Liver Toxicity 101 & The P450 Pathway
The liver is the second largest organ in the body (skin is the first largest). Surprising, few people know about the liver and its importance to health and well-being. This article will discuss the functions of the liver, the challenges it faces, and what can be done when something goes awry with this very important organ.
The liver is the second largest organ in the human body, and it is one of the five vital organs—meaning the body cannot survive without it. Situated below the lower part of the right ribcage, the liver is about 8? inches in diameter, boomerang shaped, with the adult liver weighing about 3 ? pounds. The liver conducts several hundreds of functions every second; it metabolizes nutrients and substances, helps with food digestion, and cleans the blood. It also stores many vitamins and minerals and helps to regulate the body’s sexual hormones. Its biggest function, however, is to clean the blood.
The condition of the liver is often ignored until something is discovered to be wrong with the liver. The most common “condition” to affect the liver is TOXICITY, as defined in the Taber’s Medical Dictionary as “being poisoned”.
All blood that circulates throughout the body passes through the liver for cleansing. The liver is one big cleaning organ, among other things. Whenever there are substances that may be harmful to the body, the liver takes them out of the blood. The liver then takes these harmful substances and tries to convert them into a substance that is less toxic or acceptable to the body. If the harmful substance cannot be converted, the liver either puts it into the digestive system for flushing out of the body through stool, or puts it back into the blood stream to be flushed out of the body through urine (most often). On occasion, the liver stores the substance to keep it from damaging the other vital organs (brain, heart, lungs, and kidneys). Stored substances either stay in the liver (in fat deposits) or are put into fatty deposits in the body (such as the fat around a person’s waist).
Challenges of the Liver
As the liver cleans all the blood, when a person takes in chemicals that can harm the body, the liver must take them out. One of the chief offenders to the body is medical drugs. All medical drugs that are put on the skin, inhaled, injected or swallowed find their way to the liver for processing. The most common liver pathway that breaks down drugs is P450.
When a toxin enters the pathway, the liver analyzes its composition and determines how much of that toxin the body can keep without it causing damage to some vital organ. The pathway then releases that amount of the toxin unchanged. With the balance of the toxin, the pathway tries to reshape it so it’ll be less toxic. It is then put back into the bloodstream and sent to the kidneys where it is taken out of the blood and put into urine for excretion from the body.
The majority of medical drugs are processed through the P450 pathway prior to entering the bloodstream for use. Some common exceptions are aspirin, narcotic medication and injected insulin.