Effect of Gallstones on the Liver

digestive system organsOver the next few weeks I want to share some great information on how important flushing the liver is and how a backed up liver affects every system of the body.  The health of the body and quality of life depend to a large degree on how well the liver is functioning.

The liver acts as a filtering or cleansing device for the blood; it even deactivates a limited amount of hormones, alcohol, and medicinal drugs. Its task is to modify these biologically active substances so that they lose their potentially harmful effects–a process known as detoxification. Specialized cells in the liver’s blood vessels (Kupffer cells) mop up harmful elements and infectious organisms reaching the liver from the gut. The liver excretes the waste materials resulting from these actions via its bile duct network.

A healthy liver receives and filters 3 pints of blood per minute and produces 1 to 1.5 quarts of bile every day. This ensures that all the activities in the liver and in the rest of the body run smoothly and efficiently.  Obstructive gallstones in its bile ducts greatly undermine the liver’s ability to detoxify any externally supplied and internally generated harmful substances in the blood. These stones also prevent the liver from delivering the proper amounts of nutrients and energy to the right places in the body at the right time. This upsets the delicate balance in the body, known as homeostasis, thus leading to disruption of its systems and undue stress on its organs.

Effect of Gall Stones on the Liver

A clear example of such a disturbance is an increased concentration of the endocrine hormones estrogen and aldosterone in the blood. These hormones, produced in both men and women, are responsible for the correct amount of salt and water retention. When stones congest the gallbladder and the liver’s bile ducts, these hormones may not be broken down and detoxified sufficiently. Hence, their concentration in the blood rises to abnormal levels, causing tissue swelling and water retention. Most oncologists consider elevated estrogen levels to the leading cause of breast cancer among women. In men, high levels of this hormone can lead to excessive development of breast tissue and weight gain.

Obesity and Liver Congestion

Over 85% of the American population is overweight or obese. Men, women, and children in this condition suffer mainly from fluid retention (with relatively minor fat accumulation). The retained fluid helps trap and neutralize noxious substances that the liver can no longer effectively remove from the body.  This unsightly side effect, however, helps the overweight or obese person to prevent or even survive a major toxicity crisis that could otherwise lead to a heart attack, cancer, or massive infection.

The problem with prolonged fluid retention in the tissues, though, is that it causes these toxins and other harmful waste matter (metabolic waste and dead cell material) to accumulate in various parts of the body and further congest the pathways of circulation and elimination. Whenever in the body that storage capacity for toxins and waste is exceeded, symptoms of illness begin to show up. These symptoms merely indicate that the body is desperately trying to correct these imbalances and heal itself.

Stones inside the Liver: Intrahepatic gallstones

Gallstones in the liver, which John Hopkins University and some medical schools referred to as intrahepatic biliary gallstones or biliary stones, tend to cluster together and form large obstructions that can lead to dilation of bile ducts. Intrahepatic gallstones are composed of mostly cholesterol and other bile constituents.

What makes bile so important?

One of the liver’s most important functions is to produce bile, about 1 to 1.5 quarts (0.95 – 1.4 liters) per day. Liver bile is a viscous, yellow, brown, or green fluid that at a pH of 9.5 is highly alkaline and has a bitter taste. Without sufficient bile, hydrochloric acid entering the small intestine from the stomach can cause burns throughout the gastrointestinal tract. Also, ingested foods will remain undigested or only partially digested. For example, to enable the small intestine to digest and absorb fat and calcium from the food you eat, the food must first combine with bile.

Bile Needed for Calcium Absorption

When bile secretion is insufficient, fat is not absorbed properly. The undigested fat remains in the intestinal tract. When undigested fat reaches the colon along with other waste products, intestinal bacteria break down some of the fat into fatty acids or excrete it with the stool. Since fat is lighter than water, having fat in the stool may cause it to float. When fat is not absorbed, calcium is not absorbed either, leaving the blood in a deficit. The blood subsequently takes its extra calcium from the bones.

Most bone density problems (osteoporosis) actually arise from insufficient bile secretion and poor digestion of fats, rather than from not consuming enough calcium. Few medical practitioners are aware of this fact and, hence, merely prescribed calcium supplements to their patients without addressing the underlying reason for the calcium deficiency.

Bile Needed For Proper Digestion

Likewise, the body also requires fats to help digest and make use of proteins and carbohydrates. To digest these fats, the liver and gallbladder must release sufficient amounts of bile. Poor bile secretion leaves these foods largely undigested, which subjects them to decomposition by bacteria. Persistent abdominal gas, discomfort, and bloating are among the first indications to show that this important liver function has been seriously compromised.

Besides breaking down the fats in our food bile also removes toxins from the liver. The liver is the most important organ of detoxification, and the health of every cell depends on how efficiently it rid itself of these toxins.

The bile constituents, bilirubin and biliverdin, process significant antioxidant and anti-mutagenic properties. Higher concentrations of bile pigments in the body have been linked with reduced prevalence of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Bile: Natural Laxative

One of the lesser-known but extremely important functions of bile is to deacidify and cleanse the intestines. Bile serves as the body’s natural laxative. Constipation and sluggish bowel movements are the commonest consequences of impeded bile secretion.

When gallstones in the liver or gallbladder have critically obstructed bile flow, the color of the stool will be tan, orange-yellow, or pale as in clay, instead of the normal brown.

Gallstones are a direct product of an unhealthy diet and lifestyle. Even if someone has successfully dealt with all other causes of chronic illness, if gallstones are still present in the liver or gallbladder, recovery may be short-lived or impossible.

Gallstone’s detrimental effects

Gallstones pose a considerable health risk and may lead to illness and premature aging. Over the next few weeks our newsletter will carry a description of some of the detrimental effects of gallstones on the different organs and systems in the body. When these stones are removed the body as a whole can resume its normal, healthy activities.

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