Herbs for Liver Support and Detox (Herbal Tea Recipes and a Liver Tincture to Clean Your Body Up Now!)
This article is all about herbs that support the health of your liver and your body’s natural detoxification (sometimes known as blood purifying) process. It includes a couple of easy herbal tea tonic recipes you can quickly make yourself that will strengthen and tone this important detox organ of your body.
“Your liver is probably shot,” the doctor said to me in solemn tones. My heart unplugged, the rug pulled out from under me.
“What do you mean?” I asked in horror?
“You can’t be on antibiotics for as long as you have been on them and still have a functional liver,” he explained.
WOW. Just. Wow.
You see, I had been prescribed these antibiotics by medical doctors, including dermatologists, as well as accutane (twice), which is also incredibly liver damaging. Over a period of 15 years, I had been in a battle with a skin condition called rosacea, and I was just NOW learning the consequences of long-term antibiotic use?
WHY had no other doctor taken the time to educate me?
I sat there, stunned.
Since then, I’ve been working on overall health, and herbs have become my go-to for all things health related. Unfortunately, it’s been hard for me to trust doctors after this incident and a few others I’ve had over the years. I mean…you NEED your liver.
And what about the common over the counter (OTC) drug, acetaminophen? Did you know this common mainstream drug is the cause of over 50% of acute liver failures in the U.S. and Britain? (Source)
One of the herbal preparations I love best for taking care of my liver and kidneys is herbal tea. Teas are quick and easy to make, simple to change up for different tastes, and great to take along with you to work or about your daily life.
I’m giving you a couple of different versions for this tea, plus an option for a tincture if you prefer taking your herbs that way.
FTC Disclosure: There are affiliate links scattered throughout this article. If you click through and make any kind of purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Why Should You Detox Your Liver?
Your liver is one of the most important organs in your body. You only have one liver, and if it fails, you die. Period. (Well, unless you get a successful transplant that is.)
Why is the liver so important?
In very simple terms, your liver is responsible for filtering out the good things from the bad, and allowing only the good things into your bloodstream. The bad things get neutralized (hopefully) and then become waste. That's a very simplistic explanation about why the liver is so important, but essentially, that's it.
When the liver begins to fail, you have what is called cirrhosis, or a damaged liver. This can happen due to disease, alcoholism, developing a fatty liver primarily from diet, genetics, and other factors.
Cirrhosis usually occurs over a very long period of time, and silently. By the time you find out you have cirrhosis, it's common that the liver has been in the process of complete deterioration for years.
The symptoms are difficult to diagnose specific to the liver, as well. Some of the signs of a failing or diseased liver include nausea, jaundice (seen most often by yellowing of the whites of the eyes), edema, swelling of the extremities by fluid retention, fatigue, diarrhea, bleeding and bruising easily, and more.
Many of these symptoms are symptoms of other disorders, too.
You can see how keeping your liver healthy is very important to your overall health and well-being.
One thing you can do besides making healthy lifestyle choices (not drinking alcohol, exercise, eating clean and unprocessed foods, etc.) is to put foods and herbs into your body that actually help support the liver and its important functions.
In fact, since synthetic medications are not proving very effective at regenerating the liver, scientists have and are turning to clinical research on herbs and natural sources for helping this important regeneration process. Here is a list of studies on various herbs compiled by Nih.gov (National Institute of Health).
Using herbs for health is not a new idea. Herbal medicine has been alive and well for thousands of years. It's only in the past five decades or so that herbal medicine has been viewed with suspicion, and this is primarily due to the influence and mis-education of the big pharmaceutical industry and prohibitive government regulations.
For the past five decades our populace has been slowly re-educated to believe that you must run to the nearest pharmacy to get a pill to cure an illness instead of using Grandma's natural remedies. Even worse, we have been trained to believe that just masking symptoms is the way to go, instead of actually healing the root cause and solving the problem.
It's a terrible shame that most folks are completely ignorant about how big business, big government, big pharma, big agriculture, the education system, the the media with all its fake news has shifted our communal thinking.
Now it takes a lot of effort for most individuals to relearn lost knowledge of traditional healing and plant remedies..
End of conspiracy rant---Sorry. No. Not sorry.
Regardless, using herbs on a daily basis provides your body health benefits you can't get anywhere else. The less processed the herbs are, the better.
NOTE: A special note about liver support for coffee drinkers:
One of our community of readers wrote in with some excellent advice for those of us who are coffee drinkers. You can add herbs to your coffee too! Dandelion, chicory, etc. will work great.
There is also an herbal coffee substitute you can purchase from Amazon called Dandy Blend that supports the liver. It's got Dandelion, Chicory, Beet root, and Rye. According to the description it tastes "remarkably like coffee."
Our friend puts a few tablespoons in with her coffee while it's brewing to make it last longer. What a great idea! I'm going to purchase this Dandy Blend and give it a try---it sounds really good, and I happen to be a coffee drinker too.
Where Do I Get My Herbs?
I actually grow quite a few, and others that grow in my area I forage. Many herbs I use don't grow in the Mojave Desert as it's pretty harsh here. That means I have to source my herbs elsewhere.
These days, when I buy herbs, I purchase my herbs from Starwest Botanicals almost exclusively. They are fast, have great customer service if you need it, and they sell medicinal herbs, culinary herbs, and tea blends already mixed for you, if you like. They also have organic and wildcrafted options. Can you tell I love Starwest?
The links below are for Amazon, for your further convenience.
How to Make Liver Supporting Detox Tea Blend
VERSION 1 LIVER TONIC TEA
3 parts Peppermint Leaf
2 parts Nettle Leaf
2 parts Dandelion Root
1 part Burdock Root
1 part Blessed Thistle (optional)
1/2 part Cardamom (or Ginger or Cinnamon Chips)
Note: A "part" can be whatever you want it to be. The key is in the ratios of herbs. I used a 1/8 cup scoop for my parts in this recipe, and it gave me an almost exact 1 quart Mason jar full of beautiful tea!
You’ll note that this tea contains both roots and leaves. These different herbal parts require different methods of preparation. Hard herbal parts such as roots, seeds, berries, and bark need to be decocted for best benefit. Leafy and flowery parts can do with a simple steeping in water or longer infusion.
For best results, you’ll need to make a decoction for the hard herbs and an infusion with the leaves. Read on for easy instructions!
I’ll bet you’re wondering, “Can’t I just make a regular tea with this blend?”
Well, yes, you could. I have done so many times. I’ll just fill a quart Mason jar with about two inches of the herbal blend and allow to steep for several hours. This is called a “strong” or “medicinal” infusion. I’ve had very good results with this method.
However, if you want to be absolutely proper in extracting the most valuable constituents from the tea, since you are using both roots and leaves, consider making a decoction and an infusion then combine the liquid as follows:
Directions for Preparing Teas with Both Roots and Leaves (Decoction & Infusion)
With this method, you won’t actually blend all the herbs together. You’ll keep the leaves (peppermint and nettle) separate from the roots, seeds, and bark parts (burdock, dandelion, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon).
Add you hard herbs to a pan of water. Simmer on low for 15-20 minutes. Strain off the herbs, and you’ll be using the liquid.
While your hard herbs are simmering in water, pour just boiled water over your leafy herbs. Allow to steep for 15-20 minutes. After the infusion is done, strain off the herbs, and you’ll use the liquid.
Combine the liquid from the decoction and the infusion, and enjoy. This tea will last about two days in the refrigerator.
**You’ll use approximately 2 tbsp roots and 2 tbsp leaves per pint each of water.
VERSION 2 LIVER TONIC TEA
This version contains only hard herbal parts, so you can just make a decoction with these herbs, strain them, then drink the remaining tea!
2 parts Dandelion Root
2 parts Burdock Root
1 part Ginger Root
1/2 part Cardamom Seeds
Because these are all “hard” herbal parts, you can decoct them all together for great results. Drinking this blend along with adding some milk thistle to your foods each day is going to go a long way to helping with your liver function and aiding your body’s natural detoxification process.
How to Use this Tea to Support Your Liver:
Drink this strong infusion daily for two to three weeks. Take a week off, then you can resume if you like.
One of my readers asked a great question: Do you drink the whole quart in a day? Yes, you can drink the quart over a day, or even two. Because herbal teas contain plant matter mixed with water, they will go bad after 2-3 days, so be sure to drink up! :-)
For drinking as more of a daily tonic, just make it as you would an herbal tea. Prepare as above, only steep for 30 minutes to an hour. You'll have a nice tasty herbal tea. You can drink this every day.
**NOTE: If you'd like a bit of a caffeine energizer, you can add some green tea, black tea, yerba mate, or oolong to your blend too! Just giving you some additional ideas!
A Liver Tonic Tincture Recipe
If you prefer tinctures over teas (I get that) for ease of use or just not liking herbal teas all that much, a tincture is a great alternative. Here’s a great blend for making an herbal tincture that will support your liver.
2 parts Milk Thistle, crushed
2 parts Dandelion Root
2 parts Burdock Root
1 part Ginger Root
1/2 part Cardamom Seeds
Add your herbs to a jar, about 1/3 to 1/2 the way up. Add 100 proof vodka (minimum 80 proof) to your jar within an inch or so of the top. Shake well. Add more alcohol if needed. Allow to macerate for 4 to 6 weeks, shaking occasionally to agitate the herbs.
You can read more about tinctures and how to use them here: How to Make and Use an Herbal Tincture.
About the Herbs in Liver Detox Tea:
Peppermint is seriously one of my favorite herbs ever. It may seem like a normal herb for flavoring, but medicinally, it's a little powerhouse. Peppermint is energizing and refreshing while soothing digestive juices at the same time. It also happens to be great for relieving headaches.
I added it to this tea both for the flavor value as well as the nutrition it contains.
Dandelion is a cholagogue, and therefore is great for stimulating bile production. This means it helps break down cholesterol and fat (great for the bloodstream and heart). It's also a wonderful liver support herb, as it has a decongesting and stimulating effect on the liver. It's a well-known herb for cleansing the blood. Dandelion also has diuretic properties, which helps support the kidneys.
Although I used leaves in this tea blend, you could use Dandelion root as well, especially if you are planning to make the strong infusion. The root won't work steeping for just 30 minutes in a tea--you'd need to decoct it instead. Therefore---I chose leaves because they're easier for the beginner.
Find out more about the benefits and uses of Dandelion.
I LOVE Nettle. This all around herb contains an incredible array of vitamins and minerals. It's high in calcium and iron, and is just a wonderful daily tonic herb. Nettle has long been used to support the liver and cleanse the blood, but it's also great for your bones and joints. Check out this article if you are interested in learning more about Nettle and how to use it besides drinking tea. It's so healthy and good for you, I say use it every day!
Blessed Thistle is a prickly herb that has been used at least as far back as medieval times (and probably much longer) to help with liver issues. It was also used to help treat the Bubonic Plague, back in the day.
Blessed Thistle is a cholagogue. It helps to produce bile, and this in turn helps the body digest foods, metabolize fat, reduce cholesterol, and detoxify the liver. These days, it is not used as much as Milk Thistle for the liver, and the action is slightly different. However, when combined with Milk Thistle, you have a powerful twosome.
Burdock Root is excellent for improving skin conditions, and this is because of how it supports both the liver and the kidneys. It's said that if you have a skin condition, treat the liver! Like Blessed Thistle, Burdock Root is also a cholagogue.
Burdock happens to be a delicious edible dish! The Japanese cook it right up in what they call Gobo, and it is a very healthy delicacy!
I added the cardamom as a stimulating spicy herb in order to enhance the benefits of the primary and secondary herbs in this herbal tea blend. Normally, I would have used Cinnamon chips or Ginger, however, I was out. So---feel free to substitute either of these and increase them if you love the tastes!
Another Incredible Liver Supporting Herb: Milk Thistle
Oh, milk thistle! This is one of the BEST liver supporting herbs out there.
Not to be confused with its cousin (Blessed Thistle), Milk Thistle has been studied extensively, and has been found to be extremely helpful in liver support. It's been used for over 2,000 years to support liver function, and it's actually a prescribed medication in Europe!
Milk Thistle has been shown to improve cirrhosis of the liver, fatty liver, some forms of hepatitis, and may also help lower cholesterol.
Note: If you want to really detox your liver using Milk Thistle, actually eating the seeds in your food or tincturing it, along with taking a choline supplement (helps to metabolize the silymarin), is the best way for your body to utilize this herb. This is why it’s not included as an ingredient in this tea….it’s beneficial constituents are just not bioavailable in a water extract, such as tea.
I suggest drinking the tea and adding a tablespoon or so of milk thistle seeds to your diet each day. K.P. Khalsa is a proponent of munching on them daily, but I find them a bit hard to chew. I suggest powdering them in your spice grinder and using them in foods, salads, smoothies, etc.
Final Thoughts on Using Herbs to Support the Liver
Herbs are far more powerful than most people give them credit for. Once you try drinking an herbal tonic tea daily, you'll make it a habit once you feel the benefits on your body and mind. And---when you start creating your very own teas, you'll feel a bold sense of empowerment knowing you don't have to rely on those dried up, stale boxes of tea bags in the stores.
What do you think? Are you a tea lover? Are you still trying to get used to the "green" taste of herbs? Or maybe you have yet to try herbal teas? Wherever you are in your tea journey, you owe it to yourself to give herbs a try!
You may also like these similar tea or liver support articles:
Manly Man Tea for Male Support, and many more on the blog!
How to Learn More About Herbs
If you have dabbled in herbs for awhile, and are not brand new to learning herbalism and are ready to take your learning to a new level, I recommend the Herbal Academy of New England. Their teachers are incredibly knowledgeable, and they have courses for people of all learning levels.
If you’re not quite ready to lay out a large chunk of change on a course quite yet and are a beginner wondering if herbs and natural ways are for you, take a look at my home herbalism course, The Confident Herbalist: A Guide to Home Herbalism. It give beginners a great foundation and will get you going using safe, effective plant remedies quickly with lots of support….quickly too.
You can also join The Confident Herbal TRIBE, a community of herbal learners and students. In this tribe, you’ll get the perfect monthly amount of information to deeply learn one herb at a time, create some herbal preparations with video guidance, learn a general herbal skill or health related topic, and interact with a community of students and me in live video Q&A’s for a very low monthly price.
When I started my herbal journey, I wish there had been more options for learning easily…luckily, now there are!
I'd love to know your thoughts! Leave a comment in the comments section---
Hugs, Health, & Self-Reliance,
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I am not a medical doctor, and the information in this article, elsewhere on my website, or in any of my publications is not meant or implied to treat, cure, prevent, or diagnose any illness. Please seek advice from your medical practitioner, especially if you are on medications or pregnant/nursing before using any herbs or essential oils.
Ming, H.; Li, S.; Tan, H.; Wang, N.; Tsao, S.; Feng, Y. Current Status of Herbal Medicines in Chronic Liver Disease Therapy: The Biological Effects, Molecular Targets and Future Prospects. Published online 2015 Dec 2. doi: 10.3390/ijms161226126 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4691073/
Hinson, J.; Roberts, D.; James, L., Mechanisms of Acetaminophen-Induced Liver Necrosis. Handb Exp Pharmacol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2011 Jan 1. Published in final edited form as: Handb Exp Pharmacol. 2010; (196): 369–405. doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-00663-0_12 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2836803/
Medicinal Herbs: A Beginners Guide by Rosemary Gladstar