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Liver (Yakrut in Ayurveda) : The abode of Pitta Dosha

Updated: Apr 11

The word yakrut is the combination of Sanskrit words “ya” and “krut.” Ya denotes “Activity” and krut denotes several meanings such as “to breakdown”.



The liver is the abode of the Pitta entity and regulates the functioning of optimal digestive fire, or Agni


HISTORY OF YAKRIT

Vedic period


In Vedic literature, our ancient Acharyas have identified the organ of Yakrit as well as the connected disease with their treatment.

  • The description of liver was found in Veda, Susruta Samhita, Charaka Samhita andAstang Hrudaya.

  • In Vedas, Liver is named as “Takima” or “Yakna”. Other synonyms are Kalakhanda, Jyotisthana, Yakrit khanda, Yakrit Pinda, Raktadhara and Raktashaya are found in the ancient literature for Liver.

  • Sushruta explains that fetal nutrition usually depends on Ahara Rasa (it is the nutrient substance or essence of food in elemental form that is obtained through the digestive process). The Ahara Rasa is first received by Jyotisthana, which further nourishes the whole body. Therefore, Jyotisthana is perceived as “liver”.

  • Yakrit is mentioned in Charaka Samhita in the treatment of plihodara (splenomegaly)

  • Acharya Vagbhata has used the word, Yakrit Khanda with regards to the description of diseases which is indication for the “lobes of liver” In Ashtanga Hridaya

  • In Rigveda, the term Harima, Haritha and Vilohitatwa denote the Kamala disease (Jaundice).

  • There are references about the use of sun rays to dispel the diseases and the yellow color of the skin.

  • The use of milk of the red colored cows in Yakrita rogas (Liver diseases) is also described in the veda.

  • The cure of the disease with the help of water, sun rays and with some herbs is described in Vedas.




Functions

In Ayurveda, the role of liver is explained in relation to pathogens (dosha), tissues (dhatu) and its development, muscle (mamsa), heart (hridya), blood (rakta), respiration (pranavaha srotas), and excretion (mala). The liver may be affected in the diseases involving these systems.


  • Liver is considered as the largest organ of the body engaged in the activity of breaking down. Yakrut is also known for “restoration” because it helps bring back damaged body tissues to a normal physiological state.

  • Liver, the cone-shaped reddish brown organ in the body performs an array of functions from helping in metabolism, digestion, detoxification to storage of essential nutrients.

  • The largest internal organ in the body, the liver , is constantly filtering and purifying the blood.

  • It also creates vital hormones and enzymes, breaks down and conserves fatigued blood cells, and controls glucose storage.

  • Again the liver and spleen are considered as the root of Rakta Vaha Srotas (blood channels). So the liver is very much important in all diseases concerned with Rakta(blood) Vata & Pitta Vaha Srotas (channels).

  • The liver has to be detoxed often to enhance its effectiveness in maintaining the body's equilibrium.


Each of us has a unique set of characteristics and varied innate constitutions. Following and knowing what is right for your Prakriti (Body Type) is equally important for optimal Liver health.




Modern View


In modern medicine, through its involvement in the metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids and proteins, the liver is known to play a central role in maintaining metabolic homeostasis.


  • Liver metabolizes carbohydrates, protein, fat, thyroxine (to active triiodothyronine), bilirubin, insulin, medicines,hormones (e.g., prednisone to prednisolone), aldosterone and vitamins. (It converts sugar into glycogen, carbohydrates and proteins into fats, toxic ammonia into nontoxic urea, etc).

  • It also synthesizes plasma proteins (e.g., albumin), clotting factors (eg, fibrinogen), cholesterol, glucose, bile, amino acids and urea.

  • It stores fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) and glycogen and regulates blood sugar. It is responsible for detoxification and elimination of various toxins, carcinogens, nitrogen-containing waste products, and alcohol.

  • The most important function of liver is Immunity (the liver contains over half of the body’s macrophages)


Common Liver conditions:

  • Jaundice

  • Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis D, Hepatitis E

  • Fatty liver disease

  • Autoimmune conditions

  • Genetic conditions

  • Drug-induced liver disease

  • Liver Cancer

  • Liver Cirrhosis

  • Liver Failure


NIDANA

(Etiological factors)


  1. Vidahi ahara The food substances which causes internal burning sensation (spicy, hot and pungent foods) i.e. kulattha (Horse gram) masha(black lentil), sarshapa shaaka (mustard leaves), Alcohol etc.

  2. Abhishyandi ahara : The food which causes obstruction to the srotas by secretion & which causes Kapha prakopa like dadhi (Curd) of Maheesha kshira (Buffalo milk). Consuming Milk and Seafood together

  3. Other Causative factors :

    • Heavy alcohol use

    • Obesity

    • Diabetes

    • Sedentary Lifestyle

    • Exposure to certain chemicals or toxins

    • Family history of liver disease



Pathogenesis of Yakrit vikara

(Liver Disease in Ayurveda)


  1. There are contributory factors mainly responsible for a disease, namely

    1. Dosha (three bio energies)

    2. Dhatu (body tissues)

    3. Agni (digestive power)

    4. Ama(metabolic wats/toxins)

    5. Sroto vaigunya (disturbance in the channels of circulation)

  • All the etiological factors, irrespective of their nature, vitiate one or the other Doshas.

  • The etiological factors like Vidahi Ahara (spicy, hot and pungent foods) and Abhishyandi Ahara (foods that cause obstruction in various circulatory channels) vitiate pitta Dosha and Kapha Dosha respectively.

  • Because Liver is the seat of Pitta dosha, Pitta-based problems of skin inflammation can be a direct result of liver imbalance.

  • It can affect the blood and skin and result in inflammatory problems such as skin breakouts, acne, cold sores, including psoriasis, Eczema.

  • The vitiated Vata results in visamagni (erratic agni ) whereas Pitta and Kapha leads to mandagni (diminished Agni), which further vitiates Kapha.

  • The mandagni or vishamagni thus further vitiate the Doshas and then lead to formation of Ama (partially metabolized food/Toxins)

  • Ama further adds to Mandagni, leads to Srotorodha (obstruction of channels) at one side, Dhatudushti like Rasadushti and Raktadushti on other side.

  • The Srotorodha in Yakrit leads to Doshadhushya Sammurchana (amalgamation of Doshas with weak and susceptible tissue).

  • Pitta Prakopa directly leads to Rakta Dushti (Vitiation of blood).

  • These pathological changes lead to the manifestation of diseases in Yakrit (Liver).


Almost all the types of Sroto Dushti Prakaras are seen in different Yakrit rogas.



Some examples:

  • Toxins stored in the liver can lead to allergic conditions, Hypercholesterolemia, hypoglycemia, constipation, digestive problems, or fatigue.

  • If the imbalance continues for a longer duration, serious diseases of the liver, including hepatitis, cirrhosis, jaundice and cancer, may develop.



Types & Symptoms:

SYMPTOMS

Vata Type

(low digestive fire/less appetite)

upward movement of Vata leading to pain

Constant pain around the umbilical region

Pitta Type

Fever

Thirst

Burning sensation in the body

Hallucination

Yellowish discoloration of skin,eyes

Kapha Type

Mild aches/Pains

Bulkiness

Heaviness

Lack of desire to eat





Diagnosis in Ayurveda

On the basis of eight fold examination (Ashtavidha Pariksha)


  • On the basis of characteristics of nadi (Pulse)

  • On the basis of color of Mala(Feces)

  • On the basis of characteristic of Mutra (Urine)

  • On the basis of the characteristics of Jihwa (Tongue).

  • On the basis of characteristic of Shabda (Sounds)

  • On the basis of characteristic of Sparsha (Palpation)

  • On The Basis Of Characteristic Of Drika (Eyes)

  • On The Basis Of Characteristic Of Akriti (Appearance)




Common Symptoms of Liver dysfunction


In a person with any liver disorders, the body starts showing milder symptoms which usually might go unnoticed in the initial phase.


The symptoms include :

  • Yellowish discolouration of eyes and the skin (Jaundice)

  • Ankle and leg swelling,

  • Urine discolouration turning it to a darker shade

  • Stool discolourations to a paler shade

  • Itchy Skin

  • Abdominal pain

  • Persistent fatigue

  • Vomiting or Nausea

  • Loss of Appetite etc.



Balancing the Liver functions through Ayurveda


The medicinal plants having rechana (purgative), mutrala(diuretics), vata samaka, agni vardhak (carminative), ama, meda and kapha nashak qualities are preferable for hepatobiliary disorders.



Diet

  • According to Ayurveda, changing the diet to include herbs and organic fiber-rich food, most importantly freshly cooked ones that are devoid of any kind of preservatives.

  • Foods that are laced with preservatives and chemicals or processed or left over, should be avoided becauses, liver has to work overtime to filter out the toxins which, eventually affect the health of the liver.

  • Alcohol is well-proven to be the cause of cirrhosis and needs to be avoided even in small doses by the Pitta constitution in the summer season.

  • Smoking aggravates pitta and is capable of damaging liver health in no time.

  • Include food that is bitter in taste as it causes gastric juice to be secreted that can help tone muscles of the digestive tract and supports detoxification.

  • Including food that are alkaline and have cooling effect to the body are also found beneficial for balancing the liver functions.

  • Vegetables and fruits such as carrots, greens, beetroot and apples are also found to be good for liver health.

  • Eat a Pitta-pacifying diet in summer for example, sweet, juicy fruits, summer squashes, cooked greens, sweet milk products, lassi, and grains.

  • Sour or fermented foods like vinegar, pungent like chili, and salty foods are harmful especially for the persons having a lot of Pitta in basic constitution.

  • Regular intake of herbs like Neem, Aloe Vera (Ghrita Kumari), Kutki / Katuki (Bitterroot), Amla, Turmeric, Bitter Gourd (Karvela), Punarnava are beneficial for Liver health.

  • Make sure to drink enough water to help the body flush out toxins.



Laxatives

  • Ayurveda treatment for liver disorder is based on detoxifying the body and the most effective method to have a toxic flush is through laxatives.

  • As pitta usually accumulates in the large intestine, it can be removed from the body completely only by a laxative induced bowel movement.

  • Triphala is a good mild laxative which can be used to help cleanse toxins on regular basis


Fasting

  • Including fasting as a part of lifestyle will help the liver with the much needed time it needs to decongest and detoxify itself.

  • While fasting, we can support the liver by consuming fresh juices in between.


Tonics/Supplements


In Ayurveda, there are different herbs that have exhibited their effectiveness in supporting and protecting liver functions and reversing liver damages caused due to chemical toxicity.


  1. Triphala: Triphala also helps in the proper functioning of the liver.

  2. Turmeric : It is also an excellent remedy for liver disorders owing to its anti-inflammatory action

  3. Bhumyamalaki : It is the supreme medication for all liver disorders, according to Ayurvedic classics

  4. Indian Ginseng: Ashwagandha, as called in Sanskrit, is a potent ayurvedic herb that helps restore liver balance.

These need to be included as a part of your lifestyle based on advice from your Ayurveda practitioner.


Lifestyle


  • Do not skip or delay your meals, which help in balancing Pitta.

  • In the evening, it is preferable to dine early and sleep before 10:00 PM.

  • Pitta time of evening starts from 10:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m., and awakening during this time will increase Pitta dosha and prevent the liver from performing its essential functions.

  • Also, lack of sleep has been shown to disturb metabolism of glucose, resulting in weight gain. It also has been linked to an increase in anger. Both of these symptoms are indicative of liver imbalance due to insomnia.

  • Meditation reduces mental Ama, prevents stress and helps in optimum liver function.

  • Negative emotions create hormones that flood to the liver with toxins.

  • Take proper care to balance your liver function which helps in generating more energy and stronger immunity.




YOGA ADVISED


The practice of yoga offers improvement of overall health and a relaxed outlook of life by making the mind peaceful and happy with improvement in liver function.

  • Pranayama

  • Kapalbhati

  • Paschimottanasana

  • Ardhamatsyendrasan

  • Dhanurasana

  • Mandukasana


 




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