Consequences of a Dysfunctional Liver

The healthy liver regulates fat metabolism and is the major fat-burning organ in the body.

Indeed the healthy liver not only burns fat, it can pump excessive fat out of your body through the bile into the gut. Thus, if your liver is healthy you will not have much difficulty in controlling your weight.

Conversely a liver which is fatty is doing the opposite of what it should be doing. A fatty liver is storing fat when it should be burning fat and removing excess fat from your body.

Indeed a fatty liver becomes a warehouse for fat and if it is allowed to progress for many years, the liver may finally become just a “bag of fat” with dire consequences for your health and longevity. 

Symptoms associated with liver dysfunction

Abnormal metabolism of fats

  • Abnormalities in the level of fats in the blood stream.  For example; elevated LDL cholesterol and reduced HDL cholesterol and elevated triglycerides.
  • Arteries blocked with fat, leading to high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes.
  • Build up of fat in other body organs (fatty degeneration of organs).
  • Lumps of fat in the skin (lipomas and other fatty tumors).
  • Excessive weight gain, which may lead to obesity.
  • Inability to lose weight even while dieting.
  • Sluggish metabolism.
  • Protuberant abdomen (pot belly).
  • Cellulite.
  • Fatty liver.
  • Roll of fat around the upper abdomen – (liver roll).

Digestive problems

  • Indigestion.
  • Reflux.
  • Haemorrhoids.
  • Gallstones and gallbladder disease.
  • Intolerance to fatty foods.
  • Intolerance to alcohol.
  • Nausea and vomiting attacks.
  • Abdominal bloating.
  • Constipation.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Pain over the liver – (upper right corner of abdomen & lower right rib cage).

Blood sugar problems

  • Craving for sugar.
  • Hypoglycaemia and unstable blood sugar levels.
  • Mature onset diabetes (Type 2) is common in those with a fatty liver.

Nervous system

  • Depression.
  • Mood changes such as anger and irritability.
  • Metaphysically the liver is known as the “seat of anger”.
  • Poor concentration and “foggy brain”.
  • Overheating of the body, especially the face and torso.
  • Recurrent headaches (including migraine) associated with nausea.

Immune dysfunction

  • Allergies – sinusitis, hay fever, asthma, dermatitis, hives, etc.
  • Multiple food and chemical sensitivities.
  • Skin rashes and inflammations.
  • Increased risk of autoimmune diseases.
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
  • Fibromyalgia.
  • Increase in recurrent viral, bacterial and parasitic infections.

External signs

  • Coated tongue.
  • Bad breath.
  • Skin rashes.
  • Itchy skin (pruritus).
  • Excessive sweating.
  • Offensive body odour.
  • Dark circles under the eyes.
  • Yellow discoloration of the eyes.
  • Red, swollen, itchy eyes (allergic eyes).
  • Acne rosacea – (red pimples around the nose, cheeks and chin).
  • Brownish spots and blemishes on the skin (liver spots).
  • Red palms and soles which may also be itchy and inflamed.
  • Flushed facial appearance or excessive facial blood vessels (capillaries/ veins).

Hormonal Imbalance

  • Intolerance to hormone replacement therapy or the contraceptive pill (eg. side effects)
  • Menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes may be more severe.
  • Premenstrual syndrome may be more severe.


All of the above symptoms are common manifestations of a dysfunctional liver. However, they can also be due to other causes, of a more sinister nature, so, in all cases of persistent symptoms it is vital to see your doctor.



Liver dysfunction is different to liver disease in that the liver has not yet sustained permanent or sufficient damage to cause gross impairment of its vital functions.


In those with a dysfunctional liver, the routine blood tests of liver function are generally normal. A dysfunctional liver is not working efficiently, and is overloaded, toxic or sluggish. Liver dysfunction is much more common than liver disease, and may be a forerunner to liver disease.

Even if the level of dysfunction is only slight, it will still have a negative impact on your immune system and energy levels.


Many people suffer with the symptoms and signs of a dysfunctional liver for years, and yet the treating doctor or naturopath does not recognize the significance of these symptoms.



The result is that the symptoms get treated while the underlying problem of an overloaded, toxic and inefficient liver is ignored or only partially treated.

Inevitably, the patient’s symptoms deteriorate, and increasing doses of drugs such as antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medication, immune-suppressants, pain killers, cholesterol lowering drugs etc, are needed.

The full range of symptoms indicative of “dysfunctional liver syndrome” can only be defined after a study of Eastern and Western medical disciplines.

Chinese doctors have long considered the liver to be the most important organ in the body and indeed they call the liver, the “General of the Army” of the body. The liver is considered by some to be the most strategic organ in the body, because by improving its function we are able to help many other body systems


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