Support the liver's functioning
Adriana Restagno, ND
A liver cleanse or detox requires proper nutritional support to be truly effective.
Spring marks the beginning of a season of fresh possibilities: turning new leaves and undertaking new projects. With spring comes the natural desire for clearing and cleansing—the house, the car, the body, the soul. Springtime welcomes detoxification.
In traditional Chinese medicine, the organs associated with springtime are the liver and gallbladder, key players in the body’s detoxification system.
While our body has a very efficient detoxification system, it may not be able to handle situations involving excess intake or production of toxins or a reduction in capacity of the processes of elimination. Over time, toxins can accumulate and have additive effects. These additive effects can put one at risk for serious diseases later in life.
The liver has two primary pathways to assist with detoxification. They are known as phase one and phase two detoxification pathways. Through these pathways, harmful toxins are broken down and converted into forms that can be safely excreted from the body.
In phase one, enzymes in the liver convert toxins into more neutral byproducts through a series of chemical reactions. Antioxidants and other nutrients are required to neutralize the byproducts during this stage.
In phase two, the liver neutralizes byproducts from phase one and converts them to less harmful substances. Once toxins are in a form that can be safely excreted, the kidneys and bowel take over for the final task of elimination.
If the liver is not in good health, these toxins and other substances can accumulate, causing the liver to be overworked and inefficient, leading to incomplete detoxification and a toxic buildup in the body. Various symptoms may then arise, such as headaches, chronic fatigue, allergies, food sensitivities, and skin conditions such as acne, eczema, or psoriasis.
Detoxification is an energy-requiring process that requires proper nutritional support. To optimize the body’s own cleansing system, a hypoallergenic diet is recommended, along with a quality probiotic and adequate intake of fibre. Fibre helps to bind and excrete excess cholesterol and hormone metabolites, and it also helps to establish normal bowel motility.
Sour and bitter foods, such as lemon and dandelion, help stimulate the liver and gallbladder.
Start your day with the juice of half a lemon in 8 oz (250 mL) of water; it’s not only refreshing and cleansing, but also helps stimulate digestive juices. Milk thistle, a known liver-protecting herb, helps to support the liver’s function.
This spring, take care of your liver! Consult your natural health practitioner prior to starting a detoxification program.