Your hardworking liver sometimes needs help to stay in top-notch working condition. Its functions are crucial for wellness: cleansing the blood, filtering toxins, storing blood when you are at rest, and keeping ample amounts of blood in circulation. So supporting your liver with herbs and natural performance-boosters protects your entire body.
Last week, I wrote about the functions and importance of what I call the “Royal Liver.” You can read the article here. In what follows, you can find the solutions for keeping the liver at full capacity.
Years of regularly taking over-the-counter (OTC) medicines like acetaminophen, aspirin and cough syrups, and prescription drugs for blood pressure, digestion, cholesterol, joint health and insomnia, can wreak havoc on the liver. What’s more, years of drinking alcohol (even as little as two glasses of wine or beer per day) coupled with insufficient water intake (less than 64 ounces per day) can stress the liver and hinder its innate detox processes.
Signs Of A Toxic Or Clogged Liver
Optimal health demands that you periodically cleanse the body and relieve the liver of excess stress on its functions. Signs and symptoms of a distressed liver that is clogged or toxic include:
- Tightness in your tendons.
- Trigger points in your muscles.
- Brittle, discolored finger nails.
- Bloodshot or yellow eye discoloration.
- Headache, on top of the head.
- PMS symptoms, especially cramping.
- Irritability or depressive swings.
- Hot flashes.
- Skin rashes, eczema, psoriasis and acne.
Herbs And Supplements For Your Liver
There are quite a few natural herbs and supplements that are good for restoring the liver, reducing toxicity and heat, and helping it function in a healthful way.
Milk thistle: This is perhaps the most well-known supplement not only for liver health, but also kidney and gall bladder support. The most important natural chemical in milk thistle is silymarin, a flavonoid with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Silymarin has been clinically shown to protect the liver from the negative effects of extended use of drugs, including OTC drugs like acetaminophen. What’s more, milk thistle has been demonstrated to help quality of life for those suffering alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis.
Dandelion and chrysanthemum: These two flowers are widely used in traditional Chinese herbal medicine. They both possess a positive effect on cooling the liver, which heats as a result of things like stress, toxins and alcohol. Taken in capsule or tea form, dandelion and chrysanthemum reduce liver inflammation, stimulate production of bile and help detox the liver.
Chai Hu Shu Gan Wan: This Chinese herbal patent formula is composed of seven different herbals that help liver function in several key ways. These individual herbs are:
- Chai hu (bupleurum root): Helps increase liver energy (qi), allowing it to relax.
- Xiang fu (cyperi rhizome): Helps relieve depression, menstrual issues and pain related to liver dysfunction.
- Zhi ke (bitter orange): Regulates energy to relieve oppressive feelings in the chest and abdominal distention.
- Chen pi (tangerine peel): Helps improve digestion, break down phlegm and remove dampness that clogs the liver.
- Chuan xiong (lovage root): Helps relieve pain by increasing circulation.
- Bai shao (peony root): Helps harmonize the liver and nourish blood to relieve pain.
- Gan cao (licorice root): Helps increase energy and acts to support the effects of the other herbs in this formula.
Sources of this formula are easy to find on the Internet.
Liver And Kidney Cleanse
A dependable liver cleanse enlists a nutraceutical that includes 10 nutrients to unclog the liver and help eliminate dangerous toxins that originate from poor diet, alcohol consumption, prescription drugs, household chemicals and food preservative chemicals. The formula includes:
- Milk thistle: Helps the liver replace dead or damaged cells and effectively repair itself.
- Phosphatidylcholine: Supports the prevention of fatty liver and helps protect liver cells from hardening.
- Artichoke leaf: Boosts healthy bile secretion.
- Turmeric root: Supports the removal of dangerous toxins from the liver, stimulates the production of bile and reduces inflammation.
- Burdock: Helps purify blood by neutralizing most poisons that enter the liver.
- N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC): Supports the protection of the liver from exposure to toxic chemicals and helps eliminate kidney stones.
- Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA): Aids the body in increasing glutathione, a liver-supportive enzyme that neutralizes the damaging effects of OTC and prescription medicines.
- Trimethylglycine (TMG): Supports liver function by reducing liver fat and abdominal pain, and helps repair alcohol-induced liver damage.
- Dandelion root: Helps filter toxins from the liver and kidneys while increasing urine production by promoting the excretion of salts and water from the kidneys.
- Olive leaf: Anti-infective that helps protect against viruses, bacteria and fungi and supports normal function of the liver.
Cleansing and/or fasting provide excellent methods for allowing the organs and systems of the body to take a break from their daily overload, and to help initiate the removal of toxins from the body. There are several very good cleanses one can do. I personally like to perform the so-called “master cleanse” (also known as the “lemonade cleanse”) once or twice a year.
During the days of the cleanse, you are not permitted to eat solid food or take supplements. This is not a diet addition, but a cleanse. If abstaining from food is difficult for you because of a medical condition, then this technique is not for you. But this method requires the consumption of at least six servings of “lemonade” per day.
A serving contains:
- 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice.
- 2 tablespoons grade B organic maple syrup.
- 1/10 teaspoon cayenne pepper.
- 10 ounces filtered water.
The fast can last anywhere from a few days to more than a month. To find out more about this well-documented cleanse and see what duration is best for you, perform a simple Internet search with either “master cleanse” or “lemonade cleanse” as your search terms.
The liver is so essential to health and wellness that keeping it functioning properly should hold a primary place in any wellness program. There are several cleanses available that require austerity and willpower. In addition, daily supplementation with liver-supporting nutrients and herbs, as well as teas and dietary prevention methods, can all support liver health. Most important is a preventive program of dietary changes: Avoid nitrates (in processed meats), and don’t eat foods with chemical preservatives or bad fats (like hydrogenated oils). You should also consider reducing your alcohol consumption, control your stress (with breathing or other mind/body practices) and periodically cleanse.