Happy New Year everyone! I hope you’ve all been reflecting, reminiscing, and remembering the past year with fondness or newfound realization. I know it was a hard year for a lot of people, but we can pull through! What would you change? Did you carry out last year’s resolutions only somewhat or completely? What are your new goals for the new year?
Here’s my question for you: How’s your head feeling this morning? Or better yet, how’s your liver treating you this fine day?
Many of us love to reel in the New Year with a strong drink or three, only feeling the downside of the previous night’s celebrations when we wake up the next morning. A dry mouth, thudding head, and bleary vision are but a few of the symptoms one notices after a night of toasting the New Year to come. However, there are a few others that you might not have noticed as keenly as a hangover that may be a signal to detox.
Some the most common signs telling you that you need to detox are:
• Heavy stomach with slow digestion
• Brain fog throughout the day
• Overall lack of energy
• Poor sleep
• Weight gain/trouble losing weight
• Hormonal issues
• Mood swings
• Excessive sweating
• Dark urine
• Bruise easily
• Poor appetite
• Yellow eyes and skin
• Acid reflux and heartburn
It’s no secret this time of year leads to a few over-indulgences in both food and alcohol. In just a few short months we might go from keeping a sharp eye on our diets and exercise habits to overlooking a few sweets here or a few drinks there. I have to say that I personally fell off the wagon pretty badly this year once October began. I went from exercising 3-4 times a week and eating healthy to not exercising at all and eating a lot of take-out. All of my hard work to build a strong lean body basically went out the window in just a few short weeks. So don’t worry, you’re not alone!
I’ve already felt many of the symptoms I’ve listed above, and for me, they all point to a sluggish and congested liver.
How to Detox your Liver for Better Health and Overall Toxin Release
Everything you eat, drink, breath, or apply to the skin goes through the liver in one way or another. It’s the organ that sifts out and filters everything toxic from your body in order to keep you healthy. Without a strong clean liver, the body can easily become overburdened with recycled waste. This waste can be excess hormones, anger, and other negative emotions, or chemicals from food, drink, or body care products that get recirculated into the bloodstream. These toxins get out of control because the liver is overtaxed by stress during the holiday season and the over-indulgences that go along with it.
Impaired liver function can affect:
1. Excretion of bile
2. Synthesis of bile salts
3. Carbohydrate metabolism
4. Lipid metabolism
5. Protein metabolism
6. Phagocytosis (The process of breaking down red blood cells to create iron, globin, and bilirubin)
7. Storage of vitamins and minerals
8. Activation of vitamin D
9. Removal of drugs and hormones
It’s important to cleanse and support the liver, but when this doesn’t happen it needs to be toned and detoxed in order to function normally again.
Why Should We Worry About Taking Care of Our Liver?
The liver is responsible for ridding the body of wastes making it one of the hardest working organs in the body. it works tirelessly 24 hours a day to purify and detox the blood, produce the bile needed to digest fats, break down excess hormones, and store essential vitamins and minerals for later use.
Some of the most important functions of the liver include:
- Regulating blood composition in order to balance protein, fats, and sugar
- Processing nutrients absorbed through the intestines
- Destroying and filtering out old bed blood cells
- Breaks down and metabolizes alcohol and medications
- Produces chemicals essential for blood clotting
- Producing cholesterol and proteins
- Stores nutrients
- Removes toxins from the blood
In order to carry out these extremely important functions, the liver must be in optimum health.
How to Detox your Liver with Herbs
Herbs are powerful allies to have. Not only can they restore and nourish the liver, but they can also detox and cleanse it.
There are two main ways to detox the liver. The first is directed at the cells that actually do the detoxing (aka hepatocytes). The herbs used for this type of hepatocyte stimulation are powerful and should be used with great care so I won’t list them here.
The second are herbs that help with digestive functions including the breakdown of fats, the production and release of bile, and the overall functionality of the gallbladder.
Some of the best herbs for detoxing the liver in relation to digestion are:
Milk Thistle- Considered the "king" of detoxifying herbs, milk thistle protects and restores the liver by helping it rid the body of heavy metals, prescription medications, environmental pollutants, and alcohol. It also helps restore and rejuvenate the liver. This herb is gentle yet effective and is often used in capsule form or powdered (the seeds) and stirred into juice. (You can get it here)
Burdock Root- One of the best blood purifiers, burdock is also an excellent herb for bile excretion and liver restoration. (You can get it here)
Oregon Grape Root- Improves digestion and liver function by protecting it from viruses and other liver-related illness. (You can get it here)
Artichoke Leaves- Stimulates the flow of bile and improves digestive function. (You can get it here)
Turmeric- Promotes digestive secretions and soothes inflammation in the digestive tract. Also increases the production and release of bile and restores blood sugar balance. Turmeric is one of the most popular herbs for supporting healthy liver tissue and liver metabolism. (You can get it here)
Chicory- Both protects the liver and supports the breakdown of fats by increasing the flow of bile. (you can get it here)
Dandelion Root- Stimulates bile and relieves liver congestion. It's also a diuretic which helps the liver eliminate toxins more quickly. Often used in bitters recipes. (You can get it here)
These herbs are often used as long-term tonics for restoring liver function. You may have noticed that almost all of these herbs have to do with bile production, one of the most important digestive functions. Without enough bile, we don’t break down fats completely which often leads to an overworked liver. Get your bitters in my friends; it’s going to help you immensely!
How to Use the Herbs...
All of these herbs are relatively safe and can be taken as teas, tinctures, capsules, tablets, or simply added to one’s diet twice per day according to instructions.
I personally use milk thistle, burdock, and turmeric morning and night to keep my liver healthy and functioning well. Along with eating healthy, staying hydrated, and exercising, your liver should be in tip-top shape in no time!
A Few More Tips for Detoxing Your Liver
- Remove toxic foods from your diet - eating processed foods will only cause your liver to work even harder. Plus these foods are linked to causing serious health conditions.
- Drink fresh raw juices daily - juicing allows for a higher intake of easily assimilated nutrients which gives your liver a much-needed break.
- Eat more potassium-rich foods - Eat foods like sweet potatoes, bananas, tomatoes, dark leafy greens, beets, blackstrap molasses, and beans.
- Take desiccated liver or eat more iron-rich foods
- Do a liver flush
Which herbs do you use to detox your liver?
Check out these articles below for more tips on liver detox below:
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