As we go about our day, we ingest, inhale, and drink all sorts of health-boosting nutrients. At the same time, we take in waste and toxins. To get rid of these toxins, our body relies on all sorts of organs like the lungs and kidneys. But few are as important as the ‘detox powerhouse’ – the liver.
The Importance of your Liver
As one of the core detox organs, the liver detoxifies your blood of toxins, drugs, and alcohol. Aside from that, it stores vitamins and minerals and converts stored sugar into usable energy. And to boot, it produces bile that helps digest fats, breaks down hemoglobin, insulin, and other hormones, and destroy old red blood cells. You can bet it does a lot for your health!
Just like us, our livers can be overworked. Luckily there are many herbs and spices that help you detox. The most effective of these are bitter herbs. Bitter herbs stimulate the liver to work even better!
The most well-known herbs that support the liver are milk thistle and dandelion root. There are plenty of articles about the effects of milk thistle and dandelion, but have you heard of these herbs and their effects?
Blessed thistle is a bitter herb originally used in Ayurvedic medicine. It was given the name “blessed thistle” as it was thought to be a cure-all. When it comes to digestive problems and liver support, blessed thistle has few rivals. Blessed thistle is often made into a tea where it serves as an expectorant and, in large doses, an emetic. An expectorant is something which helps clear the chest of mucus, perfect for when you’ve got a cough and cold. As an emetic, it would cause vomiting which would be a last resort when supporting your liver. In lower doses, it stimulates your stomach acids and supports digestion.
If you’re familiar with Japanese cuisine, you may know about this plant. Like blessed thistle, burdock is a bitter herb. While the whole plant is used, more popular is the root which can be prepared in food, mixed with alcohol for a potent tincture, or made into tea. Burdock is used primarily to purify the blood and detoxify the liver. Burdock functions as a diuretic to encourage urination. By using burdock, you’re able to remove waste from the blood and relieve the stress put on your liver. Burdock’s detoxification powers don’t end there! In Native American tradition, burdock has been used to treat all sorts of skin conditions like acne, eczema and psoriasis. This is due to its antibacterial, antifungal, and diaphoretic (sweat inducing) properties. Have you ever thought of growing your own burdock? Well it definitely doesn’t take much effort, and it rewards you with one of the best ways to detox naturally!
Red clover is a wild herb that grows native to northwest Africa, Europe, and Asia. Red clover has many similarities to burdock. Like burdock, it has blood purifying powers and stimulates sweating which expels toxins from our skin. This makes it effective when treating skin conditions. Red clover can even be made into a salve to relieve inflammation. When used for liver support, red clover is typically taken as a tea where it lends a slightly sweet taste. As a tea, red clover acts as an expectorant helping your body get rid of mucus. Who knew helping your liver could be so easy and sweet?
Whenever I have a salad (which is quite often!), one of my favourite ingredients to include is watercress. Watercress is an excellent source of bone-strengthening vitamin K (over 300% of the daily recommended value!), skin maintaining vitamin A and protein. But did you know it also helps with your body’s detoxing process? Watercress is rich in phytochemicals calledglucosinates. This compound enhances your liver’s detox abilities, possibly to an extraordinary degree! One study from the University of Illinois found that these glucosinates allows the liver to detoxify cancer-causing carcinogens. Similar to other detox herbs, watercress serves as a diuretic.
Like many of the other herbs on this list, sheep sorrel is a bitter. It supports the liver as a diuretic which flushes out toxins through the urine. Sheep sorrel is one of the main ingredients in the cancer-fighting essiac tea and for good reason! It is nutrient-rich and purifies the blood of infections and other impurities.
Each of these herbs are effective at removing toxins and waste from your body. When you give your body a natural cleanse, you give your always-working liver a much needed break!