In Chinese Medicine the liver, is responsible for the free-flow of energy and blood around the body. When this energy is stuck you become frustrated, angry and/or irritated. When the blood is stagnant, you have pain. In western medicine one of the main functions of the Liver is the expelling and breaking down of toxins entering the body. In particular, it produces bile, a detoxifying agent which breaks down fats in food. Therefore it is clear to see the liver plays an important role in the overall health of the body.
“The proper functioning of the eyes, the heart, the brain, the gonads, the joints, and the kidneys, are all dependent on good liver activity…If the liver is impaired from constructing even one of the thousands of enzyme systems the body requires, there is an impairment in overall body function and a resultant greater metabolic stress on the individual.”Dr. Karl Maret, M.D.
In order to maintain the proper functioning of the liver, here are some common herbs I recommend.
Borotutu bark is by far one of the most powerful substances when it comes to liver cleansing and digestive system support. Research has also been made into the use of Borotutu in combating biliary colic, and jaundice. This herb contains powerful antioxidants, which are known to help protect your liver cells from serious damage.
Milk Thistle Seed
Milk thistle has been known for thousands for its remarkable effects on the liver and gallbladder. Milk thistle helps with the detoxification of poisons such as alcohol, regeneration of damaged liver tissue, stimulation of bile production, and improved digestion. This herb I use in particular for those in need of detoxification from alcohol or environmental toxins.
The indigenous people of the amazon have used chanca piedra for centuries to promote the body’s natural elimination of liver, gallbladder and kidney stones. It also stimulates the liver to purge itself of harmful toxins and foreign particles. As chanca piedra soothes the liver, increases bile production, and reduces the formation of calcified stones in the body, it is perfect for those with both liver and kidney stone issues.
The ancient Greeks and Romans considered celandine to be one of the most powerful liver cleansing herbs. Celandine stimulates enzyme production from the pancreas, helps the liver eliminate foreign particles, stimulates the production of bile, helps relieve gallbladder spasms and improves a sluggish liver. It is particularly helpful for other spasms such as stomach cramps, IBS and menstrual cramps.
Known for its vibrant blue flowers, chicory is also a antioxidant known for its ability to help cleanse the liver. Ancient Roman, Persian, Arabian, and Indian physicians used chicory leaves and root to aid against a variety of liver ailments including jaundice, gallbladder and liver stones, urinary stones, constipation, indigestion, depression, and headaches. Furthermore Chicory root contains inulin in high concentrations, which aids in feeding digestive flora and therefore aiding digestion.
One of favorite herbs in this section if the dandelion. Many fields are filled with this flower in spring. It is a particularly bitter herb and has been celebrated throughout the ages as a liver cleanser. I also use this herb a lot in Chinese herbal formulas to clear toxins and heat from the liver. Dandelion root stimulates bile flow from the liver, and is often use to help fight fatty liver, cirrhosis, estrogen dominance, and even acne.
Also used a lot in Chinese herbal formulas this yellow root, part of the ginger family, is a powerful liver protector and even liver cell regenerator. It not only helps stimulate enzymes responsible for flushing out toxins (including known carcinogens) from the body. Turmeric is used in Chinese medicine to help move blood stagnation and relieve pain. Turmeric is used for liver inflammation and fatty liver.
Peppermint is cooling in nature and used in Chinese medicine to clear heat from the throat. This herb stimulates bile flow and relaxes bile ducts, helping to break down fats. It also helps reduce cholesterol, supporting the liver in its job of filtering toxins. The aromatic nature of Peppermint helps to inhibit blockages in the kidney and gallbladder while at the same time calms the stomach for optimal digestion.
Organic Yellow Dock Root
This herb is known as a blood purifier and therefore commonly used to cleanse toxins from the body. Yellow dock also helps break down fatty foods by stimulating bile production and enhances liver detoxification. Yellow dock improves the flow of digestive juices, therefore aiding the digestive system. This herb has mild diuretic effects so helps to flush out harmful substances. Make sure you drink enough water to replenish liquids.
Choosing the herb or herbs that are right for you will depend on the root cause of your symptoms. Some of these herbs can have a powerful effect on the body and should not be used for extended periods.