and toxins we consume, and no mechanism for processing digested food from the intestine. Our livers produce bile, store iron and vitamins, break down food and turn it into energy, produce and regulate many of our hormones (including sex hormones), and produce enzymes and proteins that heal our wounds and clot our blood. That’s a lot to expect from one organ. It is, therefore, no surprise that scientists in the 19th century didn’t know what to do when something went wrong. At that time, an engorged or swollen liver was known as ‘congested liver” and thought to be caused by emotional disturbances, overeating, sedentary habits, and menopause. In the same era, doctors were studying “corset liver” or “tight-laced liver,” a condition blamed for dyspeptic symptoms and abdominal pain and believed to be caused by the tight corsets or belts that were fashionable female attire at the time. Treatment included bowel evacuation and bandaging the abdomen with elastic. More information on Multaq Those early researchers weren’t entirely wrong. Today we know that the wedge-shaped liver, located in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen, is susceptible to many more influences than tight clothing. The liver is the recipient of every substance we ingest, from cigarette smoke, to toothpaste, to key lime pie—and even materials we absorb through our skin, including pollution and sunscreen. Blood feeds the liver through the portal vein and hepatic artery (the word hepatic means “liver”), and exits through the hepatic vein. But the liver is also crisscrossed with a dense network of smaller blood vessels and bile ducts. Bile is a greenish, bitter, salty mixture that carries toxins out of the liver and digests fats. It is produced in liver cells (hepatocytes) and is released into the duodenum, or small intestine, where it helps digestion. Bile is stored in the gallbladder until we eat a fatty food, then the gallbladder receives the signal to squirt its content of bile into the intestines through the bile ducts to break down the fats. Information from other sources on Multaq
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