Providing support to the liver is one of my favorite things to do in practice because this organ does so much for us! From sorting through metabolic waste, supporting digestion, clearing hormones, and breaking down the alcohol from a night out, it’s responsible for so many important functions. Therefore, it’s imperative to keep it running as optimally as possible. Below are my top three general supports for the liver. As with all recommendations, please see your healthcare provider to ensure these remedies would be a good fit for you!
- N-acetyl cysteine or NAC (most commonly in capsule form)
NAC works in the body to break up mucous (especially in the lungs), act as a powerful antioxidant by helping to decrease free radicals in the body, and is the precursor to glutathione which is the strongest antioxidant produced by our body.
- Milk Thistle (tea, tincture, or capsule form)
The most potent herb for the liver that helps to protect the cells from chemical damage (ie pesticides, alcohol, pharmaceuticals, make-up, perfumes, cleaning products). It can help digestive flow by increasing bile flow from the liver and gallbladder, decrease inflammation, improve insulin sensitivity (ie improve blood sugar regulation) and improve overall function of the liver. With an increasing prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver, it’s becoming more and more important to provide extra supports to the liver!
- Castor oil (topical application to the skin)
From a Chinese Medicine perspective when the liver is energetically out of alignment it results in stagnant or stuck energy. Applying castor oil is a great way to indirectly promote flow and circulation.
How to do it: apply castor oil over the liver (bottom right of your rib cage), apply an old towel or put on an old t-shirt, apply a hot water bottle for 15-20 min and relax! This soothing and healing treatment can be done 1-5 times per week. As an aside most people will notice a softening of the skin,which is a great bonus!
- Hoffman, David (2003). Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine
- Gaby, Alan. (2011) Nutritional Medicine