HERBS AND SPICES FOR NATURAL DETOXIFICATION
Herbs have been used for thousands of years across cultures to treat various ailments and health conditions. With their long history, popularity and reported effectiveness, it’s no wonder many people turn to herbs to aid their body’s innate ability to detoxify.
Your body needs continuous nutritional support for ongoing detox, so eating a healthy, balanced diet full of whole, unprocessed foods is a vital step in lightening your toxic load. As a complement to a wholesome diet and regular exercise, you might consider incorporating some of these herbs, known for their detoxifying properties.
Because herbs can trigger side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, and medications, you should always consult a health professional before starting an herbal regimen. Also, the FDA does not regulate nutritional supplements, so source, strength, and purity of products can vary widely.
Our bodies are exposed to heavy metals every day via food, water, pharmaceuticals, manufactured products, pollution and more. When heavy metals accumulate to reach toxic levels, they can lead to an array of symptoms and chronic conditions. The chemical compounds in cilantro act as natural cleansing agents, binding to toxic metals and loosening them for easier transport out of the body.
Known for its unique, can’t-be-mistaken flavor and commonly used in Mexican cooking, cilantro can be incorporated into all kinds of food — poultry and fish dishes, salads, salsas, blended smoothies and more. It can easily be found in grocery stores or nurseries, should you want to add it to your herb garden.
Dandelion has traditionally been used as a diuretic, and preliminary research suggests that it may help improve liver and gallbladder function. Of noteworthy nutritional value, dandelion is chock full of vitamins A, B6, C, D and K plus minerals, such as iron, potassium, zinc, and higher levels of beta carotene than carrots.
Virtually no part of the dandelion plant goes to waste as the root, leaves and flowers are all edible and used for therapeutic purposes. Try steeping the roots to make dandelion tea, sautéing the flowers as a side or adding the raw leaves to your favorite salad.
The herb most commonly recommended for supporting liver function is milk thistle. Its active compound, silymarin, has been clinically proven to stabilize cellular membranes and stimulate detoxification pathways. It also has anti-inflammatory effects, and some studies suggest that it may even help the liver regenerate tissue.
Because silymarin is not very water soluble or absorbed well by the body, most milk thistle products are standardized preparations containing 70 to 80 percent silymarin.
Red clover has long been harvested for use in a variety of preparations, including teas, tinctures, capsules and topical products. The blossoms support liver function by stimulating bile production and act as an effective diuretic, helping to cleanse the blood and rid the body of excess fluids. They’re rich in isoflavones — water-soluble compounds that have estrogen-like effects and improve circulation, heart health, and menopause symptoms.
Turmeric is a plant in the ginger family that has been widely used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine to treat digestion and liver disorders. Curcumin is the powerful phytochemical component that gives turmeric its distinctive bright yellow color and stimulates production of bile by the gallbladder. Bile eliminates toxins in the liver and rejuvenates cells that break down harmful compounds.
Curcumin is also recognized for its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects. Studies show it may even be useful in preventing and treating cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. To get the most health benefit, you need more than an occasional sprinkle of turmeric, so a supplement may be the way to go. But cooking with turmeric can be delightful and advantageous.
Its earthy taste enhances pastas, grains, soups, eggs, beans and leafy green sautés. For a simple added boost of effectiveness, season your turmeric-containing dish with black pepper. A study published in Clinical Pharmacokinetics showed that ingesting curcumin in combination with piperin, the alkaloid in pepper, increased the bioavailability of curcumin by a staggering 2000%.