Practitioners of alternative medicine agree that with each change of season, the body needs a little help to rid itself of the toxins that have accumulated over the previous season. So, over a period of about 10 days, it’s a good idea to review your diet and take some specific phytonutrient supplements to help boost the function of the body’s emunctory (waste-eliminating) organs.
Environmental pollution(food additives, pesticide residues, household products)
, unhealthy lifestyles (poor diet, stress, sedentary lifestyle)
and even long term use of medicines all produce significant levels of waste which severely test the emunctory organs and reduce the body’s vital energy.
First and foremost, it’s important to rethink what’s on your plate and to prioritise plant-based foods at every meal: fresh or dried fruit, raw or cooked vegetables, whole grains with a low glycaemic index, and at the same time, make sure your protein comes from vegetable, rather than animal sources, such as various types of pulses and soya. It’s also vital to drink plenty of fluids - of the non-alcoholic, caffeine-free and no-added-sugar varieties.
Alongside these nutritional adjustments, it is equally important to supplement with certain plant extracts and nutrients known to facilitate liver drainage and the elimination of toxins by the kidneys. Here are what we consider to be the most effective supplements for a spring detox.
- Desmodium adscendens
This herbaceous plant from equatorial Africa significantly improves liver function. Often used alongside conventional medicines to prevent jaundice in hepatitis, it protects and regenerates hepatocytes, while normalising levels of gamma-GT and transaminases (ASAT and ALAT).
- Le triphala :
This classic ayurvedic supplement is, in specific proportions, a blend of three fruits: harada (Terminalia chebula), amla (Emblica officinalis) and behada (Terminalia belerica). With astringent properties that gently cleanse the colon, it creates a healthy biochemical environment in the intestine, and in the body as a whole, by supporting natural detoxifying mechanisms.
- Le milk thistle (Silybum marianum)
This plant from the asteraceae family, a close cousin of the artichoke, has been used since ancient times as a draining and purifying agent, and especially for revitalising the liver. It is particularly recommended for preventing and treating cirrhosis and hepatitis, as well as for regenerating cells damaged as a result of poisoning by natural or synthetic substances. Its active components - flavonoids collectively known as silymarin - act directly to regenerate hepatocytes and stimulate toxin elimination.
- Le Chrysanthellum americanum
Originating from the highlands of Africa and from South America, this plant contains three types of flavonoid. It protects liver cells and in particular, enhances bile secretion which helps eliminate micro-stones. It is commonly used for protecting the liver from the effects of alcohol and for its immune-stimulant properties in the digestive system.
- Black radish (Raphanus sativus)
Recognised as a cleansing agent due to the various sulphur compounds found in its root, this plant drains the liver and activates bile secretion and elimination. It is therefore a valuable aid to any spring detox.
- Artichoke leaf extract
Rich in cynarin, this extract is traditionally used for its choleretic and cholagogue properties which increase bile secretion, and direct the bile toward the intestines, naturally eliminating toxins from the body.
Other nutritional substances can also be used to complement the effects of the plants mentioned above:
- Lipotropic substances which adhere to fats, either breaking them down or transporting them away from the liver. Methionine, choline, betaine and inositol protect the liver, promoting detoxification and increasing the activity of specific enzymes.
- N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) is also an excellent liver detoxifier as is SAM-e which supports liver production of glutathione, an essential antioxidant. In fact, Reduced glutathione, due to its thiol group, is the liver’s principal nutrient for neutralising toxins and pollutants. By converting them into soluble compounds, they can be eliminated from the body easily via bile or urine.
- Curcumin helps counteract the hepatotoxic effects of xenobiotic substances by increasing the liver’s detoxifying capacity and raising levels of the enzyme glutathione-S-transferase and UDP-glucuronosyltransferase, which are important for phase II reactions.
- AHCC (Active Hexose Correlated Compound) generally improves liver detoxification and is particularly used to improve symptoms of serious liver disease (hepatitis or cirrhosis).
Eliminating fat-soluble toxins with the help of liver-protective plants is the first priority, but additional measures are sometimes required, especially to get rid of water-soluble toxins. Using plants that have a draining-diuretic effect is also a good idea, such as the flowering tops of Meadowsweet
(Filipendula ulmaria) and dandelion leaves
(Taraxacum officinale) which encourage elimination of waste from the kidneys, while maintaining the body’s potassium levels. And to complete the detox process, Chlorella pyrenoidosa
, a minute, unicellular, freshwater algae, which helps facilitate elimination of toxins from the body, particularly heavy metals which can upset optimal organ function.