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Fatigue and the Liver

How Are Liver Health and Fatigue Related?

Understanding the liver’s role in energy production clarifies how a compromised liver can result in fatigue. The liver is intimately involved in supplying the body with energy. As indicated above, the liver converts glucose into glycogen, storing it for later use. When the body needs energy, liver glycogen can release glucose to provide fuel for creating a burst of energy. Additionally, if the body is low in carbohydrates, the liver can manufacture more from fat or proteins.

By producing, storing and supplying the body with glucose, the liver is a key player in preventing fatigue. A liver unaffected by disease releases glucose between meals, or whenever the cells need nourishment and energy. While a healthy liver maintains a steady level of energy throughout the day, one hampered by disease has a reduced ability to produce glucose, and less space to store it.

For those will liver disease, the continued, long-term response of the immune system contributes to fatigue. The release of neurotransmitters (chemicals in the brain) is part of a healthy immune system response. When the body is physically or emotionally stressed, the immune system activates, causing the brain to release the appropriate substance for self-protection. Liver disease causes a chronic, uncontrollable stress to the patient, weakening the immune system and decreasing the release of certain neurotransmitters.

Cabot, M.D., Sandra. The Liver Cleansing Diet. Arizona: S.C.B. International Inc., 2002.

Hepatitis-Central. “Working With Your Liver’s Clock Benefits Hepatitis C” http://www.hepatitis-central.com/mt/archives/2010/07/working_with_yo.html. Retrieved October 8, 2010.

Hepatitis-Central. “Fatigue and Hepatitis C” http://www.hepatitis-central.com/mt/archives/2007/04/fatigue_and_hep.html. Retrieved October 22, 2010.

MayoClinic. "Fatigue" http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fatigue/MY00120/DSECTION=causes. Retrieved October 22, 2010.

Medicinenet. “Fatigue” http://www.medicinenet.com/fatigue/article.htm. Retrieved October 22, 2010.

Palmer, M.D., Melissa. Dr. Melissa Palmer’s Guide to Hepatitis & Liver Disease. New York: Avery Trade, 2004.

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