Human Liver

Human Liver – Structure, Function, Anatomy & Facts

The liver is one of the most vital organs in your body that performs a variety of complex functions to keep you healthy. It acts as a filter, breaks down nutrients from food, stores energy, and produces enzymes essential for digestion.

Despite being such an important organ, many people often overlook its significance when it comes to maintaining their overall health.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the structure and function of the human liver, and explore common liver diseases and their symptoms.

Will also discuss traditional Chinese medicine’s perspective on the liver’s role in our bodies, answer frequently asked questions about the liver, and provide tips on how to care for your liver through diet and lifestyle choices. 


What is the liver?

The liver is the largest internal organ in the human body, located on the right side of your abdomen. It has a reddish-brown color and weighs around three pounds.

The liver performs over 500 intricate functions that are essential to maintaining good health.

One of its primary functions is filtering blood as it flows through various parts of the body, which helps remove toxins and harmful substances from our system.

These toxins come from sources such as alcohol consumption, drug intake, or exposure to environmental pollutants.

The liver also plays a vital role in digestion by producing bile that breaks down fats into smaller molecules for easy absorption in our small intestine.

In addition to these functions, the liver stores glycogen (a form of glucose), vitamins, and minerals that are vital for energy production and cell growth.

Without this multifunctional organ working efficiently, we wouldn’t be able to survive long enough to enjoy life’s pleasures!


The liver’s structure

The liver is a vital organ that plays an essential role in the body’s metabolic processes. It is located in the upper right portion of your abdomen and weighs around three pounds.

The liver is a unique organ as it has two blood sources, one from the hepatic artery and another from the hepatic portal vein.

The liver’s structure consists of four lobes: right, left, caudate, and quadrate lobes.

All these lobes have their own specific functions to perform. The right lobe being the largest lobe performs most of its work while others contribute to different metabolic activities.

The primary cells found in the liver are hepatocytes responsible for producing bile which helps break down fats during digestion.

Kupffer cells are non-parenchymal cells that remove toxins like bacteria and old red blood cells from our bodies.

The outer covering of each lobe exhibits connective tissue called Glisson’s capsule which contains nerves and vascular structures running through them.

In addition to this complex internal structure, various vessels are playing a crucial role in supplying oxygenated blood throughout the organ such as veins (hepatic veins), arteries (hepatic artery) & lymphatics that carry lymph fluid containing immune system components helping defend against infections.

Understanding how each part contributes to overall function is essential when considering diseases affecting this important organ.


The liver’s function

The liver is an essential organ that performs numerous vital functions in our body. One of its primary roles is to detoxify the blood, removing harmful substances such as drugs, alcohol, and toxins from the body.

It also produces bile, a substance required for digestion.

The liver plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels by regulating glucose metabolism. It stores excess glucose as glycogen and releases it when needed to maintain optimal blood sugar levels.

Another important function of the liver is protein synthesis. The liver produces many proteins necessary for various physiological processes within the body, including clotting factors and albumin.

Moreover, the liver helps regulate cholesterol levels by producing and breaking down cholesterol as needed. Additionally, it metabolizes fats present in food into energy or stored fat.

The liver plays a critical role in immune function by filtering out bacteria and other pathogens from entering our bloodstream through the gut. These functions highlight just how vital this organ is to our overall health and well-being!


Liver diseases

Liver diseases are a group of conditions that affect the proper functioning of the liver. These diseases can range from minor, temporary ailments to severe, chronic illnesses that require medical attention.

Some common types of liver disease include hepatitis, cirrhosis, fatty liver disease, and liver cancer.

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver caused by a viral infection or exposure to harmful chemicals. The most common forms are hepatitis A, B, and C.

Symptoms may vary depending on the type but can include fever, fatigue, and jaundice.

Cirrhosis is a condition in which scar tissue replaces healthy tissue in the liver over time. This can lead to serious complications such as portal hypertension and hepatic encephalopathy.

Fatty liver disease occurs when fat builds up in the liver cells due to poor diet or excessive alcohol consumption. This can lead to inflammation and scarring of the organ over time.

Liver cancer is one of the most deadly forms of cancer as it often goes undetected until it has spread throughout other parts of the body.

Risk factors for developing this type of cancer include chronic viral hepatitis infections and excessive alcohol use.

It’s important to understand that many different factors contribute to these diseases including genetics, lifestyle choices like heavy drinking or drug abuse, obesity, etc.

Early detection through regular check-ups with your doctor helps prevent further damage leading towards any irreversible consequences!


The Liver in Traditional Chinese Medicine

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the liver is believed to be responsible for the smooth flow of Qi, or life energy, throughout the body.

The liver is also associated with emotions such as anger and frustration. When there is an imbalance in the liver, it can result in physical symptoms such as headaches and menstrual irregularities.

According to TCM, certain foods can help support liver health. These include bitter greens like dandelion and arugula, which are thought to stimulate bile production and improve digestion.

Other recommended foods include garlic, onions, ginger, turmeric, and green tea.

In addition to dietary changes, TCM practitioners may recommend acupuncture or herbal remedies to help support liver function.

Acupuncture involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body to promote healing and balance while herbal remedies may include ingredients like milk thistle or schisandra berries which are known for their hepatoprotective properties.

TCM offers a holistic approach towards supporting liver health by addressing diet, emotional well-being, and physical symptoms through various natural therapies that have been used for centuries.


About liver transplant & when it is required?

In some cases, when liver diseases have progressed to an advanced stage and the liver is no longer functioning properly, a liver transplant may be necessary.

This involves removing the diseased liver and replacing it with a healthy one from a donor.

 Liver transplants are typically reserved for individuals who have end-stage liver disease or acute liver failure. In most cases, this procedure can be life-saving and greatly improve the quality of life for those in need.


FAQs about the liver

Here are some FAQs about the liver:


  • What does the liver do?

The liver is responsible for filtering toxins and waste from your body, producing bile to aid in digestion, storing nutrients such as vitamins and iron, regulating blood sugar levels, and producing proteins that help with blood clotting.


  • Can you live without a liver?

No, you cannot survive without a functioning liver. However, if part of your liver is removed or damaged due to injury or disease, it can regenerate itself over time.


  • What causes liver damage?

Liver damage can be caused by various factors including excessive alcohol consumption, viral infections (such as hepatitis B and C), obesity, drugs and medications (including acetaminophen), and autoimmune diseases like primary biliary cirrhosis or primary sclerosing cholangitis.


  • How can I keep my liver healthy?

You can take care of your liver by maintaining a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables while avoiding excess alcohol intake and fatty foods. Exercise regularly to maintain a healthy weight since obesity is one of the leading causes of fatty liver disease.



  • Can certain medications harm my liver?


Yes! Certain medications like pain relievers (acetaminophen) when taken in high doses over long periods of time have been known to cause severe damage to the liver leading up to acute toxicity which may progress rapidly into multiple organ failure


  •  What are the symptoms of Liver Damage?

Symptoms include fatigue, digestive problems, and yellowish skin/eyes among others


  • How to take care of your liver?

 The liver is a vital organ responsible for detoxifying the body, producing bile to aid in the digestion and metabolism of nutrients. Taking care of your liver is crucial for overall health and well-being.

Firstly, maintaining a healthy weight through proper nutrition and exercise can reduce the risk of liver disease.

Consuming a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins along with minimizing alcohol intake can help improve liver function.

 Secondly, avoiding high-risk behaviors such as drug use or unprotected sex that increase the risk of contracting hepatitis B or C viruses that cause liver damage is also important.

And, staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water helps flush toxins out from the body while reducing stress on the liver.

Regular check-ups with your healthcare provider can detect early signs of any potential problems and prevent further damage to your liver.

Taking care of your liver should be an essential part of your self-care routine because it plays a significant role in overall health.


  • Food that is bad for the liver?

The liver is one of the most important organs in our body and it plays a crucial role in detoxifying harmful substances from the bloodstream.

However, certain foods can put extra strain on the liver and hinder its normal functioning. Here are some types of food that are bad for the liver:

  1. Processed Foods: Processed foods such as fried snacks, canned goods, processed meats, and sugary drinks contain high levels of unhealthy fats, sugar, salt, and additives which add to the workload of your liver.
  2. Alcohol: Excessive consumption of alcohol can cause inflammation in the liver leading to scarring or cirrhosis. It also increases blood pressure which further impacts your overall health.
  3. High-Fat Foods: Consuming too much fat puts an additional burden on your liver to process it leading to the accumulation of fats inside this vital organ.
  4. Salt-Rich Foods: Overconsumption of salty foods like chips, and fries leads to fluid retention causing swelling around ankles & abdomen. This makes it difficult for your already overworked liver to function properly.
  5. Raw Shellfish/Fish Containing Mercury: Some fish varieties including shellfish contain high amounts of toxins like mercury which is toxic when consumed frequently by humans leading to severe damage.


It’s essential that we limit our intake or avoid these kinds of food items altogether so that our livers remain healthy and fully functional!



Our livers play a vital role in maintaining good health. By taking care of our bodies through proper nutrition, exercise, and avoiding harmful substances like alcohol and drugs, we can help keep our livers functioning optimally for years to come.

However, if you suspect that you may have any issues related to your liver function or experience any symptoms associated with it such as yellowing of eyes/skin or abdominal pain – consult your doctor immediately!

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