Photo of milk thistle
Milk thistle helps stimulate the growth of new liver cells [Image: H. Zell - Wikimedia Commons]

Be kind to your liver

27 September, 2011

It may not be the most glamorous part of your body, but the liver is one of your most important and hardworking vital organs. Keeping it healthy is crucial to maintaining your overall health.

Your liver does hundreds of essential jobs, such as:

  • Cleaning your blood
  • Fighting infection and disease
  • Destroying poisons and drugs (including alcohol) in your system
  • Helping to control your cholesterol levels
  • Processing food after digestion

It also makes proteins and blood clotting factors and acts as a store for energy and iron. Like your heart, your liver works hard and is a very robust organ, but it is not indestructible.

Alcoholism and viral hepatitis are at the extreme end of diseases that can damage your liver. But simply living every day in an environment polluted with pesticides and other toxic chemicals, eating too much fat or sugar or including too many smoked, cured or highly salted foods in your diet also puts it under strain.


There are many herbs that can help. Milk thistle stimulates re-growth of liver cells; artichoke protects and heals; and dandelion is a liver tonic and stimulates bile production.


  • Selenium is a key nutrient in the production of glutathione peroxidase an important free radical fighting enzyme. Liver cirrhosis patients given supplemental selenium noted significant improvements in liver function.
  • Glutamine is another key nutrient in the production of glutathione peroxidase. Studies have shown remarkable re-growth of the liver following major liver surgery.
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid is recognised as one of the most potent treatments against mushroom poisoning. ALA is remarkable in that it protects against free radical damage in both fat and water-based environments. ALA also binds to heavy metals helping to transport them out of the bloodstream.

Everyday foods

Sulphur-containing foods such as  onions, garlic, and egg yolks can help the liver detoxify a wide range of prescription medications, pesticides, and other types of environmental toxins. The spice turmeric increases bile output.


  • Feeling a bit low? Try our Vitality Quiz to determine how to increase your ‘get up and go’.