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The Best Natural Liver Health Foods and Supplements
There is a LOT of information out there about liver health. So many practitioners will recommend harsh liver cleanses, fasts, and detox protocols as a way to cleanse the liver. However, this is not something I personally recommend. Our livers need LOVE. They are stressed, overworked, and bombarded. Instead of doing a cleanse that can wipe your body of nutrients or following harsh detox advice that could be hard on the body, I highly recommend that you love your liver everyday in some way. Luckily there are many natural liver health foods and liver health supplements that can help with gentle, safe, and effective liver support.
Why we NEED to Love our Livers!
Natural liver support is CRUCIAL for overall health and wellness. Our livers are a very over-looked organ when it comes to daily life. We tend to think about our hearts, our lungs, and our brains long before we think about our livers! The liver is so important that it can actually regenerate itself, even after 80% of it is removed.
We can function with as little as 1/6th of our livers- this is why it can take years, even decades, before we even notice any apparent liver dysfunction. Many people say to me, “well I do not have liver pain, so I must not have liver issues.” I do not believe that is true at all and we will get into symptoms of a sluggish liver soon.
These days, we are bombarded with environmental toxins in our food, air, household products, and even our furniture. Part of the liver’s job is to filter out toxins and convert them into less toxic substances so they can be excreted. However, when the liver gets bombarded by toxins, and coupled with a poor diet, it cannot do its job correctly.
This seems to be the reason for this obesity epidemic, as well as a SAD lifestyle. Toxins get stored in fat when the liver cannot handle the constant influx of toxins. All of these things factor into illness! When your body is unable to get rid of the junk, disease will start. Anyone that is experience any kind of illness will definitely have some form of liver dysfunction (plus leaky gut and mineral imbalances- all 3 are related). You can learn all about the importance of liver support in my course Holistic Detox Support as well.
What are the Main Functions of the Liver?
It actually serves about 500 different functions to the body. Yes, you read that correctly- 500 different functions! From HealthFree, here are just a few of the most important jobs the liver has:
- Making three-quarters of your total cholesterol, which is used to produce hormones and bile salts
- Storing as much as 1 liter of blood in times of excess blood volume to be able to supply it in times of blood loss or heavy exercise
- Making 1 quart of bile per day for fat metabolism and neutralizing the acidity of toxins
- Detoxifying incompletely digested proteins, excess hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, etc.), drugs, food additives, poisons, etc.
- Converting beta-carotene to Vitamin A
- Breaking down and absorbing vitamins A, D, E, and K. (If your liver is dysfunctional, you will not be able to metabolize these vitamins, no matter how much you take!)
- Storing excess vitamin A, B-12, D, K, and iron
- Converting ammonia, a byproduct of protein metabolism, into urea for kidney excretion
- Filtering out bacteria in the blood from the intestines before it enters general circulation
- Synthesizing up to 4 ounces of glucose daily, if needed; for example, during fasting or diabetes
- Reducing blood sugar swings up to 65%.
That is a LOT of important processes that the liver handles. No wonder why so many people are suffering from illnesses.
Now what are the signs of a sluggish liver? Again from HealthFree:
- Poor digestion
- Excessive amounts of hormones (The liver deactivates them and is, in fact, the most important organ for hormone regulation.)
- Increased cholesterol levels
- Abdominal bloating or tenderness in the liver area
- Acne, skin rashes, itching, or jaundice (yellow tinge to skin)
- Fatigue (low energy)
- Loss of appetite
- Bitter or metallic taste in the mouth
- Split ends (hair)
- Brittle nails
- Mood swings (due to large swings in blood sugar)
- Hemorrhoids or varicose veins (due to liver congestion producing pressure on the veins)
- Pain in the back between the shoulder blades
- Inability to digest fats
- Water retention in the legs
- Muscle pain when inflating a blood pressure cuff around the calf
- Gallbladder problems
- Sleep disorders
- Heart palpitations or even heart attacks (All the blood to the heart goes through the liver. So, if it is congested the heart may not get as much blood as it needs.)
- Poor memory
- Thyroid problems
- Frequent numbness in the extremities
- Frequent infection
- Night blindness or blurry sight (The Chinese say that the liver is the river into the eyes. Clean and nutrient-rich blood flows into and nourishes the eyes.)
Have any of those symptoms?? I’ll guarantee that you have one, if not several. I’ve put the most common symptoms in bold.
Now, there are 2 different phases to liver detox, and you can read about that here– there is a GREAT chart to explain which phases needs what as well. There are many nutrients that are needed for these phases, and there are a few foods and herbs that truly help certain phases.
How do you support your liver naturally?
If you are dealing with any type of chronic illness, you will definitely need some form of liver healing. The best thing about using NATURAL ways to heal is that many items have multiple benefits. So picking a few items from the following list can help with overall healing- not just liver health! There are many liver health foods, herbs, and supplements to choose from. My course Holistic Detox Support goes over many options for liver health as well, and includes even more information about all of our most crucial detox pathways.
The Best Liver Health Foods and Herbs
- Dandelion root decoctions or tea– One of the EASIEST ways to help the liver is dandelion root tea. Go for ROOT for longer term use though, not the leaf (leaf is the majorly diuretic part of the plant). Dandelion can help those healing from cancer, infections, hepatitis, and its main purpose is to help cleanse the body. It can be helpful for hypoglycemia, UTIs, blood pressure regulation, acne, weight loss, anemia, jaundice, constipation, and more. Dandelion cleans toxicities from the blood, lymph system, kidneys, liver and urinary system. Since dandelion is a bitter herb, it is amazing for digestion. Traditional Medicinals tea is PERFECT for these benefits.
- Bone broth, gelatin, or collagen. Protein is basically food for the liver. We need those amazing amino acids to help with healing and detoxification. Collagen is my favorite way to get this in, but bone broth is excellent too. Perfect Supplements is my favorite place to get grass-fed, glyphosate free collagen powder that is tasteless and easy to use!
- Apple cider vinegar: This awesome vinegar helps digest food, assimilate minerals, regulates blood sugar, helps weight loss, detoxes the liver, can kill pathogens and some bacteria (like e.coli), is great for cardiovascular health, and has a role in protecting against cancer. Read my post on ACV here to learn how to use this in your diet.
- Aloe vera is AMAZING for overall health. It cleanses the colon, aids in detoxification, reduces histamine and mast cell issues, strengthens the immune system, balances blood sugar, increases bile flow, and SO much more. We love George’s Aloe as it’s tasteless and easy to use.
- garlic, turmeric, ginger, cayenne- all of these are great herbs for overall health and wellness, but they can also help with liver healing and detoxification support
- Herbal infusions like nettles, oatstraw and red raspberry leaf. Infusions are extremely nourishing to the body, and most of them help with liver, lymph, kidneys, and the adrenals.
- One of the BEST liver helpers is actually liver itself. Beef liver is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet- but if you are like most people and cannot stand the thought of eating it, you can also get beef liver capsules or powder! We usually recommend doing an HTMA first though to check your metabolic rate as well as copper status before introducing beef liver.
- Fiber is also essential for liver health! I know- that sounds odd. But fiber is essential for cleaning up our bile which is what takes our toxins out. Read my post on bile and fiber here for more information.
- Lemons, limes, artichokes, beets, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, onions, tomatoes, and fermented foods (like kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha) are all amazing for liver health as well.
The Best Liver Health Supplements
- Sunflower Lecithin: Sunflower Lecithin is not something well known yet, but it is gaining popularity. This form of lecithin is rich in phosphatidyl choline, which is a B complex vitamin that has extremely important roles in fat metabolism and liver health. It helps with stimulating bile flow and can help flush fat out of the liver, and it is also extremely important for brain health.
- Liver Love from Earthley is an amazing and gentle liver support tincture.
- Whey protein is also an amazing helper for the liver since it helps the body create more glutathione, which is crucial for detox. Protein in general is food for the liver! However, I am not a big fan of supplementing with glutathione directly. Like taking melatonin, using glutathione can confuse the body over the time and it could stop the natural production of it. Plus, bypassing the body’s natural ability to make certain things isn’t always best. In this case, it can create way too much detox on a stressed out system.
- Bitter herbs like Herb Pharm’s Better Bitter spray are amazing for overall gut and liver health. Bitters are especially helpful for bile flow, improving stomach acid, and helps assimilate nutrients. Or Earthley has an awesome bitter tincture as well that is safe for ages 1+, and also OK to use while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Other ways to support liver health
- Start cleaning up your home! Toxins in everyday beauty and cleaning products are among the biggest threats to our health, and using them will continually stress your liver out as well. This post goes over the most important things to work on switching out.
- Eat as clean as you can. Look for organic and non-gmo foods (local is even better!) and reduce the amount of processed foods you consume.
- Castor oil packs (read about castor oil packs here!)
- Work on healing emotional trauma– stored emotions can influence our physical health and this is often a huge missing link for many people.
My absolute FAVORITE Liver Health Supplement: Bioray Liver Life
I’ve been using BioRay in my protocols with great success for over 5 years now. They are very well tolerated, easy to use, and incredibly strong. The Liver Life is one of the strongest liver healers that I have ever found, and I highly recommend it. According to their website, BioRay Liver Life has these benefits:
- Improves detox, nutrient absorption and food tolerance
- Increases metabolism and energy levels
- Balances healthy body weight
- Restores healthy pH balance
- Promotes restful sleep and balanced hormones
- Reduces skin irritations, head pain and sensory issues
- Can reduce histamine response by about 48%
- Can improve liver function by 50% in only 15 days!
- Provides support for kidneys, liver, adrenals and lymph system
Liver Life Ingredients:
- Agaricus Blazei mushroom– heals the liver and boosts immune health
- Red Root-one of the best herbs for lymph health
- Milk thistle seeds– amazing for liver detox and regeneration
- Olive Leaf-Has strong anti-viral properties
- Turkey Tail mushroom-Immune system supporter
- Reishi mushroom– a well-known adrenal adaptogen and immune system supporter
- Maitake mushroom-another amazing adaptogen; anti-viral; immune support
- Deionized water and gluten-free grain alcohol (20% by volume)
The BioRay Liver Life comes in 2 or 4 ounce bottles. They also have a similar product called Liver Lover that is close to Liver Life, but it is alcohol free. (tinctures are traditionally made with alcohol because that is the best way to draw out the properties of the plants used.) My readers also get a special discount- use SASSY at checkout for 10% off your entire order at Bioray or at Perfect Supplements (they carry Bioray as well!).
The BioRay Kids CALM is also amazing for liver support for kids!
About the company: BioRay has been around for about 25 years. They use a mixture of ancient Chinese medicine and modern science to formulate their products. They make their products in small batches and use only organic ingredients. Read my post on the entire BioRay line here for more information.
There are SO many ways to help the liver out. The key is to use herbs and foods that assist and aid the liver, hopefully as gently as possibly. We don’t want to do harsh liver cleanses (the liver doesn’t actually get dirty, just sluggish) unless you are already familiar with them, or you are under the care of a knowledgeable practitioner.
Get started on your healing journey today:
Can Liver Healing Create a Detox Reaction?
Detox reactions are incredibly common when we are just starting to heal. Since chronic illnesses are a culmination of many, many years of absorbing toxins and dealing with nutritional deficiencies, we can quite literally be full of toxins. Toxins get stored in fat when our bodies become overloaded. So this is why it’s important to go slowly when you are starting anything new. Have patience with your body! We did not get sick overnight, so we need time to heal.
Why we need Liver Loving, not Flushing or Cleansing
The Liver itself doesn’t get dirty- it doesn’t need to be flushed or cleansed. It can get sluggish and it can start getting an extra storage of fat, iron, and copper but it doesn’t store toxins. When the liver gets sluggish, it stores toxins in FAT which is why there is such a huge link between being overweight and having liver issues.
This is one of the main reasons why I am not a huge fan of liver flushes, cleanses, or anything that will stress the liver out and force it to detox. Our goal should be to provide supporting herbs, foods, and practices to help gently stimulate the liver to heal. Obviously we all have to make our own choices, but I am not a fan of things like liver/gallbladder flushes, chelation, or fasting- these methods can be very harsh on the body, especially if you are dealing with adrenal dysfunction. Forcing the body to heal when it doesn’t have the strength is counter-productive. Gently nourishing the whole body is the key for sustainable healing.