Liver Flush Tea
I've had liver flush tea available as one of my foundational Baseline of Health® formulas for almost 20 years now, ever since I was introduced to the work of Dr. John Christopher and spent some time lecturing with Dr. Richard Schulze. And in fact, the formula I use is much the same formula I learned from Richard--with the extremely important addition of Erva tostão.
Nevertheless, despite it being a core Baseline of Health product, it turns out I never put together a detailed write up on the liver flush tea to clarify exactly what's in it, why those ingredients are included, and what the formula does as a whole. In this newsletter we rectify that omission.
Liver Flush Tea Formula
Dandelion Root (Taraxacum)
Dandelion root is a bitter herb that is highly effective as a blood cleanser that strains and filters toxins from the blood and has beneficial effects on both red blood cell count and hemoglobin count.1 Dandelion root is also a superb diuretic2 that improves the function of the pancreas, spleen, stomach, and kidneys without depleting potassium from the body.
But primarily, dandelion root is one of the great liver flush herbs. It is the best lipotropic known, flushing excess fat from the liver, thereby helping to relieve chronic liver congestion. In addition, it increases the production of bile. And studies have proven that it actually has "liver healing" properties.3,4
Burdock Root (Arctium)
Probably the most famous detoxifying agent in the herbal arsenal, burdock root cleanses the blood by increasing the effectiveness of all of the body's elimination systems. In addition, its diuretic effect helps the kidneys filter the blood. Burdock root helps push toxins out, and it also boosts the ability of the liver to purge toxins from its own tissue, thereby protecting the liver from damage by toxic metabolites.5 And burdock root contains inulin, a powerful immune modulator.6
The bottom line is that by addressing toxins through a variety of pathways, burdock root acts as a blood purifier with minimal side effects and with minimal stress to the body.7
Cinnamon Bark (Cinnamomum)
Cinnamon contains compounds called catechins which help ease nausea and make cinnamon beneficial when doing a liver detox. In addition, the plant's essential oil has been found to stimulate movement in the gastrointestinal tract--useful when trying to move waste along while detoxing. And cinnamon's pleasing scent stimulates saliva production, which aids in digestion.
In addition, cinnamon extracts have been used medically to treat gastrointestinal problems and to help calm the stomach. In herbal literature, cinnamon is listed as a carminative, an agent that helps break up intestinal gas, and it has traditionally been used to combat diarrhea and morning sickness. Both test-tube and some animal studies have found that cinnamon may help to relieve mild abdominal discomfort caused by excess gas.
And finally, studies have shown that cinnamon can help regulate blood sugar levels for people with type 2 diabetes, which can be helpful when incorporating fresh juices as part of your detox.8
Cardamom Seed (Elettaria cardamomum)
Famous for its expectorant action, cardamom seed is also used to address various types of cough, conditions involving respiratory allergies, phlegmatic conditions, and sore throats. Cardamom is also used to control various digestive problems like excessive thirst, nausea, vomiting, indigestion, and flatulence.9
And one of its most important uses is as a liver cleanser. Cardamom improves the flow of bile from the liver and gallbladder, and as a side benefit, it keeps viruses from multiplying.10
Licorice Root (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Licorice root stimulates the production of digestive fluids and bile, soothes ulcers, helps reduce intestinal inflammation, and supports the healthy function of the kidneys, liver, and bladder. Among other things, it helps regulate fat metabolism in the liver.11 Also, licorice increases glucose tolerance and SOD activities in the liver, kidney, and pancreas, while at the same time decreasing fasting blood glucose levels and malondialdehyde content in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. (Note: high levels of malondialdehyde are associated with liver damage.12) These results demonstrate that components in licorice possess glycemic moderating effects.13
Its action in soothing ulcers is unique. Rather than inhibiting the release of acid, licorice stimulates the normal defense mechanisms that ward off ulcer formation. Specifically, licorice improves both the quality and quantity of the protective substances that line the intestinal tract. It also increases the life span of the intestinal cell and improves the blood supply to the intestinal lining. It also seems to have the ability to inhibit the protein synthesis of the H. pylori bacteria associated with the development of ulcers.14
And finally, licorice Root has been shown to lessen symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. By enhancing cortisol activity, glycyrrhizin (a key biochemical in licorice) helps to increase energy, ease stress, and reduce the symptoms of ailments sensitive to cortisol levels, such as chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. In the 1800s, licorice extract was a common remedy for a type of persistent fatigue known as neurasthenia, the condition now known as chronic fatigue syndrome.15
Fennel Seed (Foeniculum vulgare)
Fennel is a carminative herb that again helps reduce colic, gas, indigestion, digestive disorders, nausea, and flatulence.16 This makes it a necessity in both colon and liver detox products. It also can help break up kidney stones and uric acid in any tissue and is therefore used in dealing with gout. Studies have shown that fennel can actually improve kidney function.17
Fennel will help assist in the removal of mucus and phlegm from the lungs18 and help rid the intestinal tract of mucus--both useful benefits when detoxing. Its natural colon cleansing properties also have a cleansing effect on the gallbladder and liver.
Uva Ursi Leaf (Arctosyaphylos uva ursi)
The chief constituent of Uva ursi is a glycoside called arbutin. This is what is responsible for its diuretic action. During its excretion, arbutin produces an antiseptic effect on the urinary mucous membrane and can therefore help eliminate urinary tract infections.19,20 This herb also helps to keep the pH balance of urine from being too acid. It actually strengthens the lining of the urinary tract and helps to relieve any inflammation in the system. And it has a direct sedative effect on the bladder walls. Allantoin, also found in Uva ursi spurs the healing of wounds. For chronic inflammation of the bladder or kidneys, Uva ursi has no equal. Two studies report that urine from individuals given Uva ursi is active against the most commonly involved bacteria in bladder and urinary tract infections.21
And Uva ursi proved effective in a double blind study of 57 women with recurrent cystitis. After one year, the placebo group had a 20% incidence of recurring cystitis, whereas the Uva ursi group had no recurring infections.22
Juniper Berries (Juniperus communis)
Juniper berries are a prime herb for eliminating congestion of the kidneys and for removing waste products from the system via the kidneys.23,24,25 They are, therefore, an important component of any detox regimen.
Juniper berries are used to treat infections, especially within the urinary tract, bladder, kidneys, and prostate. Their antiseptic properties help remove waste and acidic toxins from the body, stimulating a fighting action against bacterial and yeast infections.26 Juniper berries also help increase the flow of digestive fluids, improving digestion, and eliminating gas and stomach cramping. As a diuretic, juniper berries eliminate excess water retention, thereby contributing to weight loss. Juniper berries' anti-inflammatory properties are ideal for relieving pain and inflammation related to rheumatism and arthritis. In addition, juniper berries are beneficial in reducing congestion, as well as treating asthma and colds. Juniper berries make an excellent antiseptic in conditions such as cystitis. But the essential oil present in this herb is quite stimulating to the kidney nephrons. Some texts warn that juniper oil may be a kidney irritant at higher doses, but there is no real evidence that this is the case, and the dosage in this formula is quite low. Nonetheless, people with serious kidney disease probably shouldn't take juniper.
Contemporary herbalists primarily use juniper as a diuretic ("water pill") component of herbal formulas designed to treat bladder infections. The volatile oils of juniper reportedly increase the rate of kidney filtration, thereby increasing urine flow and perhaps helping to "wash out" offending bacteria. The volatile oils, particularly terpinen-4-ol, may cause an increase in urine volume. According to some sources, juniper increases urine volume without a loss of electrolytes such as potassium. It is recommended by the German Commission E for kidney ailments.
Ginger Root (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger has a long history of use in herbal medicine. In other newsletters, we have talked extensively about its effectiveness as a strong natural COX-2 inhibitor, thus functioning as an anti-inflammatory. This can be important when detoxing, as inflammation can sometimes become a problem as a result of a cleansing reaction.
And maybe most importantly when detoxing, ginger root helps control temporary nausea,27 which makes it useful in morning sickness during pregnancy, as well as in intestinal activating and detoxing formulas…and in liver cleansing programs. And in fact, it was once used by sailors as an anti-seasickness tonic.
Clove Buds (Syzygium aromaticum, aka Eugenia caryophyllata)
The active ingredient in cloves is eugenol, a strong natural antipathogen. In fact, because of this capability, clove has been used historically as a food preservative. And in the same way clove keeps food fresh by ridding it of microorganisms, it also helps aid with upset stomach and diarrhea.
One other important note on clove is that it is one of the few things known to actually wipe out most parasite eggs. In fact, studies have shown that clove kills many intestinal parasites and exhibits broad anti-microbial properties against fungi & bacteria, thus supporting its traditional use as a treatment for diarrhea, intestinal worms, and other digestive ailments.28,29
Black Peppercorns (Piper nigrum)
Black peppercorns are whole immature berries that are harvested while still green and dried in the sun until they turn black. The berries contain a white inner kernel--the hottest part of the berry, which is quite fiery when used on its own--and a black outer husk, which has all the aromatic fragrance that enhances the flavor of food. The use of black pepper, or piper nigrum, goes back 4,000 years in the East. The Chinese used pepper to address malaria, cholera, dysentery, diarrhea, and stomach complaints.30
And, like cayenne, Piper nigrum serves to drive other herbs into the blood, thereby making them more effective. In fact, this property of black pepper was exploited in the development of BioPerine®, a proprietary black pepper extract that is used to enhance the absorption of nutraceuticals.31
Horsetail Herb (Equisetum arvense)
Horsetail has not been extensively studied in people by researchers, but professional herbalists recognize that its diuretic properties promote the flow of urine,32,33 which may be useful for the following health problems:
- Urinary tract conditions.
- Kidney stones.
Horsetail has been shown to possess hemolytic (blood clotting) and antibiotic activity, properties that contribute to the healing process. Horsetail also supplies calcium to the body and is rich in several other minerals that the body uses to rebuild injured tissue. And studies have shown that horsetail directly stimulates the production of bone cells, which leads to the increased formation of bone tissue in the body.34
In addition, horsetail's high silica content helps reduce the risk of excessive bleeding and contributes to the building of healthy blood cells. Research has shown that horsetail increases the number of phagocytes that get rid of microorganisms and other foreign substances, which improves the functioning of the entire immune system. And it can inhibit the growth of toxic molds.35
Erva Tostão (Boerhaavia diffusa)
The roots of Erva tostão have held an important place in herbal medicine in both Brazil and India for many years. G. L. Cruz, one of Brazil's leading medical herbalists, reports that Erva tostão is "a plant medicine of great importance, extraordinarily beneficial in the treatment of liver disorders."36,37,38 It is employed in Brazilian herbal medicine both as a cholagogue to promote the flow of bile and as a diuretic. It is used for all types of liver disorders (including: jaundice, hepatitis, cirrhosis, anemia, flukes, detoxification, and chemical injury), gallbladder aches and stones, urinary tract disorders, cystitis, kidney disorders including stones, and nephritis. Erva tostão is called punarnava in India, where it has a long history of use by indigenous and tribal people and in Ayurvedic herbal medicine systems. There, the roots are employed as a diuretic, stomachic, laxative, and emmenagogue to increase menstrual flow. It is also used to address gonorrhea, internal inflammation of all kinds, dropsy, jaundice, menstrual problems, anemia, and liver, gallbladder, and kidney disorders.
And more recent studies have shown that it may even be effective in inhibiting the growth of cancer cells.39
Parsley Root (Petroselinum crispum)
It is traditionally used as an expectorant and therapy for bronchial cough, as well as addressing bone and joint complaints. When detoxing, studies have shown that parsley root is both liver protective and helps modulate blood sugar levels.40
It restores digestion, supports the liver, kidneys, spleen, and adrenal glands; purifies blood and body fluids, helps the body's defensive mechanisms, and chokes negative microorganisms. It is also great for immune system support.41
An important diuretic, parsley root helps aid in the removal of uric acid from the urinary tract and helps dissolve and expel gallstones and gravel -- and put a stop to their future formation. It also inhibits the secretion of histamine and is therefore useful in addressing hives and reducing other allergy symptoms. A decoction of parsley root can help with bloating and reduce weight by eliminating excess water gain. Note: the German Commission E, an advisory panel on herbal medicines, has approved parsley for use in the prevention and treatment of kidney stones.
Fenugreek Seed (Trigonella foenum-graecum)
Historically, fenugreek has been used to treat both respiratory and stomach ailments. Specifically it is used for allergies, bronchitis, high cholesterol levels, diabetes, digestive ailments, emphysema, intestinal gas, gastrointestinal spasms, headaches, lung ailments, mucous congestion, and skin eruptions--all of which can be problems when detoxing.
Fenugreek also decreases the glycemic incidence of food. In studies, the unique galactomannan ratio of galactose and mannose in fenugreek significantly reduces not only blood sugar levels,42 but also reduced the urinary sugar levels of participants by as much as 54%.43 And fenugreek seed decreases insulin response to food and helps maintain normal serum glucose levels by slowing down the absorption rate of carbohydrates, thereby lowering the insulin requirement, which can be useful when fasting on fresh juices.
Finally, fenugreek seed has been shown to inhibit the absorption of fats. In fact, it is the steroidal saponins in fenugreek that account for many of its beneficial effects, particularly the inhibition of cholesterol absorption and synthesis.
Conclusion -- When and How to Use Liver Flush Tea
Although generally promoted as a tea to be used as part of a liver flush protocol, it also stands on its own and can be used independently of a formal liver detox. The tea provides numerous benefits.
- It helps cleanse the liver of fats and cholesterol.
- It protects the liver from various toxic substances and pathogens.
- It likewise purifies and protects the kidneys and urinary tract and works as a mild diuretic.
- It helps cleanse the blood.
- It is a carminative, which means it is soothing to the digestive tract--helping to overcome flatulence, bloating, and feelings of nausea.
- And it is a digestive stimulant.
Using the Liver Flush Tea
Add 1-2 tbsp of tea per 20 ounces of pure water. Let the tea sit in the water overnight. In the morning, bring to a boil and then quickly reduce the heat to a low simmer for 20 minutes. Throughout the day, you can dip into the tea with a ladle and pour it into a cup through a strainer. At the end of the day, you can either empty out the pot and start fresh or top off the pot at 20 oz with fresh water and add another tbsp of tea. Two days is probably as long as you want to go using the same tea before starting afresh. After two days, the taste can get pretty overpowering.
When freshly brewed, because of the aromatic herbs in it, the tea has kind of a Christmassy smell. As for the taste, it's not bad at all--nothing like what you'd expect from a detox tea. Add a little honey or maple syrup, and it's actually quite pleasant.
For use as part of a formal liver flush to help the detox process and ease nausea, consume two cups of the tea after the morning flush and a total of 5-8 cups throughout the day.
For those who don't want to do the full liver flush, there is a slow and easy version that will give you 70 to 80 percent of the benefit without the difficulty. As part of your daily diet, just add one cup of raw, freshly grated beets mixed with enough olive oil and lemon juice to serve as a dressing. Do this for thirty days straight. Try to minimize consumption of fats throughout the rest of the day beyond the use of the olive oil in the beet salad. Daily use of the liver flush tea is also required. Using one bottle of a liver tincture during the 30 days is recommended, as is using one bottle of a blood support formula.
And finally, the tea is mild enough that you can use 1-2 cups a day as a healthy, alternative, everyday beverage--particularly during the winter season--to replace coffee or black tea. It's good for your liver, good for your kidneys, and good for your digestion.
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