Studying with one of the top herbalists in the country, I definitely paid attention when he stressed the importance of liver health as vital to overall well-being. He always called the liver the “EPA” of the body as anything that we eat or drink is filtered through this organ.
Besides excess sugar, unhealthy fats and oils, processed foods, alcohol and the other questionable “foods” we put in our bodies these days, we are also living in an environment with compromised air, soil and water quality so our liver has inherited a job that is much larger than it’s accustomed.
In my practice now, almost everyone I come across could use some liver support. Our liver is a huge part of digestive health as it’s responsible for creating bile, which helps us break down fats, but also stimulates peristalsis, which is a contraction of the colon that keeps things moving.
In total, the liver is responsible for over 500 processes in your body–daily. That’s quite a big job. So what do you say we help our little guy out a bit shall we?
Here are the top 3 herbs for liver detoxification:
1. Milk Thistle Seeds
Milk Thistle is the ultimate liver tonic and a powerful antioxidant specific for the liver. It aids in liver detoxification, protects it from the strongest carcinogens and helps prevent aging, destruction and death on a cellular level.
It also helps the liver produce the antioxidant glutathione which is responsible for the detoxification of a wide range of hormones, drugs and chemicals. If you’re going to take one herb for liver health, this should be it.
Milk thistle is one of the few herbs that is effective in capsule form, but also effective boiled as a tea, or in a tincture.
2. Barberry Root
Barberry plays double-duty. It’s an excellent liver tonic and extremely beneficial for the digestions of fats, but it’s also extremely beneficial for the lymphatic system.
The lymphatic system is a network of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials. The primary function of the lymphatic system is to transport lymph, a fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells, throughout the body.
Barberry is not super effective in capsule form, but excellent as a tincture or boiled in water for 10-15 minutes.
3. Dandelion Root
Dandelion root contains iron that is easily absorbed, which is crucial for liver health. It also increases bile production and release, filters the blood and helps break down excess estrogen. With all of the petroleum-based products (plastics, shampoos, lotions, etc) that we encounter day-to-day, our bodies can become riddled with fake estrogens (yes, even men) which can be harmful as they build up, so supporting this type of cleansing is an important part of our detoxification regimen.
Keep in mind…
Most herbs that help the liver may also have a mild to moderate laxative effect due to their bile-stimulating qualities. This can be especially helpful for colon health and cleansing, but listen to your body and as with anything new, start small.
Also, the bitter taste of these herbs is what benefits the liver, so if drinking as a tea, adding ginger and lemon may help.
Where to purchase:
You can purchase these herbs from your local herb shop, your local health food store, or in bulk here. You can also find supplements at online retailers like Vitacost.com or a high quality supplement provider. Be mindful of the quality of the supplier as many cheap retail supplements were tested and were found to not actually contain the herbs they said they did.
If that sounds like too much work, or you want an herbalist-approved liver formula, check out my therapeutic tea “Detoxify” here. Unlike other “detox teas” that are mostly harsh laxatives, this is formula strengthens and cleanses the liver and lymphatic system so they can work at optimum efficiency.