There are many different kinds of helpful supplements for liver detox. First let’s walk through why we need to support the liver, symptoms that the liver is needing some help, and then I’ll walk you through my favorite supplements that I use at my practice.
What does the liver do?
The liver is one of the primary detox organs, and it is responsible for several hundred different tasks within the body. Some of which include:
- Filters and removes toxins from the blood to get rid of them
- FIlters and removes excess hormones from the body
- Destroys old red blood cells
- Produces bile
- Stores vitamins, minerals, fat, and sugar for later usage
- Converts fats into fatty acids
- Converts proteins into amino acids
- Converts carbohydrates/sugars into glucose
- Production of cholesterol
- Metabolizes alcohols and pharmaceutical drugs
- Processes nutrients
- Balances proteins, fats and sugars in the blood
- Stores minerals and vitamins
What does it look like for the liver to remove toxins?
Here is the 30,000 foot view of the process of liver detoxification. In reality, there is a little more nuance, but generally this is how it goes:
When the liver sees a toxin, it creates bile. The liver then packages the toxin in the bile and sends it to the gallbladder. The gallbladder releases the bile into the intestinal tract to be emptied via bowel movements.
It’s important to understand that the liver isn’t like sieve that traps all of the toxins inside. It’s the organ that packages up the toxins to send them out of the body. If it can’t do it’s job properly, then the toxins can get stored in other parts of the body.
How does the liver get “congested”?
Excessive exposure to toxins (including chemicals, drugs, stress, hormones, alcohol, too much sugar, hormone-mimicking substances, negative thoughts, etc) puts the liver into overdrive. With prolonged and consistent toxic exposure, the liver can become sluggish and congested. This reduces its efficiency and effectiveness at detoxifying the body.
How do I know if I need to detox the liver or give it some extra support?
Here are some of the most common symptoms I see that indicate the need for liver detoxification. They include but are not limited to:
- Dark circles under eyes
- Metabolic dysfunction
- Fatty, floating stools
- Chronic fatigue
- Bloodshot eyes
- Yellowing eyes
- Hyperpigmented skin spots (dark spots or “liver” spots) on the skin
- Hormonal imbalances including estrogen dominance
- PMS symptoms
- Blood sugar imbalance
- Under conversion of T4 to T3
- Skin issues (rashes, hives, reactivity)
- Chemical sensitivity
- Night sweats
- Mood imbalances
What’s the “best” detox for the liver?
It’s important to understand that detox is not an event; it is an ongoing process. We are always detoxing.
With that in mind, it’s a good idea to look at ways to support the liver in doing what it naturally does – continually detoxifying the body from all kinds of toxins, excess hormones and more.
Are there natural ways to support the liver and detoxification in the body?
Yes! Here is a short list:
1. Prioritize adequate quality sleep. Research confirms that poor quantity and quality sleep is associated with Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NFLD). It is regarded that liver function is closely regulated by the circadian rhythm. And the liver does its most extensive and deepest detoxification during the night hours.
2. Find ways to reduce stressors to help put your body in a parasympathetic state. The parasympathetic state is the “rest, digest and heal” state. The sympathetic state is the body’s “fight, flight or freeze” state.
Detoxification is a parasympathetic process. If you are constantly battling chronic and low-grade stress, the body is unable to fully enter the parasympathetic detoxification state it needs for deep removal of toxins.
Negative emotions, most notably anger, cause a significant burden to the liver. In ancient medicine, certain emotions can correspond to particular organs. And imbalances in these emotions can lead to illnesses. One research study identified specific patterns between emotions and corresponding bodily organ systems. It found that the liver was indeed closely tied to anger.
In this way, practicing forgiveness and releasing anger can do wonders for liver health. I suggest you talk to a counselor or therapist, someone you trust at your local church, or a friend that will help you walk through this process.
3. Make sure you are having at least 1-3 bowel movements a day. This is a way your body gets rid of things it doesn’t need, including toxins. Taking steps to make sure your bowels are moving well is imperative to detoxification.
4. Eat healthy fats from animal sources each day and organ meats regularly. Healthy animal fats and organ meats provide the body with the nutrients and vitamins needed to support the liver’s detoxification processes. Animal fats are high in vitamin A (aka retinol), which is necessary for detox to work efficiently. Some of my favorite sources of animal fats are: butter, ghee, tallow, duck fat, pastured eggs, and raw dairy.
6. Drink beet kvass –Beet kvass was traditionally used as a tonic to cleanse the liver. It is high in the phytonutrient betaine, which is particularly supportive of liver health.
I like to drink a small glass first thing each morning. It is inexpensive and very easy to make.
7. Move your body – Gentle movement of the body is very supportive of liver detoxification. It improves both blood and lymphatic flow, which eases the burden on the liver.
8. Sweat – Sweating is a fantastic way to support liver detoxification. Did you know that not only is sweating a way for our body to lower its temperature, but it’s also a means of detoxification?
When we are able to sweat out toxins through the skin, it creates less of a burden on the liver.
One of my favorite ways to sweat is in the sauna. In a sauna such as the one I use, you get the benefits of sweating, increasing body temperature and near infrared light all in one!
Here are my favorite supplements for liver support:
1. Betafood – This is my favorite supplement to get going with when you want to support the liver and gallbladder. It’s also very economical!
Here are some ways Betafood supports the liver:
– Betafood provides methyl donors to support liver’s natural detoxification processes
– Contains naturally occurring betaine for liver and cardiovascular health
– Supports normal processing of dietary fats
2. Livaplex – this is a big step-up from Betafood and provides a wealth of nutrients to support natural liver detoxification.
Here are some benefits of Livaplex:
– Supports healthy liver function
– Supports the body’s normal toxin-elimination function
– Supports normal digestive environment in the GI
– Supports normal bile production
– It’s an excellent source of vitamin B6 and zinc and a good source of iron, copper, niacin, and antioxidant vitamin A.
Livaplex does contain iron, so keep this in mind if you’re on any iron supplements so you don’t accidentally consume too much iron.
3. Milk Thistle Forte – a concentrated liver support formula containing milk thistle seed that helps support liver function and protect liver structure.
Milk thistle forte benefits:
– Protects liver tissue by supporting normal cellular defenses.
– Supports general healthy detoxification function and toxin elimination function.
– Supports normal bile production and secretion to help relieve mild symptoms of occasional mild digestive discomfort.
4. LivCo – is a combination of schisandra, rosemary and milk thistle to provide liver cleansing support.
The herbs in LivCo have been traditionally used in herbal preparations to:
– Support and maintain cellular health
– Aid in the elimination of naturally occurring toxins and support healthy general detoxification
– Support healthy liver function
Please note: Some of these supplements have contraindications, so as always, talk to your practitioner about the best supplements for your situation.