How to Detox Your Liver Holistically

Your liver is your body’s primary filtration system, converting toxins into waste products, cleansing your blood, and metabolizing nutrients and medications to provide the body with some of its most important proteins. Your liver works tirelessly to keep you healthy, performing over 500 tasks to support your body’s well-being. Being such a fundamental part of the body’s overall regulation, it is essential to keep your liver healthy and to avoid over consumption. 

One of the most important roles of the liver is to detoxify the blood to get rid of harmful substances. These harmful substances are most commonly due to lifestyle factors such as alcohol, tobacco, beauty products and processed and fried foods, especially when consumed in large quantities. Other taxing chemicals are harder to avoid, like pollution, prescribed drugs, viruses and natural by-products of metabolism.

Unfortunately, due to poor diet and lifestyle factors, and constant exposure to harmful toxins, the average American is walking around with only 50-60% of their optimal liver function. The side effects of poor liver function are endless and can include high blood pressure/high cholesterol, low energy, poor metabolism, and excess weight gain among other ailments. Virtually everything your body digests has to be filtered and passed through the liver, so supporting the detoxification and health of your liver is crucial to vitality and long-term health. This guide aims to inform you of  how to detox your liver naturally, so that you can support this important organ as well as your body’s overall health.


The detox is essentially the process of removing toxins from the body, so the first step in this process is to reduce your consumption of these toxins in this first place. Some of the most common factors to reduce include refined sugars, processed foods, chemicals in certain foods, beverages and beauty products, tobacco, alcohol and excessive coffee. The next step is to incorporate a selection of organic foods and herbs to your diet so that you can naturally cleanse and protect this hard-working organ.

The liver naturally detoxifies the body, however, even this remarkable organ can be excessively burdened by the assault of toxins so common in everyday life—chemicals, preservatives, pesticides, processed sugar, rancid oils, excess alcohol, pollution and the constant stress that so many of us face today. We are routinely exposed to over 84,000 chemicals (many untested for safety because they were grandfathered in by the Toxic Substances Act). To make matters worse, we live in an environment in which every television commercial, store, and restaurant, seems to tempt us to eat high-fat, sugary, refined foods that place a significant burden on the liver’s detoxification system. Finally, the liver is impacted by chronic stress, a feature of contemporary life—which can lead to chronic high levels of cortisol, and contribute to fatty liver—a liver disease affecting an estimated 80 to 100 million people in the united states.

It is amazing that the liver is even capable of handling as much as it does, especially in our modern era with so much exposure to toxic substances. A liver detox can support your liver in eliminating these toxins from the body, and rejuvenating the health of your liver to support better health in the body—from cholesterol and hormone metabolism to detoxification, energy and even cognitive function.


While one can benefit from a liver cleanse even without experiencing symptoms of poor liver health, there are certain signs and symptoms of an overtaxed or stressed liver that suggest your liver may benefit from a little loving care and detoxification.


Fatigue is a common complaint that many people experience, and it is often experienced when the liver is under stress. The liver converts glucose into glycogen, a form of sugar that can be stored, and then later released as glucose when the body needs a burst of energy. By storing and supplying the body with glucose, the liver helps provide energy and combat fatigue. If the liver is stressed it may become less efficient at regulation of blood glucose. Fatigue and sugar cravings may pop up as a result.


When the flow of bile is stagnant or slowed, the gut shifts towards a state of dysbiosis, where unfriendly flora dominate, and constipation is common. The toxins from pathogenic bacteria then block detoxification pathways in the liver as well. With the resulting imbalance of flora and dysbiosis, excessive gas and bloating may be experienced after eating.


The liver detoxifies more than chemicals and pollutants. It also detoxifies our own hormones, including excess estrogen. Not surprisingly, when liver function is impaired, excess estrogen may not be adequately bound and excreted. Signs of excess estrogen in women can include PMS, fibrocystic breasts, moodiness, weight gain, menstrual disturbances, fibroids and more.


Nearly 60 million Americans are affected by sleep disorders every year. There are many different sleeping problems that people struggle with, from taking too long to fall asleep, to waking up too early, having poor sleep quality or frequently waking up during the night. People often resort to sleeping medications, meditation, or relaxation techniques to try to get a good night’s rest. One simple solution, however, may be to improve liver function. Sleep disturbances have long been observed in chronic liver conditions, and one mechanism may be impaired hepatic melatonin metabolism. Melatonin is the “circadian rhythm” hormone—the hormone our bodies naturally release as darkness falls, and which readies us for a good night’s sleep. 


When the liver is under stress, some people may find themselves more reactive to chemical exposures, including gasoline, kerosene, natural gas, pesticides, solvents, new carpet, adhesives, glues, fabric softener, formaldehyde, cleaning agents, medications and more. Seasonal pollen allergies may worsen, and food sensitivities may increase. The liver is responsible for breaking down excess histamine, and if it is sluggish, histamine may build up in the body. In individuals with chronic cholestasis and impaired bile flow, blood levels of histamine have been found to be significantly greater than normal.


Human exposure to heavy metals has soared due to an exponential increase of metals in industrial, agricultural, and technological applications. From coal burning power plants to plastics, textiles, electronics, wood preservation, and paper processing, metals are pervasive in everyday life. Heavy metals can cause DNA damage and contribute to a variety of human illnesses. When the liver’s detoxification pathways are impaired, heavy metals can accumulate in the body. In particular, the liver’s stores of glutathione, which safely and effectively binds to toxins and metals, can be depleted.


The liver truly is an amazing organ. Not only does it perform an astounding number of tasks in the body, but it is also the only visceral organ in the body that can actually regenerate itself. If even a mere quarter of your original liver is left, it can regenerate back to its full size. Your liver’s capacity for repair is incredible. It just needs a little extra care and attention. So, how do you detox the liver?  


One of the best things you can do for your liver is to give it a much-needed break. If you have a diet, lifestyle or environment in which you are exposed to many toxins—such as consuming fast food, processed and packaged foods, candy, snacks, sodas, alcohol, cigarettes, harmful beauty and hygiene products, breathing in industrial chemicals, etc.—consider avoiding these sources of toxic exposure for a while and allow your liver to lighten its load. Spend time in nature if you can, breathing in fresh air and taking in the healing power of the natural world. 


Water is essential for all types of cleansing. It helps us flush out built up toxins and supports elimination in the body, not to mention that all of the body’s processes are dependent upon it. Unfortunately, even our water can be a source of toxins nowadays. Avoid drinking tap water or water in plastic containers if possible, and aim to drink distilled water or water from a natural spring or well. There are many different opinions on how much water you should be drinking every day. Health authorities commonly recommend eight 8-ounce glasses, which equals about 2 liters, or half a gallon.


Stress can be taxing on our whole body—especially for the liver. Many studies have revealed that chronic psychological stress can lead to liver disease, and in extreme cases, the liver disease can even result in death. It is essential for your health to learn ways to better manage and reduce stress. This can be as simple as learning how to pause, take a deep breath, and exhale letting go of your mental and physical tension. It can be more involved and can include limiting exposure to the causes of stress, supporting your body with adaptogenic herbs, and actively learning relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or breathwork.


Sleep is essential in the healing process. Of course, for those suffering from poor liver health, sleep may be impaired. Still, it is important to do your best to get adequate rest, for it is during sleep that the body’s energy is solely focused on regeneration and repair.


Regular exercise is key to a healthy liver. Exercise decreases stress on the liver, increases energy levels and helps to prevent obesity – a risk factor for liver disease. Aim for a total of 150 minutes of exercise, such as brisk walking or swimming per week. 


 Some foods that particularly help to detoxify the liver are: 

  • Avocados, tomatoes and spinach—which contain glutathione, a substance that protects cells against oxidation, and helps to detoxify the body from heavy metals.
  • Carrots and beets—which also contain glutathione and are rich in flavonoids and beta-carotene that help the liver to regenerate and perform its purification role.
  • Asparagus—which has diuretic properties that help the cleansing process by activating the functions of the liver and kidneys that eliminate the toxins.
  • Green leafy veggies—which are rich in chlorophyll, an assimilative pigment that is capable of absorbing toxins from the environment and purifying blood from heavy metals.
  • Cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cauliflower—which increase the production of glucosinolate enzymes in the body, helping to eliminate carcinogens and other toxins.
  • Apples—which are rich in pectin, facilitate the process of cleansing the liver.
  • Citrus—another source of glutathione that is rich in vitamin C and antioxidants. They stimulate the production of liver and bile detoxification enzymes and improve the process of cleansing the liver. 


Bitter botanicals have been used for hundreds of years. They promote proper drainage of the liver, kidneys, lymph, and help support intestinal health. First and foremost, they support healthy bile flow, which is critical for digestive function, and helps balance your gut flora, since bile acids are antimicrobial. Toxins and their metabolites are eliminated from the liver into the bile, and out of the body via the stool. Thus, healthy bile flow is important for liver health, and regularly consuming bitter herbs and foods is very helpful for improving liver function. Dandelion, bitter melon, wormwood, chicory, endive, lettuce, and chamomile are examples of bitter herbs.

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