The Importance of Bile Flow and Liver Health
January 30th, 2014
Make sure you understand why the production, secretion and flow of bile is essential for maintaining optimal liver health.
By Nicole Cutler L.Ac.
The liver is an amazing organ, with an estimated 500 functions necessary to sustain life. Of these many roles, the liver plays an integral part in bile production and bile flow, two tasks that are necessary for digesting dietary fats. Because any interference in the manufacture or flow of bile can have a detrimental impact on digestion and liver wellness, strategies to promote healthful bile production and flow are in high demand.
Manufactured in the liver and stored in the gallbladder, bile is a greenish-yellow liquid. Composed of cholesterol, water, bile salts and pigments, bile assists in the digestive process and the elimination of certain waste products (mainly hemoglobin and excess cholesterol) from the body. In general, bile’s journey is as follows:
The liver produces and secretes bile through many tiny bile ducts.
The bile is stored in the gallbladder.
When food enters the stomach, the gallbladder and bile ducts contract sending bile into the small intestine to help digest food, especially fat.
Many waste products, including bilirubin and cholesterol, are eliminated from the body by secretion into bile and elimination in feces.
If the bile ducts or gallbladder become blocked, bile backs up in the liver.
Bile flow blockages can be caused by many different problems such as infection, cancer, a fatty liver or liver scarring.
Blocked bile ducts have the potential to cause digestive disorders, gallstones, liver damage or even liver failure.
Damage to the liver’s cells can also restrict its production of bile, leading to pale-colored stools, digestive problems and a buildup of unreleased toxins.
Thus, encouraging a healthful, unobstructed flow and production of bile is an ideal preventative approach for proper toxin elimination and for maintaining biliary, liver and digestive health.
Bile Flow Aids
Describing a function of an herb or supplement, cholagogues help stimulate the production and promote the flow of bile. Historically, cholagogues are indicated for alleviating or preventing ailments related to the liver and gallbladder. Typically having a bitter taste, cholegogues contain chlorogenic acids which stimulate bile production and flow when ingested regularly.
Used in many traditional medicines to aid the flow of bile in the liver and through bile ducts, the following are some of the more well known cholegogues:
Many types of healthcare practitioners advise patients with liver, gallbladder or digestive health concerns to take some form of cholegogues, also referred to as bitters. Including several of the substances listed above into a daily health routine can help maintain ideal levels of bile production, secretion and flow to support a strong and healthy liver.