Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Your Liver: Part 2
Milk thistle is definitely right up there at the top of my Favorite Herbs list. Living in the society we have today with all the pollution and environmental toxins around, and especially if you work with artist's materials such as oil paints (like we do), we need all the help we can get to keep our livers healthy.
First, you have to understand something about your liver--it's a freaking amazing organ. It can regenerate damaged liver tissue faster than The Lizard character from SpiderMan. Seriously, you can remove a huge portion of a liver and it will just grow right back! (Probably not a good idea to try this at home, though.)
Listen to this: "The human liver is one of the few organs in the body that can regenerate from as little as 25 percent of its tissue." says Seth Karp, assistant professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School, Boston. Wait...25% from 100%...carry the 3...minus pi--that means 75% of your liver can be taken away and it will grow back!!! Weird!
And according to Dr. Andrew Weil in his fantastic book, "Natural Health, Natural Medicine", milk thistle (Silybum marianum) "is nontoxic, and European research shows that it stimulates regeneration of liver cells and protects them from toxic injury."
So you can take it regularly without side effects or toxic buildup.
But please don't think that you can take milk thistle and then chug beer and eat tubes of cadmium orange. While I realize that those activities can be crazy appealing, your liver will only forgive you for so much mistreatment before an unknown, crucial breaking point is reached and cirrhosis (basically, massive scarring of the liver) sets in and then it's...well, bad stuff. Really bad. Like death and stuff like that. And something that's coming to light now with the obesity epidemic is that Fatty Liver Disease, which comes from fat deposits and inflammation in the liver can cause cirrhosis. And, get this, you don't really have to be obese to get Fatty Liver Disease. It can also come from foods that cause general inflammation (mostly trans fats, saturated fats, refined foods, and artificial ingredients). So, yep, you can get cirrhosis from eating too much junk food even if you're not technically obese.
Of course, the best approach is to just baby that liver. Milk thistle is a great thing to take herb-wise. But mainly, clean living with whole, unrefined foods, clean water and green tea, exercise, and clean air are the best way to keep your liver dancing the happy dance.