“Natural forces within us are the true healers of disease.”
Your body is a marvelous framework of interwoven processes. You are, in fact, a system of systems! For the most part, thousands and thousands of these processes happen every day without an issue. You aren’t even aware of a fraction of everything that happens in your body moment to moment. You eat, think, and move without being aware of everything it took for your body to do it.
But that doesn’t mean that your body couldn’t use a little help. It is happy to serve you day in and day out. But giving some extra attention to your detox organs can help all these interwoven processes run smoothly. After all, you only have this one body. You can't trade it in like a car.
True detox leads to true health. As Hippocrates said, the natural forces inside of us are what truly do the healing. Yet what happens when the organs for detox — the liver and kidneys — aren’t working well? All other processes will suffer. These organs need to be kept in top shape!
This leaves us wondering, how do I cleanse my liver and kidneys? How can I detox these organs at home? Fortunately, nature has provided us with some fantastic herbs to optimize their ability to function.
But first — what exactly do the liver and kidneys do? It's essential to understand how hard they work and how vital they are.
What Do The Kidneys Do?
Well-functioning kidneys are vital to excellent health. They eliminate water-soluble wastes and help to balance your electrolytes. They help to maintain the pH of your body. The kidneys help to regulate your hormones and blood pressure and get involved in making your red blood cells. These organs express over 1,548 of your genes. They filter 120 to 150 quarts of blood per day. Then, wastes and toxins get removed through urine to protect you. You simply cannot live without healthy kidneys. (1)
Fun fact: The right kidney is usually lower and slightly smaller than the left because of the liver's placement.
What Does The Liver Do?
The liver is involved in hormones, digestion, and detox. It takes harmful substances (non-soluble) found in your blood and deposits them into bile. Then the bile is released for digestion, and the harmful toxins get swept out with your stools.
It’s also involved in breaking down old red blood cells. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Science has discovered that this amazing organ is involved in over 500 critical functions. Specific genes are expressed solely in the liver and not in any other organs. (2, 3)
Fun fact: The liver is the only major organ that can regenerate. In fact, over two-thirds of a healthy liver can be removed and it will regenerate! (4)
As astonishing as these organs are, they still need help to function at their highest capacity. Toxins you are exposed to daily (whether by choice or chance) make these organs sluggish in their tasks. You need to make sure they are draining correctly.
Let’s explore the herbs that help your liver and kidneys detox:
1. Milk Thistle
This herb has been used in medicine for thousands of years. Records show first-century Romans used it for liver health. The active ingredient in milk thistle that helps your kidneys and liver is called silymarin.
What Does Milk Thistle Do For The Kidneys?
Silymarin can help kidney tissue recuperate faster when it’s been exposed to damaging chemicals.
Milk thistle also has flavonoids, is full of antioxidants, and can help you produce more of your own antioxidants. Milk thistle helps to increase the expression of genes involved in generating three of your body's powerful antioxidants in the kidneys: (5)
- Superoxide dismutase
Milk thistle also reduces inflammation in your kidneys and may even help protect you from kidney cancer. The active ingredient in milk thistle has been shown to down-regulate cancer-causing genes so that cancer cells don’t multiply effectively. (6)
What Does Milk Thistle Do For the Liver?
Milk thistle is one of the best herbs for liver detox because it has such a powerful influence on liver function. It helps to:
- Reduce inflammation
- Stabilize membranes in the liver
- Increase glutathione production
- Boost superoxide dismutase
- Decrease liver tumor cell division
It also will help to protect your liver from the damage created as it detoxifies toxic substances. Milk thistle even increases the survival time of people with alcohol-related liver cirrhosis! (7)
Milk thistle has very similar effects on your two detox organs. It’s a top pick for natural kidney and liver detox.
2. Marshmallow Root
Marshmallow comes from a Greek word meaning “to heal.” It creates mucilage when ingested and has traditionally been used to treat sore throats. It is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal. Fortunately, this herb does helpful things for your kidneys and liver. (8)
What Does Marshmallow Root Do For The Kidneys?
One concern that many people have is the potential for developing kidney stones. So, how do you flush your kidneys to help prevent them? By taking herbs that have a diuretic effect. Diuretics can increase the amount of urine you produce and simultaneously flush out debris from the kidneys. Marshmallow root can act as a diuretic to help you do a natural kidney cleanse. (9)
What Does Marshmallow Root Do For The Liver?
Marshmallow root has polysaccharides that help with wound healing because of their high antioxidant capacity. Your liver bile ducts can become damaged over time. Marshmallow root acts to soothe this damage. In fact, it stimulates the production of epithelial cells. These are the cells that line the inside of your organs and ducts. Having a strong, healthy bile duct can better help your liver detox. (10, 11)
One additional benefit from marshmallow is its ability to bind to heavy metals. Binding heavy metals and ushering them out of your body before they can create damage is another reason to love this root for liver and kidney detox. (12)
This green herb is much more than a garnish on your plate at a restaurant! It is full of flavonoids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Parsley has some powerful kidney health and liver detox properties you can take advantage of.
What Does Parsley Do For The Kidneys?
Parsley is another fantastic herb to help prevent kidney stones because it has diuretic action. When studied against other substances, parsley reduced stones the most. The size and number of stones significantly went down, and the kidney tissue was healthier as well. Parsley is a potent natural kidney cleanse herb. (13)
What Does Parsley Do For The Liver?
Parsley is considered a “bitter” herb. Bitter herbs can help stimulate your release of bile, helping the liver detox. Parsley also helps to produce glutathione, which helps protect your liver from damage. (14)
Parsley can also lower your high blood glucose levels, which can inflame the liver when they are too high. It can help protect your liver by reducing inflammatory liver enzymes. (15)
Similarly to marshmallow, parsley can help to bind onto and remove heavy metals from your body. (16)
Parsley’s diuretic and protective roles make it an especially useful kidney detox herb that also has benefits for your liver!
This herb has been used for thousands of years. It’s been nicknamed “poor man’s ginseng” since one of its chemical constituents is the same as Korean ginseng. It’s beneficial for the immune system and supports energy levels. It can also improve your liver and kidney detox process.
What Does Gynostemma Do For The Kidneys?
When your organs get injured from exposure to toxins, a process called fibrosis can occur. In fibrosis, cells create scar tissue instead of healthy tissue. Scar tissue doesn’t function like healthy tissue and inhibits the kidney's ability to detox optimally. High levels of fibrosis can lead to chronic kidney disease or the loss of kidney function altogether. Gynostemma can influence the genes in your kidneys to help produce healthy, well-functioning tissue and reduce fibrosis. (17)
What Does Gynostemma Do For The Liver?
Gynostemma has the same fibrosis reducing effects in the liver as it does on the kidneys. Scar tissue ends up being thick and unyielding, preventing your liver from performing well. One study showed that liver tissues thin out, and severe liver fibrosis might be reduced by 33% in as little as eight weeks! Healthy tissue will help your liver detox at its best capacity. (18)
It also influences the genes involved in liver cancer cell growth and has been shown to inhibit cancer cell multiplication, which would help protect you from liver cancer. (19)
Gynostemma is a potent anti-inflammatory for the intestines as well. The intestines are the next step in your liver detox. The liver dumps toxins into this part of your drainage system to be taken from the body. Gynostemma does triple duty by helping your kidneys, liver, and intestines. This makes it a favorite to enhance your natural detox. (20)
Beetroot is so much more than the vegetable you didn’t like as a kid. They’ve been eaten for thousands of years because of their health benefits. Beets were found in Egyptian pyramids dating back to the Third Dynasty. Even without knowing it, by consuming beets, they were helping their liver and kidneys detox.
What Does Beetroot Do For The Kidneys?
Beetroot can enhance your production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide dilates blood vessels, which increases blood flow. This additional blood flow can help your kidneys work better than when blood flow is restricted. (21)
The bright red pigment of beetroot is called betanin. It can help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. It may also help protect your kidneys from damage. (22)
Beetroot can also help protect your kidneys from being injured from antibiotics, which can sometimes cause the failure of these essential organs. It helps to increase catalase, your body's natural in-house antioxidant, which is crucial for effective kidney function and detox. Beetroot helps you to downregulate pro-inflammatory substances in the kidneys as well. (23)
What Does Beetroot Do For The Liver?
Your liver is the organ that protects you from foreign substances called xenobiotics. Xenobiotics include items you probably get exposed to daily, like pesticides, pollution, and food additives.
Many of these are carcinogenic (cancer-causing), so your liver takes action to deal with them immediately. However, xenobiotics can still damage the liver as it works to neutralize them. Beetroot helps to increase your body's natural antioxidants to protect the liver from damage. Injury to your body's DNA can also be reduced. (24)
The process of getting rid of these foreign substances is called phase II metabolism. The red pigment betanin helps quell the free radicals that are a byproduct of this detox pathway. It also makes this pathway more efficient. (25)
Beetroot is another herb that influences your genes. It can help downregulate the genes associated with liver cancer. (26)
Beetroot’s protective pigment and gene influencing properties make it high on the list of natural liver and kidney detox herbs.
Ginger is the most widely used spice in the world. This pungent herb is often used for nausea, but it also helps your liver and kidneys detox.
What Does Ginger Do For The Kidneys?
Ginger can have a powerful effect on your kidney detox capabilities!
It’s been shown to: (27)
- Increase the body’s natural antioxidants
- Lower inflammation
- Help remove toxins from the organs
- Reduce fibrosis
- Help create healthier tissue
This simple root herb is a powerhouse for boosting kidney function and detox.
What Does Ginger Do For The Liver?
Ginger does not disappoint when it comes to liver detox, either.
Researchers aren't sure how ginger does it, but it can influence the genes involved with producing fat in the liver. It helps to prevent lipid storage, which can help protect you from fatty liver disease. When fat accumulates in the liver, it's prevented it from doing its 500 tasks properly. Fat accumulation leads to fibrosis, which decreases the blood flow to the organ and significantly reduces detox. (28)
Ginger reduces inflammation, and once again, helps you produce your own antioxidants.
Another benefit that goes for both your liver and kidneys is protection from heavy metals. Cadmium can change gene expression and upregulate cancer genes. Ginger reverses this and helps protect you from heavy metals. (29)
Ginger is a simple and powerful addition to your detox protocol.
Nature Enhancing Nature
We’ve gone over six herbs that boost kidney and liver function:
- Milk thistle
- Marshmallow root
They all have similar effects. They are anti-inflammatory and change the gene expression in the kidneys and liver for the better.
But are the herbs doing the healing for you?
No, it’s you!
You have incredible detox and protective measures in place within every organ system.
There is a caveat, though.
These fantastic systems can become overwhelmed when you are exposed to too many toxins. They are hindered in performing their essential jobs. They also decrease in efficiency as you age.
Which herbs do you think would help you with kidney and liver detox the most?
Consider a blend that contains a few of these herbs to maximize your protection and detox potential.
Helping to restore your optimum kidney and liver detox pathways can help protect you from a host of health challenges and will also help you live your best, healthiest life now.