by Ola Mazurkiewicz Dip NT, mNTOI

The liver is a very important organ of our digestive tract. The liver’s main job is to filter the blood coming from the digestive tract, before passing it to the rest of the body. The liver also detoxifies chemicals and metabolizes drugs. Liver is arguably one of the most important organs in your body’s natural detoxification system. The liver also makes proteins important for blood clotting and other functions.

This is just one small role that liver plays in our body, however; the liver has more than 500 functions, from metabolizing fat to regulating hormones, and if it spends too much time working to remove toxins, your health can falter. It is therefore very important to support the liver especially over the festive season when we drink and eat more. Bellow a list of herbs and nutrients know to be beneficial for improving the liver function.

Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) has been used for 2,000 years as an herbal remedy for a variety of ailments, particularly liver, kidney, and gall bladder problems. Several scientific studies suggest that substances in milk thistle (especially a flavonoid called silymarin) protect the liver from toxins, including certain drugs and alcohol. Silymarin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. And it may help the liver repair itself by growing new cells.

Boldo extract have a long history of use in folk medicine. In North America, boldo is arguably best known as a liver tonic and for its ability to stimulate the production of bile. The tea may help to treat a variety of liver and gallbladder-related disorders such as jaundice, hepatitis and gallstones. The tea is also used to stimulate the appetite, enhance digestion, promote bowel health and relieve flatulence and constipation.

Artichokes have been used for thousands of years by Mediterranean civilizations, including the Romans, Greeks and Egyptians. It is in silymarin and cynarin, therefore your liver loves artichokes as it is is extremely beneficial to proper liver function.  One of the major benefits of artichokes to your liver is that they are a natural defense against hepatoxicity [toxicity of the liver].  As a natural diuretic and choleretic, artichokes stimulate bile production, improve gallbladder function and aid in a more efficient breakdown of foods for overall improved digestion.

Dandelion is commonly known as a weed and grows in nearly every part of the world. Dandelion root is extremely bitter and bitter foods have a cleansing effect on your liver. However, dandelion root is even more beneficial to your liver. In herbal medicine it was traditionally used for hepatitis, jaundice, gallbladder infections and for helping to dissolve gallstones. It is very helpful for people with a sluggish liver, which can be responsible for the following symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Bad breath
  • Fatigue
  • Indigestion & abdominal bloating
  • Irritability
  • Sugar cravings
  • Skin problems
  • Excess weight

Burdock root supports liver and gall bladder function, and the herb is considered an immune system stimulant. Burdock root shows a protective properties against cellular damage and abnormal growths, and reduced liver damage from toxic chemicals. The polyacetylene in burdock root is what is believed to give burdock root its antibacterial and antifungal properties.

Alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant shown to decrease the amount of hepatic fibrosis associated with liver injury. Because alpha-lipoic acid is fat soluble, it can penetrate the cell membrane to exert therapeutic action. It has been shown to effectively scavenge harmful free radicals, chelate toxic heavy metals, and help prevent mutated gene expression. Another of its most beneficial functions is enhancing the effects of other essential antioxidants including glutathione, which is vital to a healthy liver.

Glutathione is the single most powerful antioxidant your body produces and recycles. It’s made in the liver, the organ most responsible for detoxifying your body, so optimal liver function is absolutely essential. If your liver isn’t functioning well, glutathione production suffers, toxins overwhelm it and illness, both short term and long, are not far behind.

When the liver is seriously overloaded for an extended period of time this can cause a liver damage. One significant factor is alcohol: stopping alcohol intake will help stop progression. Ending the use of hepatotoxic drugs and removing sources of environmental toxins will also stop progression. The possible presence of metabolic diseases (eg, hemochromatosis, Wilson’s disease) should be investigated. Identifying the presence of hepatitis viruses is essential. Because obesity plays an important role in fatty liver, attention to weight control is essential.

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