Every day, your liver works tirelessly to keep your body healthy and happy. Maintaining a healthy liver is just as important as nurturing your immune system and managing stress.
A monolith, the liver is a huge organ making up about 2% of your body weight.
Every four minutes your liver processes all of the blood in your body (1). The liver clears the blood of toxins and waste products introduced by diet, medications, environmental pollutions, and stress.
The liver functions as a metabolic organ, breaking down amino acids, carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins for use by other organs (2). The liver also produces bile for healthy digestion, breakdown, and absorption of fats.
Symptoms of an unhealthy or overloaded liver include fatigue (3), bloating and gas (4), poor sleep (5), as well as allergies and chemical sensitivities (6).
Caring for your liver is paramount to maintaining overall health. Although there is no replacement for regular healthy lifestyle choices, here is a list of the top 5 herbal supplements to help promote optimal liver health and function.
- Milk Thistle
- Yellow Dock Root
- Dandelion Root
- Burdock Root
- Red Root
Let’s dig deeper into how these herbs can support your liver.
Milk Thistle is a sharp green plant in the daisy family that boasts a purple flower. It grows primarily in rocky areas in North America and Europe.
Milk Thistle has been used by ancient herbalists for years to treat the liver and gallbladder. Research suggests that Milk Thistle may protect the liver through antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties (7).
Yellow Dock Root
Yellow Dock is native to Europe and Asia, but grows easily through North America and has been used by Native Americans to treat a variety of illnesses, ranging from a topical application for piles to lymphatic and liver detoxification.
Limited research has shown Yellow Dock Root functions by helping to eliminate free-radicals in the body, thus assisting the liver with decreasing toxins and inflammation (8).
Dandelions are yellow flowers prolific in the Northern Hemisphere. Frequently regarded as weeds, Dandelions offer many potential health benefits and have been used by herbalists for years.
A study performed on mice found Dandelion to have protective liver effects against toxic levels of acetaminophen (Tylenol) (9).
Another study performed on mice found Dandelion helped to decrease fatty infiltration of the liver as well as insulin-resistance (10).
Popular in Asian cuisine, Burdock is a green plant with small purple flowers. Shaped into a ball, Burdock had a bounty of spiky hooks that easily snag onto clothes and shoes.
Used for many purposes by herbalists, Burdock is thought to promote healthy digestion and blood flow.
A study performed on rats found Burdock may have protective effects against alcohol-induced liver damage (11).
Native to North America, Red Root is a green plant with pink flowers. It is a hearty plant due to its deep red roots that can extend 8 inches into the ground. It has been referred to as New Jersey Tea as well as Wild Snowball.
Red Root has historically been believed to promote lymphatic flow, thereby acting to assist the liver in detoxification of the blood system.
The Bottom Line
A healthy, happy liver is essential for the optimal function of all of our organs. The liver works hard every day to clear out toxins from the body to keep our system running.
We can help our liver out by making good lifestyle choices and choosing quality herbal supplements to promote natural healing in the body and assist the liver in detoxification.
This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. Make sure you consult with your doctor before taking any new supplements.
- Knell AJ. Liver function and failure: the evolution of liver physiology. J R Coll Physicians Lond. 1980;14(3):205‐208.
- Bogdanos DP, Gao B, Gershwin ME. Liver immunology. Compr Physiol. 2013;3(2):567‐598. doi:10.1002/cphy.c120011
- Swain, MD. Fatigue in Liver Disease: Pathophysiology and Clinical Management Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology. 2005 Oct;(20):181-188 View Abstract
- Tang W, Yi C, Kalitsky J, et al. Endotoxin downregulates hepatic expression of P-glycoprotein and MRP2 in 2-acetylaminofluorene-treated rats. Mol Cell Biol Res Commun. 2000 Aug;4(2):90-7. View Abstract
- Zhao X, Wong P. Managing Sleep Disturbances in Cirrhosis. Scientifica (Cairo). 2016;2016:6576812. doi:10.1155/2016/6576812
- DRAPANAS T, ADLER W, VANG JO, MCMENAMY RH. PRIMARY REGULATION OF HISTAMINE METABOLISM BY THE LIVER. Ann Surg. 1965;161(3):447‐455. doi:10.1097/00000658-196503000-00019
- Mulrow C, Lawrence V, Jacobs B, et al. Milk Thistle: Effects on Liver Disease and Cirrhosis and Clinical Adverse Effects: Summary. 2000. In: AHRQ Evidence Report Summaries. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); 1998-2005. 21. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK11896/
- Rogers, Natalie. (2018). Yellow Dock: A Review. 10.13140/RG.2.2.30962.76481.
- Colle D, Arantes LP, Gubert P, et al. Antioxidant properties of Taraxacum officinale leaf extract are involved in the protective effect against hepatoxicity induced by acetaminophen in mice. J Med Food. 2012;15(6):549‐556. doi:10.1089/jmf.2011.0282
- Wirngo FE, Lambert MN, Jeppesen PB. The Physiological Effects of Dandelion (Taraxacum Officinale) in Type 2 Diabetes. Rev Diabet Stud. 2016;13(2-3):113‐131. doi:10.1900/RDS.2016.13.113
- Lin, S., Lin, C., Lin, C. et al. Hepatoprotective effects ofArctium lappa linne on liver injuries induced by chronic ethanol consumption and potentiated by carbon tetrachloride. J Biomed Sci 9, 401–409 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02256533
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