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 liver supports almost every organ in the body. As a vital organ, the liver has a number of functions including detoxification, protein synthesis, production of 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.
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.
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.
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.