Thursday, August 14th 2008
Does this sound like you? Do you wake up in the morning not feeling refreshed from your sleep, generally feel more foggy and heavy (some people liken it to a hangover feeling or like they have cotton wool in their brain) if you suffer with headaches, skin problems, irritability or digestive disturbances - it may be a good time to consider completing a Spring clean. All of these symptoms could relate to poor liver function and that your eliminative organs (bowels, kidneys etc) are not keeping up with their job, in the role of detoxification and elimination.
Our poor liver is bombarded every day with toxins, such as pollution, medication (pain killers, anti inflammatories etc) the herbicides and pesticides on the food that we eat, not to mention the colourings and flavourings and preservatives added to these. It is the livers job to convert and neutralise these metabolic products and toxins into soluble and safe by-products, which can then be eliminated.
The liver has two related processes known as phase 1 and phase 2, in its ability to detoxify pollutants and associated chemicals. Associated with each phase are a number of reactions, which are reliant on certain nutritional vitamins, minerals and amino acids. It is common that generally, people will have low levels of one or more nutrients, or an accumulation of toxins, which will slow down the overall detoxification pathway.
There are many things we can do to help our liver in these processes and here are some of the main suggestions I make to anyone wanting to complete a detox:
The first and possibly most important thing is to drink no less that 2 litres of water a day. The kidneys can't function properly without enough water. When they don't work to capacity, some of their load is dumped onto the liver. But if the liver has to do some of the kidneys work, it can't operate at full throttle so the clearance of toxins will be reduced. Ideally the water should be sipped on all day, rather than consuming large amounts all at once. One of the best ways to start the day is to have a drink of water, with a good squeeze of lemon juice in. This acts as a liver flush. As well as this the water will go straight to the bowel and will help with the first elimination of the day.
Certain vitamins and minerals, as well as different phyto or plant nutrients, can help support the liver during this time. These are helpful to assist with the eliminative process. Phyto-nutrients are plant substances found in various fruits and vegetables, which support detoxification pathways and promote general well being. These nutrients exert powerful nutritional and antioxidant actions, and are useful modulators of toxic reactions.
Vitamins and Amino acids which help with better detoxification are Vitamins C, E, B6, B12 & Folate and the Amino acids Glutathione, Glycine, Taurine & Cysteine.
There are many good Liver cleansing products available on the NZ market that already contain these ingredients, such as Livatone Plus from Dr Sandra Cabot (The liver cleansing Dr) is one that contains these, as well as Super Thisilyn from Natures Way.
There are a number of foods that contain ingredients that can help with better detoxification in the body. These include broccoli and watercress, lemon and lime, green tea, the spices turmeric and ginger, as well as beetroot, carrot, garlic and grapes. It is ideal to choose organically grown foods, otherwise wash very thoroughly and ideally peel. These can be added to foods or drinks or eaten fresh. Please be aware that green tea contains tannin and caffeine, which will interfere with the absorption of nutrients from the food you eat, if consumed for up to 1 hour after eating food or taking nutritional supplements.
Avoid any foods that are going to stress the liver, such as fatty foods, alcohol, coffee and foods containing artificial flavour, colour or preservatives. Preferably, eat foods raw and as fresh as possible.
Essential oils can offer help with better detoxification and good choices are mandarin, grapefruit, fennel, juniper, peppermint, geranium & cedar wood to name a few. Choose no less than 3 different oils and add 2 drops of each to your bath water and disperse. Soak for at least 10 minutes.
Many herbs help specifically with better detoxification in the body. These include dandelion, chicory, artichoke, barberry, milk thistle extract, burdock & schizandra. You will often find these together in a herbal combination already; otherwise they can be taken individually - such as in the beverages dandelion & chicory coffee. These are delicious drinks that are readily available and taste very similar to coffee and can have milk added to them if needed. Here are links to some that we have Dandelion & Burdock 25 Bags, Dandelion Coffee 25 Bags, Chicory 25 Bags.
Exercise is invaluable for general health and better detoxification in the body. It improves the tone and quality of muscle tissue and stimulates the processes of digestion, absorption, metabolism, and elimination. It also strengthens blood vessels, the lungs and heart, resulting in improved transfer of oxygen to the cells and increased circulation of the circulatory and lymph systems. A beginning exercise program should be light and should gradually increase in difficulty, as endurance increases. Always ensure you increase your water intake if exercising and seek professional advice before starting anything strenuous.
Now is an ideal time to support your liver function and take some of that load of your eliminative organs. A "Spring Clean" will not only help to make you feel better, but can also help with more efficient fat loss. A "Spring Clean" can also offer a preventative measure in the aging process, by improving the body's ability to neutralise free radicals, giving you better looking skin, hair, sparkling eyes, as well as having better smelling breath and feeling less stressed and more even tempered.
Written by Leanne James, Naturopath and Founder of Ideal Health
Here are links to the Cleansing Detox Packs we stock
Tiao He Cleanse Pack
Clean Start Apple Cinnamon
Detox Foot Patches
Thisilyn Cleanse with Herbal Digestive Sweep
Thisilyn Cleanse with Mineral Digestive Sweep
Total Body Detox
Ultimate Herbal Detox
Quick Cleanse 15 Day Detox
Here are links to some of the Cleansing Products we stock
Here are some informative resource books
Related health information can be found here:
Beet Root-a splendid liver and kidney cleanser, full of nutrients & iron
Liver cleansing herbs
The benefits of fasting & detoxifying
Thisilyn for liver support
Related articles can be found here:
If you need help or advice, you are welcome to email our naturopathic team with your health question.
Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered. The information is not intended to be comprehensive or to provide medical advice to you. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.
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