If you already eat clean and healthy, then preparing for a cleanse is fairly simple. A few days before the cleanse, eat very simple, light foods such as steamed veggies and salads with light olive oil (or flax oil) and lemon dressings, light vegetable broths and soups and fresh vegetable juices. Limit your consumption of animal products and omit fried foods. Start your day with a cleansing tea like dandelion root or nettle tea, and sip on glasses of room-temperature pure water with some lemon or lime juice throughout the day.
If you're not such a healthy eater, give your body time to prepare for a cleanse and follow the steps above for a longer period. This can be anywhere from a week to several months.
There are different approaches to detoxifying the liver and gallbladder, and for this reason I highly recommend finding a qualified naturopathic doctor or health practitioner who can guide you in the best approach for you. For years, I've done an Ayurvedic Panchakarma under the supervision of an Ayurvedic doctor and found it very effective. This involves daily oil and herbal massages, oil and herbal enemas and other detoxifying treatments.
Certain foods are also considered detoxifying to the liver because of their ability to emulsify and break down fats and purge toxins from the body.
- Green, leafy vegetables are rich in chlorophyll, which is effective in clearing toxins from the body. My raw kale salad is an excellent dish for detoxifying the liver.
- Lemons, limes and grapefruit cleanse the liver and are high in vitamin C, which is important for detoxification.
- Radishes, particularly the long, white Asian daikon radish, help break down fats, thus supporting the liver in its major function. Radishes also have a diuretic effect, which helps move toxins out of the system. (The Japanese always serve some grated fresh daikon to accompany fried dishes.)
- Garlic activates the enzymes that help clear toxins out of the body.
- Watercress is very cleansing to the system. It is high in chlorophyll and minerals and is also a diuretic. Its peppery flavor makes it a lovely addition to salads.
- Dandelion is one of the most therapeutic plants for the liver. Its bitter taste promotes the production and flow of bile. The young green leaves can be added to soups or salads, while dried dandelion leaves make a great detoxifying tea. The root is also dried, and when roasted, it can make a great coffee substitute. The dandelion root contains choline, a substance that stimulates the liver.
- Burdock root is said to have healing properties for the liver, as it assists in clearing toxins from the bloodstream. It has a bitter taste, which is stimulating to the digestive system.
- Apples contain pectin, which helps bind with and excrete heavy metals from the system. They're also high in malic acid, which helps with the smooth flow of bile and can dissolve gallstones.
Certain herbs and tonics support the healthy function of the liver and gallbladder. The most potent liver-support herb is milk thistle, also known as Silybum Marianus, which stimulates liver functioning and supports the removal of toxins from the liver. Other herbs and plants that support healthy liver and gallbladder function are dandelion root, reishi mushroom, artichoke leaf, lycium berry, barberry root, amla fruit, peppermint leaf and licorice root.
More ways to keep your body healthy