Take your New Year’s rejuvenation to the next level with herbal helpers
The following herbs are readily available to help in the process of toxin elimination and offer many other health benefits.
A cozy cup of herbal tea is an awesome way to reap the cleansing benefits of these detox herbs. But you can also find the herbs as convenient capsules, liquids and powders in stores.
Originally native to the Mediterranean region, milk thistle can now be found around the world. A spiky-looking herb boasting brilliant purple flowers, milk thistle is widely known as a liver tonic and detoxifier. It’s been used in herbal medicine to treat both acute and chronic viral hepatitis, alcoholic liver disease and toxin-induced liver diseases. While more research is needed to determine the extent of milk thistle’s effectiveness, it shows promise and is one of the most widely studied detox herbs.
Certain components of the milk thistle plant (found mostly in the fruit and seeds) may act as a buffer between toxins and your body, preventing the toxins from binding to your liver cells and thus blocking toxin overload before it occurs.
Take note: Consult a health care practitioner to confirm which herbs are right for you, especially if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or taking any medications.
Tea up: To make milk thistle tea, add 2/3 cup boiling water to 3.5 g dried fruit and seed, and steep for 10 to 15 minutes.
You might mistake it for a weed, but dandelion actually has powerful detoxing properties. The root has traditionally been used as a liver detoxifier, and both the root and leaves serve as a digestive tonic. The herb also helps flush the urinary tract by eliminating excess fluid from the body.
Tea up: To make dandelion tea, steep 1 Tbsp dried root and leaves (crushed) in 2/3 cup hot water for 10 to 15 minutes.
Although fresh nettle is primarily known for its stinging quality, dried nettle is one of the most impressive detox herbs. It contributes to the detoxification of the urinary tract, and it also contains histamine that may help with seasonal allergies.
In fact, medical herbalist Katolen Yardley explains that while “many herbs play a valued role in seasonal cleansing and decreasing signs and symptoms of internal toxicity, nettle is an ideal choice for treating allergic eczema and allergies, like sneezing and a runny nose.”
Tea up: Look for prepackaged nettle leaf tea or capsules on store shelves.
This tall plant can grow to three or four feet high—and its detoxing properties are just as impressive. Burdock has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to clear toxins from the bloodstream, and it’s known to increase urine output. The root contains antioxidants, while the leaf helps cleanse our mouths of unwanted micro-organisms.
Take note: If you have allergies to daisies, chrysanthemums or ragweed, be cautious of using burdock, as it’s possible you’ll be sensitive to this herb as well
Tea up: To make burdock tea, place 2 to 6 g dried burdock root in 1 cup water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
Go the extra detox mile by adding these supportive nutrients to your diet year-round.
Turmeric: Curcumin, a component of this Indian spice, helps reduce inflammation in the intestinal tract. Try tossing fresh or ground turmeric into soups and smoothies along with a pinch of black pepper. (Pairing pepper with turmeric helps your body absorb a lot more curcumin.)
Fiber: Americans eat an average of 16 g of fiber a day—but you should aim for up to 38 g a day. Add 1 to 2 Tbsp of chia or flax to your breakfast or pop a psyllium supplement to support regular bowel function.
Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA): This anti-inflammatory antioxidant reduces damage that may be caused within your body during normal metabolic activity. Get more of this antioxidant by taking an ALA supplement.
PHOTOS BY Scott Yavis