Your liver is one of the most hard-working organs of your body and plays an important role in processing nutrients and eliminating waste. But did you know that this amazing organ is also a key player in the process of hormone regulation throughout the body? Most of us don’t automatically connect liver function with hormone imbalance; however, a good look at your liver health may give you answers that you need.
Hormones are substances that are normally associated with the endocrine system, and these chemical compounds are involved in literally every metabolic process in the body both on the cellular and body tissue levels. In fact, life itself could not be possible without the presence of hormones.
How Does the Liver Affect Hormones?
While the liver does not actually make the majority of hormones – as this is mainly the job of various glands of the endocrine system – the liver is the place where many hormones are synthesized. What this means is that the liver is like a laboratory where hormones are thrown together with other compounds and the body is able to gain nutrients and other critical substances that are necessary for us to thrive. In a sense, hormones are agents that make life-giving chemical reactions possible, and much of this activity occurs in the liver.
The liver secretes hormones or dispenses them into the bloodstream whenever various parts of the body call for them. Thus, the liver is somewhat like a hormone holding tank that is on call to supply necessary hormones at proper levels whenever needed. Some of the crucial metabolic activities that are made possible by these timely secretions are blood glucose levels, amino acid levels, circulatory functions, the strength of the immune system, blood clotting, and bone marrow formation, amongst many others.
Hormone elimination is another major responsibility of the liver via the sulphation and glucoronidation pathways. Just as this organ filters and removes many toxins and impurities from the body, it also sees that unneeded hormones are expelled from the body, mostly via the urine or bile. These secretion and elimination duties together compromise the hormonal regulatory function of the liver.
This liver regulatory function is extremely important for both women and men regarding the maintenance of proper hormone levels in the body. Here are some specific types of hormones that are regulated by the liver:
- Estrogen. One of the key female hormones, balanced estrogen levels are critical for many sexual and reproductive functions. In women, if the liver is not able to eliminate excess estrogen it can lead to dysfunction such as abnormally heavy menstrual flow, cysts and pain in the breasts, and unwanted weight gain in the midsection (hips, thighs, and buttocks). This weight gain can produce a “pear-shaped” or “gynaeoid” type body, as it is officially called. Too much estrogen is a very unhealthy situation that can increase risk for heart disease, reproductive cancers, and other serious health conditions.
- Testosterone. This is another major sex hormone (even for women) and it is also kept at proper levels by an efficiently working liver. Women who have testosterone levels that are too high may develop unwanted facial hair, have concerns such as greasy skin or acne, or ovarian disorders such as PCOS. They may also experience weight gain in the upper body, developing an “apple-shaped” or “android” type body.
- Insulin. Produced by the pancreas, insulin is a hormone chiefly involved with regulating blood sugar and overall metabolism. It also helps to control fat and carbohydrate levels in the body. Once again, the liver is responsible for regulating insulin levels. If this is not done properly (usually due to a toxic liver), it can lead to an excess of insulin. This may result in a greater risk for diabetes and other health concerns.
How to Prevent Liver-Related Hormone Imbalance
Obviously, a sluggish liver will not be able to regulate the hormones correctly, thus leading to hormone imbalance. The best solution is to keep your liver functioning at optimum levels so it can do its job effectively. Some suggestions for maintaining liver health include:
- Be informed about the medications you use. Research contraindications and side-effects of any medication in which you take. Medications that are particularly hard on the liver include NSAID pain drugs, aspirin, statin drugs (for lowering cholesterol), certain blood pressure medications, and some antidepressants.
- Cleanse and support your liver. I recommend performing a liver cleanse at least three times yearly. Support and maintain liver health with organic/wild-crafted herbs. I personally use and highly recommend Livatrex®.
- Make sure that your elimination routes are working properly. Women have five elimination routes: breathing, sweating, urination, defecation and menses.
- Drink good amounts of purified water in order to help with toxin removal.
- Drink little or no alcohol and avoid caffeine.
- The liver is dependent on many nutrients to complete its job of breaking down and detoxifying excess toxins. A healthy diet and supplementation will ensure that these nutrients are available. A diet that is heavy on fresh, organic fruits and vegetables and low in animal fat, refined sugar, white flour and toxic chemicals is recommended. There are many foods that help to cleanse and support the liver. Research natural herbal therapy for estrogen dominance.
- Work on achieving a healthy weight and insulin levels.
- Saliva test your hormones and work on creating hormonal balance. Contrary to what conventional medicine says saliva testing is the best way to find out the amount of usable hormones available. Serum testing almost never matches hormone imbalance symptoms and often women are told there is nothing wrong and then sent home with a prescription for an anti-depressant. As indicated previously, often estrogen dominance is indicative that the liver needs some attention. If, through testing, estrogen dominance proves to be a concern, research the merits of bioidentical progesterone cream as well as eliminating estrogen mimicking chemicals (found in pre-packaged foods, water, personal care products, cleaning products and gardening products) from your personal use.