Sometimes called the master chemist of the body, the liver, known as Yakrit in Ayurveda, has many important roles. For instance, according to Ayurveda the liver is responsible for converting clear plasma (Rasa Dhatu) to blood (Rakta Dhatu). It is the liver’s task to scrutinise and identify toxins in the plasma and filter them so they don’t enter the blood.

Liver is the seat of Pitta and hence any violation in terms of food and habits will affect liver, which invariably leads to Pitta disorders.

One of the common problems encountered is jaundice, known as Kamala. When someone with anaemia exposes himself to excess hot and spicy foods, with lots of fat and allergenic ingredients, liver function is affected. If this stage is left untreated, it may result in advanced state of liver dysfunction called Kumbha kamala.

Cichorium intybusstimulates the production of bile and empties the gall bladder, and thus acts as a cholagogue (an agent that promotes the flow of bile into the intestine). In advanced stages of the disease, the liver tends to enlarge and cause imbalances in blood and kapha. This results in obstructive liver disorders described in Ayurveda as yakritdalyudara. This condition is characterised by mild fever, loss of appetite, and can result in anaemia.

Ayurveda describes several formulas containing herbs that are important to support the liver. These are more targeted for liver health and function, and also focus more on balancing the liver enzymes and their activities.

Amongst the herbs and their combinations, Triphala, a blend of three fruits, Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia) and Neem (Azadirachta indica), will help to overcome the problem of jaundice.

Similarly, Trikatu helps to overcome indigestion, Haridra or Turmeric (Curcuma longa) and Amalaki (Emblica officinalis) act as antioxidants and help to support the liver enzymes. Also Kasani(Cichorium intybus) is helpful in various liver conditions.

Bhumyamalaki (Phyllanthus amarus) is known to be an effective antiviral and is useful in hepatitis B, and Katuki (Picrorrhiza kurroa) has been found to support the liver and help shield it from infectious viruses.

Pipli/ English long pepper (Piper longum

Piper longum is a slender aromatic climber with perennial woody roots. The fruits are used for diseases of the respiratory tract, for example, cough, bronchitis and asthma.

It is also known as a counter-irritant and analgesic when applied locally for muscular pains and inflammation and as general tonic and hematinic. It is known to enhance the bioavailability of food and drugs as well as being a carminative.

Various studies have demonstrated the antioxidant potential of Piper longum.

Solanum nigrum or Black night shade has been found to be effective in the treatment of cirrhosis and is also credited with emollient, diuretic, antiseptic and laxative properties.

The extract of the dried fruits were found to normalise the increased levels of liver enzymes due to chemical-induced liver damage5.

A healthy liver is a sign of good life. Adopting healthy lifestyle habits such as regular exercise, consuming a liver-healthy diet and weight loss can go a long way in keeping your liver healthy.