Detoxify Your Liver


We are all exposed to toxins on a daily basis in the form of pollutants in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the foods we eat. Therefore, everyone should engage in detoxification on an ongoing basis. There are many methods to help the body get rid of toxins, ranging from the use of dilute herbal extracts in the form of homeopathic remedies to sweating in the sauna for several hours per day. The suggestions below focus on naturopathic support for the liver, one of the main organs of detoxification.

The liver is involved in over 500 chemical reactions in the body, many of which have to do with digestion. It is also responsible for eliminating the pollutants, medications, and food additives we come into contact with every day. If our toxic burden is too high, liver cells will be damaged and unable to perform their critical functions of metabolizing nutrients, regulating blood sugar, producing blood proteins, and storing vitamins and minerals.

To reduce damage to the liver, avoid smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, and eating animal protein for the duration of your cleanse. All of these increase the amount of ammonia the liver has to process and the kidneys have to excrete. Avoid processed food as well, since some preservatives added to convenience foods are linked to increased cancer risk.

Eat a plant-based whole foods diet, a core tenet of naturopathy, and the basis of any healthy eating regimen. Especially helpful are vegetables from the cruciferous group including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, horseradish and turnips. Amino acids in these foods provide the liver with raw material for conjugation—a process of adding molecules to harmful chemicals to make them less toxic and easier for the body to expel.

Drink several glasses of green juice daily. Juicing concentrates nutrients, provides easily absorbed vegetable servings, and alkalinizes the body. Many disease-causing microbes thrive in an acidic environment (low pH) and are kept in check if the pH is high. Good choices for juicing are spinach and beet greens. Both are high in potassium, which balances the overabundance of sodium consumed in the standard American diet. Also recommended is cilantro, an herb that can bind and eliminate heavy metals in a process called chelation. Add the juice of ½ green apple if plain green juice is unpalatable.

Protect your liver by taking milk thistle supplements. Milk thistle rejuvenates liver cells, acts as an antioxidant, and protects against poisoning by acetaminophen, the drug most responsible for liver failure in the United States. Milk thistle also prevents fibrosis—changes in liver architecture due to hepatitis or alcohol abuse.

Relax with a castor oil pack an hour each day. Saturate a cloth with oil, apply it to your abdomen, and place a heating pad or hot water bottle on top. Heat increases circulation to the area, bringing fresh oxygen and nutrients to the liver and carrying away waste products. Castor oil augments T cells in the immune system, giving your body extra disease fighting power.

Follow these steps for a week any time you experience fatigue, abdominal complaints or anger for better flow of physical and emotional energy.

Jessica Needle, ND practices at Optimal Health Center

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