Does Your Liver Really Need Cleansing? Signs That Something Is Wrong With Your Liver, And How You Can Protect It
The liver is a vital organ that sits on your right side, just below the ribcage, and does several important jobs in your body. One of this organ’s main functions is getting rid of toxic substances.
The liver is incredibly resilient, and it can handle a lot of damage before it starts to give out. So what is the right way to take care of it?
Vasilyeva Larisa / Shutterstock.com
Common liver problems and how your liver shows that something is wrong
Liver disease is a general term, used to describe various issues with the organ. Two most common causes of liver disease are alcoholism (alcoholic liver disease) and poor diet, high in fat (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease). Other common liver problems include the following:
- Viral hepatitis (inflammation of the liver).
- Autoimmune hepatitis.
- Genetic disorders, such as hemochromatosis and Wilson’s disease.
It’s possible to have liver disease without knowing it, as its signs and symptoms usually appear when the liver is already badly damaged. According to the Mayo Clinic, some of these signs and symptoms include the following:
- Abdominal pain and swelling.
- Yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes.
- Dark urine.
- Pale, tar-colored, or bloody stools.
- Itchy skin.
- Persistent fatigue.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Poor appetite.
- Easy bruising.
If left untreated, chronic liver disease ends in liver failure, which is life-threatening. Fortunately, you can take steps to protect your liver, and even reverse some of the damage that is already done.
OBprod / Shutterstock.com
Is liver detox an effective way to protect your liver?
You may have heard about liver detox, or liver cleanse, which are becoming increasingly popular. These cleanses may involve eating specific foods, avoiding certain foods, enemas, juicing, and taking herbal supplements. But does your liver actually need detoxification? And can these cleanses harm your liver?
Natali_ Mis / Shutterstock.com
According to Johns Hopkins hepatologists, your liver doesn’t need cleansing. If the liver is already seriously damaged, no natural cleanse can undo the harm. Although some supplements, such as milk thistle, have the potential to help your liver, their effects and possible risks haven’t been studied enough.
Actually, liver cleanses may even aggravate the damage, especially if they are substitute to conventional treatments. What you really need to protect your liver is a healthy diet. And healthy lifestyle habits.
If you want to try a liver cleanse anyway, check with your doctor (an actual M.D.) to make sure the chosen method is safe.
Stock-Asso / Shutterstock.com
Tried-and-true ways to protect your liver
To keep your liver functioning, and to prevent liver disease, the following can help:
- Avoid alcohol.
- Maintain a healthy weight by exercising regularly and sticking to a balanced diet.
- Get vaccinated against hepatitis, especially if you are at a high risk of contracting the virus.
- Avoid behaviors that can increase your risk of exposure to hepatitis viruses (these include using illicit injectable drugs, having unprotected sex, and getting tattoos and piercings at unreliable parlors).
- Take any medicines and supplements strictly in recommended doses, and follow other label instructions.
- When using toxic chemicals, such as insecticides, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to minimize your exposure.
Syda Productions / Shutterstock.com
These don’t even sound like too much effort. Keep your liver healthy!
This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for any harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.