The liver is one of the most important organs in the body. It performs over 500 vital functions related to digestion, metabolism, immunity, storage of nutrients, and more. Keeping the liver healthy is crucial for overall well-being. There are many natural herbs that can help support liver function and protect liver cells from damage. In this article, we will discuss the top herbs that are beneficial for liver health.
Importance Of Liver Functions
The liver is the second largest organ in the body and is located under the ribs on the right side. It works hard every day to keep us healthy. Here are some of the key functions of the liver:
- Detoxification – The liver filters blood coming from the digestive tract before it circulates through the body. It neutralizes and removes toxins, chemicals, waste products, and medications.
- Bile production – Bile is essential for digesting fats. The liver produces bile which gets stored in the gallbladder.
- Regulating blood sugar – The liver helps maintain optimal blood sugar levels by converting glucose into glycogen for storage and releasing it when glucose levels fall. It also helps regulate insulin levels.
- Production of proteins and blood clotting factors – The liver makes proteins important for blood clotting, fluid balance, transport, and immune function.
- Processing nutrients – It converts nutrients absorbed from food into substances the body can use. These include amino acids, sugars, and vitamins.
- Metabolism – The liver metabolizes carbohydrates, fats, and proteins from our diet into compounds that can be used for energy, growth, and nourishment.
- Storage – The liver stores important vitamins, minerals, iron as well as extra glucose for when the body needs it.
Best Herbs For Liver Health
There are many herbs in Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine that have been used since ancient times to support liver health. The top herbs include:
- Milk Thistle – Milk thistle is one of the most well-researched and powerful herbs for liver support. The active compound silymarin helps protect liver cells from damage caused by toxins and free radicals. It also promotes cell regeneration.
- Turmeric – Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It helps stimulate bile production and detoxification. Turmeric also boosts immunity which protects the liver from infections and hepatitis.
- Beetroot – Beetroot is a nutrient-dense food that has been shown to cleanse and nourish the liver. Betalains, bioactive pigments present in beets exhibit antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification-supporting effects.
- Dandelion – Dandelion improves the secretion of bile from the liver and promotes the movement of bile from the liver to the gallbladder. This supports digestion and detoxification. Dandelion is also a rich source of nutrients like vitamins A, K, and C, and minerals.
- Green Tea – Catechins and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) in green tea offer potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that support liver health and protect liver cells.
- Garlic – Garlic contains allicin, selenium, and other sulfur compounds that stimulate liver detoxification and protect the liver from damage and infections. It also enhances bile production and suppresses fatty liver disease.
- Chicory – Chicory root is known to decrease inflammation and help remove wastes and toxins from the liver and bloodstream. It also stimulates bile production and secretion which facilitates digestion and excretion.
Extra Tips For Liver Health
In addition to taking liver-supportive herbs, making certain lifestyle changes can also keep your liver healthy. Here are some extra tips:
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. This helps the liver efficiently remove toxins.
- Limit alcohol intake which can burden the liver.
- Include more greens, antioxidants, fiber, and cruciferous vegetables in your diet.
- Manage diabetes and avoid medications like acetaminophen that tax the liver.
- Avoid processed foods high in trans fats, chemicals, and refined sugars.
- Maintain a healthy body weight. Fatty liver disease is linked to obesity.
- Exercise regularly to lower oxidative stress and fat accumulation in liver cells.
- Avoid infections like viral hepatitis that can damage the liver.
- Get regular medical checkups and liver function tests.
The liver carries out numerous vital functions to keep us healthy. Unfortunately, rising rates of fatty liver disease pose a threat to liver health today. The good news is there are many protective herbs and lifestyle habits that can enhance liver function and prevent damage to liver cells. Consuming herbs like milk thistle, turmeric, dandelion, and beetroot can help detoxify the liver, reduce inflammation, and increase bile flow.
Following a healthy diet, managing weight, exercising, and limiting alcohol intake also offer liver protection benefits. Making the liver a priority through natural remedies and positive lifestyle choices offers big rewards in terms of improved digestion, immunity, energy levels, and overall well-being.
A. Some of the best foods for liver health include – fatty fish, nuts, olive oil, avocado, green tea, leafy greens, apples, turmeric, garlic, grapes, beetroot, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower. They provide antioxidants, fiber, and nutrients that support liver function.
A. Drinking water, herbal tea, vegetable juices, bone broths, coffee in moderation, and wine in limited amounts are good choices. Staying well-hydrated aids in toxin removal. Avoid sugary drinks and excessive alcohol which are hard on the liver.
A. Early signs of liver damage include – fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, itchy skin, jaundice, abdominal pain, bloating, spider angiomas, weight loss, and elevated liver enzymes on tests. Chronic liver disease usually has no symptoms until extensive damage occurs.
A. Some ways to detox the liver naturally include – eating garlic, grapefruit, green tea, leafy greens, avocado, and cruciferous vegetables, drinking lemon water, following intermittent fasting, reducing sugar and alcohol intake, exercising regularly, and taking liver-supportive herbs like milk thistle and dandelion.
A. Foods that negatively impact the liver include processed foods, fried foods, foods high in saturated fats, sugary foods, refined carbohydrates, excessive salt, and food additives. These increase inflammation, the risk of fatty liver disease and put extra strain on the liver.