Detoxification and liver restoration
Updated: Feb 10, 2019
Love your liver
Not just the detoxification centre, the liver performs over 500 tasks on a daily basis. Below are some of them:
detoxifies and purifies blood by breaking down chemicals into smaller molecules for excretion via urine or faeces;
breaking down the food we eat to make energy;
stores vitamins and iron;
cleans the blood during times of infection;
produces bile and releases to the gallbladder – bile is responsible for breaking down the fats we eat, and is also a natural laxative;
manufacturing and breaking down hormones, and then regulating them;
recycles old and worn out red blood cells to be used for other things;
makes blood plasma proteins which carry nutrients, hormones and proteins within the blood;
makes blood clotting factors to stop us bleeding to death when we cut/injure ourselves;
assembles amino acids for neurotransmitters;
manufactures and activates enzymes that are responsible for many processes, including repairing damaged tissue; and
many other tasks that are too long to list here!
If the liver cells are damaged, or if they're exposed to chemicals, alcohol, drugs, bacteria or viruses, they will not function at their optimum. Think of a factory worker with a long list of tasks to do every day to keep the factory working. If there is a piece of machinery that isn't working as it should, it will hold up the processing of all those daily tasks. Then the back log builds up and gets bigger and bigger, making it harder and harder for that factory worker to get things done, until the machinery gets a service, or is fixed, or if nothing is done about it, it breaks down.
Signs of an over-tired, over-worked liver
When our liver has a lot to process and is having difficulty keeping up, it will not function well whilst carrying out day-to-day tasks, it will perform slower, and will be less effective than a healthy liver. It is also dependent on our genes and our constitution. Some signs of a tired liver are:
digestive enzymes are not produced, causing sluggish digestion;
feeling nausea after eating fatty foods - not enough bile being produced because liver is stressed from other tasks;
toxins are not removed as efficiently, causing headaches from the build-up of toxins in circulation;
poor health and increased susceptibility to infections because of the liver's reduced effectiveness in clearing bacteria or viruses;
itchy skin conditions, food intolerances/allergies; and
because the liver is involved in the release of glucose when you need energy, when it is hampered by having to process things other than all its usual tasks, you will feel fatigued.
Nowadays, there are so many chemicals that we are exposed to:
plastics surrounding our food, preservatives, additives, pesticides;
antibiotics in farmed animals and pesticides or other chemicals their feed is exposed to;
exhaust fumes, other air pollution from various industries;
non-smelling paint, fire retardants on furniture, clothes we wear that are not made from natural fibres;
pharmaceutical drugs in the water table that are not removed; and
many more sources than I can name!
Some of these chemicals cannot be broken down because our bodies do not recognise their molecular shape, and do not have the enzymes to break these down. These chemicals can get trapped within cells or in-between cells, causing inflammation, unhealthy symptoms and disease. A good, even though extreme, example is asbestos fibres, where the body is unable to break these down to remove them.
How to help your liver
There are other organs that remove waste products:
lungs (exhaled breath),
kidneys (via urine),
skin (via sweat), and
digestive system (via faeces).
If we help each of these body systems, we can help buffer the work that the liver does, as well as helping the liver itself, of course. Using saunas can help remove toxins, and lymphatic drainage massage can help remove toxins from the lymphatic system. Improving digestion will assist in removal of waste products. Taking certain supplements can also assist in detoxification processes. Drinking herbal teas that help the kidneys with their work will improve detoxification via urine.
Herbs can protect liver cells from damage, and can help restore the liver to a good state. Herbal teas can have a lovely gentle effect, and will work on the kidneys to increase urine production, and therefore removal of wastes via urine.
Avoid food high in fats and sugar, and eat smaller, more frequent meals than larger ones, which will reduce the amount of food processing that the liver has to do after a meal. Foods high in fat create more work for the liver which then has to produce more bile to break down the fat.
Exercise improves blood circulation, meaning the liver cleans more blood than if you didn’t do any exercise. In addition, the extra blood flow to the lungs increases the amount of waste products transported to the lungs for exhalation. Cardiovascular exercise makes us inhale and exhale deeper, which helps to remove the toxins that can be removed via the lungs. Because exercise also increases metabolism, the liver will be able to carry out digestive processes more quickly. Exercise will also make you sweat - another way to help remove toxins.
Reduce alcohol, and if you do have some drinks, take herbs before and after to reduce the damage to the liver cells. Although herbal extracts and tinctures contain alcohol, the amount is negligible compared to the beneficial, therapeutic effect of the herbs. Alcohol bypasses all other processes when it reaches the liver, making herbal extracts and tinctures work quicker than tablets/capsules, as they travel to the liver for processing before any other substance.
However, this also means when you drink alcohol, your liver greatly reduces many of its functions and processes the alcohol first instead. This creates a backlog of tasks for that factory worker! And is also why alcoholics often develop other diseases, such as fatty liver disease, because the digestion of fats does not occur, which then leads on to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension (from cholesterol build up), as well as itchy skin conditions, amongst other diseases.
When NOT to detox
During pregnancy – the toxins may reach circulation and get concentrated in the placenta, and end up going to baby.
Don't try to detox when you're going through big changes. Detoxing is challenging. If you're moving house or going through something that takes up your mind and energy, wait until you're a bit more settled so that you are in the right frame of mind to start healthy new habits.
If you are an alcoholic or drug addict, it is dangerous to suddenly stop either of these. You must not attempt detoxing by yourself, and should go see a doctor.
If you are experiencing sluggish digestion, floating or pale stools, fatigue, headaches, intolerance to alcohol, exceptionally bad hangovers, recurring bouts of illness, lots of nausea, or would like a detox, contact me for a consult, I can help you.