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Liver Detox & Grapefruit

author image Christine Garvin
Christine Garvin is a certified nutrition educator and holds a Master of Arts in holistic health education. She is co-editor of Brave New Traveler and founder/editor of Living Holistically... with a sense of humor. When she is not out traveling the world, she is busy writing, doing yoga and performing hip-hop and bhangra.
Liver Detox & Grapefruit
An overhead view of a bowl of pink grapefruit wedges. Photo Credit BWFolsom/iStock/Getty Images

The liver is one of the most important organs in the body, as it oversees the removal of toxins that enter the body through food, beverages, drugs and even the air. Maintaining healthy liver function is essential to health and well-being. When experiencing health issues, some alternative health experts recommend doing a liver detox through consuming certain foods, herbs and nutrients. Grapefruit, which is normally considered a health food, actually hinders liver detox function.

Liver detoxification methods have not been scientifically proven to improve health or ward off disease.


The liver detoxifies the body of chemicals, alcohol, caffeine and drugs. Due to the daily onslaught of at least one of these substances, some alternative health experts believe it is helpful to cleanse and detoxify the liver itself. In the book "Optimal Digestive Health: A Complete Guide" by Trent W. Nichols, he recommends eating certain foods, such as cruciferous vegetables, to aid in liver detoxification. Herbs such as milk thistle are also linked to cleaning the liver. Grapefruit, on the other hand, may hinder both phase I and phase II liver detoxification.


Grapefruit actually interferes with liver detoxification, according to Ann Louise Gittleman in "The Fast Track Detox Diet." This is why doctors often tell patients on blood-pressure medication, antidepressants and several other medications to not eat or drink grapefruit juice while on medication, adds Gittleman. Grapefruit puts extra strain on the liver during both phases of liver detoxification and is therefore not recommended for liver cleansing purposes.


Grapefruit inhibits the function of one of the liver's most important enzymes, CYP3A4, according to Diane S. Aschenbrenner in the book, "Drug Therapy in Nursing." By blocking this enzyme's function, grapefruit juice decreases the metabolism of many drugs, allowing more of the drug to be absorbed. Therefore, substantially higher levels of pharmaceutical drugs may show up in the bloodstream than if grapefruit had not been consumed. This also puts increased strain on the liver during a detox, as grapefruit can enable toxins to be more readily metabolized, similar to drugs.


Grapefruit is a healthy food that is safe to eat if not currently on medication or while trying to detoxify the liver. According to the book,"The Complete Book of Nutritional Healing" by Deborah Mitchell, grapefruit stimulates the digestive system and relieves heartburn, gas and bloating. It also helps to reduce cholesterol and prevent breast cancer. Grapefruit juice can help oily skin and acne when applied externally.


Before embarking on a detoxification regimen, check with your doctor or trusted health practitioner. Depending on current diet and medications, cleansing can be dangerous. There is no scientific proof that cleansing the body or the liver helps to ward off disease.

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