Herbs for Liver Support and Detox (An Herbal Tea Recipe to Clean Your Body Up Now!)
A friend recently called me and asked about using Milk Thistle to clean up his liver. I love when people hear something about an herb and decide to go and do some sleuthing on their own! I especially love that so many people are becoming more open to natural ways of healing and living. At any rate, after we talked I told him I'd blend him a great herbal tea designed to gently support and detox his liver, and I thought I'd go ahead and share it with you. This tea is gentle enough to be used daily as a tonic, but is powerful enough to support the liver extremely well.
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.---Heidi (Full Disclosure Here)
Why Do You Want to 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?
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 a fail 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 it's important functions.
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. Essentially, it's all about money, my friends.
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 body 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. It takes a lot of effort for an individual to really take a look at what has happened to us in the past decades and try to relearn lost knowledge.
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, 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?
How to Make This Liver Detox Tea Blend
3 parts Peppermint Leaf
2 parts Nettle Leaf
2 parts Dandelion Leaf
1 part Milk Thistle seeds, slightly crushed or better-powdered
(Important, as Milk Thistle is a great deal more weak in water infusions, such as tea, as the main chemical constituent, silymarin, doesn't break down in water well. See more below.)
1 part Blessed Thistle (optional)
1 part Burdock Root
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!
Directions for Preparing Liver Detox Tea:
For detoxification tea, you will want to prepare a strong infusion. My favorite way is to fill a quart Mason jar with about 1/4 cup or so of the tea blend, cover with just boiled water, and fill to within an inch of the top. Cover with a lid, loosely. Then let it steep for several hours, or even overnight. Strain out the herbs and drink up! 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.
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**NOTE: If you'd like a bit of a caffeine energizer, you can add some green tea, black tea, or oolong to your blend too!
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.
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.
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.
**Although I am using Milk Thistle in the tea, this is the least beneficial way to use Milk Thistle because the chemicals that work most strongly to support your liver are not very soluble in water (some researchers say not at all). The best ways to use Milk Thistle are to tincture the crushed or powdered seeds, create capsules with the powder, or just to chew a few every day---up to 1/2 to whole tablespoon, if your teeth can handle it (or add it to your foods).
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!
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!
And, if you have dabbled in herbs 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. They also have courses specific to what you need and want, such as herbal fermentation, herbal entrepreneurship, and lots more!
I'd love to know your thoughts! Leave a comment in the comments section---
Hugs & 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.
Medicinal Herbs: A Beginners Guide by Rosemary Gladstar