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Liver Detox



Liver Detox

Periodically giving your liver detox can revitalize its ability to function optimally and have a knock-on effect on your health. The word liver ‘detox’ is of course a shortened version of ‘detoxification’; not something we should be doing every month or year, but a process which occurs in everyone of your cells, tissues and organs every fraction of a second, every day. It is like breathing ­ as long as you are taking in air, water, food and every aspect of your environment, you will need to clear out the bi-products, just like running a car. So a regular liver ‘detox’ is not a ‘sticking plaster’ approach, it is an addition, not a replacement for learning to make permanent changes and develop new habits for life.

It is always advisable to consult a practitioner for any form of detox as not everyone is of a fit state to start moving toxins from their body tissues into their liver. If not done at the right pace for you, your liver can become overburdened ­ your phase 2 detoxification pathway will not be able to cope and you may feel a whole lot worse than when you started. This ‘healing crisis’ used to be considered a necessary part of getting to full health, but we now know that it is more important to pull back if you are feeling over toxic and allow the liver to deal with toxins. It can be a good idea to make the changes to diet and then, when you feel more ‘clean’ you can set to your more stringent ‘detox’. By then, hopefully your liver function will have improved and your system will respond more positively.

You are always likely to feel somewhat ‘groggy’ during a cleanse, often seeing an amplification or revisiting of past or present symptoms ­ headaches, fatigue, irritability, nausea, bloating, wind or skin break-outs are a few examples ­ but these should soon pass, especially with liver support supplements such as milk thistle. This can often simply be due to the elimination of foods or drinks to which you have a dependence or intolerance, usually sugar, caffeine, wheat or dairy. If you suspect any of these to have an adverse effect on your health or mood, it is more prudent to slowly remove these from the diet one at a time before ding a full detox. You may otherwise find the shock to the system a little over intense and your liver may not thank you for it.

Start any cleansing programme at the weekend, so if you have any adverse effects you can simply lie around, rather than having to work and further stress your body and liver by being moody with colleagues! Also actively relax, in other words engage in activities designed to relax your whole body and nervous system, rather than just watching TV ­ see the chapter on stress for some ideas. Exercise is a key part in liver detoxification, specifically strong calves and thighs with good upper body posture. This combination ensures strong circulation around the liver and a full oxygen and nutrient supply to keep it happy.

You must definitely not start on a detox regime if you are in any way constipated. Constipation means not having a bowel movement at least daily and for some, once a day still leaves them technically constipated i.e. not fully evacuating all the waste products that they should. If you suffer from constipation, then faecal matter tends to sit in the transverse colon where stools begin to form. This is located across the abdomen under the ribs and if you suffer from pain or bloating here, you may well be holding onto matter in this area. If the stool does not get pushed down into the descending colon (down left side of the abdomen) and ejected, then water will be absorbed back into the body from the stool and it gets dry and hard, a sure sign. Along with the water toxins, hormones and cholesterol on their way to evacuation are also reabsorbed and re-circulated around the body, adding to the body load.

When you increase your detoxification capacity with a ‘detox’, you begin to move toxins from body tissues and cells towards the bowel. Remember that these are the more toxic, broken down versions that the liver has already detoxified at least once before. If you are constipated you could just be adding more toxic toxins to your bloodstream and feel an awful lot worse, not to mention doing some damage.

Chronic constipation can occur from avoiding bowel movements, so ensure that you enjoy a relaxing time on the throne and exercise to stimulate peristalsis, the movement of muscles in the gut. Relaxation techniques are good for releasing any tension that leads to muscle seizure in the colon. The actions mentioned in the foods section for relieving constipation should be tried first and slow re-hydration (first with half apple juice and water) prioritized. The detox below may in fact help bowel motion, but it is safest to be sure that it does not just cause further toxicity and add to the problems that can raise cholesterol in the first place.

Detox Programme

The recommendations below can be modified for your tastes and lifestyle or carried out as a ‘regime’. You may find that some aspects can be incorporated into your daily life to support your liver and cholesterol regulation further.

Start each morning with a liver flush ­ this can follow a small glass of warm water just to wake up the body and breakfast should be about 20 minutes after:

  • Juice of one grapefruit
  • Blend of one lemon with the rind
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 crushed clove garlic
  • 1 inch ginger root, grated
  • 1/8­ 1˛2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Cinnamon to taste

Drink at least 2 liters of water a day ­ filtered or bottled, but choose ‘mineral’ not spring water, which needs no regulation. Dandelion coffee has fantastic cholesterol regulating properties and herb teas help to alkalize the body, encouraging it to function most efficiently. See those mentioned in the shopping list and the kidney cleanse below.

Drink half a pint of fruit or vegetable juice ­ carrot, apple and ginger is a particularly good choice for liver health and cholesterol regulation. Beetroot, parsley and celery can be added for extra detoxification. Add a teaspoon of flax oil to stop the sudden release of sugars from these plants that have had their fiber removed.

Exercise for at least 20 minutes each day for good circulation, oxygenation and detoxification. Exercising in greenery also helps to bring down stress hormones, so a brisk walk in the country can be the ultimate solution, especially if you start the programme at the weekend.

Eat in abundance

Fruit, those that are best for your liver:

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Grapefruit
  • Red Grapes
  • Papaya
  • Watermelon
  • Pears
  • Berries
  • Cherries
  • Lemons
  • Pineapple
  • Cantaloupe
  • Plums
  • Mango
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries

Other plant foods, including vegetables ­ best choices for your liver function:

  • Alfalfa sprouts
  • Artichokes
  • Beetroot
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Kale
  • Fennel
  • Garlic
  • Leeks
  • Onions
  • Parsley
  • Radish
  • Turnip
  • Watercress
  • Sweet Potato
  • Bean sprouts
  • Spinach
  • Peas
  • Mange tout
  • Green beans
  • Asparagus
  • Celery

Eat smaller portions of

  • Grains ­ brown rice, corn, millet, quinoa ­ twice a day maximum, preferably not with dinner
  • Fish ­ salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring ­ not more than once a day, buy fresh and wild where possible
  • Oils ­ use extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil for cooking and cold pressed seed oils for dressings
  • Nuts and seeds ­ one handful a day of organic raw, unsalted nuts and seeds should be included. Choose from almonds, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and flax seeds


All wheat foods: pasta, noodles; white, brown, whole meal and wholegrain bread and buns, wheat based crackers, water biscuits, bran biscuits, wheat germ, bran, pancakes (unless you use buckwheat flour). Wheat is in most processed cereals even cornflakes ­check labels, white and whole meal flour, semolina, couscous, battered foods, breaded foods, MSG, food starch, wheat starch, some mustards (read the label), biscuits and cookies, cakes, scones, pastries, some chocolate and some malt drinks (check the label)

Meat and dairy products (including sheep and goat); cheese, milk and yoghurt, a little butter is ok

Hydrogenated fats, partially hydrogenated fats and trans fats (check labels)

Chemicals - artificial sweeteners, food additives and preservatives

Fried foods

Dried fruit

Potatoes and bananas only once every 2 days each ­ alternate or avoid Specifically if you tend to accumulate gallstones and to ‘detox’; reduce nuts, onions, oranges, lentils (use the pulses listed above instead), coffee, milk, sugars, pork, poultry, corn, eggs and alcohol, which can all be gallstone-forming. Lifestyle Consider the following

Massage daily, can be done yourself or ask a very close friend to help out! You could indulge in at least one professional massage or reflexology session.

Dry skin brushing twice daily

Breathing exercises and relaxation exercises daily ­ at least 10 minutes a day. Learn these from a yoga class, buy a book or CD or ask someone who practices already.

Take magnesium baths every other day by adding half to one cup of Epsom salts to very hot water. These are magnesium sulphate and lying in this hot bath for at least 20 minutes allows you to absorb the magnesium, which is very calming for the nervous system.


This article is taken from a new book by Charlotte Watts, Wellhouse Publishing 2006

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