar into the blood. As well as sugar, the liver also stores vitamins and minerals (iron and copper), and releases them into the blood when needed.
The liver also plays an important role in the metabolism of proteins: liver cells change amino acids in foods so that they can be used to produce energy, or make carbohydrates or fats. A toxic substance called ammonia is a by-product of this process. The liver cells convert ammonia to a much less toxic substance called urea, which is released into the blood. Urea is then transported to the kidneys and passes out of the body in urine.
Drug-induced liver diseases are diseases of the liver that are caused by physician-prescribed medications, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, hormones, herbs, illicit (“recreational”) drugs, and environmental toxins.
TESTING YOUR LIVER FUNCTION IS QUICK AND EASY!
Liver enzyme tests, formerly called liver function tests (LFTs), are a group of blood tests that detect inflammation and damage to the liver. They can also check how well the liver is working. Liver enzyme testing includes ALT, AST, alkaline phosphatase; true liver function tests (LFTs) include PT, INR, albumin, and bilirubin.
Most often, a liver test panel is ordered as a routine lab test. Many doctors check the liver in new patients or during annual physicals.
Your doctor may conduct liver enzyme and liver function tests if:
- You are taking a medication that can harm the liver
- You have liver disease
- You have symptoms of liver or bile system disease (abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, or yellow skin)
- You drink alcohol excessively
MILK THISTLE FOR LIVER HEALTH
Milk thistle extract, with its active component silymarin, is nature’s own liver supporter and protector. Already an established herbal treatment for conditions such as alcohol-related liver disease, medication induced liver disease, and chronic hepatitis, it has proved itself to optimize the function and maximize the detoxifying and cleansing potential of the liver.
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) produces small hard fruits (sometimes referred to as seeds) from which highly concentrated extracts in herbal supplements are made today. While milk thistle seeds were used to promote liver health as far back as 2,000 years ago, modern use of the herb began in 1968 with the discovery of the bioflavonoid complex silymarin. Researchers discovered that its health benefits largely reside in this complex and has led to the development of highly concentrated extracts that are standardized to 80% silymarin.
Milk thistle extracts and silymarin exert their benefits in the following ways:
Cell Protection: Directly aids liver cells by binding to the outside of cells and blocking the entrance of certain toxins. In addition, toxins that are already in liver cells are neutralized by silymarin. These actions also help protect against dangerous chemicals, such as carbon tetrachloride, alcohol, acetaminophen, and some commonly prescribed medications.
Boosts Antioxidant Activity: It is particularly useful for increasing production of glutathione—a powerful antioxidant produced by the body, as well as increasing the levels of other antioxidants, such as superoxide dismutase.
Cell Regeneration: Alcohol abuse, chronic hepatitis, and even commonly prescribed drugs , such as cholesterol-lower ing medications and antidepressants, can injure liver cells. Silymarin has the unique ability to help regenerate damaged liver cells.
Anti-fibrotic Actions: Fibrosis is a process that occurs in the liver cells due to inflammation. The most common contributors to this process are alcohol abuse and chronic viral hepatitis (both B and C). By acting as a blocker, silymarin not only helps maintain liver health, but slows the progression of irreversible liver damage, also known as cirrhosis.
So if your liver enzymes come back high on your blood work or you are taking a medication that is hard on the liver talk to your doctor about this liver protecting natural herb and start protecting your liver today!