How The Liver Works


Weighing in at just over one kilogram, the liver is a complex chemical factory that works 24 hours a day. It processes virtually everything you eat, drink, breathe in or rub on your skin and that’s just some of its over 500 different functions vital to life.

Every day, your liver helps your body by providing it with energy, fighting off infections and toxins, helping clot the blood, regulating hormones and much, much more. To give you an idea of the liver’s critical roles, here is a partial list of its functions:

Cleanses blood:

  • metabolizing alcohol and other drugs and chemicals,
  • neutralizing and destroying poisonous substances.

Regulates the supply of body fuel:

  • producing, storing and supplying quick energy (glucose) to keep the mind alert and the body active,
  • producing, storing and exporting fat.

Manufactures many essential body proteins involved in:

  • transporting substances in the blood,
  • clotting of blood,
  • providing resistance to infection.

Regulates the balance of many hormones:

  • sex hormones,
  • thyroid hormones,
  • cortisone and other adrenal hormones.

Regulates body cholesterol

  • produces cholesterol, excrets and converts it to other essential substances.

Regulates the supply of essential vitamins and minerals such as iron and copper.

Produces bile which eliminates toxic substances from the body and aids digestion.

Liver Facts


  • The liver is the largest internal and most metabolically complex organ in humans.
  • The liver performs over 500 different functions including fighting off infection, neutralizing toxins, manufacturing proteins and hormones, controlling blood sugar and helping to clot the blood.
  • The liver is the only organ that can regenerate itself thus making it possible for one person to donate part of their liver to another person. When a portion of the liver is transplanted, the donor’s liver will regenerate back to its original size while the transplanted portion will grow to the appropriate size for the recipient.
  • The Greek word for liver is ‘hepar’ -­ that’s why medical terms related to the liver often start in ‘hepato’- or ‘hepatic’.
  • At any one time, the liver contains about 10% of the blood in your body and it pumps about 1.4 litres through per minute.
  • Dr. Thomas E. Starzl performed the first human liver transplant in 1963 at the University of Colorado Medical School; however, lack of effective immunosuppressive drugs limited the success. Four years later, the availability of more effective immunosuppressives enabled Dr. Starzl to perform the first successful liver transplant.
  • The first liver transplant in Canada was performed by Dr. Pierre Daloze in Montreal, Quebec in 1970.
  • For the Greeks, the liver was considered the seat of the emotions. They practised something called ‘hepatoscopy’ which involved sacrificing oxen or goats and examining their livers to determine whether their military campaigns would succeed or fail. The Greeks viewed the liver as being the organ in closest contact with divinity.

@ Courtesy of Liver.Ca