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How Can I Make My Liver Healthy Using Ayurveda?

The liver is the most versatile organ in your body. It helps break down fats, produces proteins and cholesterol, fights infections and removes toxins from your body. Liver diseases can be caused by viruses, by poisons, drugs, or excessive alcohol, by genetic factors or cancer. The liver functions are affected due to the pitta imbalance. Ayurveda recommends eating a pitta-pacifying diet that is pesticide-free, eating at regular timings, not staying up late and managing stress to keep your liver healthy.

ayurveda liver health
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Your liver is an important organ that is vital for your health. It performs a range of functions such as

  • The production of bile, which helps break down fats and carry away waste
  • The production of certain proteins and cholesterol
  • Helping your body store energy
  • Regulating the level of amino acids (the building blocks of protein) in your blood
  • Helping to remove toxins and poisons from your body
  • Regulating blood clotting
  • Helping to resist infections by immune factors and clearing bacteria from your bloodstream[1][Liver: Anatomy and Functions](https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/liver-anatomy-and-functions “Liver: Anatomy and Functions”). John Hopkins Medicine.

What Are The Most Common Liver Diseases?

Many conditions can harm your liver. And you can experience a range of symptoms if you suffer from liver disease. Often symptoms such as swelling of the legs and abdomen, changes in the color of your urine or stool, bruising easily, and jaundice (yellowing of eyes and skin) can be indicative of problems with your liver. Sometimes you might not experience any symptoms when you have liver disease and might require medical tests to diagnose the condition. Some common types of liver diseases include:

  • Diseases caused by viruses – for example, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C
  • Diseases caused by poisons, drugs, or excessive alcohol – for example, cirrhosis and fatty liver disease
  • Diseases caused by genetic factors – for example, Wilson disease and hemochromatosis
  • Liver cancer[2][Liver Diseases](https://medlineplus.gov/liverdiseases.html “Liver Diseases”). U.S. National Library of Medicine.

What Does Ayurveda Say About The Liver?

In Ayurveda, the liver is considered to be the seat of pitta dosha. It is thought to be composed of five bhuta agnis (digestive fires) that correspond to the five elements of

  • fire (tejas),
  • earth (prithvi),
  • space (akasha),
  • water (apu), and
  • air (vayu).

Each of these digestive fires are thought to specialize in digesting the element that corresponds to it and transforming it into blood. If these digestive fires are not in balance (that is, the flame burns unevenly, or too low, or too high) then food will not be properly converted into blood tissue and this is thought to result in the production of toxins. An imbalance in pitta can therefore affect your liver and lead to a host of problems such as digestive issues, fatigue, constipation, allergic conditions, skin inflammation etc. If the imbalance continues, then over a period of time, serious liver diseases can develop.[3][Ayurvedic Perspective of Liver](https://www.nhp.gov.in/ayurvedic-perspective-of-liver_mtl “Ayurvedic Perspective of Liver”). National Health Portal.

What Are The Ways To Enhance Liver Health?

Let’s take a look at what you can do to improve the health of this vital organ:

1. Avoid Alcohol

Your liver is responsible for filtering toxins from your blood. And whenever the liver filters alcohol some liver cells die. Now your liver can regenerate and develop new cells but drinking too much over the years can damage its capacity to regenerate. This can seriously and permanently damage your liver.[4]Alcohol-related liver disease/Pages/Introduction.aspx “Alcohol-related liver disease”). National Health Service. If you do consume alcohol, make sure that you don’t overdo it.

2. Don’t Breathe In Toxins

Your liver is responsible for detoxifying what you breathe in. Be careful when you use chemical sprays or cleaners. Wear a mask and make sure the room is properly ventilated.[5][25 Ways to Love Your Liver Health](https://liverfoundation.org/25-ways-to-love-your-liver/ “25 Ways to Love Your Liver Health”). American Liver Foundation.

3. Use Medicines Responsibly

Too many chemicals can be harmful for your liver. Therefore, avoid taking medicines unnecessarily. Also stick to the recommended dosage while taking prescription and even non-prescription medicines. It is important to check with your doctor before mixing medicines or herbal supplements. And you should never mix alcohol with medicines.[6][25 Ways to Love Your Liver Health](https://liverfoundation.org/25-ways-to-love-your-liver/ “25 Ways to Love Your Liver Health”). American Liver Foundation.

4. Maintain A Healthy Weight

Research indicates that there is a direct link between obesity and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). If your liver is healthy, it should ideally have little to no fat.

NAFLD is used to describe a set of conditions that develop due to fat building up in the liver. While in the early stages this condition doesn’t usually cause harm, in time it can result in serious liver damage. It is also linked to an increased risk for conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and kidney disease.[7][Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)](https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/non-alcoholic-fatty-liver-disease/ “Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)”).NHS,UK.

It’s important to maintain a healthy weight to keep your liver healthy. That is, your body mass index (BMI) should ideally be between 18.5 to 24.9.[8][Obesity](https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/obesity/ “Obesity”).NHS,UK.

If you’re overweight, take steps to lose the extra pounds. Experts suggest that losing approximately 5% of your body weight can reduce the fat in your liver, while losing between 7 to 10 percent can reduce injury to liver cells and inflammation. But remember, slow and steady is the way to go when it comes to weight loss. Aim to lose between 1 to 2 pounds in a week. Rapid weight loss may actually worsen fibrosis (scarring of tissue) and inflammation.[9][Fatty liver disease: What it is and what to do about it](https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/fatty-liver-disease-what-it-is-and-what-to-do-about-it-2019011015746 “Fatty liver disease: What it is … Continue reading

5. Have A Wholesome Healthy Diet

A healthy balanced diet doesn’t just benefit your overall health, it is good for your liver, too. Some research indicates that adopting the Mediterranean diet can help reduce the fat in your liver. The Mediterranean diet recommends eating more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. It includes healthy fats like canola oil and olive oil while limiting saturated fats like butter. It also suggests that you have more lean poultry and fish and limit the amount of red meat that you consume.[10][Fatty liver disease: What it is and what to do about it](https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/fatty-liver-disease-what-it-is-and-what-to-do-about-it-2019011015746 “Fatty liver disease: What it is … Continue reading

6. Add Foods That Promote Liver Health

While having a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is generally good for your liver, some foods can be particularly beneficial. Here are a few foods that you might want to add to a healthy balanced diet:

  • Carrots – antioxidant properties
  • Collard greens – anti-inflammatory properties
  • Kale – lowers cholesterol and fat
  • Sweet potato – helps with liver injury
  • Yams – inhibits hepatomegaly (abnormal enlargement of the liver)
  • Cabbage – helps counter the harmful effects of alcohol
  • Banana – helps with cirrhosis (liver damage associated with scarring of liver tissue)
  • Cherry – antioxidant properties
  • Fig – anti-fatty liver properties
  • Lemon – reduces liver damage
  • Barley – anti-fatty liver properties
  • Brown rice – anti-inflammatory properties
  • Oats – antioxidant properties[11]Guan, Yong-Song, and Qing He. “Plants consumption and liver health.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2015 (2015).[https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4499388/ ]
Precaution:

Do take into account any food allergies or intolerances that you have before adding any food to your diet.

7. Wash Vegetables And Fruits

Pesticide residue in fruits and vegetables can be very toxic for your liver. Washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly can reduce your exposure to pesticides.[12][Fighting Fatty Liver](https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2021/10/fighting-fatty-liver “ Fighting Fatty Liver”). National Institutes of Health.

8. Exercise Regularly

Exercise has been found to have a direct impact on the liver. In fact, studies have found that exercise leads to a decrease in liver fat even when overall weight loss is not achieved. Both aerobic exercise and resistance (or strength) training have been found to be beneficial for the liver.[13]van der Windt, Dirk J., Vikas Sud, Hongji Zhang, Allan Tsung, and Hai Huang. “The effects of physical exercise on fatty liver disease.” Gene expression 18, no. 2 (2018): 89. Experts suggest that healthy adults should:

  • Perform strengthening activities which work your major muscle groups such as hips, legs, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders and arms, on a minimum of 2 days a week. Muscle strengthening activities include working with resistance bands, pilates, yoga, push ups, sit ups, lifting weights, etc.
  • Perform a minimum or 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity in a week. Activities with moderate level intensity include brisk walking, water aerobics, riding a bike, dancing, hiking etc. Activities with vigorous levels of intensity should make you breathe fast and hard. Some examples include, running, swimming, aerobics, gymnastics, skipping etc.

It is best to spread your quota of weekly exercise evenly over the week or 4-5 days of the week. [14][Exercise](https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/ “Exercise”). NHS,UK.

9. Have A Pitta-Pacifying Diet

According to ayurveda, the best way of keeping your liver healthy is by keeping pitta dosha in balance. Having a pitta-pacifying diet in summer is considered to be beneficial. This can include foods like juicy fruits, cooked greens, summer squashes, grains, lassi, etc. Pungent foods such as chilies, salty foods, and fermented or sour foods such as vinegar are considered to be harmful especially for people whose basic constitution is dominated by pitta. Even small quantities of alcohol needs to be avoided, especially by people with a pitta constitution in the summer. Meanwhile, starting the day with a stewed pear or apple or biting into an uncooked juicy fruit is thought to help soothe pitta and cleanse the liver.[15][Ayurvedic Perspective of Liver](https://www.nhp.gov.in/ayurvedic-perspective-of-liver_mtl “Ayurvedic Perspective of Liver”). National Health Portal.

10. Adopt Lifestyle Measures That Pacify Pitta

Ayurveda advocates many lifestyle measures which are considered to be helpful in balancing pitta.

  • Don’t delay or skip meals.
  • The period between 10 pm to 2 am is considered to be a pitta period. Staying awake at this time is thought to increase pitta dosha and hamper the liver from performing essential functions. So early to bed and early to rise is a good policy to follow.
  • Make sure you get adequate sleep. Lack of sleep has been linked to weight gain as well as negative emotions such as anger. Both these factors are indicative of an imbalance in the liver.
  • Take steps to manage negative emotions and stress. Practicing yoga, particularly meditation can help prevent stress. Negative emotions are thought to flood your liver with toxins and hamper its optimal functioning.[16][Ayurvedic Perspective of Liver](https://www.nhp.gov.in/ayurvedic-perspective-of-liver_mtl “Ayurvedic Perspective of Liver”). National Health Portal.
11. Get Sufficient Sleep

In Ayurveda a good night’s sleep is considered to be important for the health of the liver. And this is backed up by scientific research too. One study found that men and women who slept for 5 hours a night had a greater risk for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) when compared to those who got 7 hours of sleep per night.[17]Okamura, Takuro, Yoshitaka Hashimoto, Masahide Hamaguchi, Akihiro Obora, Takao Kojima, and Michiaki Fukui. “Short sleep duration is a risk of incident nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: a … Continue reading But this relationship is not unidirectional. Problems with your liver can also lead to poor sleep since the liver plays an important role in regulating hormones such as melatonin which impact sleep.[18]Marin-Alejandre, Bertha Araceli, Itziar Abete, Irene Cantero, Jose I. Riezu-Boj, Fermín I. Milagro, J. Ignacio Monreal, Mariana Elorz et al. “Association between sleep disturbances and liver … Continue reading

References

References
1 [Liver: Anatomy and Functions](https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/liver-anatomy-and-functions “Liver: Anatomy and Functions”). John Hopkins Medicine.
2 [Liver Diseases](https://medlineplus.gov/liverdiseases.html “Liver Diseases”). U.S. National Library of Medicine.
3, 15, 16 [Ayurvedic Perspective of Liver](https://www.nhp.gov.in/ayurvedic-perspective-of-liver_mtl “Ayurvedic Perspective of Liver”). National Health Portal.
4 Alcohol-related liver disease/Pages/Introduction.aspx “Alcohol-related liver disease”). National Health Service.
5, 6 [25 Ways to Love Your Liver Health](https://liverfoundation.org/25-ways-to-love-your-liver/ “25 Ways to Love Your Liver Health”). American Liver Foundation.
7 [Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)](https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/non-alcoholic-fatty-liver-disease/ “Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)”).NHS,UK.
8 [Obesity](https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/obesity/ “Obesity”).NHS,UK.
9, 10 [Fatty liver disease: What it is and what to do about it](https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/fatty-liver-disease-what-it-is-and-what-to-do-about-it-2019011015746 “Fatty liver disease: What it is and what to do about it”). Harvard Health Publishing.
11 Guan, Yong-Song, and Qing He. “Plants consumption and liver health.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2015 (2015).
12 [Fighting Fatty Liver](https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2021/10/fighting-fatty-liver “ Fighting Fatty Liver”). National Institutes of Health.
13 van der Windt, Dirk J., Vikas Sud, Hongji Zhang, Allan Tsung, and Hai Huang. “The effects of physical exercise on fatty liver disease.” Gene expression 18, no. 2 (2018): 89.
14 [Exercise](https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/ “Exercise”). NHS,UK.
17 Okamura, Takuro, Yoshitaka Hashimoto, Masahide Hamaguchi, Akihiro Obora, Takao Kojima, and Michiaki Fukui. “Short sleep duration is a risk of incident nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: a population-based longitudinal study.” Journal of Gastrointestinal & Liver Diseases 28, no. 1 (2019).
18 Marin-Alejandre, Bertha Araceli, Itziar Abete, Irene Cantero, Jose I. Riezu-Boj, Fermín I. Milagro, J. Ignacio Monreal, Mariana Elorz et al. “Association between sleep disturbances and liver status in obese subjects with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: a comparison with healthy controls.” Nutrients 11, no. 2 (2019): 322.

Disclaimer: The information on this website is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. For more information pertaining to your personal needs please see a qualified health practitioner.

About the Author

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Dr. Aswathy E.S. (KAA Expert)

Dr. Aswathy has 10+ years of experience as an Ayurvedic consultant and medical officer in different nursing homes and hospitals. She has a deep knowledge of classical texts, Ayurvedic treatments, and Panchkarma. Dr. Aswathy is proficient in diagnosis through traditional Ayurvedic means and plans treatment that is specific to an individual’s constitution.

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