Let’s talk about your Liver function!
Liver Detox is a controversial subject because medical doctors generally say “you can’t detox your liver because your Liver detoxifies itself”
This is true in a sense, but what we often fail to understand is that the Liver can become overloaded and poisoned with the very toxins it’s meant to process and start to break down, become diseased and even fail completely.
Detox supplements that address the entire digestive system indirectly support the Liver. By clearing undigested, built-up matter from the colon, an Ultimate Herbal Detox program with a high dose of herbs will reduce the amount of re-circulating waste substances straining the Liver. Our Ultimate Herbal Detox program has a specific range of herbs designed to specifically detox your Liver.
Liver disease is one of the major causes of morbidity and mortality across the world. According to the World Health Organization estimates, about 500 million people are living with chronic hepatitis infections resulting in the death of over one million people annually. Medicinal plants serve as a vital source of potentially useful new compounds for the development of effective therapy to combat Liver problems. (1)
What does your Liver do?
Weighing in at 1.5 kilos your Liver is the largest organ of your body. It is like a busy chemical-processing factory that performs over 500 functions for the body.
The healthy functioning of your Liver is vital to the continued life of your physical body.
The Liver is responsible for over 250 functions including:
- Breaking down and eliminating every toxic substance that enters your bloodstream
- Processing and sorting all the blood and nutrients returning from the digestive process
- Producing bile for digestion
- Balancing cholesterol
- Balancing your hormones
- Storage of some nutrients ready for the body to use
- Many metabolic processes, such as blood fluid and blood sugar balance
- Synthesizing substances essential for the immune system
The list goes on and truly testifies to the benefits of maintaining a healthy Liver.
The power of your Liver to regenerate is incredible. Even after 2/3 of a human Liver is removed it can grow back very quickly. Normal liver weight is reestablished within 8–15 days in humans. (19)
Benefits of a Healthy Liver
There is much you can do to improve your health, simply by giving a little TLC to your Liver.
If you have high cholesterol, then rather than taking a harmful statin drug, nurture your Liver! For a sluggish bowel, acne, poor immune system, bloating, or menopause supporting Liver function is key.
How about your immune system?
Let’s say you eat a healthy balanced diet with only occasional alcohol but suffer from frequent chest infections, headaches, or skin irritations.
Nothing to do with your Liver you think, until you connect to dots. You stay up too late at night then perhaps wake in the middle of the night. This is the time your Liver is the most active, dumping toxins and producing such things as natural killer cells for your immune system. However, an active liver requires you to be resting at this particular time so it can get to work.
If you wake during the nights sweating or feeling uncomfortable, tossing and turning, or getting hot feet then these are signs pointing to a disturbed Liver function.
Prevalence of Liver Disease
Hepatitis, an inflammatory disease of the liver, is commonly caused by drug intoxication or viral infection, with the latter being classified into types A, B, C, D, and E. According to the World Health Organization, 2 billion people worldwide have been infected by the hepatitis B virus (HBV), and among them, 350–400 million are chronic HBV carriers, and about 1 million deaths are caused by HBV infection every year. It is estimated that around 1.2 million and 3.2 million people in the USA are battling chronic hepatitis B and C, respectively, and more than 85,000 new cases of hepatitis are diagnosed each year.
In China, there are 93 million HBV carriers, and among them, 30 million are patients with chronic hepatitis B. (27)
There is a definite connection between liver toxicity resulting from the processed food industry and the use of pharmaceuticals to this rising tide of hepatitis.
The Hidden Danger of Pharmaceuticals
Many substances including medicinal drugs commonly thought to be safe are bombarding the Liver with the extra workload, acidity, inflammation, and tissue damage.
For example, thousands of people around the world think nothing of taking painkillers on a regular basis yet acetaminophen (paracetamol) toxicity is common. It is so dangerous it can completely destroy the Liver function if taken only slightly above the dose stated on the label. Known by various names in different countries this is paracetamol, Tylenol, and other over-the-counter cold and flu, fever, and pain remedies.
Experience shows that even when prescribed appropriately at the usual therapeutic dosage, paracetamol can be toxic to the Liver (hepatotoxic). (7)
In-fact Mortality rates from Paracetamol-induced liver failure has been approximated at 0.4% in overdose patients, translating to 300 deaths annually in the United States. Although toxic ingestions causing hepatic failure are usually in excess of 150 mg/kg, an increasing number of reports have arisen to suggest that lower doses of APAP may confer acute liver injury and liver failure. A so-called “therapeutic misadventure” phenomenon, as coined by Zimmerman et al., is becoming increasingly acknowledged, as some patients have presented with acute liver failure despite consumption of “safe” doses of Paracetamol.
Drug-induced liver injury (DILI) has become a leading cause of severe Liver disease in Western countries and therefore poses a major clinical and regulatory challenge. (18)
According to recent reports, oxidative stress plays a pivotal role in the initiation and progression of hepatic damage following insult to a variety of hepatotoxins. The role of oxidative stress in viral hepatitis and autoimmune-related Liver diseases has been extensively documented. Moreover hepatotoxic chemicals damage liver cells. (1)
The Liver is the largest and most vital organ of the human body. Besides its crucial role in the metabolism of nutrients, the Liver is responsible for the biotransformation of drugs and chemicals thereby protecting the body against toxic foreign materials. In this process, the Liver is exposed to a high concentration of toxic chemicals and their metabolites which may cause Liver injury.
There are more than a hundred well-known Liver diseases with diversified pathology. The most frequent causes of hepatic disease include infectious agents (especially hepatitis viral A, B, and C), obesity-related fatty Liver disease, xenobiotics (alcohol, drugs, and chemicals) induced Liver injury, inherited and genetic defects related to Liver diseases, autoimmune hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, and primary or secondary Liver cancer. (1)
So what can we do to detoxify and heal our Liver?
You are about to find a world of answers.
You’ve probably heard the term fatty liver, as it has become very common but what exactly is it?
Non-alcoholic fatty Liver disease (NAFLD) is a spectrum of liver disorders. It is defined by the presence of steatosis (stagnant fat) in more than 5% of liver cells with little or no alcohol consumption involved. Insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, or type 2 diabetes seem to play a role in the onset of NAFLD. (20)
NAFLD is rapidly becoming the most common Liver disease worldwide. The prevalence of NAFLD in the general population of Western countries is 20-30%. About 2-3% of the general population is estimated to have non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) which may progress to liver cirrhosis and hepatocarcinoma. As a rule, the prevalence of NAFLD is higher in males and increases with increasing age and it is influenced by the diagnostic method and the characteristics of the population, especially lifestyle habits. (23)
Key physiological functions of the Liver, including glucose and lipid metabolism, become disturbed in the setting of NAFLD. Consequently, the effects of NAFLD extend beyond the Liver with a large body of clinical evidence demonstrating NAFLD to be associated with both cardiovascular disease and chronic kidney disease. (21)
Weight loss is the cornerstone treatment for NAFLD. Various randomized controlled trials have shown that weight loss of 5-10% leads to significant improvements in hepatic steatosis. (22)
We will outline below, herbs and foods which reduce fatty Liver as part of the Liver detox program.
We can see that healthy Liver function is necessary every time you eat a meal, come into contact with pesticides, pass through menopause, take a painkiller, and every second of the day.
The good news is that there is much you can do to aid your Liver.
First, there are the obvious lifestyle necessities:
- Adequate sleep….at night
- A balanced diet high in live, unprocessed fruits and vegetables (packet foods made in the factory are not it!)
- Moderate, regular exercise, necessary for circulation to the liver and health of organs, muscles, blood vessels, to lighten the load on the Liver.
- Drink adequate water, it is your body’s solvent that helps your blood carry nutrients and wastes in and away from the Liver
- Avoid alcohol, processed foods with lots of additives
- Avoid taking pharmaceutical drugs if at all possible and seek out natural medicines where practical
Let’s take a look at some of the more specific choices which have a direct effect on the Liver. Specific foods and food supplements, herbs, and detox programs.
- Brassica: Broccoli, Cauliflower, Kale, Cabbage, Brussels sprouts – and the rest of the brassica family of vegetables are proven to support Phase 2 Liver detoxification, eat plenty of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage (all kinds), and kale. In-fact rocket was observed to protect the Liver against induced hepatic injury through its potent antioxidant activity. (5)Cruciferous vegetables contain a substance called Indole-3-carbinol (I3C). Both the Phase I and Phase II detoxification centers in the liver and the cells of the intestines can be accelerated by I3C. Many researchers indicate that the ability of cruciferous vegetables to motivate Phase I and Phase II detoxification, particularly their I3C content, is a primary factor in how these foods reduce cancer risk in humans. (28)
- Wasabi, Horseradish, and Mustard – These condiment foods contain a compound called Sinigrin which is also found in smaller amounts in other members of the Brassica family of vegetables. Sinigrin has been shown to combat liver cancer, and findings indicated that the liver functions were gradually restored after treatment with Sinigrin. (29, 30)
- Raw fermented vegetables (see recipe) – give increased nutrients and support the health of the colon which in turn aids the Liver
- Onions – Food plants in the Allium genus include different chives, garlic, leeks, onions, and scallions. They present various flavors and mouthfeels and are consumed either cooked or raw all over the world in different delicacies. A number of studies both in vitro and in vivo have been published reporting that allium-genus plants have potent hepatoprotective activity and distinct effects on various liver conditions such as hypercholesterolemia-induced oxidative stress, cadmium liver accumulation, liver fibrosis, liver fluke, and alcoholic fatty liver. (31)
- Beetroot – for blood building (the Liver contains 13% of your body’s blood); beetroot (Beta vulgaris) is high in iron, is a good antioxidant, and has been shown to protect liver cells.The hepatoprotective activity of Beta vulgaris may be attributed to its antioxidant (2) and anti-inflammatory (3) activities. The plant is safe to use even in large doses. Phytochemical studies on roots of Beta vulgaris have shown the presence of betaine, betacyanins, betaxanthins, oxalic acid, and ascorbic acid (4)
- Turmeric – a common spice you can add to soups, casseroles, curries, and rice. Turmeric protects the liver against oxidative stress, improves blood circulation, and improves liver function and detoxification processes. It has been shown that curcumin is very effective in preventing Liver damage induced by paracetamol overdose and that the level of protection afforded by curcumin against paracetamol-induced liver damage is comparable to that of N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), which is presently the main clinical treatment for paracetamol overdose in humans. (8)
- Grapefruit – Studies conducted over past decades have suggested that the grapefruit might be active in cellular regeneration, cholesterol reduction, the detoxifying process, and the maintenance of heart health, in rheumatoid arthritis, for the control of body weight, and in cancer prevention. Grapefruit juice is an excellent source of many phytochemicals and nutrients that contribute to a healthy diet. It reduces fat accumulation in the Liver and increases Liver enzymes involved in detoxification. (17)
- Berries – These include Blueberries (Bilberry), Cranberry, and Grape due to anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins. The results of one study indicated that treatment with Blueberry significantly increased the liver enzymes, and spleen function, improving the proliferation of lymphocytes deriving from this organ. In conclusion, the authors suggested that consuming this berry type protected Liver hepatocytes from Oxidative Stress and could modulate the function of T cells. It is important to remember that the anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins are widely available compounds in fruits, vegetables, and seeds of natural origin. (17)
- Chamomile: Results have confirmed that the chamomile extract has reversal effects on the levels of paracetamol hepatotoxicity, and the authors concluded that the extract served as a hepatoprotective agent and that this hepatoprotective activity of chamomile might be due to the normalization of impaired membrane function activity. (17)
- Milk thistle: The seeds are well known for their Liver protection properties. Milk Thistle helps repair damaged Liver tissue and aids in Liver detoxification.
A well-known hepatic antioxidant, silymarin, from the milk thistle (Silybum marianum), inhibits Liver damage by scavenging free radicals among other mechanisms. This powerful antioxidant protects the Liver against alcohol and pharmaceutical injury and even poisoning from extremely toxic compounds. (9)Milk Thistle is one of the most investigated plant extracts, with known mechanisms of action for oral treatment of toxic liver damage. Silymarin has been used as a protective treatment in acute and chronic liver diseases. (17)
It also acts by stimulating Liver cell regeneration and cell membrane stabilization to prevent hepatotoxic agents from entering hepatocytes (17)
Globe Artichoke: Based on recent basic and clinical investigations, the extract of artichoke (Cynara scolymus) leaf has been revealed to be used for hepatoprotective and cholesterol-reducing purposes. The study sheds light on the potential role of Cynara scolymus in the management of Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis. The active constituents of this herb such as flavonoids and caffeoylquinic acid may be responsible for this effect. These compounds have been proven to have hepatoprotective activity and hypolipidemic effect. (26)
- Goldenseal: The root contains substances that protect the Liver, aid Liver function, and are antimicrobial. Another great Liver stimulant and protector. One study demonstrated that berberine (from Golden Seal) possesses hepatoprotective effects against Liver toxicity and that the effects are both preventive and curative. Berberine should have the potential for developing a new drug to treat Liver toxicity. (10)
Results of another study show that Goldenseal reduces acetominaphen (paracetamol) toxicity and related acute Liver failure. (11)
- Dandelion: The leaf and root gently support the Liver, gallbladder, and kidney function. Results of one study suggest that the extract of Dandelion root has a protective action against alcohol-induced toxicity in the Liver by elevating antioxidative potentials and decreasing lipid peroxidation. (12)
- Wormwood: bitter properties in the leaf stimulate Liver secretions and kill parasites. It is long known that the bitter constituents stimulate the gustatory nerves in the mouth and increase the secretion of gastric juice and bile, thereby promoting appetite and digestion. (13)
- Turkish Rhubarb: Moderate doses stimulate a sluggish Liver and bowel helping your Liver to detoxify its own cells as well as the blood passing through it. There is some evidence of the protective potential of this herb against Liver injury due to multiple causes (14)In another study, Turkish Rhubarb targeted Liver metabolic and immune pathways and may be beneficial for complex metabolic diseases such as Fatty Liver disease. (15)
- Kiwifruit: Antioxidant, protects the Liver, shown to inhibit certain cancers. Use only organic kiwifruit to completely avoid the heavy sprays normally used. Data reported in one study suggested a beneficial effect of this kiwi fruit peptide on the physiology of the human intestine. (16)
- Barley grass: Good source of superoxide dismutase (SOD) a group of enzymes important to a healthy Liver. SOD aids in Phase 2 liver detoxification. Barley grass supplementation sustained Liver anti-oxidative enzymes, catalase, glutathione peroxidase, and superoxide dismutase, at transcriptional and enzymatic levels, thus suppressing oxidative stress markers. (6)
- Spirulina: Liver examinations have revealed that Spirulina potent in protecting the Liver from toxic lesions and preserved the Liver cell (hepatocyte) structure. Lesions including necrosis, lymphocyte infiltration, ballooning degeneration, and hepatocyte injury, as well as irregular lamellar organization, dilation of the endoplasmic reticula, and the presence of great numbers of cytoplasmic vacuolizations, were reversed by Spirulina. (17) In other words, Spirulina heals the Liver.
Diagram showing: Anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant herbs protect the Liver against a variety of toxins and injurious stimuli by restoring the oxidative stress and the related liver damage and inflammation.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the Liver is known as the “Seat of Anger”. The Liver organ system reflects the condition of the nails and muscle-sinews and expresses itself in emotions such as anger or sadness. When emotion is overwhelmingly excessive, no medicinals can cure the resulting disorder. It must be overcome by emotion. Thus it is said that anger damages the Liver system (25)
The so-called “Hun” is associated with the Liver Qi. Hun is called non-corporeal because it is not dependent upon physical being for existence and continues after death. This spirit is responsible for benevolence (loving-kindness), awareness of suffering, empathy, compassion, and tolerance; and serves as a reservoir for ideas that bring meaning to life. Disharmonies that affect the Hun may lead to anger, frustration, resentment, unkindness, and feeling “cut-off” from the meaning of life. (24)
For example, when a patient presents with prolonged grief and depression after the death of a loved one, a discussion may allow the patient to identify anger as an underlying emotion—anger that the person left them. From a TCM perspective, anger results in Liver disharmony, which frequently manifests as depression. The anger needs to be cleared in order to lift the depression. (24)
Most bitter herbs we talked about above are cooling and calming to the Liver as are some foods such as fresh greens, cider vinegar, and lemon juice in water. Finding peace is very important to healing the Liver, so seeking downtime and the space to release those feelings will be important. Cathartic exercises like cycling, rowing, boxing, or running will also be helpful. Even just a regular walk by the trees or ocean will help.
Letting go of resentment and bitterness and forgiving those people or events that have angered you is crucial.
Detox your Liver for better health results
You will see very noticeable differences in your health when you pay attention to the foods and herbs that benefit your Liver. Doing a regular detox for the colon with additional herbs to support your Liver will reward you with faster initial results and ongoing improvement as you continue to eat healthy, living foods.
It is good to get a combination of these foods and ingredients into your regular routine but high doses in the short term could promote rapid detoxification and healing by way of quickly restoring healthy Liver function.
The benefits of performing a natural Liver detox are wide-ranging and include increased energy, mental clarity, improved blood sugar, cholesterol balance, reduced headaches, allergies, and better digestion.
By introducing the most beneficial Liver cleansing foods into your diet along with the Liver supporting herbs above which form part of a Herbal DETOX you can quickly and effectively support your Liver and improve your general health.
Brett Elliott ®
Herbal supplements that address the entire digestive system indirectly support the Liver. By clearing undigested, built-up matter from the colon these herbs will reduce the amount of re-circulating waste substances straining the Liver.
The Ultimate Herbal Detox program also gives the benefits of most of the very effective herbs we have talked about, including Milk thistle, Globe Artichoke, Goldenseal, Dandelion, Wormwood, Turkish Rhubarb, Kiwifruit, and Barley grass. It is the combination of these foods along with the specific foods mentioned above which give you an excellent liver cleansing program.
How to get the Ultimate Liver Detox Program
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