Posted on



The liver is known for its amazing capacity to repair and re-grow itself, thank to its rich blood supply.

This means that it can continue with its main job of flushing toxins out of the body.

If you have wondered why even heavy drinkers can sometimes improve the state of their liver, it’s because liver cells only have a lifespan of about 150 days.

“ I can take 70 per cent of a person’s liver away in an operation and about 90 per cent of it will grow back within two months” explains Dr. David Lloyd, consultant liver surgeon at Leicester Royal Infirmary in the UK.

However, in very heavy drinkers, the parenchymal cells – the liver’s main cells – can become so damaged that scar tissue forms, a condition known as cirrhosis.

In our modern lives, we face exposure to toxins in the air, our food, the medicines we take, and much more.

By using herbal supplements and trace minerals like the ones listed below, you can give your liver the raw materials it needs to process those toxins.

A healthy, functioning liver is an essential part of good health. Taking a good liver support supplement will help your energy levels, immunity, digestion, and overall well-being.


Milk thistle is one the most popular liver supplements for treating and repairing the liver thanks to its amazing seeds, which contain a flavonoid called silymarin.

Silymarin is an important antioxidant and protects the liver by optimizing liver function and detoxification.

It also repairs damage to the liver cells caused by disease, alcohol, and drugs

In fact, milk thistle is used all over the world to treat alcoholic hepatitis, liver disease (cirrhosis) and viral hepatitis.

Silymarin works by acting like a gatekeeper, protecting the liver from toxins and free radicals.

It binds to the outside of the liver cell and them off free radicals by blocking their entry to the liver cell. It also scavenges toxins that have already found their way into the cells.

One of the most important functions of milk thistle is its ability to increase your body’s production of glutathione, the “mother of all antioxidants”. The highest concentration of glutathione is in the liver.

Milk thistle also helps to prevent the depletion of glutathione. The antioxidant activity of this important compound is believed to be ten times more potent than Vitamin E.


Commonly eaten throughout North America, Europe and the Mediterranean, artichoke leaf is now known as an important remedy for liver support .

It contains cynarin, which has been found to increase the production of bile in the liver. This makes detoxification processes in the body more efficient, helping various organs to clear out harmful toxins such as alcohol and other chemicals.

Like milk thistle, artichoke leaf contains the important flavonoid silymarin and is best known for its abilities in protecting the liver.

Artichoke leaf also contributes to overall health and welling by helping to maintain healthy cholesterol levels in people at risk of coronary heart disease.


A well-known anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, the polyphenols in turmeric root are also shown to be beneficial in reducing the risk of fatty liver disease caused by stress.

Studies in cows have found that stressful conditions can lead to physiological changes in the liver, which affects the endoplasmic reticulum. This contributes to the development of fatty liver.

However, when the cows in the study were fed a blend of turmeric and green tea, the researchers noted a significant decline of markers for fatty liver

Turmeric’s potent antioxidant properties also help to defend the liver from harmful free radicals, and may even help to reduce the risk of cancer-causing cells forming in the body


Dandelion root aids liver function by improving the body’s ability to remove toxins while also boosting the production of bile.

A Korean study on mice found that dandelion root helped to prevent damage to the liver caused by environmental toxins such as alcohol and chemicals.

Researchers found that the high concentration of antioxidants in dandelion root can protect liver cells, as well as warding off free radicals that can harm the cells

When tested in rabbits on a high-cholesterol diet, treatment with dandelion root was found to improve plasma antioxidant enzyme activities and lipid profile

This liver supplement has therefore been categorized as harboring many potential hypolipidemic and antioxidant effects.

As an added bonus, it also helps to protect against oxidative stress linked to atherosclerosis, and contains a variety of vitamins and nutrients that help to cleanse the liver and keep it working properly.


An amazing herb for detoxification, yellow dock root helps to cleanse the liver and lymphatic system of toxins.

Research suggests that it helps to stimulate the action of the lymphatic system throughout the body, increasing the rate at which harmful pollutants are flushed out:

Yellock dock is often included in many traditional blood cleansing formulas, including the Essiac Tea, this tea is used specifically for very severe degenerative conditions.

Yellow dock root acts as a diuretic, increasing the frequency of urination to assist in toxin elimination.

It also helps to stimulate peristalsis and increase the secretion of mucus and water in the colon, improving the rate at which waste is removed from the body.

As an important source of anthraquinones, yellow dock is also useful for regulating bowel movements and preventing constipation. In this way, yellow dock root is great for people who have a sluggish digestive system as it helps to stimulate the bowels and speed bowel transit time.


A macronutrient present in the form of phosphatidylcholine, choline is a compound that makes up the structural component of fat.

Choline is particularly important for liver health as it is required for the proper transportation of fat from the liver to cells throughout the body.

Another of the major benefits of choline is its role in keeping the liver free from harmful toxic build-ups.

It does this by preventing the accumulation of fat in the liver, which can lead to serious conditions such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Choline also helps to transport both cholesterol and triglycerides, two fats that need to be sent away from the liver to other parts of the body where they can support other organs.

Choline may even help to improve overall energy levels, mood, sleep cycles and recovery time after physical exercise. Because it is required for healthy muscle nerve functioning, it may also be helpful in preventing fatigue and muscle aches or pains following exercise.


Molybdenum is an essential nutrient that acts as a catalyst for enzymes while also facilitating the breakdown of certain amino acids in the body.

There are several human enzymes that require molybdenum, including sulphite oxidase, aldehyde oxidase, and xanthine oxidase. Among other things, these enzymes help to break down and metabolize toxins.

In the liver, molybdenum has been shown to dramatically inhibit pulmonary and liver fibrosis. Liver fibrosis is the thickening and scarring of tissue.

Molybdenum also helps prevent liver damage from acetaminophen and reduces heart damage from doxorubicin, a type of antibiotic.


An important trace mineral found naturally in the soil and in some foods.

It’s required for the body to form both glutathione peroxidase and thioredoxin reductase. These two enzymes are both needed to indirectly reduce certain oxidized molecules.

Because oxidation is linked to liver damage, antioxidants such as selenium are vital for preserving a healthy liver.

A study published in the journal Acta Biochemical Polonica showed that patients with chronic Hepatitis B or C infection or with alcoholic, autoimmune or cryptogenic chronic liver disease had significantly less selenium in their blood than healthy people.

Selenium is also needed to maintain tissue elasticity in the liver, particularly in those who have chronic liver disease. Many diseases of the liver can lead to rigidity in the tissues and local blood vessels. Selenium helps to preserve and retain elasticity while also supporting healthy hepatic circulation.

Important foods for your liver:


A root vegetable known for its bright purple colour and exceptional nutritional content, beetroot is not only an excellent source of fibre but also folic acid, manganese, and potassium.

Beetroot is grown around the world and is now used in many liver supplements as a nutritive tonic and detoxifier.

For the liver, the high fiber content of beetroot is an important part of the detoxification process as it helps to move waste through the digestive tract.

One of the fibers in beetroot is pectin, which is considered to stimulate the cleansing action of the liver and assist in the removal of toxins.


Green tea

Tea is widely considered to be beneficial for health, but evidence has shown that it may have particular benefits for the liver.

One Japanese study found that drinking 10 cups of green tea per day was associated with improved blood markers of liver health:

A smaller study in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) found drinking green tea high in antioxidants for 12 weeks improved liver enzyme levels and may also help reduce oxidative stress and fat deposits in the liver

For example, one study in mice found that black tea extract reversed many of the negative effects of a high fat diet on the liver, as well as improved blood markers of liver health

Nevertheless, some people, especially those who have liver problems, should exercise caution before consuming green tea as a supplement.


Grapefruit contains antioxidants that naturally protect the liver. The two main antioxidants found in grapefruit are naringenin and naringin.

The protective effects of grapefruit are known to occur in two ways — by helping reduce inflammation and protect cells.

Studies have also shown that these antioxidants can help reduce the development of hepatic fibrosis, a harmful condition in which excessive connective tissue builds up in the liver. This typically results from chronic inflammation.

Moreover, in mice that were fed a high fat diet, naringenin decreased the amount of fat in the liver and increased the number of enzymes necessary for burning fat, which can help prevent excess fat from accumulating.

Lastly, in rats, naringin has been shown to help improve the ability to metabolize alcohol and counteract some of alcohol’s negative effects.

Thus far, the effects of grapefruit or grapefruit juice itself, rather than its components, have not been studied. Additionally, almost all studies looking at the antioxidants in grapefruit have been conducted in animals.

Nevertheless, the current evidence points to grapefruit being a good way to keep your liver healthy by helping prevent damage and inflammation.

 Blueberries, cranberries and red or purple grapes

Blueberries and cranberries both contain anthocyanins, antioxidants that give berries their distinctive colours. They’ve also been connected to many health benefits.

Several animal studies have demonstrated that whole cranberries and blueberries, as well as their extracts or juices, can help keep the liver healthy.

Consuming these fruits for 21 days protected the liver from damage. Additionally, blueberries helped increase immune cell response and antioxidant enzymes

Another experiment found that the types of antioxidants found commonly in blueberries slowed the development of lesions and fibrosis, the development of scar tissue, in the livers of rats.

What’s more, blueberry extract has even been shown to inhibit the growth of human liver cancer cells in test-tube studies. However, more studies are needed to determine if this effect can be replicated in the human body.

Making these berries a regular part of your diet is a good way to help make sure your liver is supplied with the antioxidants it needs to stay healthy.

Grapes, especially red and purple grapes, contain a variety of beneficial plant compounds. The most famous one is resveratrol.

Many animal studies have shown that grapes and grape juice can benefit the liver.

Studies have found that they can have various benefits, including lowering inflammation, preventing damage and increasing antioxidant levels

A small study in humans with NAFLD showed that supplementing with grapeseed extract for 3 months helped improve liver function

However, since grapeseed extract is a concentrated form, you might not see the same effects from consuming whole grapes. More studies are needed before taking grapeseed extract for the liver can be recommended.

Nonetheless, the wide range of evidence from animal and some human studies suggests that grapes are a very liver-friendly food.

Cruciferous vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts, broccoli and mustard greens are known for their high fibre content and distinctive taste. They are also high in beneficial plant compounds.

Animal studies have shown Brussels sprouts and broccoli sprout extract help increase levels of detoxification enzymes and protect the liver from damage

A study in human liver cells found that this effect remained even when Brussels sprouts were cooked

A 2016 study of mice found that mice fed broccoli developed fewer tumors or fatty liver disease than their counterparts in the control group.

Human studies are limited. But so far, cruciferous vegetables look promising as a beneficial food for liver health.

Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts may help increase the liver’s natural detoxification enzymes, protect it from damage, and improve blood levels of liver enzymes.


Healthy Nutrition

Maintain a healthy diet to keep your liver in top condition.  Poor nutrition, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle are among the most common causes of liver disease.

Regular Exercise

Exercise can help boost your immune system and support a healthy liver and normal body weight.  Being overweight can be a major cause of fatty liver disease, resulting in cirrhosis, liver failure or even liver cancer.

Moderate your alcohol consumption

The liver is the body’s alcohol control station and can only process so much alcohol at one time. There are no hard and fast rules about how much you can drink, but safe drinking guidelines recommend limiting consumption to one glass per day, and ensuring several alcohol-free days per week.  Those who already have liver problems should avoid alcohol entirely.

No Smoking

We all know smoking has many negative effects on our general health, but it is also linked to liver cancer. If you have liver disease, smoking may increase the toxic effect of some medications on the liver.

Drug safety

Avoid recreational drug use. Not only do these have other negative effects on our health system, but intravenous drug use is a common mode of transmission for Hepatitis B and C.

Christine Gozlan

B.H.Sc Naturopathy

Dip. Herbal Medicine

Dip. Nutrition