The liver is one busiest organs of the body. From producing bile for digestion to eliminating toxins from the body, the liver performs more than 500 different functions. Unfortunately, with modern-day lifestyle (increased junk food consumption, heavy drinking, incessant smoking, skyrocketing stress levels and self-medication), liver diseases are emerging rapidly. But there are ways you can reduce the effects of these ill habits on your liver and keep it healthy. Here are some natural remedies you can try.
#1 Amla or Gooseberry: The Indian gooseberry or amla is known as one of the richest sources of vitamin C. What is less well-known is its ability to keep the liver functioning at optimal levels. This herb has been used extensively in Ayurveda for the treatment of sluggish liver; now researchers are finding in laboratory studies that extracts from amla have liver-protective function. However, there is no clear indication of whether it is useful to treat hepatitis B infection. Amla is one of the important components in Chyawanpraash that has immunity boosting, digestive and liver-protective action.
Tip: Although, the best way to consume it is raw, you can add small pieces of it in your salad or making a raitha with grated amla and curd.
#2 Jethimad or Licorice: Licorice has long been used in Ayurvedic remedies to cure liver ailments like non- alcoholic fatty liver disease. In this condition, the blood level of transaminase enzymes called ALT and AST increase to harmful levels for the liver. Research suggests that licorice (Jethimad or Mulhati in Hindi) extracts reduce the concentration of these enzymes, indicating its beneficial effect on the liver. Tip: Powder Licorice roots at home. Add the powder to boiling water while making tea. Steep it for a few minutes and then strain the liquid.
#3 Amrith or Guduchi: Amrith is yet another herb that Ayurveda considers to have rejuvenating properties and is commonly grown in many kitchen gardens. It is said to have the ability to clear toxins from the liver as well as strengthen its functioning. More importantly, Amrith does not cause any significant complications even when used for long-term. However, Ayurvedic physicians warn that using this herb can precipitate liver crisis if the patient has a large amount of toxins in the liver. Therefore, it is best to use this herb only under an Ayurvedic practitioner’s guidance.
Haldi or Turmeric: Packed with valuable antioxidants, turmeric is an important herb that improves liver health. Some studies have shown that the antiviral action of turmeric is effective in preventing multiplication of the viruses causing hepatitis B and C.
Tip: The easiest way to use turmeric is to include it in your daily cooking. Alternatively, you can consume it by adding it to plain milk.
#4 Flaxseeds: Certain receptor sites normally bind hormones and keep them circulating in the blood. This exerts strain on the liver to filter out these excess hormones. Studies have found that the phytoconstituents in flaxseeds have the capacity to bind such receptor sites, preventing hormonal binding. This reduces the work load on the liver. Tip: Sprinkling few crushed or whole flaxseeds on your toast, salad or cereals to reap their liver-protective benefits.
#5 Vegetables: Certain vegetables contain ingredients that help the liver secrete greater concentrations of important enzymes. In turn, these enzymes help excretion of potential carcinogens (cancer-causing substances) from the body. Beet, cabbage, carrot, broccoli, onion and garlic are some vegetables having such an action. broccoli, onion and garlic are believed to provide sulfur to the body. This helps detoxification reactions carried out by the liver, preventing damage.
While these natural remedies can help your liver stay healthy, it is also important that you avoid eating foods that damage the liver.