Banyan Botanicals…interesting LIVER insight.

April 20, 2012

Banyan Botanicals….interesting insight.

SimplicityAs an everyday yogi, I find that my body responds so much better to Ayurvedic herbal formulas and supplements than over the counter or allopathic drugs. They are gentle on my body and effective on my system and do not have the harmful side effects that common allopathic drugs have…I read this article on Banyan Botanicals website today and I really wanted to pass it on to you all.

The author, Alakananda Ma does an excellent job explaining the functions of the liver and how we can better support it…through lifestyle, diet and herbs….their website is also helpful in learning more about Ayurveda, your bodies constitution and how you can better support yourself through a yogic lifestyle.

 

Your Liver: The Master Multi-Tasker

By Alakananda Ma

The next time that you think you’ve had a busy day, just stop and have a brief conversation with your liver to ask how its day has been.  Brief, because your liver won’t have more time than that for idle chatter.  With more than 500 identified vital functions (1), this reddish-brown, two-lobed organ that normally sits below the rib cage on the upper right side of the abdomen keeps busy all throughout the day for one important reason: to keep your body alive and well.

The liver’s main job is to act as a filter.  As the blood flows by the digestive tract, it absorbs all that the digestive tract has to offer—nutritious and toxic.  This blood then heads straight over to the liver to be filtered before it goes out to the rest of the body.  As the blood flows through the intricate anatomy of the liver, the contents of the blood are sorted out and processed.  The liver will help break down and store sources of energy such as fats and carbohydrates, storing energy for later use.  It will also break down drugs, herbs, etc., into components that the body can use.   In this process, the liver removes things it finds to be toxic (such as drugs, alcohol, and environmental toxins), and dumps them into the bile to exit the body with stool, or sends them in the blood to be filtered out in the kidneys.  This filtering of toxins by the liver can also remove bacteria, viruses, and parasites that would otherwise cause infections.  Even the body creates toxic by-products, such as bilirubin (from the breakdown of old red blood cells) and ammonia (from protein metabolism), which the liver must process.

The liver is also a manufacturer.  It produces proteins such as albumin, cholesterol needed as a building block in your body, and the factors that help your blood clot so you don’t bleed to death when you get a cut.  And one of the liver’s most popular products is bile, which is stored in the gallbladder and then sent into the intestines to help process fats and fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, K, E, and D.

From an Ayurvedic perspective, the liver is one of the seats of pitta and plays a major role in digestion, cleansing, and blood volume maintenance.  As a seat for pitta, the liver’s role in digestion helps break nutrients down into their most elemental forms.  When this digestive capacity is off, the body has a hard time tolerating what is put into circulation, which can result in skin issues and allergies.  The body is also not able to metabolize fats well, hindering any efforts at weight management.  And the result of this poor digestion is more ama, or undigested toxic material, circulating in the system, leading to lethargy and sluggishness.

As a seat of pitta, the liver is also affected by pitta emotions.  When emotions remain unprocessed, Ayurveda teaches that they settle into the tissues and cause problems.  Each emotion has an affinity for certain tissues.  Pitta emotions, such as anger, rage, hatred and jealousy, have an affinity for both the liver and gallbladder, and can add to the liver’s burden of cleansing all the environmental toxins that we consume.  Even our language alludes to this connection, as anger is associated with seeing red (a color associated with pitta), and jealousy is portrayed as being “green with envy” (the color of bile).

With all these functions and many more, your liver is one organ that you can’t live without.  Knowing these vital functions of the liver, what can you do to care for your liver?  Well, for starters, this is a great time of year to ask that question.  Spring is considered by most holistic medical systems to be the right time to cleanse the liver and the blood.  While a practitioner can lead you through a full cleanse, here are some great tips to help jump-start your liver care:

  • Diet:
    • Choose organic when possible.  If you are not adding pesticides and other chemicals and toxins to your system, your liver will have less to cleanse, and it won’t be as overwhelmed.
    • Favor sweet, bitter and astringent foods.  As pitta is predominant, you should pacify pitta.  Avoid sour, spicy, fried and fermented foods, as well as excess salt.
    • Especially enjoy bitter greens such as kale and collard greens, as this is a taste missing frequently in the Western diet.  Also enjoy other cruciferous veggies, such as broccoli and brussel sprouts.
    • Use cooling spices such as cumin and garnishes such as cilantro.
    • Eat regularly during meal times and avoid late night meals.
    • Eat with a calm mindset.
  • Yoga and Meditation
    • A regular practice helps calm the mind and deal with unresolved emotions, particularly anger and other pitta emotions.
    • Try yoga poses that help massage the liver and support the digestive fire: Twists, cat/cow, bridge, and cobra (2).
  • Herbal Support
    • Kutki, or Picorrhiza kurroa, is one of Ayurveda’s premier herbs to help cleanse and support the liver.  Over harvested and endangered, Banyan has now been able to secure a limited supply from sustainable farming efforts, and we are offering it in liquid extract form.  Please read our special note below for more details.
    • Liver Formula offers a unique blend of several other herbs that help support the liver and its functions, including bhumyamalaki and guduchi.
    • Ayurveda also recommends short-term use of fresh aloe juice for liver support.  Some case studies have shown that longer use of aloe vera capsules can have negative side effects on the liver (3).

So take the opportunity as spring is coming into full bloom, and before we head into the pitta aggravating heat of summer, to give your liver some extra attention and a cleansing routine.

A Special Note on Banyan Kutki Liquid Extract

One of the most popular and well-known Ayurvedic herbal supports for the liver, kutki is widely sought after and has been severely over-harvested in the wild. This has placed it on the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) Appendix 3 list, which requires that a supplier must have a certificate to prove the source of cultivation. Because of lax enforcement, wild-sourced kutki is still being sold in the US. This practice continues to aggravate the challenge the species faces for survival. In an effort to help save Kutki, Banyan has partnered with a pioneering cultivation project and has been able to secure a limited supply of the sustainably grown roots with the required certificate. In order to make this limited supply available to the largest number of people possible, Banyan is offering this one-of-a-kind liquid extract, made from kutki grown according to organic standards. A portion of the sales from this product will be reinvested in projects to cultivate more kutki and other endangered herbs high in the Indian Himalayas.

References:

  1. http://www.lpch.org/DiseaseHealthInfo/HealthLibrary/transplant/liverant.html
  2. Yoga Journal. http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/finder/anatomical_focus/liver
  3. http://www.livestrong.com/article/182458-aloe-vera-liver-damage/





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