Natural liver support doesn’t merely stop at avoiding toxins.
Apart from detoxification, the liver is responsible for producing significant blood proteins, storing energy in the form of glycogen, and safeguarding essential nutrients like vitamins A and B12.
It also aids in fat digestion and keeps our blood’s fat content in check. Plus, the liver has a hand in carbohydrate, lipid, and protein metabolism.
While the liver is designed to manage environmental toxins, today’s increasingly toxic world calls for liver support.
A balanced diet with ample fruits, vegetables, and fiber, combined with limited alcohol intake, regular exercise, and hydration, can boost liver health.
There are a number of herbs, compounds, and extracts that I love for liver health.
Natural Liver Support
One of the most renowned medicinal plants, milk thistle has been recognized since ancient times for its liver-enhancing properties. Silymarin is the active extract from milk thistle seed full of flavonoid compounds known as flavonolignans.
A trove of research articles and clinical trials confirm its benefits. A few highlights on milk thistle and its extract silymarin include antioxidant protection (1), improved markers of fatty liver (2) and inflammation support (3).
I turn to Super Milk Thistle X by Integrative Therapeutics the most.
Artichoke’s use in food and medicine is long-established as far back as ancient Egypt.
Modern research has shown that artichoke leaf extract may also support fat metabolism, most notably by modulating total cholesterol and LDL (4; 5; 6).
High lipids can be indicative of metabolic health, liver function, and inflammation and artichoke makes for a great support alongside milk thistle and the other extracts mentioned below.
Artichoke is also present in Super Milk Thistle X, and I like its use in MegaGuard by Microbiome Labs.
An incredible amino acid derivative, NAC is frequently used in medicine for its ability to act as an antioxidant on its own, and also replenish levels of the antioxidant glutathione in the body (7). This trait makes it one of my favorite options to support liver detoxification functions.
Moreover, NAC has demonstrated potential in protecting the liver from toxins and aiding its recovery after damage. It was first used for those experiencing liver damage from acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol). Even today, NAC may be used by emergency rooms for the same reason.
For those looking to incorporate NAC into their routine, I use N-acetylcysteine (NAC) 500mg.
Interestingly, NAC may be an underestimated support for mood and anxious and depressive symptoms (8) – in part due to the reduction of inflammation and oxidative stress, but also neurotransmitter benefits.
For those wanting to supplement with glutathione directly, I like liposomal delivery – a way of packaging it to increase absorption by 200% and more.
Quicksilver Scientific is highly regarded for nanoformulated liposomal delivery. Check out their Liposomal Glutathione.
More and more studies are showing that when you mix glycine and NAC, it can help with anti-aging. This makes what we know about NAC even more interesting.
Found in several medicinal plants, berberine is a golden-yellow compound that has been an integral part of traditional Asian medicine for thousands of years.
Today’s research shows that it might help with managing fats in the blood, supporting inflammation, and keeping the liver safe (9).
What I’m most excited about is that Berberine supports the activation of the AMPK pathway. This pathway makes for more efficient and effective handling of carbohydrates and lipids from the diet – making AMPK activation an interesting pathway to follow for the support of healthy aging (10; 11; 12; 13; 14).
Anti-aging researchers are looking a lot at the AMPK pathway, and berberine comes up as a top natural choice in line with results seen with medical options like metformin.
This reduces the metabolic load on the liver and supports fat metabolism. Improvements in fatty liver markers have been observed (15).
I like taking 250-500mg of berberine prior to meals to support my body’s metabolic response to meals.
When cleansing the gut, I may use up to 1500mg 3x/day, but work your way up to tolerance and cross-check your strategy with a natural health professional.
Higher intakes of berberine can be used for gut cleansing – crowding out unwanted bacteria and fungi.
I use Berberine Reset.
Curcumin, the main component of turmeric, has been a staple in Asian cuisine and medicine for over two millennia. It’s widely researched for various health benefits, including liver support. It’s arguably one of the most researched extracts in all of clinical nutrition with benefits ranging across many systems including brain, gut, and nerve health.
Many know curcumin for its anti-inflammatory effects used alone or in conjunction with other extracts, particularly with joint inflammation (16; 17; 18). It’s also shown improvement in key metabolic markers (19; 20) and is regarded to help support key detoxification pathways – helping to bring toxins out of the body.
Curcumin can be tough to digest and absorb (21), which is why I use a new form known as curcuRouge – under the commercial name Curalieve.
For years, I used Theracurmin – a water-soluble form of curcumin that is 8-27x the bioavailability of other popular forms of curcumin. Curalieve improves absorption another 3-5x.
Liver Support Supplements
The liver does a lot more than just getting rid of toxins for us. With so many chemicals around us today – even babies have some in their blood when they’re born – it’s super important to take care of our liver.
Lucky for us, nature’s medicine cabinet has some awesome stuff to help like milk thistle, artichoke, berberine, NAC, and curcumin.