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Liver toxicity

Related Terms

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Background

  • The liver is the second largest organ in the body (after the skin), and is essential in keeping the body functioning properly. The liver is located in the upper right-hand side of the abdomen. It performs many functions in the body, including processing the body's nutrients, manufacturing bile to help digest fats, synthesizing many important proteins, regulating blood clotting, and breaking down potentially toxic substances into harmless ones that the body can use or excrete. Inflammation of the liver may, in severe cases, interfere with these processes and allow potentially toxic substances to accumulate. Inflammation can occur while the liver is performing its functions, such as metabolizing drugs.
  • The liver is able to regenerate or repair up to two-thirds of injured tissue, including hepatocytes, biliary epithelial cells, and endothelial cells. Healthy cells take over the function of damaged cells, either indefinitely or until the damage is repaired.
  • There are many different types of liver disease. But no matter what type the individual has, the damage to the liver is likely to progress in a similar way. Viruses cause some of them, like hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. Other types of liver damage can be the result of drugs (such as acetaminophen), poisons (such as the death cap mushroom), or drinking too much alcohol for a long period of time.
  • If the liver forms scar tissue because of an illness, it is called cirrhosis. Jaundice, or yellowing of the skin and eyes, can be one sign of liver disease. Cancer can also affect the liver. Individuals may inherit a liver disease such as hemochromatosis, which is a liver condition causing iron overload.
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Stages of Liver Toxicity

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Types and Causes of Liver Toxicity

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Signs and Symptoms

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Complications

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Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Integrative Therapies

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Prevention

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.