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Cleansing Herbs

October 26, 2016


Steven Rosenblatt, MD, PhD

Giving our bodies an occasional cleanse is very beneficial. In the human body, the liver, blood, and colon are key areas that tend to accumulate “stuff” that interferes with their function, and the degree of clutter in each area varies from one individual to the other.

For the Liver: Milk Thistle

Milk thistle is a great remedy for liver, kidney, and gallbladder issues. The main active ingredient is silymarin found in the seeds. Studies show that silymarin extracts protect liver cells against destruction by toxins, and also help repair damage. Silmaryin is also an antioxidant and reduces inflammation.

Oregan grape supports the action of milk thistle and purifies the blood. These herbs are typically used short-term for cleansing, but longer term for anyone with fatty liver disease or hepatitis if needed.

For Regularity: Senna and Cascara Sagrada

Effective herbal laxatives that work by irritating the intestine and thereby triggering muscle contractions; use temporarily until you have bowel movements once or twice daily.

Fenugreek lubricates the intestine and can be taken longer term; studies show it helps balance blood sugar and may relieve asthma. Adequate fiber is also necessary for regularity.

For the Blood: Red Clover and Sarsaparilla

Chronic inflammation, fevers, sore joints, and muscles, and skin disorders are signs of blood impurities. Red clover has been traditionally used to cleanse the blood, and to relieve skin and liver disorders. Sarsaparilla (sasparilla) is another traditional blood purifier.

For Bloating Relief:

In addition to drinking plenty of water, diuretic herbs like uva ursi also help keep a healthy bladder. Gotu kola and dandelion leaf are also diuretics, as well as blood cleansers. Dandelion tea also helps to de-bloat.

For Better Digestion: Licorice

Improves circulation in the lining of digestive tract and may help keep intestinal cells in good shape. It also has been used in Chinese cleansing formulas. For those with high blood pressure,  deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) can be used because it doesn’t affect blood pressure. Taking a chewable form of DGL about 20 minutes before meals may prevent stomach indigestion.


Other cleansing herbs that benefits multiple organs include blessed thistle(not milk thistle) and slippery elm bark.

Nutrients like chlorophyll also detoxify while algae (chlorella or kelp) may help to remove metals and other toxins. Vitamins and minerals also may support detoxification and healing.


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