Your Liver Is Your Detox Organ. Here's Why + How To Support It
We humans are alive because of brilliant biochemistry, and while each system of our body has its own unique function, they are all inextricably linked and work together to keep us alive and thriving. When one system goes awry, it often affects other seemingly unrelated aspects of our health. This is especially true when it comes to detox, which is one of the biggest factors of poor health that I see in my patients.
With research starting to show the link between our increased toxin exposure and autoimmune conditions, it's more important than ever for your body's detoxification systems to be working properly. As your body's largest organ, your liver is also the main detoxifier.
Why your liver is your detox organ.
Working in constant communication with your stomach, pancreas, gallbladder, and the rest of your digestive system, your liver is responsible for storing and converting nutrients from the foods we eat for our bodies to utilize. Through its role in the metabolism of fat, protein, and carbohydrates, your liver works to ensure that blood glucose levels are stabilized to prevent blood sugar imbalances and other metabolic problems. It works to filter out toxins from the foods you eat and environmental exposures as well as acting as a blood purifier, clearing out your blood of these impurities and only utilizing the necessary nutrients. Needless to say, if your liver isn't working well, your ability to detox is going to be greatly affected.
When your liver is overloaded with toxins, it creates a cascade of systemic chronic inflammation, which further affects your liver's ability to rid itself of these toxins. It becomes a vicious cycle between toxin buildup and inflammation that can only be broken through limiting your toxin exposure and supporting your liver's natural ability to detox.
Detox rituals that support your liver.
I've written in the past about various ways to make your life a cleanse. But to really boost your detox pathways and liver function, these targeted natural tools are my go-to for next-level liver and detox support:
1. Dandelion tea
Methylation is your body's biochemical superhighway that controls your body's ability to detox. B vitamins act as fuel for methylation and are found abundantly in dandelions. Brew up a cup of dandelion tea to support methylation and help support optimal liver function.
2. Milk thistle
This plant is one of the most well-researched natural remedies for treating liver problems and has been used for years to treat a number of different liver conditions, including hepatitis and alcoholic liver disease. Milk thistle aids in eliminating toxins that have built up in the liver in addition to helping restore liver cells that have been damaged from increased toxin exposure. You can take it in a supplement capsule or as a tea.
Garlic helps to activate liver detox enzymes that work to break down the toxins that enter your body in order to effectively eliminate them. Thankfully, garlic makes a delicious addition to almost any recipe, so don't be afraid to load up while cooking your next meal!
4. Sulfuric vegetables
Vegetables such as broccoli, broccoli sprouts, mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower are considered sulfuric and contain the powerful antioxidant glutathione. This antioxidant is essential for activating phase 1 and phase 2 liver detoxification.
Beets are great for helping break down toxins through increasing enzyme activity so that your body can eliminate them quicker. I love roasting them as a side or adding them to a salad seasoned with garlic!
6. Red clover
This is one of my favorites for its ability to rid toxins from not only your liver but your spleen and lymphatic system as well. You can take it in capsule form or as an herbal tincture.
7. Burdock root
As a tea or supplement, this root does wonders for removing toxins, specifically heavy metals. With its natural diuretic properties, it works to flush out toxins by increasing fluid excretion as well as boosting your lymphatic system.
You don't have to adopt all these rituals to support your liver, but by making yourself a cup of dandelion tea, adding garlic and beets to your next meal, or taking a red clover supplement, you can support your detox pathways going into 2019.
Will Cole, IFMCP, DNM, D.C., is a leading functional medicine expert who consults people around the world via webcam and locally in Pittsburgh. He has holds a level 2 Doctor of Natural Medicine (DNM) certification. Named one of the top 50 functional and integrative doctors in the nation, Cole specializes in clinically investigating underlying factors of chronic disease and customizing a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. He is also the host of the popular The Art Of Being Well podcast and bestselling author of Ketotarian, The Inflammation Spectrum, and the New York Times bestseller Intuitive Fasting.