Notes about the Liver and Liver Cleanse

By Cat, beginning Feb 2018; moved from Notes: J-P on 9/27/21

Your liver’s biggest job is to keep your blood clean; it also plays a role in helping your body store, metabolize and digest nutrients; produces bile; plays an important role in regulating and balancing hormones; and converts excess blood sugar into storage fat (this has good and bad consequences). See Natural Liver Cleansing Diet site’s article on Where is your Liver, and What is the Function of the Liver for many other important functions.

List of External Links on Signs your Liver is Damaged; Fatty Liver Disease; Preventing Liver Damage; and Healing Your Liver 

Signs of Trouble in your Liver

12 Signs your Liver is in Trouble

The first 11 listed below are from a slide-show: 9 Strange Signs your Liver is in Trouble (the author has since added 2 more signs but did not update the title); the 12th is added by me (Cat).

The first one, “jaundice,” is something many people miss but it is the most important and a direct sign of liver trouble, because bile produced by the liver has gotten into your bloodstream. It was my Mom’s first sign of cancer in her liver. If you or someone you know has yellowing of skin/eyes, see a doctor immediately.

  1. Jaundice – yellowing of the skin and whites of the eye, due to bile in the bloodstream;
  2. Bloated ankles indicate there may be a problem with the liver, heart or kidney;
  3. Appetite changes (liver trouble is just one of many causes of this symptom);
  4. Diarrhea (loose, urgent stool);
  5. Strange and frequent bruises: bruises become more of a problem when there’s trouble in the liver;
  6. Intense exhaustion: As waste builds in the liver, it leads to lower oxygen levels, leaving us feeling tired all the time;
  7. Dark urine (orange, amber or brown), especially if stools are lighter than normal [note: if you take supplemental B-vitamins, they may be the cause of dark urine]);
  8. Pain in right shoulder, especially if there is cancer in the liver;
  9. Abdominal pain near the right ribs;
  10. Throwing up regularly;
  11. Changing personality;
  12. Itching of the skin and/or eczema, especially on the scalp and face (see my article: Eczema: Seborrheic Dermatitis for more).

One helpful action if you have any of these symptoms, is to do a coffee enema. See my article on Retention Enemas for instructions (Coffee Enema is the first on on that page).

Preventing or Curing Liver Disease

Fatty Liver Disease (FLD)

There are two categories of this disease: FLD (from too much alcohol consumption), and NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease). I have the latter, which I believe is a consequence of undiagnosed insulin resistance for many years; it was finally diagnosed when I was in my 40s, but I have likely had it since my 20s when I consumed too much sugar and starch because I couldn’t afford quality foods.

What Causes Fatty Liver Disease?

FLD (from too much alcohol consumptions) has been around as long as humans have drank alcohol. As a chemist, I put alcohol in the “sugars” category, as the smallest sugar molecule. Also, starches are chains of sugars, which get broken down into smaller sugar chains or individual sugars, so starches also play a role in Fatty Liver Disease. I note that many starches are essential for good health – just don’t overdo.

Over-consumption of any types of sugar (including alcohol and starches), leads to the following consequences:

  • Release of insulin from the pancreas, to guide the excess sugar to the liver.
  • The liver then converts the alcohol/sugars into storage fatty acids, and then either:
  • Sends these fatty acids into the blood to be stored in fat-storage tissue (around the belly), or
  • Stores them in the liver — “fatty liver disease.”

Not all is known, yet, about the causes of NAFLD, but I believe it has to do with “insulin resistance.” This is a problem that has been around since at least the mid 1940s.

What does insulin resistance have to do with a fatty liver?

The body’s cells rely on sugar to provide energy for cell activity. If they need more sugar, the cells communicate with the pancreas, to produce more insulin. If sugar is available in the blood stream, the insulin attaches to an insulin receptor on the cell wall, acting like a key to unlock the door so sugar can enter the cell.

However, if the person has insulin resistance, the receptors do not respond to insulin, or they have been removed. The result is the cells continue to need sugar and the cycle continues. Eventually, sugar levels in the blood are too high; in that case, the insulin  causes the liver to accept the excess sugar. The liver then converts the sugar to fat, which is stored in the liver or in fatty tissue around your waist line.

Thus, insulin resistance leads to excess blood sugar which is then converted to fat, much of which may be stored in the liver, where it builds up to become a “fatty liver.”

But, what causes the loss of insulin receptors or their inability to allow insulin to attach to the receptors? There is a lot of ongoing research on this topic, but I believe it has to do with problems in the cells’ walls (chains of mostly fatty molecules that form a wall around the cell). Check out my article: Insulin Resistance: A Look at Causes, for more.

Here is a List of Links About Combatting Fatty Liver Disease:

Ebooks on Fatty Liver Disease (FLD):

  • Jonathan Landsman’s free ebook, or to sign up for his docs-series: Top Ways to Unclog Your Liver. NOTE: I’ve saved the ebook at HEALTH-NUTRITION/ FATTY LIVER > LiverCleanse-ebook-2021.pdf. [I don’t have his permission to provide a link to the pdf, but you can find my notes from the book, below]

See also sections below, concerning NAFLD:

  • How to Unclog your Liver.” Or go to stopfattyliver.com/unclog/ to sign up for a doc-series on this topic, and to get a free copy of Jonathan Landsman’s ebook:  “Top Ways to Unclog Your Liver.” The notes for each chapter below are from his article. NOTE: any text in square brackets […] is by me.
  • Good and Bad Foods for a Healthy Liver. 
  • How to Unclog your Liver (if you have NAFLD)

Cat’s notes from Dr. Jocker’s “7-Day Liver Cleanse”

For more detail, see his article: 7-Day Liver Cleanse. [I’ve also saved a pdf version: CATSFORK / PDFfiles /DETOX /DR JOCKERS CLEANSE > 7-DayLiverCleanse_DrJockers_032322.pdf (7 MB file size)]

I’ve not yet tried his cleanse, but I plan to do so; when I do, I’ll add my notes here.

The first part of his article is all about the liver; the second part is about his 7-day cleanse. Below are my quick notes about his cleanse program.

  1. Each morning of your 7-day liver cleanses, drink 32 ounces of lemon/lime water or apple cider vinegar water within the first 3 hours of waking, followed by 1–2 cups of a specific liver detox tea.
  2. 1st meal: a glass of his special smoothie recipe (unsweetened coconut milk, avocado, his gut-healing protein powder).
  3. 2nd meal: another glass of his special smoothie recipe.
  4. Dinner: choose one of his five soup recipes:
    1. Lemon detox soup
    2. Coconut curry soup
    3. Cucumber avocado soup
    4. Thai ginger coconut soup with cauliflower rice
    5. Chicken avocado soup

Cat’s Notes from “Cleanse Your Liver Now” ebook by Dr. Jockers

I’ve moved these notes to its own article because it is quite long; see Cat’s Notes from “Cleanse Your Liver Now” ebook by Dr. Jockers. Note that I’ve also saved a copy of the original ebook  at HEALTH-NUTRITION/ FATTY LIVER > LiverCleanse-ebook-2021.pdf. [The file is too large, and I don’t have his permission to provide a link to the pdf here.] Also, I’ve not yet finished my notes from his ebook.

Good and Bad Foods for a Healthy Liver

Sorry, I somehow deleted the original source of the foods lists in this section…

The Bad Foods/Ingredients

  • Gluten [Cat’s NOTE: Use sprouted grains, as sprouting breaks down the bad part of gluten and lectins],
  • Sugar,
  • Artificial sweeteners,
  • Refined carbs,
  • Conventionally-raised meat and dairy,
  • Farm raised fish and seafood [including fish oils from them],
  • Processed conventional meats [like bacon, hot dogs, etc.],
  • Trans fats (partially-hydrogenated fats/oils),
  • Food additives and preservatives,
  • Highly processed vegetable and seed oils.

The Bad Foods/Ingredients that Promote Inflammation

  • Non-sprouted grains or flour made from them,
  • Deep-fried foods,
  • Processed Foods,
  • Most packaged foods,
  • Grain-fed meats, eggs, fast-foods, soda pop
  • Most commercial salad dressings, trans fats, margarine, vegetable oils from corn, safflower, sunflower and soybeans

The Good Foods that are Anti-Inflammatory

  • Grass/pasture-fed meat, poultry and wild game
  • Sweet potatoes and other root vegetables
  • Raw nuts (see Nuts (About) for more about the advantages of nuts)
  • Green tea
  • Coffee
  • Vegetables and fruits [preferably Organically grown, or grown in your own garden]; Dr. Jockers writes:
    • Beets, leafy greens, and avocados are great for the liver. Avocados are an excellent source of glutathione which is needed by the liver to filter out harmful substances and protect liver cells from damage.
    • “Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and kale are great for liver health. They help neutralized toxins in the liver with their abundant amounts of phytonutrients, carotenoids, and flavonoids. Broccoli has even been shown to counter the development of fatty liver disease and liver cancer.
    • Citrus fruits including lemons, limes and grapefruit, are great for the liver as are berries. Blueberries and cranberries are packed with powerful nutrients to support liver health. Both citrus fruits and berries protect the liver from damage.
    • Avocados [preferably Organic] have benefits for: “cardiovascular [system], digestion and metabolism, immunity, muscle development, skin/hair/nails, teeth and bones.”
  • Lemon water [I drink this with every meal, when taking supplements between meals, and at bedtime]
  • Turmeric [best eaten with a healthful fat such as real butter, coconut oil or milk, raw dairy cream, Organic olive oil]
  • Wild-caught fish like cod, salmon
  • Bone broth or vegetable broth [best if home-made]
  • Apple cider vinegar, especially the form with the “mother”
  • Ginger
  • Organic extra-virgin olive oil, Organic coconut oil, Organic butter from grass/pasture-fed dairy
  • Sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, such as wild-caught salmon, reduce lipid accumulation and liver enzyme levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and have anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Dark Chocolate (at least 75% cacao)
  • Organic Omega-3 eggs [I get eggs from a local woman who raises her hens naturally]
  • Herbs/spices: Mint, cumin, cinnamon, fennel, rosemary, thyme, etc.
  • Garlic

Five Ways to Combat Fatty Liver Naturally 

from Green Med Info: Five Ways to Fight Fatty Liver); see also “How to Unclog your Liver (if you have NAFLD)” section, below.

  1. Curcumin (from turmeric)
  2. Probiotics, especially when combined with Omega-3 fatty acids
  3. Coffee, especially green coffee bean extract
  4. Silymarin (extract from milk thistle) and Vitamin E
  5. Vitamins D (for insulin-sensitizing and anti-inflammatory properties)

Benefits of Eating Liver (from pastured animals)

[Cat’s note: It is very hard to find good quality liver in grocery stores, so I add powdered liver from New Zealand’s grass-fed beef to my daily smoothie.]

  1. Loaded with natural vitamin B12,
  2. Great source of active vitamin A,
  3. Good source of protein,
  4. High in vitamin B6, biotin and folate,
  5. Great food for fertility and during pregnancy,
  6. Helps with detoxification and supporting liver function,
  7. Very high in iron, helping with anemia prevention,
  8. Provides CoQ10 and L-carnitine

How to Unclog your Liver (if You Have NAFLD)

See stopfattyliver.com/unclog/ to sign up for a docu-series on this topic, and to get a free copy of Jonathan Landsman’s ebook:  Top Ways to Unclog Your Liver. The notes, below are from that ebook (I”ve saved the ebook at HEALTH-NUTRITION/ FATTY LIVER > Fatty-Liver-Top-Ways-to-Unclog-Your-Liver.pdf). Here are my notes:

  1. Milk thistle herb: “Ancient wisdom confirms:  Silymarin in milk thistle helps to flush out fat from the liver.”
    • [I get milk thistle in my Liver support tincture from Swan Valley Herbs in Bigfork MT. 10/7/21: However, I’ve recently learned milk thistle is not well absorbed, but a liposomal version improves its absorption. “Liposomal” supplement usually means sunflower/coconut oil and black pepper/piperine is added. I currently take sunflower lecithin gel-cap at breakfast and dinner, about 30-60 minutes after taking milk thistle tincture; I will move the sunflower lecithin dose to be with the tincture.]
    • [Or check out “LiverLuv” supplement (contains phosphatidyl choline from sunflower oil), and is recommended by Jonathan Landsman: naturalhealth365store.com/collections/glutathione/products/liposomal-liverluv-luvbynature-8-fl-oz.]
  2. Vitamin E“Conduct a ‘Pre-Emptive strike’ against NAFLD with vitamin E.” [I take MRM’s Complete E supplement( iHerb code MRM-81007), a full spectrum Vitamin E supplement with natural Tocopherols, Tocotrienols, Alpha Lipoic Acid and Vitamin C.]
  3. NAC supplement:  “N-acetylcysteine renews the all-important ‘master antioxidant’ within the liver.”
  4. Resveratrol:  “’Rev up’ healthy liver function with resveratrol.” [from grapes, or as a supplement; unfortunately, I have a food sensitivity to this.]
  5. Garlic  has ‘all the right moves; for reducing liver fat.” [I grow my own garlic and I love it.]
  6. Vitamin D: “Protect against NAFLD with the ‘sunshine vitamin.’” [vitamin D, which I get from fermented cod liver oil and a vitamin D supplement.]
  7. Mediterranean Diet:  “Promote liver health naturally with the plant-based Mediterranean Diet.” [I do a version of the Mediterranean diet that includes wild-caught fish and meats from pastured animals.]
  8. Exercise: “ ‘Re-route’ fat from your liver with a regular exercise routine. “ 

The article also states:

  • “60 grams of whey protein daily for four weeks decreased liver fat by a substantial 20 percent.” Whey is a natural part of raw dairy milk, which I use in my smoothie. I also add Bob’s Red Mill Whey Protein Powder tot my smoothie; it is the only brand that does not evoke a food sensitivity for me, because it is processed at low temperature.
  • Avoid refined and junk foods:  “Steer clear of refined and added sugars, white flour, alcohol, GMOs, trans fats, fried foods, fast foods and junk foods.” I use stevia (a natural, herbal sweetener) to sweeten baked treats I make; and I also use raw local honey.
  • “Drink plenty of pure, filtered water to promote proper hydration and help to flush out toxins and excess fat.” I like to add freshly squeezed Organic lemon juice the the flesh of Organic lemons, along with sliced lemon peel from the Organic lemons, as it makes the filtered water even more healthful.

Liver Cancer: 3 Ways to Reduce Risk

from TTAC: thetruthaboutcancer.com/prevent-liver-damage/; see article for more detail.

  1. Stop eating processed pork products, such as smoked ham, sausages, bacon, and processed lunchmeat
  2. Avoid aspartame, an artificial sweetener such as brands: NutraSweet and Equal.
  3. Detox regularly. I do a 3 or 5-day veggie-juice fast 2-3 times a year.

Foods & Supplements to Protect Your Liver

from Green Med Info: greenmedinfo.com/blog/these-five-substances-protect-your-liver; I currently take all of these.

  1. Curcumin (from turmeric);
  2. Coffee decreases risk of NAFLD, or risk of liver fibrosis for those who have NAFLD (like me);
  3. NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine supplement) helps with oxidative distress; also blocks acetaminophin (pain reliever) toxicity;
  4. Ginsenosides (from ginseng; or as supplement Panax Ginseng – see iHerb NFS-04173) also protects against acetomenaphin toxicity, has anti-inflammatory power, and promotes healthy metabolism of fat by the liver. May alleviate liver injury in patients with fatty liver disease.  I started this one only recently (9/8/21 as capsules, iHerb NFS-04173). Beginning 9/24/21 I will add  a bottled liquid extract (iHerb code POP-70123) of Panax Ginseng to my smoothie; 1 bottle/day is recommended but I’ll do ½ bottle/day along with half-dose capsules.
  5. Vitamin E (found in many foods such as wheat germ, nuts, seeds and green vegetables). Important for eye health. Significantly improves liver function and the quality of liver cells and tissues in patients with NAFLD. I take MRM’s Complete E (iherb MRM-81007), which contains all 8 naturally-occurring forms of Vitamin E – the natural tocopherols & tocotrienols.

Top 10 foods to help detoxify the liver

From Natural Health 365: naturalhealth365.com/detoxify-the-liver-3534.html

  1. Dandelion greens
  2. Beets with their tops (greens)
  3. Apples
  4. Garlic
  5. Lemons and limes
  6. Any dark leafy greens like: kale and collard greens, spinach, etc.
  7. Fresh or dried turmeric [Cat’s note: turmeric is most readily absorbed if taken with coconut oil, of if used to season fatty meats]
  8. Cruciferous vegetables like, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower
  9. Carrots
  10. Grapefruit (leave as much of the white pith as possible)

That article provides a “powerhouse liver cleansing tonic” which contains:

  • 8 carrots (large)
  • 10 small dandelion leaves
  • 1 medium sized beet
  • 2 apples
  • 1 inch fresh ginger root or fresh turmeric root

Liver Detox/Cleanse

Cat’s note: I do a liver cleanse twice yearly when I do a Veggie Juice Fast (from Glacier Juice & Wellness; formerly WEC in Kalispell MT). See my Veggie Juice Fast Menu for lots more info about this fast. See also Dr. Jockers’ 7-Day Liver Cleanse, and my notes from his article, above.

7 Amazing Foods that Cleanse your Liver Naturally

The following  list of 7 foods is from: PaleoHack blog: blog.paleohacks.com/7-amazing-foods-that-cleanse-your-liver-naturally/#; NOTE: I’ve reorganized the list in alphabetical order.

  1. Avocado “contains glutathione, which is a powerful antioxidant that helps to protect the liver from incoming waste and toxins. It also assists the liver in eliminating these chemicals from your body and protects against cellular damage.
  2. Broccoli and “other brassica vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower … [also] contain sulfur compounds … that help to support the detoxification process and the health of the liver. In fact, these fibrous veggies can help flush out toxins from your gut, and they contain compounds that help support the liver in metabolizing hormones.
    • From a Mercola article: Broccoli sprouts have even higher levels – up to 100 times the amount of , a precursor to sulforaphane …. – than broccoli.” [I add broccoli sprouts to my daily smoothie.]
  3. Citrus fruits  “are all natural sources of vitamin C and contain many potent antioxidants. Like garlic, citrus fruits have the ability to boost the production of liver detoxification enzymes.”
  4. Garlic contains sulfur compounds that are essential for supporting the liver and activating liver enzymes that are responsible for flushing out toxins and waste from the body. Garlic also contains selenium, an important mineral and nutrient that assists in detoxification and supports the thyroid gland.
  5. Leafy veggies: The bitterer, the better! Your liver loves bitter, so load up on dandelion, rapini, arugula, mustard greens and chicory. These leafy greens contain numerous cleansing compounds that neutralize heavy metals, which can slow down the liver’s ability to detoxify. Plus, they help to stimulate bile flow.” [Cat’s note: another great source of “bitter” is Angostura or Swedish bitters – add to a glass of water, seltzer, or soda water.]
  6. Turmeric “contains a boatload of antioxidants that help to repair the liver cells, protect against cellular damage and assist in detoxification. Turmeric is particularly good at helping the liver detox from heavy metals and assist in hormone metabolism. Turmeric also boosts the production of bile and improves the health of the gallbladder.” See my recipes for delicious turmeric beverages: Golden Milk (Turmeric Tea) and Ginger-Turmeric Latte. Or Paleo-Hack recipe for Pumpkin and Turmeric Soup.
  7. Walnuts contain high levels of l-arginine, glutathione, and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which help to detoxify the liver and support toxin elimination. Plus, they are great for fighting inflammation and supporting the health of the brain.”

The good news for me is that I eat all of these regularly.

Additionally, an herb known as milk thistle or silymarin, is also important for liver support. It is available as a medicinal tincture (for example, see iHerb code NTA-06457), or as an ingredient in some liver support supplements. See Heathline article for more about this herb. I get milk thistle in a Liver Support tincture from Swan Valley Herbs in Bigfork MT. I recently learned it is not well-absorbed unless you take it with sunflower or coconut oil, which creates a liposome around the milk thistle.

Liver Detox Diet

From Liver Detox Diet (livercleansing-diet.org) unless noted otherwise. See also Detoxify the Liver by Juicing; see also my Notes on Cancer Prevention and Treatment, which includes a section on the liver.

Text is square brackets […] is mine. The article has lots of additional good info about the liver. It also advises:

    • It’s important that if you think you may be suffering from such a condition, you seek help from a medical professional first rather than relying on a liver detox diet to ‘cure’ you.
    • A change in diet may have little to no effect if you’re suffering from a serious liver disease and you’ll only end up putting yourself more at risk by delaying seeking professional help.

A liver detox diet should focus on fruit and vegetables. … In particular, you want to start eating a whole lot of green vegetables – both leafy vegetables like lettuce and the cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower (if it looks like a solid little shrub, it’s probably cruciferous).” The program includes the following, which help to maintain a healthy liver:

  • Lemon juice: “A mug of hot water with some lemon juice squeezed into it each morning should be enough to have a positive impact.” [see also “Lemon Juice: Why I Take It” above.]
  • Garlic: “Garlic helps the liver produce essential enzymes which play an important role in detoxifying the blood. … Just including garlic as part of your dinner or in a salad here and there is enough to give your body the benefits of this cleansing vegetable.” [I grow garlic in my garden.]
  • Grapefruit, apples, avocados, etc:  “Pretty much all fruit, vegetables and nuts can do you some good as part of a liver detox diet, although you need to be careful of unhealthy foods disguised as healthy foods such as salted peanuts.” [The article also gives more detail about the Apple Juice cleanse – see next topic, below.]
  • Nuts: “Raw, untreated walnuts are god for your liver, as are almonds and sesame seeds.”  [Also, per liver support.com, the nuts: Brazil nuts and pecans are  also good for your liver. But peanuts, which are legumes (not nuts), may be helpful, but evidence is conflicting.]

For a true liver detox, I do a 5-day juice fast from the Wellness Education Center in Kalispell MT, which detoxes not only the liver but the whole body using only fresh veggie juices, apple juice and specific supplements.

Apple Juice Cleanse – A 3-Day Cleanse:

“Apples contain malic acid, which helps move clogged up bile in the liver and gall bladder and restore normal liver function as a result.” It’s important to “cut out all alcohol, smoking and other drugs use for the duration of your liver detox diet.”

  1. On the first day, you’re required to drink two glasses of pure Organic apple juice every two hours over a 12-hour period. You’re not allowed to eat anything during this cleanse for the first two days. 
  2. On the second day, once again you’ll drink two glasses of apple juice every two hours a you did on the first day, but on day two you’ll also have an extra half-cup of apple juice mixed with a half-cup of extra virgin olive oil just before you go to sleep. [Cat’s note: no any extra virgin olive oil will do, as many brands replace much (if not all) of the olive oil with GMO corn, soy, canola etc oils; see my article: Olive Oil: The Real Deal, or Adulterated/Fake]
  3. When you wake up on day three,  you’ll drink a liter of water with the juice from a single lemon squeezed into it. About an hour after this you can start eating again, sticking to the kinds of foods described above [fruits, vegetables, nuts].”

Natural Liver Detox Tips

  • Milk thistle is one of the few herbs that has been proven to have real positive benefits for detoxifying the liver. [It acts] as a kind of ‘shield.’ It helps block toxins from entering the liver, allowing the liver more time to deal with the load of toxins it’s currently trying to filter.” [It also] “helps speed up the liver’s natural ability to regenerate.” [I take a liver-support tincture that contains milk thistle and dandelion root, plus burdock or yellow-doc.]
  • Green tea: … drinking large amounts of green tea (upwards of 10 cups per day) has been shown to correlate to a lower risk of liver disease in general. … [While it] is one weapon in your liver detox arsenal, … on its own it’s not enough to completely prevent liver damage if you have diet or drinking habits that are doing serious damage.”

In addition to the two tips above, I note that I take an herbal tincture to improve my liver health from Swan Valley Herbs in Bigfork MT; it include extracts from milk thistle seed and dandelion root as the base, to which burdock root or yellow dock root can be added, depending on what kind of help your liver needs.

The liver cleansing-diet.org article (see link, above) also provides several links about liver detox.

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