Liver Cleansing for Spring
Our liver is the second largest organ in our body (our skin is the largest), and is involved in almost all physiological processes in the body. Probably the best known function of the liver is detoxification of harmful substances, such as alcohol, pesticides, household chemicals, etc. But the liver also has many other important roles such as fat absorption and metabolism, hormone metabolism, control of blood cholesterol, control of blood sugar, and storage and metabolism of vitamins.
Some of the things that burden the liver are:
Alcohol, meat, eggs, pollution in our air and water, processed foods, refined sugar and many over-the-counter drugs. Over time, these toxins accumulate in our tissues and the liver becomes weaker and less able to perform its many important jobs. Then we may get one or more of the following symptoms:
- Skin rashes
- Abdominal bloating
- Intolerance to fatty foods
- Intolerance to household products such as shampoos, disinfectants, and essential oils.
- Weight gain
- Hormonal problems
Fortunately, the liver has a remarkable ability to regenerate. If you give up some of the foods that are burdening your liver and contributing to unwellness, the liver will quickly start to clean and restore itself. You can help to cleanse your liver by following a one week diet of fruits, vegetables and brown rice and avoiding all sugary foods (e.g. refined flour, sugar, honey, etc.), as well as all high fat foods (e.g. all animal products, nuts, avocado, oil, etc.).
(PLEASE NOTE: consuming fat in the diet is absolutely necessary for good health, so after the liver cleanse reintroduce healthy fats such as avocado, nuts, and cold-pressed olive oil).
Cleansing your liver can be uncomfortable at first, since for many toxins to leave the body, they need to be dumped back into the circulation. This can cause headaches, nausea, fatigue, mental fogginess, or skin eruptions. These are all good signs as they show the toxins are being released from the liver and other tissues in the body and are being prepared for elimination. (Drinking a Coke at this stage may cure the symptoms, but will put an abrupt halt to the liver's rejuvenation! So endure these discomforts.) It is vital to drink an abundance of water during any detoxification process. Healthy springwater can be purchased from your local supermarket.
Because toxins are circulating through the body, it is useful to have plenty of antioxidants which will protect your body and aid in the detoxification process. Fresh vegetable and fruit juices, lemon juice, dandelion root tea, turmeric, fenugreek, ajwan, and other herbs are great to include in your diet to aid the liver cleanse. Many people find it useful to start the diet on a Thursday so that days 3 and 4 fall on the weekend (and they can rest). It is important not to be under too much physical or mental stress while your body is regenerating itself.
Even if you don't do the complete liver cleanse, you will make your liver happy by making the switch to a vegetarian wholefood diet, and reducing your consumption of coffee, processed foods, and alcohol. By doing so, you WILL notice a dramatic change in your health, physically, mentally and spiritually.
Some essential books to read if doing a liver cleanse:
The Liver Cleansing Diet by Sandra Cabot
Detox and Live by Hilde Hemmes
Dandelion Root Tea
You are probably familiar with the humble dandelion plant - it's a weed that grows just about everywhere. But did you know that it was a powerful herbal medicine for the liver?
Dandelion root stimulates the flow of bile and is a tonic for the liver. It is most powerful when made as a decoction of the raw, dried root (boil 2 teaspoons of the root in one cup of water and simmer for 10-15 minutes).
There are also many roasted Dandelion Root Teas available which make a delicious alternative to coffee. What's more, they will actually help to heal the liver from the effects of long-term caffeine consumption!
Despite its acidic taste, lemon juice is a powerful alkalising food, rich in anti-oxidants which assist the body in detoxification. It stimulates digestion, tonifies the stomach and increases secretion of bile from the liver. Although not a laxative, drinking fresh lemon juice can help to overcome constipation. Lemon juice is also a fantastic source of Vitamin C. Squeeze half a lemon in a cup of hot water and drink it first thing in the morning for good digestion.
In India, Turmeric is known as the ‘Raj’ (King) of all herbs, and it’s not hard to see why.
It has powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, stimulates digestion, increases the flow of bile from the gallbladder, lowers cholesterol and inhibits the growth of cancer cells. Regular use of turmeric in the diet increases resistance to infection and reduces the risk of cancer.