What is the exact function of the liver in the body and what happens there? Can I detoxify my liver at all? And if so, you probably want to know what you have to do, right? Maybe this can even be done homeopathically? Then you've come to the right place with these questions.
Here you will learn a lot about the function of the liver and the study situation on detoxification of the liver. We clarify whether you can really detoxify your liver or whether this is just a myth. Then you can decide for yourself whether you want to experience it yourself. But first: If you have the symptoms of the various liver diseases mentioned here, we recommend that you consult a doctor.
the essentials in brief
- The liver is the most important detoxification center in our body. Without them we could not survive. Through many different metabolic functions, it regulates the processes in our body.
- Eating a healthy diet and avoiding alcohol, nicotine and medication contributes to liver health. Too much alcohol and medication can damage the liver. This can lead to serious diseases, which can lead to liver failure.
- A detox cure can help with liver detoxification. If there are too many pollutants in the body, a detox can help the liver to regenerate faster and do its main job again.
Liver detoxification: what you need to know
Below you will find an overview of the function of the liver and some relevant questions about liver detoxification.
How does the liver work and how does it detoxify?
The liver is not only one of the largest internal organs in the body, we could not even live without it. It is located in the right upper abdomen below the diaphragm. In an adult, the liver weighs between 1,500 and 2,000 grams. The liver is involved in a total of two blood circulation systems. It receives nutrients directly from the intestine via the portal vein system. It also performs many important metabolic functions (11). This includes:
- Conversion of nutrients from food into substances that the body can use: the nutrients are stored and released to the cells when needed.
- Toxic absorption: Toxic substances are converted into non-toxic substances or excreted via the intestines (e.g. ammonia is converted into non-toxic urea by the liver cells and ultimately excreted via the urine; blood is detoxified from alcohol; medication is broken down(9).
- Production of Bile Acids: Bile acid is produced in the liver and secreted into the bile. This supports fat loss.
With the help of vitamin K, the liver produces proteins that are important for blood clotting. They also break down old or damaged blood cells.(1)
The liver also has other functions:
|The fat metabolism||Here the liver cells break down fats and thereby generate energy|
|The carbohydrate metabolism||Here the liver ensures a constant level of sugar in the blood (blood glucose). Eating a meal raises blood sugar levels. The liver then absorbs the sugar through the portal vein and stores it as glycogen. When blood sugar levels need to be increased, the liver breaks down glycogen and releases the sugar back into the blood|
|Storage of sugar, vitamins and minerals (iron and copper)||These are released into the blood when needed.|
|The protein metabolism||Amino acids from food are converted here by the liver cells in such a way that either energy can be obtained from them or carbohydrates or fats can be produced. (1)|
Amazing to see what the liver does in our body on a daily basis. That is why it is so important that we make sure that our liver is healthy. Otherwise, she can no longer concentrate so well on these important tasks.
What is harmful to the liver (prevent detoxification)?
There are some risk factors that can lead to liver disease. These are:
- Alcohol consumption: Can lead to fatty liver
- Piercings & Tattoos (Increase Risk of Hepatitis(5) & Liver Disease)
- Drugs: Often completely metabolized and hitting the liver (2)
- nutrition of shellfish
- Nicotine (3)
So if you avoid the above factors, you can prevent liver detoxification.
Liver Detoxification: What Are the Symptoms of Liver Disease?
Unfortunately, the symptoms of liver disease are often non-specific. Possible symptoms of an illness can be:
The liver does not send direct pain signals.
- difficulty concentrating
- loss of appetite
- weight changes
- a feeling of pressure in the upper right abdomen
- clay-colored stool
- beer-brown urine
- yellowing of the skin or eyes
It is important to know that the liver unfortunately does not send out any direct pain signals. So if you identify possible symptoms, don't drive yourself crazy immediately. For clarity, it's best to see a doctor. Your doctor can determine how your liver is doing. For this purpose, the liver values are checked and, if necessary, an ultrasound is performed. (4)
What diseases of the liver are there?
Below you will find a list of the most common liver diseases:
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, which is often caused by viruses and is independent of its cause. A distinction is made here between hepatitis A, B & C. Hepatitis A heals the fastest. Hepatitis B, on the other hand, is highly contagious and can be transmitted through the blood or through unprotected sex. Hepatitis C often triggers chronic liver inflammation. However, you can get vaccinated against hepatitis. (5)
This is where fat is stored in the liver cells. This can be caused by obesity, alcohol and diabetes. Viral hepatitis can also lead to the finding. However, if the organ becomes inflamed, it can become very dangerous. The inflammation can develop into liver cirrhosis and in the worst case lead to liver cancer. (6)
It is a late stage of liver fibrosis and results in widespread disruption of normal liver architecture. In the case of cirrhosis of the liver, there may be no or only unspecific symptoms (e.g. loss of appetite, tiredness, weight loss) for a long time. The liver shrinks over time and becomes harder. The hormone balance, blood clotting and metabolism are also damaged.
Often there is also an accumulation of water in the abdominal cavity. Therefore, care should be taken to limit salt consumption. Because the liver is no longer able to do its job properly, it could lead to liver failure if left untreated. (7)
The most common cause of liver cancer is liver cirrhosis. The liver cells have already been chronically damaged by cirrhosis. This then forms hepatocellular carcinoma (the cancer).
Liver disease can have a variety of symptoms, such as: B. Abdominal pain. Unfortunately, the symptoms of liver disease do not always appear immediately. Therefore, the easiest way to diagnose a disease is to do a liver function test. (Source: Unsplash / Anthony Tran)
Often there are no symptoms at first. Only later, through pain in the right upper abdomen, do these become noticeable. (7.8)
Can I detox my liver?
Since the liver itself is the detoxification center in our body, it is responsible for converting and eliminating the toxins that enter our body. The liver cannot be detoxified from the outside.
The liver cannot be detoxified from the outside, it detoxifies itself.
She detoxifies herself. You can only help her to regenerate by watching your alcohol consumption and avoiding medication as much as possible. A healthy and balanced diet also contributes to the regeneration of the liver.
If you have a fatty liver, you can regenerate yourself. However, only if the liver is not already completely destroyed. Those affected should urgently change their diet and lose weight. Lots of protein and complex carbohydrates can help here, as can exercise. (6)
What Foods Help Detoxify the Liver?
Due to overeating, processed or fried foods, environmental pollutants or stress, the liver is overworked and overloaded. This can result in the liver not processing toxins and fat efficiently.
There are many different foods that can help the liver detoxify. broccoli or apples B. are very good for detoxifying the liver. In the table you will find even more foods that are good for the liver. (Source: Unsplash / K15)
There are many foods that can help cleanse the liver naturally. The following Foods can contribute to the detoxification and purification of life:
|Groceries||mode of action|
|Garlic||Just a small amount of this pungent, white bulb can activate liver enzymes that help your body flush out toxins. Garlic also contains high levels of allicin and selenium, which aid in liver cleansing.|
|Grapefruit||Citrus fruits like grapefruit, oranges, limes and lemons are rich in vitamin C and antioxidants and support the liver's natural cleansing. Even a small glass of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice is said to help increase the production of liver detoxification enzymes. This, in turn, causes carcinogens and other toxins to be flushed out.|
|beets and carrots||Eating beets and carrots can stimulate and support overall liver function.|
|Green tea||This drink is packed with plant-based antioxidants known as catechins (these are compounds known to support liver function). Green tea is a delicious and healthy addition to any diet.|
|Green, leafy vegetables||One of the most powerful vegetables that help cleanse the liver are leafy greens. It can be eaten raw, cooked or juiced. Green vegetables are extremely high in chlorophyll and absorb environmental toxins from the bloodstream. With its potent ability to neutralize heavy metals, chemicals and pesticides, this food provides a powerful protective mechanism for the liver. Green leafy vegetables such as bitter gourd, arugula, dandelion greens, spinach, mustard greens and chicory should be included in the diet. This increases the production and flow of bile (it removes waste from the organs and blood).|
|avocados||This popular fruit helps the body produce glutathione. This is a compound needed by the liver to cleanse harmful toxins.|
|apples||Rich in pectin, apples contain the chemical components the body needs to cleanse and release toxins from the digestive tract. This, in turn, makes it easier for the liver to handle the toxic load during the cleansing process.|
|Olive Oil (12)||Cold-pressed, organic oils like olive, hemp, and flaxseed are great for the liver when used in moderation. They help the body by creating a lipid base that can absorb harmful toxins in the body, thus relieving the liver.|
|Alternative grains||Does your diet consist mostly of wheat, flour, or other standard grains? Then now is the time to make changes. Alternative grains like quinoa, millet, and buckwheat can help if you don't have a good tolerance for grains that contain gluten. One study found that people who showed sensitivity to gluten also had abnormal liver enzyme test results.|
|cruciferous||Broccoli and cauliflower are also good sources of glucosinolate, which supports enzyme production in the liver. These natural enzymes flush carcinogens and other toxins from the body and can significantly reduce the risk of cancer.|
|lemons and limes||These citrus fruits contain a lot of vitamin C, which supports the body in the synthesis of toxic substances. Drinking freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice in the morning can stimulate the liver.|
|cabbage||Like broccoli and cauliflower, cabbage also has a similar effect. It stimulates the liver's detoxification enzymes, which help flush out toxins. Kimchi, coleslaw, cabbage soup, and sauerkraut are great foods to add to your diet.|
|turmeric||Turmeric is the liver's favorite spice. Try adding some of this detoxifying goodness to your next lentil stew or vegetable dish for an instant liver pick-me-up. Turmeric promotes liver detoxification by supporting enzymes that actively flush out toxins in food.|
|walnuts||Walnuts not only contain a lot of the amino acid arginine. They also assist the liver in detoxifying ammonia. Walnuts are also high in glutathione and omega-3 fatty acids, which support a normal liver cleanse.|
These foods can help cleanse the liver, but that doesn't mean you have to include every one of these foods in your diet now. Everyone tastes different, of course, and you may not like all of the foods listed. So you can decide for yourself whether you want to include the food in your daily nutritional needs or not.
Detox: myth or truth? Detoxification of the liver through a detox cure
The liver is the most important and only detoxification organ in our body. However, the function of the liver is hampered by a number of factors. It can be stressed by pollutants, which can cause a number of side effects in the body. It is therefore not only important, but also advisable to detoxify the liver regularly to ensure proper liver function.
A detox cure can support the regeneration of the liver after just one day. You should drink at least 2 liters of water and eat healthily. (Source: Unsplash / Sarah Gualtieri)
Detox is actually a wrong word. The liver cannot be detoxified from the outside. This is only possible from within and through the liver itself. So when people talk about a detox, it's just one Detox cure, with which you can support the liver during regeneration. (10)
Why should you do a liver detox?
When there is a large amount of toxins in the body, the liver has to work hard to break them down. The liver cannot do its job properly, such as digestion or filtering blood and hormones, and side effects can occur.
In order for the body to remain healthy and for you to have a good sense of well-being, it is important that the liver functions properly. Therefore, liver detox regimens can be a great way to support the liver. It can regenerate over time and break down the excess pollutants. (10)
How does a liver detox affect the body?
Liver detoxification, e.g. B. a change in diet and abstinence from alcohol could reduce the supply of pollutants in the body and give the liver a break
When fewer pollutants enter your body, your liver has more time to take care of them and protect your body. With the support of a detox cure, the liver can manage to completely cleanse your body again and get itself in top shape.
Overview of the various detox cures for liver detoxification
One-day detox cure:
- Avoiding nicotine, alcohol, sugary and fatty foods (sweets and fast food)
- drink at least 2 liters of water
- healthy and balanced food
- exercise (e.g. go for a 30-minute walk)
- sleep enough
Three-day detox cure:
From 2 p.m. onwards before the spa day, you should only eat light food, 1 liter of apple juice and plenty of water.
On the spa day itself:
- Nothing to eat after 2 p.m
- at 6 p.m., dissolve a tablespoon of Epsom salts in a glass of water and drink
- at 8 p.m. repeat the process from 6 p.m
- at 10pm drink a 1/2 liter olive oil and grapefruit juice mixture before bed
- The next day when you get up, dissolve another tablespoon of Epsom salt in a glass of water and drink it
- Repeat the process after 2 hours
- In the course of the day, food intake can slowly start again
What is a liver wrap?
A liver compress is a moist, hot compress intended to increase blood flow to the liver and accelerate detoxification.
This works like this:
- Fill hot water bottle with hot water
- Dissolve 2 teaspoons of dried yarrow herb (you can get it in the pharmacy) in ½ liter of boiling water and let it steep for 5 minutes
- Dip a dry cotton cloth in the yarrow herb mixture and place it on the right rib cage
- Place the hot water bottle on the cloth and wrap a woolen cloth around your body
- Lie still for 20-30 minutes
As you could see, the so-called liver detox doesn't really exist, because the liver does it itself. All you need to do is make sure you're eating the foods that are friendly to your liver and aren't putting too much toxin on your liver to prevent liver disease.
With regard to the detox cures, it is up to you whether you want to try them out. They are only intended to support liver regeneration. However, if you eat healthily and exercise, you are well on the way to protecting your liver and supporting it in its daily detoxification work.
- Menche N. (ed.) Biology Anatomy Physiology. Munich: Urban & Fischer/ Elsevier; 2012. Pschyrembel W. Clinical Dictionary. Berlin: De Gruyter; 2014. Schmidt R, Lang F, Heckmann M. Human physiology: with pathophysiology. Heidelberg: Springer; 2011. Here the function of the liver is explained.
- dr Harald Mückter from the Walther Straub Institute for Pharmacology and Toxicology in Munich explains what can damage the liver.
- By Steven K. Herrine, MD, Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University Content last modified Feb 2018 explains what can damage the liver.
- Alcohol-Related Liver Disease by Nicholas T. Orfanidis, MD, discusses the symptoms of liver disease
- Overview of Chronic Hepatitis by Sonal Kumar, MD, MPH reports forms of hepatitis: cause, symptoms and cure
- Fatty Liver (Steatose) Vby Danielle Tholey, MD writes about Fatty Liver: Cause, Symptoms and Cure
- By Jesse M. Civan, MD, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital Content last modified Mar 2018 Writes about cirrhosis of the liver: causes, symptoms and cure
- By Steven K. Herrine, MD, Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University shares information about liver cancer
- Drugs and the Liver by Danielle Tholey, MD, reports on how the liver processes drugs.
- Klein AV, Kiat H. Detox diets for toxin elimination and weight management: a critical review of the evidence. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2015 Dec;28(6):675-86. doi: 10.1111/jhn.12286. Epub 2014 Dec 18. PMID: 25522674. This explains the effects of a detox on the liver.
- By Christina C. Lindenmeyer, MD, Associate Staff, Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition Cleveland Clinic Assistant Professor of Medicine Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University Last full review/revised Oct 2019| Content last modified Oct 2019 reports on the function of the liver
- Laboratory of Biochemistry, UR03/ES08 'Human Nutrition & Metabolic Disorders', USCR Mass Spectrometry, Faculty of Medicine Monastir, Tunisia; Laboratory of Histology and Cytogenetic, Faculty of Medicine Monastir, Tunisia; Department of Biochemistry CHU F Hached, Sousse, Tunisia; King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on the effect of olive oil on the liver