Liver Health: Natural Remedies
With proper support, the liver has the capability to completely recover, reconstruct and heal itself. A healthy and well nourished liver can better withstand the invasions of foreign substances, microbes and viruses. It is paramount that that we keep our liver in good health so that it can protect itself. A nourishing diet and natural herbs can play an important role in keeping the liver healthy.
Most of these herbs have been studied in relation to diseases, such as cirrhosis or hepatitis. Although these herbs can have remarkable effects on serious liver conditions, most are very gentle, and even a basically healthy person can benefit from using them to promote proper digestion and enhance blood detoxification.
Major Natural Herbal Remedies
Turmeric (Curcuma longa):
Turmeric is the nature’s most potent herbal remedy — for almost any ailment or disease that our body may encounter. One wonderful aspect of turmeric is its beneficial influence on the liver. Turmeric shares similar liver protecting compounds that milk thistle and artichoke leaves contain. It is said to shrink engorged hepatic ducts, so it can be useful to treat liver conditions such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, and jaundice. Turmeric can also benefit skin conditions including: eczema, psoriasis and acne, for it is a potent detoxifier.
Turmeric helps increase bile flow making it a liver cleanser that could rejuvenate the liver cells and recharges their capability to break down toxins. It also increases the bile solubility, helping with the treatment of gallstones.
Turmeric also prevents alcohol and other toxins from being converted into compounds that may be harmful to the liver. It can reverse the adverse effects of excessive iron consumption on the liver.
Include this invaluable herbal spice in all your food (but not in cakes and sweets!) preparations. As the turmeric is fat soluble, it should be taken with fatty substances. For the best liver benefits, mix 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder with 1 teaspoon of virgin olive or almond oil and 1/4 cup of whole milk or yogurt. Take it one to two times a day. It can be taken safely indefinitely as a tonic for the body.
☞ See my favorite recipe for making Turmeric Tea down below.
Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum):
The most impressive liver herb is the seed of milk thistle, a prickly weed found throughout much of the world. Hundreds of studies have been published on milk thistle seeds, demonstrating that this herb is effective at repairing damage from Alcohol; Drugs – including illicit, prescription and over-the-counter; Chronic Hepatitis; and exposure to Toxins.
Historically, this herb has been used in Europe as a liver tonic. The results of numerous studies suggest that Extracts of milk thistle (Silymarin – containing four flavonolignan isomeric components, silybin, isosilybin, silychristin, and silydianin) not only protects liver cells by preventing the actions of toxic substances but that it also stimulates protein synthesis to accelerate the regeneration and production of liver cells. Most liver toxins produce their damaging effects by free radical mechanisms. Silymarin protects red blood cell membranes against lipid peroxidation caused by certain red blood cell poisons.
Silymarin has also been shown to reverse the effects of highly toxic alkaloids. Silymarin’s hepatoprotective effects are accomplished via several mechanisms including antioxidation, inhibition of lipid peroxidation and enhanced liver detoxification. Milk thistle has been shown to have clinical applications in the treatment of toxic hepatitis, cirrhosis, ischemic injury, and viral hepatitis.
Chanca Piedra (Phyllanthus niruri):
Chanca Piedra is the popular name given to several small shrub-like plants in the Phyllanthus genus growing up to 12 to 18 inches in height and are indigenous to rainforests of the Amazon Basin and to southern India and China. Chanca Piedra literally means “break stone”. It is believed to stimulate bile production and promote a healthy liver. It is known to break up and expel both kidney stones, and gall stones. It is believed to help stimulate the production of bile and to promote healthy liver and gall bladder function.
In two different studies it was reported that chanca piedra had liver protective and detoxifying actions in children with hepatitis and jaundice. In Britain researchers reported that children treated with chanca piedra for acute hepatitis had liver function return to normal in five days. Again, research in China also showed chanca piedra to have liver protective actions in adults with chronic hepatitis.
To brew Chanca Piedra tea, bring 3 to 4 cups of water to a boil, add 1 tablespoon of Chanca Piedra, simmer for 15 minutes, strain, and drink when cooled to your desired temperature. Add lemon juice if desired. Take in small amounts four times daily.
Caution: Chanca Piedra acts as a diuretic and so should not be taken over a prolonged period of time. It also has been shown to lower blood pressure and so should be used with caution if you already have low blood pressure. In addition it can lower blood sugar levels. If you are hypoglycemic be sure to be extra careful in keeping your blood sugar balanced while taking this herb.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale):
As a hepatic and cholagogue, dandelion is used in inflammation and congestion of liver and gall bladder. Dandelion is a general tonic and perhaps the best liver tonic. It acts by filtering toxins and wastes from the bloodstream. Dandelion exhibits hypoglycemic effects. It stimulates bile production, and helps the body get rid of excess water produced by the diseased liver.
Dandelion root has also been shown to have potential for fighting cancer. It uniformly remedy chronic liver congestion, and has also been used in medical practice to successfully treat hepatitis, swelling of the liver, jaundice, and dyspepsia with deficient bile secretion.
Recommended use: Boil a small amount of dandelion root in a glass of water for 10 minutes. It stimulates the liver and the gall bladder for the proper utilization of fats within the body. It also helps in the detoxification of the liver.
Artichoke (Cyara scolymus):
The leaf of artichoke has a strong bitter taste with a mild laxative action. It stimulates the secretion of bile in cases of liver malfunction. Artichoke has also been used for jaundice, dyspepsia and liver insufficiency. Artichokes contain ‘cynarin’ and ‘scolymoside’ which have been shown to stimulate bile production and secretion. This supports the traditional use of artichoke for creating support for sluggish livers and digestive irregularities. ‘Cynarin’ creates support for lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood.
Artichoke protects the liver against toxins and infection. It may lower serum cholesterol, improve digestion, provide liver protection, and suppress free radicals. It contains potent phytonutrients, such as chlorogenic acid and luteolin that may help prevent certain cancers.
Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis):
Rosemary has a toning and calming effect on the digestion and relieves cramps. Like many culinary herbs, rosemary helps relax muscles, including the stomach muscles of the digestive tract. Rosemary is rich in minerals, particularly calcium, and is easy to absorb. Rosemary is used in Europe as an aid to liver function and is particularly useful for ameliorating liver congestion and inflammation. Rosemary has been used since ancient times. It has a tonic effect upon the digestive systems. It relaxes the muscles of digestive tract. The stimulant action of rosemary helps promote immune system.
Barberry (Berberis vulgaris):
Barberry is one of the best remedies for correcting liver function and promoting the flow of bile. It contains a number of physiologically active alkaloids, like berberine, and berbamine. Barbery is recommended when there is an inflammation of the gallbladder or in the presence of gallstones, when jaundice occurs due to a congested state of the liver. It improves digestion and assimilation.
Other Beneficial Herbs:
Garlic is a potent antioxidant and universal tonic for the entire body. It effects the bile productions and has strong anti-cancer activities to help the liver. Its anti-fungal, anti-virus and anti-bacterial activities support the overall immune system.
Papaya seeds is also a beneficial and natural remedy to deal with liver cirrhosis. 1-teaspoon ground papaya seeds with 10-20 drops of lemon juice can be taken 2 -3 times a day.
Beets and beet tops are the richest source of betaine, a natural liver detoxifier and bile thinner. Use chopped or shredded raw beets combined with a little raw flax oil and lemon juice daily.
Ginger’s health benefits are simply stunning. It has been shown to be effective against bacterial staph infections. It can kill cancer cells. Its anti-inflammatory effects are already famous. It can resolve brain inflammations, and ease or cure a variety of gut problems, such as ulcerative colitis and acid reflux. It is also known to alleviate the effects of gamma radiation.
More importantly, Ginger is effective in the treatment of many types of liver diseases – including nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, that is known to cause the insulin resistance, and liver fibrosis. Ginger helps prevent and treat these liver conditions by reducing oxidative stress on the liver, decreasing insulin resistance and inhibiting inflammation. It increases levels of important antioxidant enzymes used by the liver, including glutathione and superoxide dismutase.
Maintaining a Healthy Liver:
It is simple – Just eat natural. Avoid processed food (read; canned and preserved foods), chemicals, pesticides and fried foods. Do not take excess sugar and salt in your diet.
Include protein rich foods like eggs (from cage free – free range hens), pulses and fish in your diet for liver support. Green vegetables and fruits like cucumber, carrots, spinach, cabbage, sprouts, mushroom, tomatoes, beans, beet, bitter gourd and papaya are very useful in detoxifying the whole system and maintaining healthy liver.
♦ Note: Eat ONLY organic vegetables and fruits.
Include liver-healthy herbs in your diets on rotational basis. Incorporate an annual regimen of liver-detox diet for a week.
In general, I also like the following liver healthy bits from the protocol of Dr. Christopher Hobbs:
Liver healthy Foods To Use:
Fish, organic chicken, and turkey
Fresh fruit in season, one to three pieces a day, depending on season and climate.
Foods To Avoid:
Nutritional Supplements to Add:
Combining Herbs for the Liver:
An effective herbal formula is often made up of several components. Each part has a specific function, or action type. An herbal formula for people with hepatitis may contain herbs with a number of different action types, depending on the person’s constitution and current health.
Here are some specific formula components that have proven effective through scientific studies and clinical experience:-
Antiviral herbs to help protect liver cells from viral infection:
General Protective and Rebuilding Herbs for the Liver:
This tea can be used long-term for chronic hepatitis or once an acute phase of hepatitis has passed. Dried extracts of the individual herbs or entire formulas containing many or all of the herbs in capsules or tablets are available in most health food stores and herb shops.
Simmer the herbs in a covered pot 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep, covered, for 10 minutes. Drink one cup morning and evening and one more if desired. Persist as long as you experience benefits.
Liver Support Juice:
- Lower your fat intake. Eat less refined, cooked oils and fats. Obtain essential oils from whole nuts and seeds.
- Rest the digestive system whenever possible. Don’t eat too late at night or too early in the morning. Don’t eat when not hungry, and especially never overeat.
- Be aware of proper food combining. Sweet fruit and cooked protein are the worst combination, causing fermentation.
- Liver flushes and drinking lemon-water keep the liver moisturized and free-flowing.
- Keep the eliminative channels open and free. Exercise to eliminate toxins via the lungs and skin. Have at least one bowel movement a day.
- Massage the liver area at least once a day to help remove congestion.
- Worry or anger can get stuck in the liver. Release these emotions in a constructive way.
- Antioxidants such as vitamins E and C, beta-carotene, zinc, and selenium protect against toxins. Herbal antioxidants are superior to synthetic vitamins, though both can be used together.
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— And, Enjoy a Cup of Cinnamon-Turmeric Tea —
Note & Caution – The Healing Crises:
Natural remedies and herbs, taken in moderation, are know to have no side effect. But, since they all have a detoxification effect on the system, body reacts by, sort of, ‘pouring out’ the toxins from the system. You may face, what is known as the Healing Crises.
Healing crisis commonly occur during a detoxification regimen. Common and temporary symptoms of detoxification include feeling lousy, headache, lightheadedness, diarrhea, cramps, bloating, body aches, fatigue, mood changes, and weakness. These symptoms are due to a combination of factors including the how toxins in the body are affected, low blood sugar, low fluids, electrolyte imbalance, withdrawal from various substances (such as alcohol, caffeine, sugar, nicotine), and even changes in your daily routine.
To avoid feeling those symptoms, adopt the natural remedies slow and easy – take smaller doses and portions in the beginning.
Remember recovery is a long process. Have patience and remain persistent and steady. Cherish and enjoy your health.
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- The Journal of Pre-Clinical and Clinical Research Herbal medicine for treatment and prevention of liver diseases..
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- Ansari JA. erapeutic Approaches in Management of Drug-induced Hepatotoxicity. J Biol Sci. 2010.
- Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Milk thistle: e ects on liver disease and cirrhosis and clinical adverse e ects. Summary, evidence report/technology assessment: number 21, September 2000.
- University of Maryland Medical Center Milk Thistle: Liver Disease.
- United States Environmental Protection Agency HERBAL REMEDIES AND THE TREATMENT OF LIVER DISEASE..
- US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Milk Thistle: Effects on Liver Disease and Cirrhosis and Clinical Adverse Effects Summary
- Barve A, Khan R, Marsano L, Ravindra KV, McClain C. Treatment of alcoholic liver disease. Ann Hepatol. 2008 Jan-Mar;7(1):5-15. Review.