Supporting Liver Detoxification
Updated: Apr 14
As we are letting go of the weight of winter, spring is a time to reflect and release what no longer serves us.
When it comes to bodily functions and the body staying in balance, that is in the form of detoxing.
Our bodies detox in different ways, allowing water soluble compounds to be filtered out through the kidneys, and fat-soluble toxins to be processed through the liver. Sweating is another way the body detoxes, which is why exercise and saunas can be a good form of detoxing.
For the purpose of this blog, we will be focusing on the liver.
So how does the liver detox anyways?
The liver contains two types of enzymes called cytochrome P450, categorized into Phase 1 and Phase 2. They are responsible for different chemical reactions that allow for toxins circulating in the bloodstream to be excreted out of the body.
Phase 1 involves chemical reactions that deactivate harmful toxins, chemicals and drugs (which need to be safely broken down in the body).
Certain foods, supplements and herbs help to support this first liver phase.
Phase 1 -Supporting Therapies
Vitamins B6, B12 and C have been shown to help induce (increase) the phase 1 cytochrome P450 enzymes.This means that drugs and toxins metabolized by the P450 group will have a chance to be detoxified. B Vitamin-deficient diets in rat studies have led to increased fatty liver disease, which suggests the importance of the B-vitamin cofactors in healthy liver function.
Milk thistle (Silybum Marianum) and Dandelion root (Taraxacum officinalis) are herbs commonly used in herbal medicine to promote liver detoxification. These herbs also have an affinity for these enzymes, and encourage bile production. Bile, a compound released from the gall bladder, is important in transporting fat-soluble compounds to the liver. Many toxins are fat-soluble, meaning that they are absorbed into fat cells. This makes them harder for the body to excrete, and can accumulate in fat cells over time.
Vitamins B6, B12 and C are Phase 1 P450 liver enzyme cofactors
Botanical herbs Milk Thistle and Dandelion root promote liver detoxification function
Phase 2 cytochrome P450 enzymes are important in turning the Phase 1 enzyme byproducts into compounds that are safe for the body to excrete through the kidneys (urination and sweat) and bowel movements.
Phase 2 Supporting Therapies
There are quite a few nutritional therapies/foods that have been researched in this regard, especially those containing Sulphur groups and glutathione compounds in their chemical makeup.
Examples of these foods are: Vegetables from the cruciferous family (broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts) and the Allium family (Onions, garlic).
Eat fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals, this helps to break down reactive oxygen species created by toxic compounds.
Examples of fruits and vegetables rich in phytochemicals: Apples, berries, turmeric, green tea, dark purple/blue and green vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables, and onions & garlic help Phase 2 liver enzymes convert Phase 1 byproducts into excretable ones
Apples, berries, turmeric, green tea and dark-coloured vegetables aid in reducing oxidant stress/cell damage during the detox process
General Detox Recommendations:
1. Drink 8 cups of water/day. Adding lemon to water stimulates digestive enzymes through increase stomach acid. This aids in promoting bile flow from the gall bladder.
2. Incorporate movement into your daily life, as this helps with lymphatic flow and drainage.
3. Avoid produce heavy with pesticides. Here is a list of the Dirty Dozen in pesticides (buy organic) and Clean fifteen (non-organic fine).
More therapies and information:
Consider Acupuncture, which allows stress reduction and helps to improve the body's ability to regulate bodily processes such as detoxification.
Download my 12 Day RENEW Detox E-book below for a daily guided educational tool on ways to detoxify naturally this spring.
Book an Appointment or Complementary 15 minute Discovery Call.
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1. Hodges & Minich (2015). Modulation of Metabolic Detoxification Pathways Using Foods and Food-Derived Components: A Scientific Review with Clinical Application. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism.