A Buying Guide for Liver Support Supplements
Being one of the largest organs in the body with multiple functions, your liver is incredibly important. In fact, physicians now believe that a fully functional and healthy liver is a prerequisite for enjoying a life free from disease.
That’s probably due to the fact that your liver is involved in so many vital processes such as regulating your body temperature, maintaining blood volume, processing toxins, balancing hormone levels and more.
When problems arise here, your body feels it everywhere.
That’s why it’s so important to take a “prevention is the best form of medicine” approach when it comes to your liver. There are many ways to support your liver with diet topping the list.
However, because of nutrient depletion in our soil, sometimes even a healthy diet isn’t enough to support such an active, critical organ.
Let’s take a look at some of those vital functions to help you better understand the need for liver support supplements.
Role of Liver in the Human Body and Overall Health
The liver is estimated to have around 500 functions in the human body. Here are 4 of its most important functions.
Detoxification of blood
Essentially, all end products of digestion go through the liver for detoxification before being available for systemic absorption.
The liver detoxifies blood in four major ways:
First, the liver contains cells known as kupffer cells that help eliminate foreign pathogens that lead to infection.
Second, chemical alteration of biologically active molecules such as drugs and hormones take place in the liver. This process facilitates their elimination from the body.
Third, the liver is capable of producing molecules that are less toxic than their parent molecules. These less toxic molecules include urea and uric acid among others.
And fourth, the liver also actively secretes toxic substances through bile for elimination via the gastrointestinal system.
In carbohydrate metabolism, the liver can either store excess glucose during episodes of satiety or release glucose for use in the body during starvation.
Glucose is stored in the liver as glycogen in a process known as glycogenesis.
The liver can also break down glycogen to release glucose, especially in starvation through the process known as glycogenolysis.
The liver produces clotting factors that help in preventing excessive bleeding during injury. It also synthesizes proteins that help in transporting substances (like prescription or over-the-counter drugs) in the blood.
Secretion of bile
Bile is secreted by the liver alongside other toxic substances. We mentioned earlier how bile contains bile salts, which help in the metabolism of fat – one of the liver’s most essential roles.
Why Do We Need Liver Support Supplements?
Now that we’ve reviewed how important the liver is, let’s discuss some specific reasons why you should preventatively support your liver – as opposed to waiting for something to go wrong and then treating.
- To breakdown excess fat
Did you know you can actually lose weight by supporting and cleaning your liver? That’s because liver produces bile, which is an essential component of the digestive process. Also, bile contains bile salts that break down fats.
A strong, healthy liver promotes the production of bile, encouraging an increased fat metabolism and helping you lose weight.
- To remove toxins from your body
One of the major functions of the liver is cleansing the blood by removing toxins from digested food. When you ensure your liver is working properly, you not only cleanse it but also detoxify other organs as well.
Failure to support your liver can lead to an accumulation of toxins that inhibit essential processes within the liver. Therefore, removing these toxins via targeted liver support enhances its overall activity.
- To eliminate gallstones
Bad cholesterol can accumulate in the liver, leading to the formation of gallstones. However, a liver that is functioning at its peak potential is able to reduce the reoccurrence of gallstones and prevent their formation in the first place.
And remember, gallstone prevention is important because of the detoxification and metabolism anomalies often associated with them.
- To protect against side effects of prescription drugs
Most medications must first be broken down into useful metabolites by the liver.
An abnormally functioning liver may be overwhelmed by the drug load and fail to metabolize the drugs properly, leading to toxicity.
On the other hand, a nourished liver is able to perform its drug metabolism processes efficiently. This not only accelerates your healing process but also facilitates constant elimination of toxic compounds from the breakdown of medications.
Best Ingredients to Look for in a Liver Support Supplement
If you didn’t already, I’m sure you now understand the benefits of liver support supplements for not just your liver but your overall health.
The only problem is there are so many liver boosting supplements on the market today – some of which don’t live up to their marketing hype.
That’s why we’ve put together this buying guide of nutrients and herbs for liver health to help you as you shop for the best liver support supplement.
Many plants and herbs overlap in their benefits and uses, making your options for herbal liver support practically endless.
However, there are a few key liver herbs and that have been used and revered for centuries thanks to their benefits for liver health. We’ll look at 5 of them today.
- Milk thistle
The benefits of milk thistle for liver health are largely tied to their interaction with glutathione.
Glutathione is an antioxidant in the liver that is responsible for preventing toxicity of most drugs. Milk thistle contains a compound called silymarin, which effectively prevents the depletion of glutathione within the liver.
A common example of complications caused by glutathione depletion is acetaminophen poisoning. Silymarin prevents such poisoning from occurring. Milk thistle is commonly known as the “king” of all liver supplements, and it’s also known to help manage certain liver diseases.
- Dandelion root
Although common to most people as a weed, dandelion root is a natural diuretic. This means that it facilitates excretion of fluids from the body. Loss of fluids from the body is called diuresis.
Facilitated diuresis helps the liver excrete excess toxins through the urine. It also helps in balancing the body’s fluid levels and preventing episodes of indigestion.
- Chicory root
Chicory root is a time-tested plant that’s popular for its use in managing gallstones and gastroenteritis.
It contains a substance known as inulin, which helps improve bowel function, enhance weight loss and prevent constipation.
As mentioned earlier, gallstones inhibit the detoxification and metabolic potential of the liver. This is one area where chicory root is particularly helpful as it can reduce the number of gallstones.
- Artichoke leaf
Artichoke leaf has been used since antiquity to enhance liver function. Its primary constituent that’s beneficial for liver health is a compound called cynarin.
Cynarin helps improve liver and gallbladder function as well as lower the levels of serum cholesterol.
Artichoke is also helpful when used as a diuretic and in the management of jaundice, hepatitis and arteriosclerosis – all of which are diseases related to the liver.
- Green tea
Green tea contains a compound called catechin. This compound functions as an antioxidant that helps reduce and prevent liver inflammation. It also combats free radicals to prevent oxidative stress within liver cells.
How to Choose a Quality Liver Support Supplement
You don’t have to shop for liver supplements long before you realize there are various forms to choose from. The most common of which are tinctures, powders and pills.
Here are 3 things to consider when buying a liver support supplement.
- Avoid additives and other synthetic ingredients
Many manufacturers camouflage the names of synthetic ingredients with names similar to natural products. However, this marketing ploy does not change the fact that these products are synthetic and therefore toxic.
Examples of synthetic products that find their way into supposedly “healthy” supplements include:
- Magnesium stearate
- Silicon dioxide
- Sodium benzoate
- Titanium dioxide
- Soy lecithin
Silicon dioxide and magnesium stearate are lubricants often used as additives in supplements to enhance their “stickiness” when formed into tablets. Titanium dioxide, on the other hand, is potentially carcinogenic in humans.
The dangers of soy lecithin are debatable, but it is commonly used in candy and tea bags, despite posing a risk of hormonal imbalance.
Shellac is used to make supplements shiny and appealing to the eye though it is just a mere resin secreted by the lac bug. The problem is that it hampers the body’s ability to fully digest nutrients.
- Choose organic
Even if an ingredient is natural, it can still be sprayed with carcinogenic pesticides or herbicides.
That’s why we suggest buying organic as much as possible.
At the very least, you should insist on non-GMO verification when buying liver supplements, especially when additives like soy or corn are used as they are the most common genetically modified products on the market.
- Choose a form that suits your lifestyle & needs
At the beginning of this section, we mentioned how many forms of liver supplements there are. Each variety has its pros and cons. It’s important to match these with your unique lifestyle.
For instance, if budget is super tight and time is plenty, you may consider buying bulk liver herbs and encapsulating them yourself.
Perhaps you enjoy a nice hot cup of tea? If so, you may want to steep your own liver support tea at home.
If convenience is a priority (without sacrificing quality of course), then liver support tinctures or pills are the way to go.
Whatever you choose, look for a liver support supplement that contains at least one of the recommended ingredients above. If you haven’t already, try our organic, herbal and all-natural Liver Love tincture.
It contains 4 of the ingredients listed above, along with other powerful liver boosting herbs without any synthetic ingredients.