This article was written by Kim Erickson and originally published in Amazing Wellness magazine.
The liver. It’s not something that most of us routinely think about, but it’s actually the largest internal organ in the body—and responsible for breaking down contaminants that come our way so they can be escorted from the body. In a world filled with toxins, the liver is our body’s garbage collector.
Ideally, the liver could process all of the toxins we encounter—but due to the sheer volume of industrial chemicals and pollutants that we are exposed to today, it can have trouble keeping up. The following herbs and nutrients support the organ’s detoxification mechanisms while optimizing overall function.
1. Amla Fruit Extract
Also known as Indian gooseberry, amla is one of the most important foods in Ayurvedic medicine, largely because of its antioxidant properties. High in phytochemicals (plant compounds that act as antioxidants), amla has been shown to help the body fight off the toxic effects of many industrial chemicals, heavy metals, and pharmaceutical drugs. Amla is also one of the richest natural sources of vitamin C out there.
Try: Himalaya Herbal Healthcare Amla caplets
Glutathione is the most powerful antioxidant made by the body, and it’s found in the highest levels in the liver. Often called “the master antioxidant,” glutathione is made up of three amino acids—cysteine, glycine, and glutamine. Along with squashing free radicals in the liver, glutathione plays a critical role in the second phase of the body’s two-step detoxification process.
3. Milk Thistle Extract
Perhaps the best-known herb for liver support, milk thistle gets its power from an active compound called silymarin, a polyphenol that scavenges damaging free radicals. What’s more, milk thistle boosts the activity of the body’s own antioxidants, such as glutathione. Studies suggest it also stimulates new liver cell production and prevents glutathione depletion.( Artichoke, which is related to the milk thistle plant, is another liver-protective herb.)
4. Burdock Root
Another liver-specific herb, burdock is rich in iron, calcium, and vitamin C, stimulates bile flow, and protects and tonifies the liver. One study in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine found that burdock defends against potentially harmful toxins from our environment, while Taiwanese researchers have found that burdock root also helps the liver cope with chronic alcohol consumption.
Chlorella is a single-celled, freshwater algae that has survived on the earth for more than two billion years, thanks to its fibrous outer wall. Though this wall is indigestible to humans, scientists have been able to break it down and release chlorella’s natural ability to bind toxins and heavy metals through a process called ‘chelation.’ Chlorella also boasts a wealth of nutrients, including B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin K, minerals, essential fatty acids, and fiber.