Liver cleansing for clear skin, more energy, & weight loss
Your liver works hard all day, every day. It backs you up when you’re sitting in traffic inhaling fumes, eating vegetables that were sprayed in the fields, fighting off a cold, drinking water that has trace levels of contaminants, taking prescription medicine, having a few adult beverages with friends…
You’re exposed to toxins every single day, possibly every single moment, and your liver is behind the scenes, quietly dealing with all of them. If it didn’t, these toxins would run through your body, causing damage.
That’s why, a few times a year, it’s a good idea to give your liver a little extra love. In this article, we’ll cover who needs a liver detox, what it involves, and how to do one.
The benefits of a liver cleanse.
People have reported a wide range of benefits after doing liver cleanses and detoxes.
A liver cleanse may clear your skin.
Your liver deals with a lot, and when it gets overburdened, your other elimination organs take over to help deal with the overflow. Your skin pushes out a lot of the troublesome compounds that your liver would normally handle, and sometimes, it shows in the form of acne or dull-looking skin.
A lot of people do liver cleanses for the skin benefits alone.
Liver cleansing could help your energy levels.
People do liver cleanses for the energy boost. We’re all familiar with the aftermath of eating a lot of sugar or drinking alcohol – it’s not long before we feel sluggish and drained. When you remove some of your body’s burden, you get your groove back.
Try a liver cleanse to help with hormone balance.
Your liver helps you metabolize fats, and fats are the base material for a lot of your hormones. That alone could help your body make more of the hormones you need. Your liver also helps break down excess hormones, and if it’s falling behind, you could end up with common problems like estrogen dominance.
Signs you may need a liver detox.
In modern society, with the toxic load we face every day, it’s common to have a liver that’s working too hard. Here are some signs a liver cleanse may be in order:
- Weight gain or unsuccessful attempts at weight loss
- Mood changes
- Sleep disturbances
- Fatigue or sluggishness
- Frequent digestive upset
You may decide to do a liver cleanse after you’ve finished a course of heavy-duty medication, or you know you’ve been exposed to something and want to get it out of your body.
If you have liver disease, cleansing may not cut it. Cleanses do not replace medical treatment. If you suspect liver disease, talk to your doctor about how to proceed.
How to do a liver cleanse.
There are hundreds of liver cleanse protocols out there. Some people opt for juicing or fasting to give their digestion a break, which gives the liver a chance to catch up. Others will eat on a normal schedule but avoid certain foods.
Most liver cleanses have a few things in common. They all tend to:
- Cut out alcohol. Even one or two alcoholic beverages make your liver work harder, which can leave you depleted the next day.
- Give up sugar. Surprisingly, high-sugar foods make your liver work hard, and sugar intake can contribute to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
- Incorporate liver-friendly herbs and supplements. Most protocols include supplements that nourish and support your liver function.
- Focus on liver-friendly foods. Certain foods have compounds that support your liver with vitamins and minerals that contribute to liver health. Other foods are included for their ability to aid digestion, or for their antioxidant content. Foods your liver loves include bitter greens, deeply colored vegetables, turmeric, beets, citrus fruits, and others.
Most liver cleanses last a few days to a few weeks.
Herbs for liver cleansing.
Try milk thistle to increase glutathione.
Milk thistle contains a compound called silymarin that may be beneficial for your liver. Silymarin has been shown to increase glutathione in the liver, which is the most powerful antioxidant your body makes, and it shows antioxidant activity, which could prevent liver damage and possibly repair damage that has already occurred.
You can take milk thistle in a capsule or extract form, or you can get the active compound, silymarin, as a standalone supplement.
Yellow dock root aids elimination.
Yellow dock root has been used in liver cleansing for centuries. It has several properties that could benefit the liver:
- It contains anthraquinones, which help encourage bowel elimination. This reduces the amount of toxic compounds that could be re-absorbed through the intestinal tract due to slow elimination.
- It stimulates lymph activity, which helps your body flush out harmful substances faster.
- It acts as an antioxidant throughout the body, which not only decreases the burden on the liver, but also protects liver cells.
You can take yellow dock as a tea, extract, or in capsule form.
Burdock protects the liver.
Burdock has been used for thousands of years to restore and protect the liver. Natural healers tend to reach for burdock root as a blood purifier, and for good reason. A 2011 study showed that burdock does in fact effectively purify the blood. Research in an animal study shows that burdock can even protect and repair liver cells from damage caused by too much alcohol.
You can take burdock as a tea, in capsule form, or, when you can find it, you can cook burdock root as a tasty side dish.
Dandelion root can help detox your liver.
Yes, this is the same dandelion that you find all over your yard. The dandelion plant, especially the roots, can help your liver flush out harmful compounds. Dandelion has diuretic properties which may help the liver by encouraging your body to eliminate waste through the urinary system. Its bitter taste also stimulates bile flow, which helps keep digestion running smoothly.
The easiest way to take dandelion is to make dandelion root tea and sip it throughout the day.
Liver support supplements
N-acetylcysteine, or NAC, is so effective for liver detoxification that hospitals use the intravenous form to help patients recover from acetaminophen overdoses.
NAC hooks up with glutamine and glycine from your diet to make glutathione, which is your “master antioxidant” that your body makes on its own. Giving your body the raw material to make it will help you replenish your levels faster.
Taking NAC helps your liver during a cleanse because your liver is working hard around the clock to neutralize everyday toxins. If it has what it needs to make extra glutathione, it will work more efficiently.
Vitamin D deficiency affects nearly everyone with chronic liver disease, and it’s unclear whether vitamin D deficiency contributes to liver disease or is a result of liver disease. Either way, your body needs vitamin D, and if you’re supporting your liver, it’s probably a good idea to support your vitamin D levels as well.
You don’t have to have liver disease to justify supplementing with vitamin D. In fact, a lot of the population is deficient. When supplementing, look for vitamin D3, and remember, you’ll boost your vitamin D3 levels by spending time outside in the sun.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can help sweep up free radicals, or damaging oxygen atoms, in cells throughout your body, including your liver. Vitamin C is so protective that, in conjunction with silymarin, helped rats with high levels of lead avoid the kind of liver damage that lead usually causes.
The easiest way to get vitamin C is in capsule form, and foods high in vitamin C include citrus fruits, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, tomatoes, berries, and others.