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Side effects of liver detox

Wellness gurus often toss around the idea that the liver needs detoxing, and a clean liver sounds like a good thing. After all, the liver is the body’s largest solid organ and a serious multitasker. As Columbia University Irving Medical Center indicates, it is involved in hundreds of essential functions, including regulating blood clotting, maintaining blood sugar levels, aiding digestion, and cleansing the blood of troublesome toxins.

liver detox

However, doctors urge anyone considering helping this hardworking organ with a detox to beware. Many popular liver detox practices, even the ones that promise that they are backed by science, can have serious side effects.

Learning a Little About Your Liver

Before you explore the pros and cons of liver detoxes, it helps to know a bit about your liver. For starters, the liver is a cleaning expert, according to UW Medicine. It does not just clean the blood; it also cleans itself.

Exploring the Promises of Liver Detoxes

Liver detox products and practices vary slightly. However, proponents of liver detoxes tend to advertise the same types of benefits. They suggest that their products or methods will help you be healthier by supporting your liver’s efforts to clear away toxins, especially if you’ve overdone it with alcohol, food, or other indulgences. Many hint that the products can also help you heal or safeguard your health. The idea that you might lose weight is also common.

Discovering Common Types of Liver Detoxes

What is involved in a liver detox? According to Medical News Today, most popular liver detoxes ask participants to do one or more of the following things:

  • Use enemas to clean out the colon and gut.
  • Follow a restricted diet that contains “liver-friendly” foods.
  • Complete a juice fast.
  • Take supplements.

Discussing a Medical Professional’s Perspective on Liver Detoxes

Dr. Paul Kwo tells WebMD that people often feel safe trying a liver detox without mentioning it to their doctors because the products are marketed as natural. They mistakenly assume that natural equals safe. “As I tell every patient in clinic, a great white shark is natural, a scorpion is natural, and so is a hurricane,” says Kwo. “So just because they’re natural doesn’t mean they’re safe.”

Doctors say that anyone considering trying a liver detox should speak with their provider first. After all, everyone’s health situation is unique. You can make a better decision when you know what the potential risks and benefits are for your situation.

Evaluating the Potential Side Effects of Liver Detoxes

Being aware of the potential side effects of liver detoxes can help you evaluate these practices. The possibilities vary depending on what type of detox you choose.

Enemas

Enemas are used to prepare for surgery and various medical procedures. They can also deliver medicine and treat constipation. However, there’s no evidence that they are useful in cleansing the body of toxins, and the procedure is not without risks. As Cleveland Clinic explains, risks include pain, infection, colon punctures, rectal tears, and electrolyte imbalances.

Restrictive Diet

With any restrictive diet, there is a chance that you will miss out on necessary nutrients, according to Medical News Today. The danger increases when someone is limiting their diet without input from a nutritionist.

Juice Fasting

As WebMD indicates, not all products sold for liver detox juice fasts are safe. Unpasteurized juices can endanger your health, and extended use can lead to issues with malnutrition. For some, fasting may cause problems like weakness, dehydration, and headaches.

Supplements

Amazon’s 10 top-selling liver supplements bring in roughly $2.5 million each month, according to WebMD. Not one contains ingredients that liver specialists in the U.S. or Europe recommend. The supplements, like all supplements, are also unregulated. This means buyers have no way to be truly sure that they’re getting what they think they are.

Some supplements could offer the right candidates a potential benefit if they are taken in the proper amount. Which ones? Forbes reports these ingredients might support liver health:

  • Milk thistle: Silymarin, the active compound in milk thistle, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. A review indicated that patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease treated with it had improved liver enzyme levels.
  • N-acetylcysteine: NAC has been studied as a treatment for liver toxicity. A 2022 study demonstrated that it may reduce damage and improve survival rates after an acetaminophen overdose.
  • Turmeric: This bright orange spice is often touted for its anti-inflammatory powers. Research suggests the liver may benefit from reduced inflammation and oxidative stress. Another review showed that patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease had better enzyme levels after being treated with the substance.
  • Vitamin E: While a high dose is known to be risky, research suggests vitamin E might improve liver function.
Detox Liver

Reviewing Who Needs to Pay Special Attention

It’s always wise to approach liver detox products and practices with caution. However, certain people should pay special attention. If you already have liver or kidney disease, it is especially important that you speak with your doctor first. These conditions can impact the way your body processes medications, including herbs and supplements. People with diabetes or other metabolic conditions should also speak with their doctors before altering their diets.

Determining Alternate Ways to Keep Your Liver Healthy

If you want to support your liver’s ability to clean itself, there are alternatives to a liver detox. As Johns Hopkins Medicine explains, there are several ways to help keep your liver healthy:

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Do not consume excess alcohol.
  • Avoid risky behaviors like unprotected sex or illicit drug use.
  • Talk with your doctor about your risk factors and screening for liver disease.

The liver is a vital organ, so taking care of it is crucial. While over-the-counter liver detox products may seem like a way to do that, the chance for harm is very real. If you have concerns about your liver health, talking with a medical professional is vital. At Long Island Interventions, we know that getting healthy is a journey, and we’re ready to help you with the steps that you need to take. Reach out to us for assistance today.

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