The Forgotten Organ of Detoxification

Spring is traditionally the season when we feel like cleansing away the winter cobwebs and lightening ourselves up. This moves in time with the days getting longer and warmer, naturally drawing us to the lighter green leaves and vegetables that start to spring up, offering us their cleansing properties.  

Many of us embark on liver cleanses and detoxes at this time of year, in an attempt to jump start the cleansing process. Generally, we think of the classic liver herbs to help us, such as St Mary’s Thistle, Dandelion, Globe Artichoke and the likes when it comes to a cleanse. However, even though the liver is considered the primary organ of detoxification, the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) must not be underestimated, as it is a major site for dealing with toxic burden.

Over the course of a lifetime, the GIT processes more than 25 tonnes of food, which represents the largest load of antigens and toxins confronting the human body. Therefore, before we start to increase the mobilization of toxins through the liver, we want to make sure our bowels are moving daily and completely to prevent the waste being reabsorbed through a sluggish bowel.

The increased prevalence of bowel issues stems from many facets of 21st century diet and lifestyle; food intolerance, dehydration, stress, EMF, pharmaceutical medications, radiation and nutritional deficiencies. Frequent antibiotic use disrupts the normal, protective microflora and can allow for the colonisation of opportunistic pathogens. These combined factors result in alterations in bacterial metabolism, as well as the overgrowth of potentially pathogenic microorganisms which may release toxic by-products that play a role in many chronic and degenerative diseases.

One of the first steps for optimal gut health is to make sure we are getting enough fibre, both to feed our microbiome and improve gut motility or transit time, alongside gut healing and prebiotic nutrients. For example, the below smoothie recipe is perfect for warmer Spring days to support gentle detoxification & gut health.

Gut healing and detoxification support smoothie:

  • 1 dessert spoon of ground flaxseeds
  • 1 tsp of psyllium husks
  • ½ tsp of St Mary’s Thistle powder
  • ¼ tsp of Ginger root powder
  • 1 tsp of greens powders (either spirulina, wheatgrass, barley grass or a combination)
  • 1 dessertspoon of flaxseed or hemp oil
  • ½ banana
  • 1 kiwifruit
  • ¼ cup of pineapple (frozen)
  • Water & ice for desired consistency

I like to have my smoothies in the morning as it is a nice way to break an overnight fast, especially if you are doing intermittent fasting. However, they can be enjoyed any time of the day.

This is a start to good gut health, but depending on what is going on for you, you may need to investigate further by looking at food intolerances, identifying if an overgrowth of yeasts or bacteria is present. A good quality probiotic, with additional nutrients including L-glutamine, zinc carnosine and/ or soothing and anti-inflammatory herbs such as turmeric, licorice and marshmallow could also be considered.