Detox is a way the body continually cleanses to heal and repair itself. I’ve talked before about why detox is necessary and why in today’s industrialized world, diet alone won’t suffice, so today let’s focus on how to specifically detox your liver naturally and gently.
First, here are some signs that you may have some liver congestion:
Grey circles under or around the eyes
Blood sugar imbalance
Under conversion of T4 to T3
Itchy skin, hives, or other rashes
Waking up with night sweats
Dark spots on the cheeks and/or around the eyes (commonly known as liver spots)
What Role Does the Liver Play in Detoxification?
The liver is one of the primary detox organs in the body and is responsible for over 500 functions in the body. It’s also the master transformation site that filters toxins from the blood to neutralize and eliminate them. These toxins can include: synthetic chemicals, excess hormones, heavy metals, sugar, processed foods, etc.
When the liver sees a toxin, it creates bile and puts the toxin in the bile and then sends the bile to the gallbladder. When you eat fats, this sends a signal to the gallbladder to release the bile into the intestinal tract to then be expelled via the bowels.
This is why it’s imperative to eat healthy fats each day such as butter, ghee, tallow, duck fat, coconut oil, etc. so the liver can create the bile and then the gallbladder can be sent the signal to contract to release the bile into the intestines. Gallstones are often a result of a low-fat diet, so it’s very important to always include fats in your diet each day.
How Does the Liver Get Congested?
In today’s world, it’s very hard to avoid toxins completely. They are in our food, clothing, skincare, body care, cleaning products in your home, cars, furniture, perfumes, candles, throughout the home and workplace, and even in the air.
The more toxins the body is exposed to, the harder the liver has to work to remove them. Over time, the liver can become sluggish and congested which will reduce its ability to properly detox.
What about a juice cleanse?
A juice cleanse isn’t a good way to detox the liver because juices don’t contain any fats. If there are no fats, then the body can’t excrete the toxins via the bile. I understand that the idea of juice cleanse is nice because it can help you focus on making better food choices, but if you want to do a juice cleanse, then make sure to blend in some raw cream or raw egg yolks in the juices so the liver and gallbladder can actually excrete the toxins from the body.
Another very important thing to consider is that detox can only happen in the parasympathetic state. The parasympathetic state is the state in which the body can rest, digest, heal, repair and restore. So, it’s imperative to make sure you get enough sleep each night, set boundaries on your work hours each day and how often you’re on electronics, find ways to reduce your stress, exercise daily, etc.
Above all, remember that detox is a process, not an event. So it’s best to incrementally change some of your daily habits to enable your liver to function at its optimum capacity over time.
8 Ways to Detox Your Liver Naturally:
1. Keep your sugar intake at 20-30 grams or lower a day (this does not include carbohydrates from healthy sources such as vegetables, soaked grains, raw dairy, etc.). I realize this is probably the least favorite tip of all, but it’s important to understand that the liver is one of the three organs responsible for blood sugar balance.
When you eat too much sugar, this makes it very difficult for the liver to do its job. If you struggle with sugar cravings right now (I’ve been there before!), make this recipe for buttermints and follow the directions listed.
2. Find ways to reduce your stress and slow down your pace. Remember, detox is a parasympathetic process, so if you’re on the go all the time and under too much stress, this will make it very difficult for the liver and other detox organs to do their job.
“When the body is dominated by the sympathetic nervous system it diverts resources to the muscles (fight or flight) and away from organs (rest and digest). Stress affects our bodies in many different ways: our muscles tighten and energy is shunted away from our repair and renewal system—and this means that we will not be detoxifying optimally. For this reason, our bodies will store more toxins in fat cells when we are stressed because they do not have the energy required to convert and excrete them”. source
3. Do a castor oil pack over the liver 3-4 times a week. Castor oil packs are a gentle and effective way to decongest the liver and lymphatic system. (This is not recommended if you have an IUD, during menses, or when pregnant or breastfeeding.)
4. Let go of anger and practice forgiveness. Nothing overburdens the liver like unresolved anger. Talk to a counselor or therapist, someone you trust at your local church, or a friend that will help you walk through this process.
5. Eat healthy fats from animal sources each day to provide the body with plenty of vital nutrients to support the liver. Some of my favorite sources are: butter, ghee, tallow, duck fat, pastured eggs, and raw dairy.
6. Eat organ meats 1-2 times a week. This liver pate recipe is absolutely divine (and I don’t even like pate!). If the taste of organ meats is too much for you, then taking liver capsules from Vital Proteins or Radiant Life is a good option.
7. Drink a small glass of beet kvass first thing each morning. This tonic is fabulous for the liver and very easy to make. See recipe below.
8. Walk or do other gentle exercise such as pilates, yoga, etc. to lower cortisol and stress levels to reduce putting stress on the liver.