Liver therapy and liver cleansing is not just for patients with chronic liver disease. It is for the prevention of liver conditions and optimal health.
When your liver (the primary detox organ) is healthy and functioning optimally, your body has more energy to carry out its various functions, nutrients become more readily available, and toxins are removed quickly and efficiently. These functions are compromised by sluggish liver function due to a bad diet, insulin toxicity, side effects of medication, overuse of alcohol and smoking.
‘If the liver were not to filter the blood of its toxins and the blood from the bowel were to hit the brain directly, everyone would be brain-fogged at all times.’ ~Prof Majid Ali
Before detoxing the liver, it is important to ensure that the colon is clear and healthy. For optimum detox, one needs to do a whole-body cleanse and this includes a gallbladder/liver flush as well as kidney support.
LIVER CLEANSING PROGRAMMES
The best cleansing programmes are those supervised by a medical professional, supported by specific neutraceuticals and a 100% raw plant-based diet. Some programmes run for three, six or 10 days – sometimes even longer. Talk to a qualified nutritionist for details on a reliable cleansing programme.
Raw juice detox plans consist of drinking freshly extracted fruit and vegetable juices throughout the day, supplemented by wheat grass juice (or add barley powder in your juice). This raw juice diet can be extended by adding fruit juice, and slowly including sprouted seeds and nuts.
Your choice of vegetable juice can assist in supporting other disease conditions at the same time, for example beetroot juice can lower blood pressure, as can carrot, sprouted barley and celery juices. Avoid certain fruit such as orange and pineapple if you suffer from stomach ulcers.
ORGANIC HERBAL DETOX SUPPORT
The queen of detox herbs is milk thistle. It specifically boosts an antioxidant in your body called glutathione, which helps detox your liver and regenerate liver cells. Supplement with 150 mg twice daily to support liver detoxification.
The second most effective liver herb is turmeric. High in antioxidants it supports liver and gall bladder function. Take a tablespoon daily in your food, or supplement with a turmeric extract such as Biocurcumin. In addition to its antioxidant activity, turmeric reduces liver and GI tract inflammation.
The third most popular liver detox herb is dandelion. Packed with potassium and other compounds, it acts as a diuretic, causing your liver to release toxins. It supports the gallbladder in releasing bile, causing the liver to dump toxins.
Take these in combination for the most effective and natural detoxification support for your liver. Other remedies for detox include chlorella, watercress, globe artichoke, buchu, stinging nettle and neem.
Include various body therapies to assist the detox process, such as far-infrared saunas or steam baths, Epsom salt baths, raw natural sodium bentonite clay baths, skin brushing/exfoliating, castor oil packs, colon hydrotherapy, lymph drainage massage therapy, a gentle exercise programme, herbal teas, and drinking sufficient mineral-rich water.
- Gently massage the entire liver area (upper abdomen and lower chest on the right side) along with the front of the lower abdomen with your left hand for two to four minutes.
- Prepare a piece of flannel or cotton cloth large enough to cover the liver and abdomen areas when folded twice.
- Fold flannel or cotton piece and soak it with castor oil (available from most pharmacies).
- Cover the liver and abdominal areas with the soaked flannel or cotton piece and cover the cloth with a plastic sheet (an opened plastic bag is adequate). Use tape to anchor the plastic sheet.
- Put a heating pad over as much of the area as possible covered by the pack, favouring the area of the liver. The heating pad must not be too hot.
- Leave the castor oil to soak for two hours, unless otherwise specified by your physician.
- Gently wash off the castor oil with a mild soap after finishing the protocol.
A note on clay baths: I am a huge fan as it is inexpensive and safe. Positively charged toxic particles are drawn through the skin and absorbed by the clay (that has a negative charge). Sodium bentonite absorbs many times its own weight in toxins and is especially effective when it comes to the removal of chemical and metal toxins. Add essential oil to the clay bath for added benefit.
THE BOWEL AND LIVER LINK
When doing a whole body detox, it is important to consider the gut as the liver gets its oxygen-rich blood from the heart AND nutrient-rich blood from the gut! In fact, 50 to 60% of the required oxygen supply to the liver comes from the bowel.1 This is why the liver can regenerate so quickly, but it is also important to understand that the liver needs to get rid of all the toxins and chemicals from the gut, otherwise the toxins will be spread throughout the body.
In 2015, the scientific journal Cell reported that bacteria listen and talk to each other – a language to control and exploit microbes inside the gut.² Restoration of gut health from damage caused by lasting antibiotic drug treatment was recorded. Support the innate intelligence of the human body by supplementing with pre- and probiotics.
An overgrowth of bad bacteria can make detoxing much more difficult. According to expert on our panel Dr Jason Mallia, ‘There are many different beneficial strains of probiotics available, so you and your doctor will need to choose the most appropriate strain for you, tailoring your detox plan to suit your needs.
‘If you have poor digestion and possibly a leaky gut, consider using healing nutrients and herbs such as glutamine, Aloe vera, liquorice and zinc as part of your detox.’
- Drink five to eight (or more if tolerated) glasses of organic apple cider or juice throughout the day. People with hypoglycaemia or glucose intolerance may substitute organic vegetable juice for apple juice.
- Drink additional water to maintain a state of over-hydration from morning until 06.00 pm.
- Take a vegetarian lunch at noon.
- Continue with your prescribed nutrient and herbal supplements.
- Three hours after lunch, take two teaspoons of disodium phosphate (or Epsom salt, if disodium phosphate is not available) dissolved in 60 ml of hot water. Drink one cup of hot water with a few drops of lemon juice and a pinch of salt to eliminate any bad taste from the mouth.
- Two hours later, repeat the above step.
- Take an evening meal of grapefruit. (Grapefruit juice may be substituted if the whole fruit is not available.)
- At bedtime, drink one cup of an equal-parts mixture of extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice (1/2 cup of each). Again, fresh juice is preferred.
- Lie in bed on your right side with knees pulled up for about 30 minutes. Additional vegetarian meals may be taken if needed. You may experience nausea, some abdominal cramps, and diarrhoea during or after taking lemon juice and olive oil. Consult your doctor if the nausea persists. It is important to restore bowel ecology in all instances of liver detoxification.³,4
DETOX SIDE EFFECTS
Some people may suffer severe side effects if they jump into a raw detox protocol. Side effects may include symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, irritability, mucous congestion or aches and pains and even emotional outbursts. This obviously depends on your age, level of physical activity, how regularly you do a liver cleanse, what medication you are on, if you consume alcohol or coffee in excess, smoke and so on.
Be gentle with yourself and start slowly. For example, replace one meal a day with a raw meal (vegetarian salad with sprouts and nuts). Then replace breakfast with a large raw juice, a handful of nuts, a raw vegetarian salad for lunch. Continue for a week and then ease into a juice programme. And this may mean a one-day juice programme for the first week, two days the next week and then go on a regular juice programme for three days every month until you are ready for a longer detox programme.
Don’t underestimate the whole body benefits of a detox programme. I recommend emotional support to assist getting rid of emotional toxic memories on a cellular level and simply also stepping away from emotionally toxic people and situations. Try to replace the negative emotions with gratitude.
In Chinese medicine, there are specific emotions that directly affect certain organs. And when it comes to your liver, the following emotions affect your liver: anger, resentment, frustration and non-forgiveness. Makes you think, doesn’t it?
Editor's note: Dr Michael Tierra shares some fascinating facts when looking at the liver through the eyes of Traditional Chinese Medicine: The Liver through the eyes of Traditional Chinese Medicine
- Majid Ali M. Integrative Nutritional Medicine. Volume 5 of The Principles and Practice of Medicine.