Detoxifying harmful chemicals is a major factor in your health

7 June 2016  |  Editor

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Detoxifying harmful chemicals is a major factor in your health

Recommended supplements for detox here

Toxic substances are everywhere. In the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink. Even our bodies and the bacteria in the intestines produce toxic substances.

These toxins can damage the body in an insidious and cumulative way. Your ability to detoxify these harmful chemicals is a major factor in determining your level of health.

When the detoxification system becomes overloaded, toxins accumulate, and we become progressively more sensitive to other chemicals.

A toxic liver sends out alarm signals, which manifest as psoriasis, acne, chronic headaches, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, and chronic fatigue, or just 'tired all the time'.

Are you Toxic?

These are the questions to be answered:

  • What do you recommend to support the liver and proper detoxification?
  • Which are the most helpful foods for liver health?
  • Which foods are the worst for my liver?

The answer to the last question is easy: saturated fats, refined sugar and alcohol.
Saturated fats are found in animal food, so eat your meat as lean as possible and take it easy with the butter; also avoid 'hydrogenated vegetable oil', like the cheap refined sunflower, safflower and vegetable oils, which are used in biscuits, cakes, fried foods and margerines.

Refined sugar 

Anything with 'ose' at the end of the word - for example sucrose, maltose, galactose, glucose, or with any kind of 'syrup' in the ingredients. When the 'ose' is still in the food, for example fruit contains fructose, then that's fine.

How much alcohol is bad?

Alcohol stresses detoxification processes and can lead to liver damage and immune suppression, but it is related to how much you drink and how healthy your liver is. Avoid alcohol if you suffer from impaired liver function and only drink in moderation.

Have regular periods of not drinking any alcohol. If you feel better for it, it's a good indication your liver wasn't coping with the amount you were having before. It's better to drink 'little and often' than bingeing. 

Are there any herbs that I can take to support my liver and proper detoxification?

There is a long list of plants that exert beneficial effects on liver function. However, the most impressive research has been done on a special extract of milk thistle (silybum marianum), known as silymarin - a group of flavonoid compounds. These compounds exert tremendous effect on protecting the liver from damage as well as enhancing detoxification processes.

What are the particular benefits of Silymarin?

Silymarin prevents damage to the liver by acting as an antioxidant.

Silymarin is many times more potent in antioxidant activity than vitamin E and vitamin C.
The protective effect of silymarin against liver damage has been demonstrated in a number of experimental studies. Silymarin has been shown to protect against liver damage by extremely toxic chemicals such as carbon tetrachloride, amanita toxin, galactosamine, and praseodymium nitrate.

One of the key manners in which silymarin enhances detoxification reaction is preventing the depletion of glutathione. Glutathione in the liver is critically linked to the liver's ability to detoxify. The higher the glutathione content, the greater the liver's capacity to detoxify harmful chemicals. Typically, when we are exposed to chemicals which can damage the liver, including alcohol, the concentration of glutathione in the liver is substantially reduced. This reduction in glutathione makes the liver cell susceptible to damage. Silymarin not only prevents the depletion of glutathione induced by alcohol and other toxic chemicals, but has been shown to increase the level of glutathione of the liver by up to 35%. Since the ability of the liver to detoxify is largely related to the level of glutathione in the liver, the results of this study seem to indicate that silymarin can increase detoxification reactions by up to 35%.

Can silymarin help in hepatitis and other liver disorders?

Yes. In human studies, silymarin has been shown to have positive effects in treating liver diseases of various kinds, including hepatitis, cirrhosis, fatty infiltration of the liver (chemical and alcohol induced fatty liver), and inflammation of the bile duct.

Many of the products listed for liver detox contain Silymarin. See link at top.


  • Detoxification of harmful substances is a continual process in the body.
  • The ability to detoxify and eliminate toxins largely determines an individual's health status.
  • A number of toxins (heavy metals, solvents, pesticides, microbial toxins, etc.) are known to cause significant health problems.
  • Milk thistle extracts standardised for silymarin content can dramatically improve the liver's ability to detoxify harmful compounds and function more optimally.
  • High sulphur containing foods like garlic, legumes, onions and eggs.
  • Good sources of water-soluble fibres such as pears, oat bran, apples, and legumes.
  • Cabbage family vegetables, especially broccoli, brussel sprouts and cabbage.
  • Artichokes, beets, carrots, dandelion, turmeric and cinnamon.
  • On top of that, a wide variety of other vegetables and, of course, for general health we need to include protein foods such as fish, tofu or organic chicken.
  • Eat a diet which focuses on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.
  • Adopt a healthy lifestyle, including avoiding alcohol and exercising regularly.
  • Take a high potency multiple vitamin and mineral supplement
  • Use special nutritional and herbal supplements to protect the liver and enhance liver function. Suggestions given at the end of this article.
  • With your Doctor's approval (e.g. you don't have diabetes, are pregnant or underweight) go on a 2-day apple fast several times per year. See article Detoxify your Body
  • Are you more than 20 pounds overweight?
  • Are you tired all the time?
  •  Do you have diabetes?
  • Have you had or do you have gallstones?
  • Do you have a history of heavy alcohol or drug use?
  • Do you have psoriasis?
  •  Are you taking natural or synthetic steroid hormones (for example oestrogens, oral contraceptives, anabolic steroids)?
  •  Have you been exposed to high levels of certain chemicals or drugs like cleaning solvents, pesticides, antibiotics, diuretics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs?
  • Do you or have you ever had hepatitis?

Liver Deaths Surge Blamed on Heavy-Drinking Women

  • The Chief Medical Officer says it's due to the rising levels of alcohol abuse among young men and women.

  • His annual report says cirrhosis deaths have been increasing in men for some time but are now also growing sharply in women.
  • Official figures show that twice as many 18 to 24-old women as men are drinking at or in excess of danger levels.
  •  The rise in the number of young women drinking heavily is reflected in official figures, which show an alarming increase in the number of young women developing serious liver disease.
  • Cirrhosis of the liver kills in excess of 1600 women a year, compared to 1200 seven years ago.
  • Women are also developing liver disease in their 20s and 30s rather than in their 40s and 50s.
  • The director of Alcohol Concern, Eric Appleby, told the Daily Mail newspaper that the government must introduce a national strategy to tackle alcohol abuse, involving education, public campaigns, counselling and treatment.
  • He commented: "We need to work hard with kids to make them understand the impact of alcohol".