Liver Tonics: Herbal Detox
Agrimony * Artichoke, Globe * Ashwagandha root * Barberry * Blessed Thistle * Boldo * Bupleurum * Celandine * Chicory root * Dandelion Root * Devil's Claw * Dong Quai * Fo-Ti Root * Fringe tree * Fumitory * Gentian * Maitake mushroom * Milk Thistle Seed * Pau d’arco * Reishi Mushroom * Schisandra * Wormwood *
A healthy liver is the foundation of health, and inversely, a failing liver is life threatening. If your liver fails, so do you. There are constant pressures on the liver from environmental toxins in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food and medicines we digest. The liver is amazingly complex organ, the largest one in the body, and it affects virtually every physiological process.
Bitters & Syrups
Herbs that help support the liver are called hepatics. These herbal tonics help it perform these vital functions: aiding digestion, increasing energy, and eliminating toxins. Toxic buildup is thought to be the underlying causes of conditions such as chronic fatigue, stress, and inflammatory conditions like arthritis, and psoriasis.
The liver detoxifies harmful biochemicals produced naturally as byproducts of internal processes, and those we willfully take in, i.e., drugs, alcohol, and chemical additives in processed foods. Milk thistle is the best known of the liver tonics. The seeds contain silymarin, which has been shown to protect the liver against a number of toxins, including excessive alcohol. Dandelion root contains taraxacin, a hepatic stimulant, insulin, as sugar, and lecithin, also good for liver problems. (Dawson,Adele) Consider adding chicory to your morning coffee if you have a liver or heart problem - according to Dr. Duke chicory could be our best source of inulin, a phytochemical that bucks up the immune system. Other compounds in the plant fight inflammation and bacterial infections to a limited extent. (Duke,James, Ph.D.)
Bitter herbs support the digestive process and help support improve fat digestion and prevent waste accumulation in the liver. They can be used as a digestive aid before meals in tea or extract form.Gentian, Wormwood and blessed thistle are good examples of classic bitters. In fact most, if not all, herbs that are considered to be good liver tonics have a bitter principle; including milk thistle, dandelion, chamomile and ginger. Blessed thistle is an excellent tonic for the liver and is known to repair damaged liver cells. (Gladstar, Rosemary)
In Chinese medicine alcohol extracts of Schisandra helped to regenerate liver tissue. Reishi Mushroom is used to prevent "fatty-liver" and cirrhosis due to alcohol abuse. Reishi mushrooms are particularly renowned in Asian traditions use in diseases of the liver and for promoting longevity. Preliminary studies indicated that ganoderic acids, a major active ingredient in reishi helps to improve oxygen utilization and improve liver functions. (Foster, Steven and Yue "Herbal Emissaries")
Teas and extracts made from the leaves of the globe artichoke, are a traditional tonic for the liver and gallbladder. Drink 1/2 cup of the fresh juice of the common salad radish daily as good tonic to improve digestion and maintain a healthy liver and gallbladder. Chill the juice before drinking to improve the rather pungent taste. Drink in divided doses throught the day. Weiss recommends a 5 day on/2 days off regimen continued for some time to be effective.(Weiss, Rudolf Fritz M.D.)
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- Linda B. White, M.D.. "The Herbal Drugstore" , (2003) Milk thistle seeds have a long history of use in protecting the liver. It contains silymarin, which has been shown to protect the liver against a number of toxins, including alcohol. A frequent drinker or recovering alcoholic should take milk thistle extract on a daily basis.
- James Duke. "The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook" Rodale Books, (2000) Active constituents in boldo leaves, makes them useful for a range of stomach, intestinal, and liver complaints.
- Maud Grieve. "Modern Herbal Vol 1" Harcourt, (1931) Astringent tonic, diuretic. Agrimony has had a great reputation for curing jaundice and other liver complaints.
- Phyllis A. Balch. "Prescription for Herbal Healing" Avery, (2002) Artemisia increases the secretion of bile into the gastrointestinal tract, thus aiding the liver in draining its waste products.