The liver is the largest organ in the human body and is responsible for well over 200 functions. It is also the most resilient organ, able to withstand some of the harshest assaults by today’s mix of air pollution, environmental contaminants, pharmaceuticals, bacteria, fungi, mold, and viruses. In simplest terms, the primary functions of the liver include:⇔ Detoxification –
The liver filters 1 liter of blood each minute and eliminates the multitude of toxins that the body encounters on a daily basis. The liver must dispose of ammonia, an extremely toxic by-product of protein metabolism. It converts ammonia to urea, which is excreted through urine. The liver also breaks down toxic chemicals, heavy metals, as well as synthetic pharmaceuticals.⇔ Storage, energy production, and nutrient conversion –
The liver is the critical organ for metabolism on all levels. Among its vast array of metabolic tasks, the liver:⇔ Stores essential vitamins (like vitamins A, B, D, and K), minerals (like iron and copper), and glucose (in the form of glycogen).
⇔ Produces quick bursts of energy when the body needs it most (as part of the body’s “fight or flight” reaction to stress).
⇔ Plays a key role in carbohydrate metabolism, by converting glucose to glycogen. Glycogen is stored as fat in the body.
A needle biopsy of the liver is useful in demonstrating the presence of cirrhosis, steatosis, alcoholic hepatitis, chronic hepatitis, and carcinoma. Liver biopsy is contraindicated in patients who have clotting defects, severe anemia, or a bacterial infection in an area to be traversed by the biopsy needle, for example, right lower lobar pneumonia. Disorders of the Liver. The liver, with its many complex functions, can be damaged by various disorders and diseases, including hepatitis, cirrhosis, and abscess. Signs of liver damage include jaundice, ascites, uncontrolled bleeding resulting from a decrease in clotting factors, and increased sensitivity to drugs.