The liver is responsible for more vital functions than any other single organ. Perhaps as many as 500 (1). It plays a crucial role in digestion, metabolism, immune system health and more. But the very nature of the liver as the body’s toxin filter means that it’s prone to becoming fouled. Especially if your diet is less than ideal. Enter the liver cleanse.
A liver cleanse is intended to do just that; cleanse the liver of built-up toxins and restore it to something approximating normal function. Doing so can produce a range of benefits from better digestion to more energy and stable blood sugars. But the real benefit is helping to ensure the liver is there for you through thick and thin as you age.
Below are the 10 best liver cleanse’s of 2020.
1. NOW Supplements Liver Refresh
Now Foods are well known for their full range of high quality lifestyle supplements. All of their products are produced in their Good Manufacturing Practices facility and subject to rigorous quality control. Their Liver Refresh combines the known liver-enhancing properties of milk thistle (2) with their own blend of herbal ingredients including raspberry leaf, turmeric, dandelion root, scute root and more.
The goal here is to help purge your liver of excess toxins and to aid in your body’s natural production of glutathione (3), a natural antioxidant that helps fend off the ravages of oxidative stress (4). Now supplements contain no genetically modified organisms, no artificial preservatives, no unlabelled allergens and no artificial colors or flavors. It’s suggested you take 3 capsules per day with food for 5 – 7 days to enjoy optimal benefits.
2. Dr Tobias 21 Day Liver Cleanse
Dr. Tobias 21 Day Liver Cleanse is a gentle cleanser intended to help purge unwanted toxins from the liver over a 3 week period. While most liver cleanse products tend to provide intense, targeted cleansing over a short period of time, Dr. Tobias offers a more graduated cleansing experience intended to alleviate the possibility of side effects.
This liver cleanse leans heavily on the antioxidant solarplast. Antioxidants are the enemy of free radicals that are known to cause so much damage to healthy liver cells. Also included here are milk thistle (another powerful antioxidant), lipase and protease. Dr. Tobias never uses genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and all their products are produced in an FDA registered facility. To obtain maximum benefit try to eat healthy for the duration of the 3 week cleanse period.
3. Arazo Nutrition Liver Cleanse
There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that zinc may play an important role in restoring liver health (5). Arazo Nutrition take that information and run with it by providing a healthy dose of zinc in their Liver Cleanse supplement. Of course they don’t skimp on the the milk thistle either. So what you get is a powerful 1-2 punch that goes a long way toward flushing toxins from your liver and allowing it to return to optimal function.
The capsules are 100% vegetarian and Arazo Nutrition produces their supplements in a GMP facility under the watchful eye of the FDA. Note that while the cleansing ability of this supplement is purported to be excellent, Arazo marketing makes a slew of unrelated claims that are best taken with a grain of salt.
4. Nature’s Way Complete Liver Cleanse
Nature’s Way Complete Liver Cleanse is a quality supplement that provides generous amounts of beneficial milk thistle along with various vitamins and minerals intended to bolster your overall health during the detox process. Nature’s way are a top supplier of dietary supplements with their own US based GMP facility.
They recommend you take this particular supplement twice per day (3 capsules in the morning, 3 in the evening) with lots of water for a period of 14 days to enjoy optimal benefits. You won’t find any genetically modified organisms in this product but you will find both wheat and soy. That is not going to be an issue with most people. But those with sensitivities to those ingredients should take note.
5. Go Nutrients Liver Edge Cleanse
Go Nutrients keep things simple with their Liver Edge Cleanse. This is one of the few liver cleanse supplements that comes in liquid form. That allows it to be more quickly absorbed by the body. As a result, it gets to work without delay and there are no capsules to try and swallow.
This is a highly pure liquid mixture completely free of gluten, alcohol, soy, dairy, artificial sweeteners and animal products. If there is a downside it’s that they hide exact ingredient amounts behind the dreaded ‘proprietary blend’ label. Still, our reviewers had nothing but good things to say about the product. It’s suggested you take 1/4 teaspoon twice a day over a short-term course of 7 days.
6. Planetary Herbals Bupleurum Liver Cleanse
Planetary Herbals Bupleurum Liver Cleanse is fairly unique in that it leverages the Chinese herb bupleurum (6) to help cleanse and detox your overworked liver. Bupleurum has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Although it’s only recently come to the attention of Western researchers curious about its potential hepatoprotective properties.
In addition to bupleurum you’ll find fennel root, dandelion root and milk thistle on the ingredient list. All told it’s heavy on the herbs and light on the artificial ingredients. The makers suggest you take 2 tablets twice a day between meals. Because they don’t specify for how many days, we’d recommend limiting it to 7 just to be safe.
7. Renew Life Adult Cleanse
The Renew Life Adult Cleanse is a 30 day liver cleansing program that’s divided into 2 parts; a morning part and an evening part. Each is formulated to dovetail with the body’s natural metabolic processes. This way the right ingredients are brought to bear on the liver as you go through the day. The morning dose is centered around liver health staple milk thistle.
While the evening dose is heavy on the herbs to facilitate flushing of the liver and produce a relaxing state so you can sleep. Renew Life Supplements are free of gluten and dairy and produced in the company’s GMP certified facility in the US.
8. Naturenetics LiverSmart Liver Cleanse
Naturenetics is a relatively new player in the supplement space. Unlike other supplement companies that focus mostly on multivitamins Naturenetics produce supplements that address specific health needs. Their LiverSmart Liver Cleanse provides 250 mg of European milk thistle in every capsule.
They claim their harvesting method does a better job preserving the active silymarin in the milk thistle. As a result, it does a better job helping the liver purge impurities. Naturenetics supplements are produced and bottled in Oregon. They contain no soy, gluten or GMOs and are never tested on animals.
9. Benevolent Nourishment Liquid Liver Detox
Benevolent Nourishment Liquid Liver Detox is the second of our liquid milk thistle-based liver cleanse products. It features the aforementioned milk thistle as well as yellow dock root, dandelion root and other herbs from traditional medicine.
The job of the milk thistle is to aid the liver in purging toxins and impurities. While the job of the herbs is to ensure your body evacuates those waste products in a timely fashion. The company recommend you take 1/4 teaspoon of this liver detox twice a day for a period of 1 to 2 weeks. BN Liquid Liver Detox is vegan friendly, alcohol-free and free of all common food allergens.
10. Nature’s Craft Liver Supplement with Milk Thistle
The last of our liver cleanse products comes to us from Nature’s Craft. While not a household name the company produces a high-quality milk thistle-based liver cleanse that is rich in zinc.
The formula is rich in beneficial herbs that purge your liver of impurities and cleanse your system as a whole. As a result, you emerge from the detox period in better overall shape. Nature’s Craft supplements are formulated in the US and produced in a Good Manufacturing Practices facility.
What is a Liver Cleanse?
Along with the heart and the brain the liver is one of 3 vital organs you can’t live without (hence the name). Scientists estimate it plays a role in some 500 bodily functions (7). Arguably it’s most important roles are aiding in digestion, synthesizing proteins and detoxifying metabolites (8). But those are hardly its only functions and all the various roles it plays are important. Keeping the liver clean then is not just some fad idea that appeared out of the blue. It’s vitally important if your liver is to perform its important functions in an effective and efficient manner.
As the liver goes about its business of purging your system of toxins it’s not always able to clear all the toxic byproducts it catches. Medications, alcohol and age can all compromise the ability of the liver to do its job and clear toxins (9). Over time, these toxins build up in the liver tissue and begin to impede function. A liver cleanse is designed to provide the liver the compounds it needs to flush the remaining toxins from its tissue. This, in turn, should lead to more effective liver function and better overall health.
What are the Benefits of a Liver Cleanse?
As we’ve said, the liver has a role in hundreds of different bodily functions. So it’s fair to say that cleansing it of toxins is likely to produce a wide array of health benefits. Some will be obvious, others will be subtle. But there’s no such thing as having a liver that’s working too well. Here are some of the benefits people can expect from a liver cleanse:
- Weight loss – People who eat healthy diets tend to be thinner. But not only because they don’t consume as many calories as other people. Another reason they are thinner is because the healthy diet enables their liver to work at something like maximum efficiency. What does that have to do with weight loss? One of the key roles of the liver is breaking down fat (10). If liver function is compromised fat cannot be effectively broken down and weight gain is one of the results. Cleansing the liver should restore some of its ability to process fat effectively and some weight loss may occur as a result.
- Healthier immune system – The liver’s relationship to the immune system is complex to say the least (11). Essentially though, any toxins your liver is unable to process are going to be turned over to the immune system to handle. And frankly, the immune system wasn’t really designed for that task. Overloading the immune system with metabolic toxins can impede its ability to do its most important role of protecting you from bacterial invaders. Flushing these toxins out of your system via a liver cleanse can result in a stronger immune system.
- Helps boost your energy – Because of the important role the liver plays in digestion it follows that a compromised liver will lead to compromised digestion. If your body is not making the most of the food you eat you’re bound to be a bit sluggish and underpowered. As this type of liver-induced sluggishness can come on slowly you may not even be aware of what’s happening. Cleansing your liver of metabolic toxins will enable it to resume its central digestive role. It is also likely to provide you with an unexpected but welcome energy boost.
- Helps prevent bile duct stones – Sometimes called ‘liver stones’ bile duct stones (12) most often originate in the gall bladder. But they can occur anywhere in the biliary tract where bile is present, including the liver. Once they appear they can impede proper liver function and lead to all manner of complications. Symptoms of liver stones include dark urine, night sweats, nausea, fever, jaundice and more. By cleansing the liver you can reduce your chance of developing bile duct stones.
- Increased vitality – Cleansing your liver will likely result in an enhanced sense of overall wellbeing and increased vitality. You may well experience a clearer mind and many people report their entire attitude tends to get a bump.
What is Milk Thistle?
The ingredient you hear about most often when it comes to the liver cleanse is milk thistle. But exactly what is milk thistle? What makes it such an important ingredient? And does it provide any other benefits?
Milk thistle is renowned for its ability to help support healthy liver function. Many who suffer from liver disease or who have damaged their liver by way of drug or alcohol abuse take milk thistle to provide protection against metabolic toxins. Milk thistle is believed to reduce liver damage and alleviate liver inflammation in some cases (13). This aids in the restoration of proper liver function. Or at least better liver function in those with liver diseases like hepatitis.
One study in fact determined that, due to its powerful antioxidant (14) properties, milk thistle may actually extend the life of those with alcohol-induced cirrhosis (15). Although for just how long is open to debate. For these reasons and more milk thistle is often the main ingredient in most commercially available liver cleanse products.
Milk thistle is also known to provide other benefits, independent of its liver enhancing abilities. These include:
- Enhanced kidney health – Milk thistle is believed to be useful in maintaining kidney health. This is thought to be largely due to its antioxidant properties, which help to greatly reduce damaging oxidative stress caused by free radicals (16).
- Cardiovascular health – It is believed that milk thistle can elevate levels of HDL or ‘good’ cholesterol in the blood. It may also play a role in reducing high blood pressure. Though more research is needed to confirm that claim.
- More stable blood sugars – Studies suggest milk thistle may also have a role to play in stabilizing blood sugars in people with diabetes (17). It is thought certain compounds found in milk thistle have the ability to mimic the behavior of some diabetes medications. In the process they may enhance insulin sensitivity.
- Greater cognitive health – Brain research is one of the most active of the life sciences today. Scientists the world over are searching for solutions to vexing issues associated with aging and the brain. This research has taken on extra urgency as populations age and the numbers of people with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other degenerative brain diseases increase. Preliminary animal testing seems to indicate that silymarin (the active chemical compound found in milk thistle) may suppress certain compounds known to undermine brain function (18).
Are There Any Side Effects to a Liver Cleanse?
This is one of the most common questions associated with the liver cleanse. And considering how important the liver is to the proper functioning of the human body it’s no wonder. People want to be sure they’re not causing any problems with their liver by trying to detoxify it.
The fact is, most people who take liver cleanse supplements experience no significant side effects. But that’s not necessarily everyone’s experience. So, in the spirit of full disclosure these are the most commonly reported side effects of a liver cleanse.
- Headaches – Some people who take liver cleanse supplements have reported experiencing headaches. On the rare occasions this does happen it is usually in people who have been taking liver cleanse products for some time. To alleviate this side effect it is suggested you ease your way into taking these supplements. And at the same time gradually reduce your intake of sugar and processed foods. Excessive caffeine intake is also discouraged. Also, drink plenty of water when taking these supplements. And perhaps most importantly, remember these are not like multivitamins. They’re not intended to be taken every day for the rest of your life. It’s usually recommended that you take them for no longer than a week or two at a time.
- Nausea – Some people have also reported feeling nauseous when taking liver cleanse supplements. It is difficult to pin down exactly why this may be but some doctors believe it to be caused by the consumption of something your body isn’t used to. Namely, milk thistle. It is thought that drinking plenty of water when taking liver cleanse supplements can fend off this problem. Or at least, reduce the severity of the nauseous feelings.
- Fatigue – Typically during a liver cleanse it is advised that you shy away from unhealthy foods in order to give the supplement the best chance to work. If, however, your normal diet is less than ideal, changing to healthy foods for a time can actually make you feel sluggish. That’s because your body takes time to adapt to any change. Even change for the better. Rather than suddenly going on a crash diet to accompany your liver cleanse, switch to eating foods known to boost energy levels (19).
The Bottom Line
No one should consume any supplements that might affect their liver without first knowing the proper way to take them. Above, we’ve laid out the many benefits of the liver cleanse as well as some known, if rare, side effects. Perhaps the biggest danger when undertaking a liver cleanse is the tendency to overdo it.
We mentioned this above but we’ll state it again for the purpose of clarity: a liver cleanse supplement is not to be taken every day indefinitely, like a multivitamin. With a few exceptions they are designed to work over the course of 7 to 14 days. So be smart, eat healthy, drink plenty of water and enjoy the benefits of your liver cleanse.