by Doc Mok
Drop the cleanse right now! Sorry to tell you but you just wasted your money. Do it yourself at home liver detox’s are the bro-iest broscience of them all. Really, just pure snake oil. As a GI Doc one third of what I do, was trained in and was tested on for my boards was the liver. This week at Maximal Being, Secrets to Detoxify the Liver and the Bro-Science Behind Liver Cleanses.
Liver Anatomy Function Basics
The liver is a triangular shaped organ that resides in the right and upper side of your belly. Part of your liver is shielded by the rib cage, the rest just covered by muscle, fat and skin. Your liver is broken down into segments (1-8), then lobes (right and left) pending if you are talking the start int eh womb (embryology) or separation by a ligament (Trietz) that hold the liver to body cavity.
The liver has MANY jobs, not just breaking down that chemical-based cleanse. As discussed in our article on intermittent fasting (HERE) and on carbohydrates here, the liver stores many macronutrients. It does this for carbohydrates in the form of glycogen, and most extra energy is stored as fat in the liver as we discussed on our non-alcoholic fatty liver disease article (here). Not all liver energy balance is bad though, as the liver is not just a storage container but a regulator.
The Role of Your Liver on Vitamins
Your liver also seeks to make and store bile. The main job of bile is to metabolize fat in the intestine and absorb it. Certain vitamins (A, D, E and K) are fat-soluble and are stored in the liver and absorbed using bile. B12 also stored in the liver, which is why if you are vegan you should supplement with B12, as this vitamin is found mostly in animal sources, particularly the liver.
As if that wasn’t enough your red cell and platelet grow up in the liver or mature. Your immune system scavengers called Kupffer cells, clear the blood of gut-related infections. Albumin, a protein that shuttles hormones and medications is also made in your liver. Clotting factors too. However, the most widely known job of your liver is to detoxify the body.
Detoxifying Alcohol From Your Liver First
We have discussed the role of the liver in removing alcohol from your system in Drink that Science (HERE). This is a dose-related effect, to the extent where if imbibe too much, your liver cannot keep up. Alcohol-related damage leads to inflammation (hepatitis), inflammation heals with scar tissue (fibrosis) and the liver becomes damaged, interfering with all of the jobs that I talked to you about above (cirrhosis).
Let me also be clear that alcohol is NOT the only thing that can cause cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is the end result of liver damage, whatever the cause. Also, cirrhosis can be a long-term condition and does not always mean a death sentence. People can live years with it an often die from other things. Important to note too is the resiliency of the liver.
Your Liver Can Be Resilient at Detoxifying Itself
True that your liver can regenerate itself. However, most organs int eh body can. An example of this is the skin and gut, that turns over the lining every 2-3 days. The liver does regenerate itself and you have to hurt it for a LONG TIME or BIG TIME to do permanent damage.
Now that is not a pass to go on a bender, but if it was as simple as lots of alcohol leads to cirrhosis, then most college kids would be in trouble. It is time that is an important factor as well as dose. I would also state that genetic difference in your liver’s detox system and the cytochrome P450 system is why certain people fair worse than others.
Most medication as cleared in the liver via some percent. As above, difference in the cytochrome P450 system are one factor that determine why certain people get side effects from medications and get drug induced liver injury.
How to Detox Your Liver For Real
Ok, so what Doc Mok! Well, the reason I say all this is because often the solution to your liver toxin woes are sitting right in front of you. Furthermore, chemical cleanses often can WORSEN your liver or have side effects. This is because nutritional supplements are rarely regulated by the same standards of medications. So, you could be getting filler, placebo or rate poison…who knows?
Be wary of snake oil salesman and individuals claiming to have liver detox systems. Majority of these systems involve the following steps. Bowel laxative, Liver Detox mix, Epsom Salt, Oil and Tumeric. Most of these things you can do on your own or contain components that just sound fancy and don’t have scientific or even holistic validity.
How Typical Liver Detox protocol Work
The laxative and Epsom salt contain magnesium to increase the movement of your gut. This does not actually do anything to your microbiome and will give your diarrhea. The Oil is often to allow you to absorb vitamins, minerals etc, better. Next, the turmeric, okay I get that. Finally, the liver detox mix, usually some mix of the below compounds with limited clinical data or data that has been moved from the true application (mushroom poisoning) to this application. Ladies and gents, that is broscience. Just buy turmeric and read on.
Detoxifying Your Liver with Simplicity
Before entering such a process, just pay attention to what you are about to put into your body. Also, do you need this product to can we do a few easier things to detox your liver before adding supplements that may or may not work. Being of scientific mind, let’s just go ahead and evaluate the components to find a better way.
STEPS to Detox Your Liver
- Step 1 Dump the alcohol
- Step 2 Hydrate to thirst and urination
- Step 3 Dump the Sugar or Limit it to 25-50 grams or less
- Step 4 Dump your liver glycogen with intermittent fasting (HERE), Ketosis (HERE)
- Step 5 MOVE (walk 30 min daily)
- Step 6 Remodel your microbiome (HERE)
- Step 7 Then consider adding
- vegetables (fiber + glucosinolate)
- nuts (selenium, arginine)
- garlic (selenium and aliumase = antioxidant)
- turmeric (antioxidant)
- green tea (catechins = anti-oxidants)
- caffeine (2 cups daily)
Addition by Subtraction Stop Toxifying Your Liver First
If you are drinking and want to do a liver detox, just look at yourself real hard in the mirror. There is NO POINT to try this is you are drinking. I suppose you can take N-acetylecysteine tablets (smell like eggs due to sulfur) and well validated to rid the liver of toxins. You could also take charcoal tablets to bind the alcohol before it is absorbed to some degree.
But if you avoid the alcohol all together you can avoid buying the supplements and feeling like garbage. Remember it take about 1-2 weeks for the alcohol to be completely eliminated from your liver. BONUS is that you sleep better and loose fat instantly.
Detox Your Liver of Bloat-Causing Glycogen
Hydration will help you to regulate all of your systems. Remember your body is composed mostly of water, so you need to replenish it. There are not a magic number of glasses daily. Just listen to your thirst and you will be okay. If all else fails, CLICK HERE to Learn about Hydration.
Dumping simple carbs and sugar can certainly rid your liver of junk. As I stated above your liver will store extra energy in the form of fat in the liver and glycogen. Glycogen attracts water, making you feel fat or bloated. So, if you try Intermittent Fasting (HERE) or clean Keto (HERE) to detoxify your liver. The way this works at detoxing your liver is that the glycogen and fat are converted to usable energy. Less glycogen, less water, less bloating and less ICK.
Another way to do this is to move around via walking or exercise to create a negative energy balance. This allows your body to use the liver stores for your walk, exercise and again less bloat.
Your Microbiome Can Help You Detox Your Liver
Your gut microbiome is an important part of your global health. That is why our third gear is directed completely to this area of wellness. When you have bad bacteria in your gut such as in dysbiosis or leaky gut (found in the American diet), you will feel terrible.
Also, as the liver is an immune organ cleansing the blood of these baddies, you can feel mild inflammation though out your body due to the mounting immune response. So, remove the biochemistry from your diet and add in good nutritious foods. Then, when you have done this, add ferments, pickles, yogurt and the booch. If you want to remodel your gut, click HERE and if you want to learn how to Make Kombucha, click HERE.
Natural Supplements to Detoxify Your Liver
Still with, me, great. Now comes the additives. First let me state that many natural foods contain compounds to detox the liver. Vegetables contain vitamins, fiber (move junk along in the bowel) and phytochemicals/anti-oxidants to detox your whole body. Many also contain glucosinolate that specifically helps in the liver. Nuts contain selenium and arginine to assist with removing toxins like ammonia from the blood. Garlic also good for the liver due to selenium, but also an anti-oxidant called allium.
TIP: Mince your garlic and let sit for 10 minutes for allium to be digested by the enzyme alliumase, otherwise you get no anti-oxidant value.
Turmeric is globally good anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant. Green tea the same, but also contains caffeine that is great for the liver. Just two serving of caffeine daily can prevent liver cancer.
Supplements with Less Evidence
As for dandelion root or chicory root, this has some evidence. Reishi and certain mushrooms like lion’s mane may help, but again these data are weak and mostly specific to alpha-amanitin mushroom poisoning induced liver injury.
Other compounds such as borututu tea, chanca Piedra have weak evidence, but can make you feel good due to their anti-inflammatory effects.
Detox Your Liver Summary
Hopefully at this point I have convinced you that you can detox your liver safely and naturally without buying hundreds of dollars in products and filler pills, oils and potions. With many steps involved, I am certain that your liver-related battle will take up. Just follow the steps and you will be on the way to detoxifying your liver.