Spring is a time of renewal, and in cultures all over the world, cleansing and new starts are common themes during this fertile season. The fresh energy of blossoming plants and lengthening days carries a natural invitation to refocus on our health and wellbeing. Seasonal transitions are always good reminders to realign our food choices and habits with nature’s rhythms, and the vernal equinox is an excellent time to focus on detoxification of the liver.
Why Liver Health Matters
The liver is a major organ that processes most of the toxins we are exposed to every day, such as BPA, pesticides, air pollutants, flame retardants, and phthalates. These environmental toxins affect the whole body and can contribute to a slew of health concerns, including allergic reactions. The liver is also responsible for breaking down naturally produced steroidal hormones, such as estrogen, testosterone, and cortisol, along with many of the medications and medicinal herbs we consume (a potential cause of herb-drug interactions, if one substance interferes with the liver’s ability to metabolize the other).
By aiding liver function, restoring the gut biome, and supporting histamine receptors, you can get past the sluggishness of winter and prepare for the fruitful season ahead. We have put together a doctor-approved spring wellness guide to the natural release of toxins in order to create more space for a healthy and happy lifestyle. As with our popular winter cleanse, this three-day detox regimen is not meant to deplete the body, but rather to nourish the body, refocus the mind, and rejuvenate the spirit. Be sure to read through to the bottom to receive access to the full detox guide with recipes and the schedule.
How the Liver Works
The liver is the largest internal organ in the human body, weighing in at about three pounds. It is a complex and multifaceted organ that is integral to many critical bodily functions. Consequently, maintaining hepatic health is essential for overall health.
5 BASIC FUNCTIONS OF THE LIVER
- Removes toxins ingested or produced by the body.
- Produces bile (stored in the gallbladder) that breaks down fatty acids for healthy digestion.
- Regulates blood sugar levels and lipid metabolism for balanced energy.
- Produces, stores, and interacts with hormones involved in growth, immune response, and nutrient balance.
- Produces essential blood proteins like albumin, which helps regulate blood volume and carries hormones and nutrients throughout the body.
TOXINS & THE LIVER
The liver is the bodyguard that protects the other organs from too much toxic build up. There are two types of toxins that the body faces: water-soluble and fat-soluble. Water-soluble toxins are sent directly to the kidneys and excreted through urine, meaning that the body can void them without help from the liver. Some water-soluble toxins include: cyanides, perchlorates, ricin, nicotine, urea, and creatinine. Most toxins we face, however, are fat-soluble, and these substances must be broken down by the liver and made water-soluble before they can be excreted through the urine or in stool. Toxins processed through the liver include phthalates, BPA, pesticides, flame retardants, alcohol, many pharmaceuticals, detergents, particulate matter, artificial fragrances, endogenous hormones, xenoestrogens, translocated colonic bacteria, and other metabolic waste products, just to name a few.
The liver is naturally regenerative, but it has a lot of jobs to do and sometimes needs a little extra support. An overtaxed liver can lead to blood sugar dysregulation, hormone imbalance, inflammation, indigestion, stress, brain fog, depression, allergies, joint pain, headaches, and more.
LIVER DETOX BENEFITS FOR HISTAMINE RESPONSE
In the season when hay fever is at its peak and pollen is inescapable, many people suffer from seasonal aggravations like runny nose, sinus pressure, watery eyes, and more. Detoxing the liver and utilizing other natural supplements that support histamine response can help relieve these symptoms while fortifying the whole body to process what life throws at it.
Inflammation-modulating nutrients are key to taking on pollen season. Studies suggest that supplements like quercetin and vitamin C exhibit antioxidant and antihistamine properties that may be supportive for allergy sufferers. These beneficial nutrients paired with liver detoxification are a potent combination for promoting easier breathing in the season ahead. For more sinus support tips, check out our guide to using neti pots.
Herbs for Liver Cleansing
Plants have long been used to cleanse and nourish the liver, both tonically and for shorter periods of focused cleansing. Different types of herbs can used to support the liver in a variety of ways:
- Antioxidant-rich herbs help neutralize toxins in the liver, making them easier to metabolize. Milk thistle, rosehips, dandelion, goji berries, and turmeric are a few excellent choices.
- Amino acid- and sulfur-containing herbs enhance the activity of glutathione, produced in the liver to make toxins water-soluble so they can be easily excreted. Spirulina, alfalfa, nettle, horsetail, burdock, and parsley are natural sources of these nutrients.
- Digestive and fiber-filled herbs facilitate efficient nutrient absorption and help move waste out of the body. Try marshmallow, licorice, triphala, psyllium husk, rhubarb, and yellow dock to keep things moving along.
Supplements for Liver Cleansing
In addition to traditional herbal formulas, nutritional science has identified other naturally derived supplements to aid the liver. In our new Liver Cleanse Kit, we’ve combined these nutrients with some of our favorite synergistic herbal blends for broad-spectrum hepatic support:
- NAC: N-acetyl-l-cysteine is an amino acid that is the precursor to glutathione, a major component in the body’s detoxification process that isn’t bioavailable on its own. This supplement helps support the body’s natural detoxification and antioxidation processes while fighting inflammation.
- Shilajit: This natural mineral substance exudes from rocks in the Himalayas and has been used Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. It is a powerful rejuvenator that cleanses the urinary tract, lungs, and liver while bolstering strength and supporting the immune system.
- Liver Cleanse Formula: Use this blend to synergistically support the liver’s natural detoxification process and promote bile production for optimal liver metabolism.
- G.I. Feel Better: Our top digestive tincture blend helps relieve mild gas and bloating while also supporting optimal liver function.
- Plant-Based Protein Powder: This vegan protein combination helps stay nourished and energized while cleansing. It makes a wonderful addition to smoothies, juices, and soups.
- Triphala: This potent yet gentle three-fruit herbal complex uniquely supports GI tract wellness. Triphala helps to carry away waste products after excretion by the liver and supports regular elimination.
Liver Support with Chinese Medicine
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Liver and Gallbladder are associated with spring and the wood element. An excess of wood or Liver influence can bring on anger, irritability, and other over-excited emotional and physical states. Spring’s surging energy can overwhelm us if allowed to build up, but if allowed to flow through us, it can help push out unhealthy accumulations to leave us feeling cleansed, uncluttered, and invigorated. Xiao Yao Wan is one formula that spreads Liver qi and can aid irritability and frustration associated with the Liver, and our Elation Tincture combines the Liver-supportive TCM formula Xiao Yao San with fast-acting Western herbs to refresh the Liver organ and Spirit. For more TCM perspectives on herbs for Liver support, see the our post on bupleurum root remedies for spring.
Movement for Liver Cleansing
Moving the body stimulates your body’s natural detox process—and it also just feels good! We often slow down and put exercise on the backburner during the winter months, and spring signals us to get moving to boost vitality. Here are a few ways to support liver and overall health through movement:
- Stretching: Working through our winter stiffness aids agility and overall harmony of the body. In TCM, stretching is considered an important component for balanced Liver qi.
- Dancing: Improve muscle tone, build strength, and fit in some fast cardio with mood-boosting movement to your favorite spring soundtrack!
- Hiking: Breathing in fresh air and enjoying the beauty of nature can heal us outside and in. Hiking helps strengthen the core, balance blood sugar levels, and elevate mood.
- Running: Among its many health benefits, running has been found to modulate inflammation and decrease stress on the liver.
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Written by Jules Benefico: Jules is a Clinical Western Herbalist and the Online Marketing Content Creator at Five Flavors Herbs. She studies medical astrology, western alchemy, and clinical nutrition and infuses this into her herbal practice.