I don' t believe that most diseases are related to toxic buildups in the liver or that cleansing the liver is a worthwhile health practice. Some health conditions may follow compromised liver function, but these are due to liver damage. Serious liver disease can result from alcoholism or infection with hepatitis viruses B and C. It can also be caused by an autoimmune disease or be the result of cancer. An important function of the liver is to deal with toxins that enter the body. If you are in good health and not overloading your systems with toxic substances (such as alcohol), the liver will cleanse itself very well.
Be wary of claims for the benefits of liver cleansing products. In 2001, the Federal Trade Commission charged a California Company called Liverite Products, Inc., with making unsubstantiated health claims. And please view with skepticism the notion that the liver can be the cause of disease even when medical tests show that liver function is normal. Liver "toxicity" is not responsible for cancer, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease or unspecified gastrointestinal problems, weight gain, aging or recurring headaches. "Cleansing" the liver with concoctions of apple juice, olive oil, lemon juice and Epsom salts (as promoted by at least one author) is unlikely to result in any improvement in health.
However, if you do have diagnosed liver problems, the following supplements can help:
- Milk Thistle(Silybum marianum) - Milk Thistle extract may block toxins from entering the liver, help remove toxins from liver cells and regenerate liver cells.
- Schizandra(Schizandra chinensis) - The dried berries of this Chinese plant have been found to support and maintain the liver in general.
Andrew Weil, M.D.