By: Molly Helfend
We all are guilty of misusing our bodies. With daily stressors and environmental pollutants, living perfectly is sadly impractical and our liver is what truly gets the brunt of these lifestyle choices. The liver is one of the largest and most vital organs of the body, which acts as a filter, eliminating environmental toxins, synthesizing hormones, aiding in the absorption of vitamins, creating bile to digest fats and carbohydrates, cleansing impurities from blood and modulating inflammation. Quite a mouthful. Simply put, it is the ultimate detoxifying machine!
When we add impurities to the body such as a poor diet of processed and fatty foods, alcohol and drug consumption and a cocktail of toxins already present in our environment, we adversely affect the liver’s ability to properly modulate and optimize its functions. The liver is one of the hardest working organs. “The tremendous amount of blood that floods into the liver not only contains oxygen and nutrients, but also has toxins that the liver must filter out…[and] once the liver cleanses and processes the blood, it then sends that blood to various areas of the body” (Anthony William, 2018). So, when the liver is burdened and sluggish, we see symptoms in the form of allergies, headaches, autoimmune disorders, neurological issues, constipation, muscle tension, fatigue and much more. In women alone, PMS, fibroid tumors, and endometriosis can be signs of an unhealthy liver. Surprisingly, not many people are aware that even skin issues such as acne, dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis are actually due to an overburdened liver.
It’s important to remember that “the more toxic your liver is, the more likely you are to develop wrinkles and other skin problems that are typically associated with aging…[and] cleaning out the toxins from your toxin-saturated liver is an essential part of addressing” not only skin issues, but overall physical and mental wellness (Anthony William, 2018). A great way to reboot your liver and provide a healthy detox is through the use of herbs. Bitter herbs are wonderful for stimulating and re-grounding the digestion, acting as an aid for digestive enzyme production.
This tea recipe is evenly distributed between each liver decongesting herb. Honeysuckle, represented with the earth element, cools the heart with remnants of pastel hues and elegant fragrances. It has a subtle vanilla flavor and is known for cooling inflamed conditions by clearing heat and removing toxicity from the body. Honeysuckle contains inositol, luteolin, tannins, volatile oils, and salicylic acid. It is also special for its renowned spiritual remedies, which have been useful for inducing dreams of passion and helping those who suffer from nostalgic dwelling. Honeysuckle is astringent, depurative, diuretic, expectorant, anti-bacterial and anti-viral. Artichokes are more than a delicious vegetable treat to be dipped in butter. The entire plant happens to be medicinal. Used in this tea recipe and represented with the water elements, artichoke leaves are very high in antioxidants, which aid and protect the liver and gallbladder. They are rich in inulin, lutolin and cynarin, making them great for sluggish digestion and poor absorption. In addition, the bitter leaves alleviate mild indigestion and detoxify and protect the digestive tract. Its herbal actions include chalagogue, depurative, hepatic, diuretic, hepatoprotective, choleretic, and antiemetic. Dandelion, represented with the air elements, is a wild, free and abundant herb, rich in vitamin A, C and D, as well as, iron, potassium, calcium, and inulin. This bitter herb is a diuretic, alterative, urinary tonic and liver and kidney decongestant.
Burdock is the quite a strong bitter herb. Represented with the water elements, burdock’s clearing energy removes digestive congestion. It is also great for skin conditions like acne, eczema and psoriasis. Its herbal actions include alterative and cholagogue. Tangy licorice root has multifaceted medicinal benefits. Represented with water elements, it is fantastic for adrenal depletion, ulcer removal, heartburn and acid reflux and chronic viral infections. The root is expectorant, demulcent, anti-inflammatory, and anti-viral. Milk thistle is quintessential herb for stimulating the digestion. Represented with the fire elements, it is rich in antioxidants that fight free radicals, stimulate liver function and rebuild cells, as well as, improve gallbladder and kidney health. After a night out of drinking alcohol, I usually recommend my friends reach for milk thistle to detoxify. Its herbal actions include cholagogic, choleretic, tonic, galactagogue, hepatoprotective, and alterative. Lastly, I would recommend reading Anthony William’s Medical Medium and order his new book Liver Rescue for more information about life changing food tips to implement into your diet to detoxify your liver.
Liver Detox Tea
(yields about 10 cups)
1 tablespoon of dried honeysuckle flowers
1 tablespoon of dried artichoke leaf
1 teaspoon of dried dandelion root
1 teaspoon of dried burdock root
1 teaspoon of dried licorice root
1 teaspoon dried milk thistle seeds
Because this is a complex multi-part tea, it is recommended you make both a decoction with the roots and seeds and infusion with the flowers and leaves. To do this, add about 4 cups of cold water to a pot then add the licorice, burdock, dandelion and milk thistle. Gently simmer the herbs for at least 10 minutes.
Once ready, strain the tea into a large glass jar and let them settle. Next, boil 6 cups of cold water in your pot of choice. To make the infusion of honeysuckle and artichoke, pour the boiling water over the herbs and allow the tea to steep covered for 5-10 minutes. Make sure to cover the tea to keep the heat from dissipating. Once ready, strain into the glass jar with the root and seed decocted liquid. Squeeze some fresh lemon and be sure to sweeten the mixture with raw honey. Enjoy this tea up to 3 times a day for a gentle cleansing detox.
Tonic - strengthens specific organ or whole body
Anti-inflammatory - helps combat inflammation
Astringent - reduces flux of moisture and removes toxins
Diuretic - increases the elimination of urine
Cholagogue - stimulates bile release
Demulcent - soothes and shields irritated internal tissue
Expectorant - removes excess mucus from lungs
Depurative - cleanses waste toxins from body
Hepatoprotective - provides protection for liver
Alterative - restores health and vitality; blood cleanser
Anti-viral - destroys viral pathogens
Anti-bacterial - reduces and expels bacteria
Choleretic - increases volume of secretion of bile from liver
Galactagogue - increases breast milk production
Hepatic - aids, tones and strengthens the liver
Antiemetic - reduces nausea and prevents vomiting
This information is not a replacement for a medical professional, so please consult before treating yourself or others with this or any other herbal remedy
Molly Helfend is part of the HOC team and is a writer, ethnobotanist, herbalist and environmental activist. She graduated from University of Vermont in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies and a concentration in Holistic Health and recently from University of Kent in 2018 in Canterbury, England with a Masters of Science Degree in Ethnobotany. She has worked for Urban Moonshine, Greenpeace and received her herbalism training with Spoonful Herbals. Her goal is to travel the world, researching plant-human interconnected relationships while continuing to educate about the transformational energy of life. Molly resides in Raglan, New Zealand, working as an herbalist at the Herbal Dispensary.