Celebrities trumpet it. Infomercials drone on about it. Here’s what you really need to know about cleansing each of your body’s major detox organs.
All holistic healing systems share two core concepts: ensuring that the body eliminates its metabolic wastes and preventing harmful substances from entering the body and wreaking havoc. Health maintenance is relatively simple—give your body what it needs, and avoid letting it have too much of what it what it doesn’t need. Still, imbalances occur, and when you are exposed to noxious substances, they may not get eliminated quickly or efficiently enough. Cleaning out these “toxins” that build up in your body leads to renewed strength, overall health, and vitality.
Turn to botanical medicines to enhance your body’s major detoxification pathways. Some signs that your body needs help with internal cleansing include low energy, brain fog, weight gain, dark undereye circles, rashes, dull skin, insomnia, poor digestion, canker sores, nausea, insatiable hunger, moodiness, and leg cramps. Here are a few of the best herbs to support a whole-body cleanup.
For Your Liver
The liver is the body’s chief organ of detoxification, so it’s only fitting that any sensible program begins here. Few herbs are more widely used than burdock root (Arctium lappa) for detoxifying the liver. British herbalists, especially, esteem burdock for just about any liver toxicity condition, including eczema, psoriasis, and boils. A member of the daisy family, burdock is loaded with anti-inflammatory flavonoids, lignins, and bitter glycosides. In a series of studies, scientists in Taiwan recently confirmed burdock’s powerful liver-protective effects.
In Japan, you’ll find burdock root served as a food known as gobo. Bearing a resemblance to a long brown carrot, burdock can be prepared similarly, as a fresh juice or a stir-fry. If you prefer, use burdock root in capsules at a dose of 5 grams per day.
Dandelion has been used for centuries by herbalists the world over, who have long held this common lawn weed in high regard. Dandelion is a major herb in at least three ancient herbal traditions—Western, Chinese, and Ayurveda—which use it to treat conditions including jaundice. This root is bitter and a bit salty, due to its high mineral content.
A Korean test-tube study found that dandelion extract inhibits oxidative stress and inflammatory responses. Another paper reports that a water extract of dandelion reduced oxidative stress and liver injury. And an Israeli study testing dandelion root extract showed similar results. Human studies on dandelion are hard to come by, but one interesting 2011 test-tube experiment concluded that dandelion root extract presents a potential nontoxic adjunct therapy to conventional leukemia therapy. Take 5 grams per day in capsules or enjoy a cup or two of dandelion root tea each day.
For Your Skin
Sarsaparilla (Smilax officinalis), native to tropical America, has a history of European use as a blood purifier dating back to the 16th century.
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