In addition to being our largest internal organ, the liver is also one of the hardest working. Our livers face the unending task of breaking down the environmental and external toxins that enter our body, as well as internal toxins produced by normal metabolic processes. Alcohol consumption, extended use of prescription drugs, cigarettes, being overweight — all of these factors and many more can put enormous stress on our liver, resulting in headaches, decreased energy, impaired concentration, nervousness, skin problems, and many emotional imbalances.
Detoxifying (“detoxing”) your liver is an important part of maintaining good health. Three steps are involved.
The first step is to drink plenty of purified water -- at least 8 glasses a day. When detoxing, drink a glass of room temperature water with half a lemon squeezed into it. (Drink this before the Bentonite/Flaxseed drink discussed later). Lemon juice has a mild laxative effect which aids in the elimination process.
The second step is to decrease your intake of fat. Quite simply — the more fat you have, the greater your toxin storage capacity. Lose excess weight, and you will lose excess toxins from your liver.
The third step is to incorporate a combination of supplements, herbs, and foods containing either enzymes that help eliminate toxins from the liver or that increase your bile flow. As unsavory as it may sound, increasing your bile flow is key to effective detoxification. Bile helps carry fat-soluble toxins out of the liver. The following supplements, herbs, and enzyme-rich foods work together to eliminate toxins from the liver:
*Bentonite clay and flaxseeds. Bentonite is a type of edible clay. It works by acting like a bulk laxative that absorbs water to form a gel-like substance that can bind to toxins like pesticides and heavy metals and carry them out of the body through the colon. Flaxseeds work along similar lines, absorbing water and expanding in the colon to allow toxins and mucus to be eliminated.
Mix one tablespoon of liquid bentonite and ground flaxseeds in a large glass of water. (If you cannot find flaxseed, you can use a powdered psyllium instead). Drink one glass of the mixture in the morning, and be sure to wait at least a half hour later before eating anything. Drink a second glass of the mixture before you go to bed at night.
*Milk thistle is one of the most powerful liver-protecting herbs. Even if you are not detoxifying, milk thistle is a very important herb that helps protect your liver. At no time is this truer than during chemotherapy, when your liver is particularly vulnerable to toxins. Milk thistle can be taken in capsule form to help regenerate liver cells and fight free-radical damage.
*Dandelion root, which can be taken as a tea, is very effective at increasing the body’s bile flow.
*Fruits and Vegetables. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, because they contain detoxifying enzymes. The vegetables may be prepared steamed, grilled, or roasted. Garlic and onions are key detoxifying veggies because they are involved in sulfation, the main detoxification pathway for environmental chemicals and certain drugs and food additives. Broccoli and other members of the brassica family (cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale) also are needed to support the liver’s detoxification enzymes. Beets and artichokes are known to increase the body’s bile flow, as well as help break down fats.