The liver is a miraculous multitasker of the human body. It is a wedge-shaped organ located on the right side of the abdominal cavity, just below the diaphragm. Being the size of a football and weighing about 3 pounds, the liver is nicknamed the largest gland and the heaviest organ in the human body. It plays a key role in the body’s biochemical reactions, sustaining life.
An interesting factoid: it is the only internal organ in the human body that can naturally regenerate, and even Greek mythology makes use of this to tell Prometheus’s story. Detoxification of the system, carbohydrate metabolism, protein metabolism, breakdown of fat, control of glycogen and vitamin storage, excretion of some waste products, formation of blood, production of bile, and a lot more, the number of essential functions played by the liver in a living body is around 500. Therefore, maintaining the health of this irreplaceable vital organ and appreciating its functions require special attention.
The liver is susceptible to a vast array of diseases- and once this gentle giant slows down, the whole body will go into chaos. Inflammations like Hepatitis, autoimmune diseases, blockage of bile ducts, hepatocellular carcinoma, hereditary disorders like Wilson’s disease, and cirrhosis, can impair the functions of this vital organ, ultimately leading to its failure. An unruly lifestyle constitutes about 70% of liver problems. If you notice a sudden energy drop, yellowish discolouration of body parts, diurnal fatigue, itching, weight fluctuation, or growing abdominal discomfort, maybe it’s time to look into your liver health.
Yakrit is the Ayurvedic term for the liver. The references to the liver can be seen in both Vedas and Samhitas. Classics describe it as an organ of krishna lohitha varna (blackish-red color) situated below the hridaya and hosts pitta and rakta. It is responsible for the formation of rakta (blood) as it can convert the rasa dhatu into rakta dhatu by colouring it using ranjaka, a variant of pitta.
Scholars like Charaka even consider it the root of raktavaha srotas, the channels that carry blood. As a pitta-predominant organ, yakrit is vulnerable to paittik disorders which can lead to digestive distress, improper rasa and rakta dhatu formation, inflammatory reactions, and skin problems. Vidahi annapana (food that causes a burning sensation), madyapana (alcoholism), and tikshna ahara (sharp, pungent food) are the general etiological factors behind a yakrit vikara. Due to these, the pitta and rakta tend to get vitiated and affect the liver along with the spleen as they are the seat of pitta and rakta.
Luckily, Ayurveda offers some potent liver tonics that can enhance its function and help it withstand the triggering factors. Bhrungaraja (Eclipta alba) is a herb famed for its liver-friendly action. The antioxidants in the plant show major free radical-scavenging activity that reduces toxin accumulation. Bhrungaraja also roots hair health by helping the growth of lush, shiny, black hair, and reducing hair fall. Bhringarajasava is a unique blend of bhrungaraja and other hepatoprotective drugs that regulate liver function and improve overall metabolism. It is a classical formulation that boasts its effects on rejuvenation and detoxification.
Zuella Montemayor did her degree in psychology at the University of Toronto. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.