Liver Cleansing - 3 Herbs For Liver Detoxification
biochemicals necessary for digestion, glycogen storage, decomposition of red blood
cells, and hormone production.  Due to its multifunction nature, the liver is prone to
many diseases.  The most common types of liver diseases and conditions are
hepatitis A, B, C, E, alcohol damage, fatty liver, cirrhosis, cancer, and drug damage
(including from pain relieving medications such as acetaminophen).   There are also
many pediatric liver diseases such as biliary atresia, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency,
alagille syndrome, progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis, and Langerhans cell
histiocytosis.  Many liver diseases are accompanied by jaundice which is caused by
increased levels of bilirubin in the system.  Bilirubin results from the breakup of the
hemoglobin of dead red blood cells.  When there's no disease of the liver, the liver
regularly removes bilirubin from the blood and excretes it through bile.  Liver diseases
and conditions impair this function.  In most cases, the liver only produces symptoms
after extensive damage has taken place.  Liver diseases and conditions may be
diagnosed through liver function tests.  Although the liver is prone to having many
illnesses and  conditions,
it also has a great capacity to heal and regenerate.  The
following are 3 commonly used herbs for liver detoxification and liver health.  


Burdock Root

The taproots of young burdock plants can be harvested and eaten as root
vegetables.  Although burdock root is often referred to as an herb, in many Asian
cultures burdock root is regularly eaten as a vegetable.   In herbal medicine, burdock
root is considered to be a diuretic, diaphoretic, and a blood purifying agent.  As a
diuretic, burdock root increases the rate of urination.  As a diaphoretic, burdock root
increases perspiration.  Burdock root is especially known for it's blood purifying
abilities. One of the main functions of the liver is to purify the blood by filtering out
toxins.  Burdock root detoxifies the liver, which in turn enables it to function more
efficiently such as for blood purification.   Burdock root tea is a powerful anti-
inflammatory remedy.  The numerous antioxidants in burdock root protect the liver
from toxic chemicals.  A mildly bitter herb, burdock root stimulates the release of
gastric juices and eases digestion.  Due to burdock root's health benefits, its often
used in the treatment of acne, eczema, endometriosis, psoriasis, and uterine fibroids.
Burdock root  tea can also be used as a wash to treat skin infections, eczema, and
psoriasis.


Dandelion

As one of the most used herbs in herbal medicine traditions all over the world,
dandelion is especially known for the health benefits it provides for the liver.    Along
with milk thistle and burdock root, dandelion is one of the most recommended herbs
for liver detoxification.  Since the liver's primary function is to detoxify every
chemical, pollutant and medicine that the body is exposed to, it is essential that it
stays healthy so it can function efficiently.  Dandelion is often used as a remedy for
hepatitis C.  Both dandelion root and dandelion leaves can be used to detoxify the
liver and keep it in good health.  

Dandelion is a mild choleretic, which means that it stimulates the release of bile from
the liver into the gallbladder.  Dandelion is used to support treatment of a variety of
liver and gallbladder disorders, especially the incomplete digestion of fats.  One of the
active compounds in dandelion is called taraxacin, which stimulates the liver and
gallbladder to release bile.  The release of bile is useful in constipation and indigestion
since bowels move more easily with increased bile flow.  Bile also helps with the
absorption and digestion of fats.   Another health benefit of dandelion is that it's a
natural diuretic.  Dandelion stimulates urination but also replaces the potassium lost
due to the increased volume of urine.  Due to its diuretic properties, dandelion is one
of the best remedies for reducing high blood pressure.  (Consult with your physician
before discontinuing use of blood pressure medications.)  Dandelion leaves are an
excellent addition to salad greens or they can be eaten alone.  Dandelion leaves also
contain several vitamins and minerals including vitamin A (carotenes), vitamin C,
vitamin K, and are good sources of calcium, potassium, iron, and manganese.  
Dandelion roots can be prepared like carrots and added to stir-fries, soups, or
sautéed with onions and garlic.  The root is often used to make a liver detoxifying tea
with either just dandelion root or a blend of dandelion root and other herbs.     


Milk Thistle

As one of the most consumed herbs in the treatment of liver conditions such as fatty
liver due to alcoholism; cirrhosis; and hepatitis B and C, milk thistle provides
detoxification and healing benefits for the liver.  For over 2,000 years the seeds of
milk thistle have been used to treat chronic liver disease and protect the liver against
toxins.  Studies have shown that milk thistle has protective effects on the liver and it
greatly improves liver function.  The main constituent responsible for milk thistle's
liver health benefits is silymarin.  Although silymarin is often used in extract form to
treat liver disease, most herbalists recommend using the whole herb instead of the
concentrated extract.  Using the whole herb to treat disease provides a more
balancing effect than using an extract of one of the herb's constituents.  Of the entire
milk thistle plant, milk thistle seeds provide the most health benefits for the liver.  The
flowers, roots, and leaves of milk thistle are edible as well.  The leaves have prickles
that should be removed before preparing as food.  The stems can be peeled and then
soaked overnight to remove bitterness.  After that they can be stewed.  The roots
can be eaten raw or cooked such as boiled or roasted.  Like burdock root and
dandelion, milk thistle stimulates the release of bile.  Although this makes it an
excellent remedy for constipation and indigestion, it is known to sometimes cause
mild diarrhea.  


Caution: Consult with your physician before using any herbal remedies, especially if
you're taking any medications.  


Sources:

Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia

Murray , Michael N.D. The Encyclopedia Of Healing Foods.
New York: Atria Books, 2005.

Bowden, Jonny, Ph.D., C.N.S. The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth.
Fairwinds Press, 2007

Mountain Rose Herbs
http://www.montainroseherbs.com
Liver cleansing is the natural
detoxification of the liver.  Although
all plant foods provide nutrients that
work to cleanse the liver, there are a
few plant foods which have been
proven to be highly effective for liver
cleansing.  


The liver is necessary for survival, and
there's currently no artificial organ or
device that can carry out all of its
functions.  The l
iver supports almost
every organ in the body.  As a vital
organ, the liver has a number of
functions including detoxification,
protein synthesis, production of
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