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Detoxification Plan: Cleanse Your Liver

September 11, 2014 (Updated: October 20, 2017)
Leigh Erin Connealy, M.D.

We live in a toxic world where we can’t avoid breathing polluted air and drinking tainted water.  Our bodies are constantly exposed to heavy metals, chemical pollutants, drugs, pesticides, food additives, and various other dangerous compounds.

Many of these substances find their way into your body. Research shows that the typical human has more than 400 chemicals in their bloodstream. And many of these substances are carcinogenic, meaning they are known causes of cancer.

On average, your home exposes you to more than 500 chemicals, some from cleaning products, others in building materials or furnishings.

If you use cosmetics, personal care products, or perfumes, your nervous system could be laced with as many as 800 potentially harmful substances.

Combine all this with the Standard American Diet’s (SAD) overload of preservatives, dyes, flavor “enhancers,” and other chemicals, and you’ve got a recipe for a health disaster.

For earlier generations, the body’s own detoxification “team” – bowels, kidneys, liver, lungs, and skin – could deal with the problem.

But these days, with the sheer number of chemicals now in the millions, your poor overwhelmed body could use some help.

Not convinced? Check out this list of symptoms that show you could be overdue for a detox:

  • Weight management problems
  • Exhaustion
  • Headaches
  • Allergies
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Skin rashes
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Problems with digestion or elimination
  • Anger, depression, anxiety, irritability
  • Blood sugar imbalance
  • Frequent colds, flu, or infections
  • Elevated cholesterol

When otherwise healthy patients come to me with problems like these, here’s my solution – detoxification. It’s one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself and give your body a fighting chance.

There are hundreds of ways to detox, including everything from fasting to flushes. Here are some of my favorites:

Work up a sweat

Sweating doesn’t just cool you off, it’s also a terrific way to remove toxins from your body. And it doesn’t matter whether you sweat due to working out or because you’re sitting in a sauna or steam room.

Exercise provides a double dose of effectiveness, though. There are ten to 100 times more toxins in your fat than in your blood, so one of the best ways to eliminate toxins is to decrease your body fat.

Be sure to drink plenty of fresh, filtered water before, during, and after sweating, to prevent dehydration.

Skin brushing

Every day, you eliminate up to two pounds of waste and toxins through your skin. Dry skin brushing removes old skin cells, while promoting circulation and lymph flow. That makes that process more efficient, so your skin “breathes” easier.

To get started, purchase a long-handled, natural bristle bath brush. Before you get in the shower or bath, brush your feet, legs, and hands first, then do arms, legs, and torso, continually moving the brush toward the center of the body.

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Eat more greens

Acidity is a common problem that can undermine your health. (If you want to find out whether or not you’re overly acidic, just purchase some pH paper and test your saliva or urine. Scores over 7.4 mean you’re acidic and need to get back in balance by consuming some alkaline foods and beverages.

The simplest solution: Eat more leafy greens. Try eating them raw in salads, or you can juice them, stir them into a broth, or sauté with a touch of olive oil.

Leafy greens boost chlorophyll levels in your digestive tract, and that stimulates the body to get rid of environmental toxins, like herbicides and smog.

Juice fasting

Give your liver and digestive system a break and try a juice fast. Start with one day of no solid food, just juice, and see how you feel. Juice fasts can last up to 3 days.

You can juice just about all fruits and vegetables. I start each day with a delicious combination of kale, spinach, parsley, cilantro, or other organic greens.  But you can find thousands of juicing recipes online.

Fasting is a time-tested practice, one long used to cleanse the body in various religions. It not only detoxes, it also increases the number of organ-repairing stem cells in your body.

Another benefit of fasting – studies with lab animals show that those that fast intermittently live longer than animals who eat normally.

Colonics

Healthy, well-functioning colons are the result of healthy, well-functioning livers. And the same is true the other way around. Our livers are the first line of defense for internal detoxification of food before it enters the stomach and intestines. But the liver does not get it all—especially if we eat large meals and eat too quickly. Nor can all those hardworking gut bacteria.

As a result, toxins and residual waste can end up lining the walls of the large intestines. When that happens, the liver is then under pressure to work harder because the toxins lining the intestinal walls will obstruct the waste that is supposed to be passing through.

Colonics (colon cleansing) is mainly thought to be good for your large intestine by washing out residual waste lining the walls. But the liver is also a benefactor of colonics for the same reasons as above. Talk with your doctor about the necessity and frequency of getting a colon cleanse. I typically recommend colonics every 1 to 3 months depending on the gut health of a patient.

Liver cleanse

Here’s an easy way to rejuvenate your body, support your liver, eliminate bad cholesterol, and purify your blood and lymph. This cleanse can help with digestive difficulties, food allergies and sensitivities, as well as sleep issues, irritability, headaches, and other common problems.

Here’s how it works:

You’ll need a couple of pink grapefruits, some Epsom salts, vitamin C powder (Vitality C is the one I use), high-quality olive oil, and L-ornithine supplements, which you can buy at any health food or vitamin store.

Doctor Connealy’s Liver Cholesterol Flush

Plan the flush for a day when you’ll be able to stay home the following morning. Eat a low-fat breakfast and lunch the day you begin the cleanse.

The Day of the Flush

  • 2 PM: Stop eating or drinking anything except the liquids for the cleanse. Sipping water is okay if you get thirsty.
  • 6 pm: Take 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt and 1 teaspoon of vitamin C powder mixed in 3¾ cup cold water. (You may add 10 drops of organic fresh-squeezed lemon juice to improve the taste. Drinking a few swallows of water afterwards to rinse your mouth is fine.)
  • 8 pm: Repeat mixing and drinking the same solution as you did at 6pm.
  • 9:45 pm: Take 2000 mg L-Ornithine. Mix ½ cup olive oil in ¾ cup fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice in a glass jar, then shake and drink.
  • 10 pm: After your 9:45 PM drink, lie down flat. Do not stay up and do anything. Just go to bed.

Day 2 of the Cleanse

  • 6 AM or later: Upon awakening, anytime after 6 AM, take 1 tablespoon Epsom salt and 1 teaspoon of powdered vitamin C, mixed in ¾ cup cold water. (You can go back to bed afterward.)
  • Two hours after previous step: Take 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt and 1 teaspoon of powdered vitamin C mixed in ¾ cup cold water.
  • Two hours after previous step: You may eat. Start with your favorite fruit. When you feel hungry, eat a light lunch of your choice, and by supper you should feel hungry and be able to eat a normal meal.

What to Expect During the Liver Cleanse

  • Expect a watery stool in the morning. Look for the green and brown pea-size stones. Sometimes the bile ducts are full of cholesterol crystals, which did not form into stones. They appear as “chaff”: shiny crystals floating on the top of the water.
  • Cleansing chaff is just as important as removing stones.
  • Now that you have finished the Liver Cleanse you will want to follow-up with cleanses until your liver is free of any stones or chaff.
  • The Liver Cleanse can be done every 2 weeks until you do a liver cleanse and no more stones or chaff comes out of the liver. Then repeat 2 times a year for continued health maintenance.

Next time you feel like you need a lift, plan a detox session and try one or more of these techniques. I think you’ll be surprised at how effective they are, and how much better you’ll feel without that toxic burden weighing you down.

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  • Julio Lawrence

    Hello SouthernGent…lemon juice should work as a decent substitute…best of luck to you

  • Judy K

    Do you really mean 3 3/4 cup of fluid at 6pm and 8pm on the first day of the flush? That is a LOT of fluid. I suspect it’s a typo.

  • Southerngent1555

    I take a couple of medications associated with heart rhythm, and have been told to avoid grapefruit juice. Will any other juice work?

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