The liver. It’s not something that most of us routinely think about. But the liver is the largest internal organ in the body. Its best-known role is that of garbage collector—in a world filled with toxins, it’s the liver’s job to break down the contaminants that come our way and get them ready to be escorted from the body. Ideally, the liver could process all of the toxins we encounter, but due to the sheer volume of industrial chemicals and pollutants that we are exposed to today, the liver’s natural ability to detoxify can have trouble keeping up. The following herbs and nutrients can not only help optimize overall liver function, but also specifically support the organ’s detoxification mechanisms.
1. Amla Fruit Extract
Is one of the most important foods in Ayurvedic medicine, largely because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Scientific studies show that amla effectively prevents the toxic effects of many industrial chemicals, heavy metals, and pharmaceutical drugs. Amla is also one of the richest natural sources of vitamin C.
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Amla fruit, also known as Indian gooseberry, is high in phytochemicals, plant compounds with antioxidant properties that help fight free radicals in the body.
Is the most powerful antioxidant made by the body, and the highest levels are found in the liver. Often called “The Master Antioxidant,” glutathione is made up of three amino acids—cysteine, glycine, and glutamine. Along with quenching free radicals in the liver, glutathione plays a critical role in Phase II detoxification, a key part of the body’s two-step detoxification process.
3. Milk thistle extract
Is perhaps the best-known herb for liver support. Milk thistle’s most active compound is silymarin, a polyphenol with powerful antioxidant activity that scavenges damaging free radicals. What’s more, milk thistle boosts the activity of the body’s own antioxidants such as glutathione. Studies suggest that milk thistle also inhibits inflammation, stimulates new liver cell production, and prevents glutathione depletion. Artichoke, which is related to the milk thistle plant, is another liver-protective herb.
4. Burdock Root
Is another liver-specific herb. Rich in iron, calcium, and vitamin C, burdock stimulates bile flow and protects and tonifies the liver. A study in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine found that burdock defends against the toxic effects of acetaminophen and the industrial compound carbon tetrachloride. Taiwanese researchers found that burdock root also helps guard the liver from chronic alcohol consumption.
Is a single-celled, freshwater alga that has survived on the earth for more than 2 billion years. The secret to its longevity is chlorella’s fibrous outer wall. Hidden within that wall—which is indigestible to humans—are powerful detoxification properties. Fortunately, scientists have found that breaking the wall releases chlorella’s natural ability to bind toxins and heavy metals through a process known as chelation. Chlorella also boasts a wealth of nutrients, including B vitamins, vitamins C and K, minerals, essential fatty acids, and fiber.