The liver is one of the most important, yet one of the most undervalued, organs in our body. It has over 500 vital functions that it is responsible for. As just a few examples, the liver is responsible for:
- Regulating blood clotting
- Clearing the blood of toxins
- Converting excess glucose into starch for storage
- Excreting waste via bile
- Converting hormones and vitamins into forms the body can use (sex hormones, Vitamin D, Vitamin A from carotenoids, etc.)
- Producing glutathione, the body's single most powerful antioxidant
- Production of cholesterol and special proteins to help carry fats through the body
- Processing of hemoglobin for use of its iron content (the liver stores iron)
- Clearance of bilirubin
Just having a well-functioning liver can drastically improve health! But we live in a world that is full of things that stand to work against a healthy liver! Because of that, it is crucial that everyone supports their liver health. This is especially important for women during pregnancy as there are a lot of demand on the liver to eliminate more toxins and excess hormones.
Here are my favorite ways to really support liver health, all of which are natural and very effective.
D-Limonene is a powerful, health-supporting substance found in citrus fruits, especially the rinds. Young Living's citrus oils are cold pressed from the rinds and are high in D-Limonene.
D-Limonene activates Phase 1 & 2 liver detox enzymes, supporting the body's natural detoxification process which helps promote hormone balance as well as overall great health.
It also supports digestion and gallbladder health, weight management, the body's natural inflammatory response, and is a potent antioxidant.1 2
D-Limonene is so great that many manufacturers are offering isolated D-Limonene supplements. But getting it naturally from high-quality, dietary essential oils is a more desirable form.
As a holistic health practitioner finishing up my naturopathy doctor degree, I am concerned about warnings against ingesting essential oils. These over-cautious warnings prevent people from obtaining these wonderful health benefits from citrus essential oils labeled for dietary use and do so in a time where many people really need support in these areas of health.
For my full post with the facts about ingesting essential oils, go here: http://healthyfamiliesforgod.com/2016/01/ingesting-essential-oils-facts-straight/
*Please see notes below and only use Young Living's Vitality essential oils which are approved and labeled specifically for dietary use. Do NOT use any brand of essential oil that is not intended for internal use! This could be harmful to your health instead of beneficial!
Chlorella vulgaris is a unicellular, freshwater algal organism widely consumed for its nutritional and health benefits. Chlorella contains high concentrations of protein, fiber, an array of vitamins and minerals, and the green pigment chlorophyll.
Research indicates the chlorophyll component of Chlorella contributes significantly to its detoxifying effects. It is a powerful supplement that initiates and supports healthy phases 1 and phase 2 detox processes.
Most chlorella supplements are derived from chlorella harvested in China or Japan which can have high levels of contaminants. My preferred brand is made by ProThera in a product called Dual Detox which has chlorella derived from South Korea as well as other things to support liver function. It is safe for everyone including children and pregnant/breastfeeding mothers. Please click here to read my full post on Detox 101 and the Power of Chlorella or click here to purchase.
Milk thistle (which has the scientific name Silybum marianum) is actually considered a "weed" but is very beneficial for liver health. There is a vast wealth of published medical research showing milk thistle's strong ability to support the liver's detoxification process, even from very harmful things, and to even support the liver's natural regeneration of cells.3
In my personal and professional experience, milk thistle is an herb that is powerful yet very mild. It is especially helpful during pregnancy and for supporting female hormones in teenage girls up to menopause-age women!
The cheapest way to take milk thistle is to buy milk thistle seed powder in bulk (I buy mine from Frontier Herbs as a wholesale member) and make it into capsules myself with a capsule machine. I add in some of the vitality essential oils listed below for additional support if/as needed.
There are also some really great options for organic milk thistle in capsules from Vitacost.com.
Turmeric may very well be the most-researched herb ever. This spice usually used in curry dishes has many researched benefits, including supporting liver health. Its main compound known as curcumin has long been connected to liver health. It works in multiple ways to support the liver's detoxification process. Turmeric also strongly supports the body's natural response against inflammation.
Turmeric is safe, beneficial, and makes foods delicious! The cheapest way to take turmeric consistently is to make it into capsules like mentioned above for milk thistle. Because turmeric's health properties are magnified with the synergy of black pepper, I add a drop of Young Living's Vitality black pepper essential oil to each capsule.
Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage that has incredible liver-supporting properties that has been demonstrated through research.4 It is the ONLY reason we have refined (organic) cane sugar in our home! The fermentation process converts the sugars into the finished fermented product full of liver-supporting acids and nutrients. Kombucha is one of those things that the benefits can be noticed almost immediately for most people, so start slowly if you've never had it before!
Having the proper amount of stomach acid, good gallbladder function, liver health, and eating the right foods allows the body to produce proper digestive enzymes necessary for digesting things like fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. But since many people do not meet many, if any, of these criteria, a good digestive enzyme can help support liver health.
My favorite digestive enzyme supplements are from Young Living. There are many options so I usually tailor the recommended product to each person's individual needs.
Additional Essential Oils
But essential oils are harmful to the liver, right?!! There are multiple essential oils that have been shown through a lot of research to actually support liver health! (The research is not compliant to share publicly due to certain speech regulations by the FDA but they show that pure, dietary essential oils like copaiba, clove, rosemary, thyme, and a few others including lemon as detailed above are proven to be very beneficial to liver health!)
Young Living's Juva products are all specifically designed to support liver health in various customized ways.
Combining Fennel, Geranium, Rosemary, Roman Chamomile, Blue Tansy, and Helichrysum essential oils, JuvaFlex® Vitality helps support kidney and liver health as a beneficial complement to other supportive dietary blends.
JuvaCleanse® Vitality is a premium blend of pure essential oils that includes the naturally occurring constituents neryl acetate, gamma-curcumene, and alpha-pinene. This oil blend of Helichrysum, Ledum, and Celery seed is for when you need to pull out the big guns! JuvaCleanse Vitality is formulated to have cleansing properties, to help support digestion, and to support a healthy immune system.
JuvaPower® is a high antioxidant vegetable powder complex and is one of the richest sources of acid-binding foods. JuvaPower is rich in liver-supporting nutrients and has intestinal cleansing benefits.* It can be sprinkled on foods or added to milk, smoothies, etc.
JuvaTone® is a powerful herbal complex designed to promote healthy liver function.* It is an excellent source of choline, a nutrient that is vital for proper liver function and necessary for those with high protein diets. JuvaTone also contains inositol and dl-methionine, which help with the body's normal excretion functions.* Methionine also helps recycle glutathione, a natural antioxidant crucial for normal liver function.* Other ingredients include Oregon grape root, a source of the liver-supporting compound berberine, and therapeutic-grade essential oils to enhance overall effectiveness.*
JuvaSpice® is a delicious blend of rice seed bran, spinach, tomato flakes, beet root powder, flax seed, oat seed bran, broccoli powder, cucumber powder, potassium chloride, Redmond RealSalt®, dill leaf, barley seed powder, cayenne pepper, ginger powder, slippery elm bark, L-Taurine, psyllium seed husk, anise seed, fennel seed, aloe vera leaf extract powder, and peppermint leaf. Sprinkle it on food such as eggs, baked potatoes, rice, or salads for extra fiber and to support proper digestion.*
Don't discount the power of foods, too! Some of the foods most beneficial for liver health include:
- Beets (roots and greens)
- Cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, etc.)
Things to Avoid
Supporting liver health includes more than just taking supplements; it also involves avoiding things that can be hard on the liver. These include:
- Foods and drinks containing high-fructose corn syrup
- Agave nectar
- "Vegetable" oils (corn, canola, soybean)
- Over-the-counter pain relievers and almost all prescription medications
- Some iron supplements
With these tips, you can support liver health in incredible ways and really experience great health!
Blessings of good health,
~Sara Jo Poff
Holistic Health Practitioner