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It’s the holidays, and we take time off and enjoy our special food feasts and drinks. Our livers, however work overtime. Especially during the holidays, I get questions about liver detoxification, and how to protect the liver from all our excess holiday intakes.

Actually, every day for the liver, which is our largest internal organ, is very busy and overloaded
It has the never-ending task of filtering out toxins and chemicals from the blood.
The word liver, for very good reasons, comes from the word life.
Every day we are all exposed to chemicals and environmental toxins.We live in contact with pesticides, industrial and chemical by products, and cosmetics that are absorbed into our skin.
We ingest pharmaceutical drugs, alcohol, and non-organic processed foods that are loaded with preservatives, antibiotics, hormones, and chemical additives.
These chemicals are foreign and toxic to our bodies and the liver detoxifies the blood constantly to get rid of their levels.
Because we are so over-exposed to chemicals the liver has to work very hard to keep the body from toxic overload. When the liver cannot keep up with the toxic load, then symptoms like fatigue, headaches, stuffy or runny nose, muscle aches, and even depression can appear.
This happens because the toxins accumulate in our bodies instead of being flushed out.  Toxic overload is the beginning of  inflammation, infections and the many types of chronic illnesses that develop from inflammatory disease.

How does the liver detoxify? 

The liver is our first blood filter. 
It is the primary gate in the elimination of toxins from our blood supply. About one liter of blood is filtered by the liver per minute.
What is the liver’s detoxification process?
There are two phases in this process. In phase 1 the liver molecules attach a molecular “tag” on the toxin it wants to get rid of to make it easy to “see it” in the next detox phase.
In phase 2 this toxin that is now tagged and easily “seen” by the liver gets another molecule added on to it. This molecule makes the toxin water soluble so it can be flushed out in the urine or the colon depending on the size of it.
Pathogenic bacteria and microorganisms can also be cleared out by white blood cells that are present in specific liver cell tissue.
In addition to toxin removal, the liver is essential in digestion. Bile, which is an alkaline fluid, is made in the liver. It is secreted during digestion into the small intestine to emulsify fats so that they can be digested and absorbed. The absorption of essential fatty acids,vitamins E, A, D and K depend on bile secretion.
Bile also flushes out by products from expired red blood cells. 
The most important nutrient for the liver is called glutathione. It is an antioxidant peptide made in the liver and only trace amounts come from diet. It is not well absorbed as an oral supplement so how do we get it?
Glutathione can be made and replenished from the following supplements:
1.  Milk Thistle– this is an herb that has a component called silymarin which keeps glutathione levels high.  It also keeps the liver cells stable and healthy.
2.  NAC (n-acetyl-cysteine) is an amino acid building block of glutathione.
3.  Vitamin C– keeps glutathione levels high
Other supplements that increase glutathione and maintain liver health are:
1. Antioxidants which protect cells from oxidation and damage –  Vitamins A, C, E,  and seleniun
2. Vitamin B complex -the B vitamins are essential in the phase 1 detox process
3. Schizandra, glutamine, alpha lipoid acid, garlic, licorice, and turmeric which enhances the bile flow from the liver
4.  Green tea’s antioxidant polyphenols help in the phase 1 and 2 of the liver detox process.  Polyphenols also block DNA damage caused by toxins and protect the liver cells.
5.  Blue green algae and brown algae are also essential to the liver.
Chlorophyll is present in blue green algae. It keeps glutathione levels high and binds to heavy metals like mercury, and lead to flush them out.

Brown algae called bladder wrack or kelp also helps in liver detox by binding to heavy metals and toxic hydrocarbons to eliminate them.

What supplements are good for liver health ?
There are many combination supplement products in the market.
Examples include:
– New Chapter’s Liver Force (organic certified )
– Liver Health by Gaia Herbs
– Liver PF by Jarrow Formulas
– Phytopharmica’s Super Milk Thistle
  • Green tea capsules or tablets can be purchased separately New Chapter’s Green and White Tea organic non gmo and Green Tea Extract by Country Life are very good.
  • Examples of blue green algea formulas include New Chapter’s organic Chlorella Regularis. An advantage to New Chapter in addition to being organic, is a probiotic formula included in its products which aids further in digestion and breaks down toxins.
  • Other blue green algea products are Detoxigreen by Dr. Natura and Green Defense by Jarrow Formulas.
  • Bladderwrack brown algea (kelp) is available by Solgar labs as Solgar Kelp.
Liver detox formulas consist of detoxifying herbs, antioxidants, minerals, and amino acids.
These short regimens can be done about every 4 months to cleanse the liver’s excess toxicity.
Examples include:
– Toxin Out by Dr. Natura
– Liver Detox by Renew Life
– Complete Liver Cleanse by Enzymatic Therapy
Vegetables,  fruits, and whole grains that are very good for liver detox are:
Broccoli , cabbage, brussel sprouts, beets, onions, garlic, citrus fruits, berries,
red grapes, beans, nuts, seeds, brown rice, oatmeal  and rye.
Yogurt and fermented foods contain live probiotics that help to break down toxins.
An easy water liver flush to do daily:  is to mix 8 ounces of filtered water, 1/4 of a lemon’s juice and a pinch of salt. Shake it and drink it preferably 1 hour before eating in the morning or before lunch.
This prepares the liver energetically for the day’s detox process or any hangovers from last night’s holiday party!
Camille Medina, RPh
Natural Pharmacy C.l.i.n.i.c.  llc

Journal of Immuunology, Sept 2009 Vol 183 No 5 3309-3316

The information provided here is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Suggestions and ideas presented in this document are for information only and should not be interpreted as medical advice, or for diagnosing  illness. Seek advice from a health care professional before administering any dietary supplements.

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