The liver is the largest gland in the body. It has several important functions, including control of metabolism, deactivation of hormones, manufacture of digestive compounds and detoxification of drugs and toxins. Proper liver function is essential to overall health, and there are many natural strategies which may enhance liver function.
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Drink water. On a biochemical level, water molecules are involved with the detoxification processes of the liver. Without water, the processes may be stilted. Also, proper hydration is essential for the kidneys to carry out their detoxification role. Drink 8-10 glasses of water daily. Filtered water is preferable.
Herbalists and naturopathic doctors employ various herbs to enhance liver function in their patients. According to William A. Mitchell, Jr., a naturopathic physician and author of â??Plant Medicine in Practice: Using the Teachings of John Bastyr,â? these botanicals increase the production of bile, improve enzymatic activity of the liver or increase blood flow and nervous activity of the liver. Examples include milk thistle, artichoke, rosemary and boldo. rnrnWhile these botanicals have shown clinical efficacy, they have not all been subject to conclusive scientific scrutiny. Consult an herbal expert or holistically-minded health care professional to find combinations and dosages appropriate for your individual needs.
Castor Oil Packs
According to Dr. Dickson Thom, naturopathic physician and author of â??Biotherapeutic Drainage Using the UNDA Numbers,â? castor oil packs are a simple, cost-effective and helpful method of stimulating liver and immune function. To use a castor oil pack procedure, soak a flannel cloth in the oil, apply the cloth to the abdomen, place a hot water bottle on the cloth and rest comfortably for at least 45 minutes. The oil may stain clothing and sheets, so use old linens and plastic wrap barriers as needed. For maximum results, Dr. Thom recommends applying a castor oil pack at least three days per week.
Dr. Lidia Tomulet, a naturopathic physician in Durham, North Carolina, explains that eating sufficient fiber increases the frequency and quality of bowel movements. In turn, the body efficiently eliminates toxins. This prevents the reabsorption of toxins and hormone metabolites into the body, which would cause them to recirculate through the liver and increase its burden. In other words, eating fiber leads to increased excretion of toxins, which diminishes the liverâ??s detoxification load.
According to Dr. Walter Crinnion, naturopathic physician and noted expert in environmental medicine, sauna sessions are a useful means for mobilizing environmental chemicals that are stored in the body. This mobilization enables the liver to better perform its activities of detoxification. Also, sauna sessions release toxins through sweat, which decreases the liverâ??s burden and enhances its function.
- â??Plant Medicine in Practiceâ?; William A. Mitchell, Jr., N.D.; 2003
- â??Biotherapeutic Drainage using the UNDA Numbersâ?; Dick Thom, D.D.S., N.D.; 2002
- â??Managing Biotransformation: The Metabolic, Genomic, and Detoxification Balance Pointsâ?; Components of Practical Clinical Detox Programsâ??Sauna as a Therapeutic Tool; Walter Crinnion, N.D.; 2006
- National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute: Healthy Eating Plan