Ever wonder if you liver needs a detox?
Your liver is a powerhouse organ. Every day it saves your life by processing waste products and toxins.
In addition to detoxification, the liver is a vast metabolic factory. It handles proteins, carbohydrates, and fat. The liver even regulates immune function and produces proteins that allow blood to clot.
Being multi-talented, the liver has the incredible ability to regenerate. In fact, the liver is the only organ in the human body that can grow new tissue. The liver can fully regenerate even when 75 percent of the liver is removed during surgery.
As remarkable as the liver is, it’s not invulnerable. It can be overburdened by the onslaught of toxins that are present in everyday life. The liver employs a system of enzymes to detoxify toxins and waste products. When you have a high toxic load from prescription drugs, alcohol, chemical exposure, pesticides, or poor diet, enzyme levels become depleted and the liver gets stressed.
Some toxins will sneak through and are not eliminated efficiently. This leads to a variety of unpleasant symptoms and increases your risk of doing long-term damage to your liver. Fortunately, there are several actions that can help rejuvenate your liver. This article will cover the symptoms of a stressed liver and give you tips for repairing this most precious of organs.
How To Know If Your Liver Needs Some Love
Technically speaking, it’s incorrect to say that your liver needs a “detox.” Your liver is always “on,” going through the first two phases of detoxification:
In phase 1 detoxification, the liver filters and transforms toxic substances by removing them from the blood. Enzymes act on toxins to neutralize them by binding with an antioxidant.
In phase 2 detoxification, the new molecule produced in phase 1 binds with an amino acid or sulfurous compound. This produces a water-soluble molecule that is easier to eliminate via the kidneys or bowel.
Therefore, it’s more precise to say that your liver needs detoxification support. The enzymes and nutrients that bind toxins in both phase 1 and 2 can be exhausted. This allows toxins to re-enter the bloodstream instead of being eliminated. This is where symptoms arise:
1. Extreme Fatigue
Fatigue is a common sign your liver needs a detox (1). One of the liver’s main functions is to process carbs from your diet and store them as glycogen. When your blood sugar drops and you need more energy, the liver releases glycogen, helping to combat fatigue. A stressed liver is less efficient at regulating blood sugar, which leads to fatigue and sugar cravings.
2. Digestive Issues (Diarrhea, Irritable Bowel, Flatulence)
A common side effect of a liver that is not able to keep up with detoxification is digestive issues. A poorly functioning liver slows the release of bile, leading to growth of harmful gut bacteria, which in turn can block detoxification pathways in the liver (2). This leads to inflammation in the GI tract and the appearance of other GI symptoms including flatulence, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome.
3. Food & Chemical Allergies
When the liver is under stress you may find yourself more sensitive to chemicals from pesticides, gas, solvents, petroleum-based chemicals, cleaning products, formaldehyde, antibiotics, and other medications (2). Food allergies also arise as dietary waste products re-enter the bloodstream, triggering an autoimmune response that leads the body to launch a full on immune response when you eat certain foods. Itchy skin, chronic fatigue, unexplained pain, excessive sweating, dizziness, migraines, brain fog, and digestive issues are common symptoms that you are having an allergic response.
4. Sleep Problems
Chronic liver conditions lead to sleep disturbances. The liver processes spent hormones that regulate the sleep-wake cycle, including cortisol and melatonin. In cases of chronic stress, the liver is not able to metabolize these hormones efficiently. When excess cortisol is floating around in your blood stream at night it causes your mind to race at bedtime. Conversely, when the liver is unable to efficiently metabolize the sleep hormone, melatonin, you will experience daytime sleepiness (3). People often treat daytime fatigue with caffeine or sugar, triggering a vicious cycle of impaired sleep.
5. Hormone Imbalances
Estrogen is a vital hormone for both men and women when it is balanced with other hormones. Many chemicals mimic estrogen in the body. These chemicals bind with estrogen receptors, essentially raising your level of estrogen. The liver is responsible for detoxifying these chemicals as well as any excess estrogen. If liver function is impaired, estrogen is not eliminated from the body. Instead it breaks free and reenters circulation. Symptoms for women include PMS, mood swings, menstrual disturbances, and migraines. For men, symptoms include breast development, weight gain, and low libido.
6. Weight Gain or Difficulty Losing Weight
Fatty liver disease is a common problem. In response to excess calories and inactivity, cells become resistant to insulin, which leads to fat accumulating in the liver. A type of visceral fat similar to dangerous belly fat, liver fat causes inflammation and damages liver tissue.
This process impairs the liver’s ability to produce bile (which breaks down fat), messing up its ability to regulate blood sugar. The result is weight gain or weight loss resistance.
How To Repair Your Liver
“It’s not a detox program but a detoxification lifestyle.”
-Dr. John Cline explaining his approach to repairing the liver when patients ask him for a program to detox (4).
Because your liver is always in detoxification mode, it’s worthwhile to use habits that support the liver on a daily basis.
The first step to giving your liver some love is to stop doing things that harm it:
- Avoid alcohol.
- Monitor medications and remove ones that stress the liver. Acetaminophen (Tylenol), NSAIDs (ibuprofen, Advil, Aleve), amoxicillin, statins, phenytoin, and azathioprine are some examples of drugs that can damage the liver.
- Avoid exposure to chemicals in personal care products, especially those containing parabens and phthalates (identified with the following acronyms: BBP, MBzP, DBP, MBP, DEHP, MEP, DiDP, DiNP, DnHP, DnOP).
- Avoid BPA in plastic food and water containers by choosing glass or BPA-free products.
- Drink filtered water and eat organic whenever possible.
- Scrub produce to reduce exposure to pesticides.
The second step is to eat a diet rich in nutrients that support detoxification:
- High-quality protein provides the amino acids the liver uses to neutralize toxins.
- Omega-3 fats DHA and EPA from fish provide antioxidants that help neutralize damage to the liver from chemical exposure.
- Colorful fruits and vegetables provide the nutrients the liver uses in the two phases of detoxification.
The third step is to help repair liver function with supplementation:
- Desiccated liver is a concentrated form of beef liver that supplies DNA and RNA to help the liver regenerate. Called “nature’s multivitamin,” liver also supplies a robust array of B vitamins and other nutrients to support detoxification.
- Milk thistle is a liver “tonic” that can protect the liver from damage to alcohol, medications, and other substances harmful to the liver (5,6). Our Liver Detox supplement is uniquely formulated to provide Milk Thistle along with other pro-liver nutrients such as Alpha Lipoic Acid, and Cilantro Leaf to help support the repair of the liver.*
- Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant that supports liver detoxification and helps protect the body against inflammation that builds up from a large toxic load.
Should I Take Liver Detox or Desiccated Liver?
If you are less concerned with detoxification support and just want to give your liver some love, taking desiccated liver alone is a great choice. Or maybe you’ve had a history of stressing your liver with alcohol, medication, or herbs such as ephedra that hammer the liver and want to help repair it. Desiccated liver is the way to go.
Individuals who are experiencing significant symptoms of compromised liver function could benefit from taking Liver Detox.* Adding desiccated liver into the mix can help support liver health and we always recommend taking Core Essentials or another high powered multivitamin with Liver Detox to provide the high load of nutrients for phase 1 and 2 detoxification.*
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Individual results may vary and results are not guaranteed. The provided information is for educational purposes only. Poliquin Group does not provide medical advice, treatment, or diagnosis.