The 14 Best Supplements for Detoxing the Liver
Looking for the best liver detox supplement? Discover our list of liver-boosting ingredients to restore, maintain and boost your liver function and health.
Being one of the busiest and most vital life-sustaining organs in the body [Link to blog], our health and overall functionality go hand in hand with the condition of our liver.
So, it’s no surprise that numerous supplements exist for boosting, restoring or maintaining our liver health and function. But with so many options available, which is the best liver supplement for you? Let’s explore.
What are liver supplements?
By containing multiple beneficial ingredients, liver support supplements can help restore, maintain, or boost your liver's health and function. Knowing that the liver has over 500 functions [Link to blog] means liver health supplements can support a diverse range of aspects, whether it’s a specific purpose or overall performance.
In monitoring and cleaning toxins while metabolising foods, liquids and other substances, the liver plays a vital and often underestimated role in the human body. Therefore, it’s unsurprising that supplement providers offer solutions to support and enhance your liver function and health.
Whether liver support supplements help detoxify the organ or optimise overall functionality, finding the best liver detox supplement for your needs can help repair or improve one of the critical life-sustaining organs in your body.
Maintaining a healthy liver
Many reasons can cause the liver to become damaged and unhealthy. Sometimes, these are simple lifestyle choices, like drinking too much alcohol or consuming too much sugar.
Common causes of liver disease [Link to blog] include obesity, binge drinking, Type 2 diabetes, tattoos, body piercings and even unprotected sex. Alarmingly, not maintaining a healthy liver can cause fatal diseases, infections and illnesses. These life-threatening infections and viruses can include hepatitis A, B and C, liver cancer and cirrhosis.
While maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet and regular exercise will support your liver health and function. Taking liver-boosting supplements will go that step further to offset any alcohol and sugar damage before maintaining your liver stays healthy.
But whatever liver health supplements you choose for liver repair, support or improvement, it pays to know the different types available to see which one provides the correct benefits for your body.
Which supplement is right for you?
Now we know the importance of maintaining your liver and how supplements can support this purpose. The question remains, what are the best liver supplements for you, and how many should you take?
Below we’ve provided a table to help you make the all-important decision:
With your more suitable liver supplements identified, here is each ingredient described in more detail:
Considered by health specialists as the “Master Antioxidant”, glutathione is an ideal supplement for liver repair and health-boosting qualities. The National Library of Medicine states glutathione helps enhance the immune system and protects cells from oxidant stress (OS) and toxin damage.
In supporting phases 1 and 2 of natural detoxification, the body produces glutathione via glycine, glutamate, and cysteine (Amino acids).
It’s a crucial liver supplement ingredient alongside other antioxidants in how they help reduce the death of cells in the liver.
Medical studies published by the NLM have proven how glutathione improves protein, enzyme and bilirubin levels in the blood, making the liver-support supplement a worthy option for non-alcoholic and alcohol-related fatty liver disease.
Further studies from the NLM have also revealed that glutathione reduces cell damage in the liver, known as malondialdehyde.
2. NAC (N-acetyl cysteine)
NAC stands for “N-acetyl cysteine” and is a liver supplement that helps blood flow and improves functionality for those suffering from septic shock.
By increasing the cellular content of glutathione, NAC becomes a liver health and repair supplement combatting acetaminophen, used to treat issues such as hepatotoxicity.
Like glutathione, NAC also helps improve liver function for patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Currently assessed in medical studies for conditions involving oxidative stress (OS) that highlight the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, the results from NAC showed that 85.5% of the studies evaluated revealed an impressive 100% result!
3. Alpha lipoic acid (ALA)
As a product of caprylic acid, Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), also known as “Lipoic acid”, “Thioctic acid”, and “a-lipoic acid”, is made from an organosulfur compound.
According to the NLM, the ALA supplement protects cells while restoring antioxidants, including glutathione. Used to protect the liver when present in fat or water, ALA binds harmful free radicals, whereby protecting interior and exterior cellular structures.
As your antioxidants attack free radicals, they naturally deplete. However, research shows that ALA can help restore these antioxidants to function again. This solution is in high demand when inflammation attempts to form new radicals within the liver.
Seen as your liver’s protector, the ALA supplement works hard to combat the following diseases and infections:
Finally, in boosting glutathione levels, ALA helps support the liver in detoxifying the body while also restoring liver enzyme levels.
4. Vitamin C
Often found in citrus alongside other fruit and vegetables, Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and a common serum ingredient. As a liver support supplement, Vitamin C; also known as “ascorbic acid”, is proven to fight oxidative stress (OS) and improve liver function and glucose metabolism by Doctor Fadime Eryılmaz Pehlivan in her book ‘Vitamin C: An Antioxidant Agent’.
OS is a result of not having enough antioxidants. This issue creates an imbalance, harming cells that can potentially cause liver disease. The vitamin C liver supplement also combats the accumulation of stomach fat directly linked to fatty liver disease.
“Tauroursodeoxycholic” or TUDCA for short, is a natural hydrophilic bile acid and helps to treat cholestasis where bile struggles to flow from the liver. When represented in the pharmaceutical form, it can take the name of “Ursodoxicoltaurine”.
As bile is sent through the intestines and returned through the hepatic portal vein in a process known as enterohepatic circulation, the body produces small amounts of TUDCA that help recycle 95% of our bile salts.
For liver cirrhosis treatments, NLM claims TUDCA is a safe therapy and more effective than UDCA (Ursodeoxycholic acid), especially when considering biochemical expression.
6. Dandelion root
With an ancient tradition of treating liver conditions, the dandelion root contains a natural diuretic effect that allows the liver to remove toxins efficiently. A 2017 study published by the MDPI proved that the polysaccharides properties in dandelion were beneficial to the liver across purification, preliminary characterisation and hepatoprotective effects.
Further studies from the NLM also show the potential protective properties of dandelion root as a preventive and therapeutic supplement for severe liver and renal inflammatory disorders.
Far from being a stubborn weed in your garden that produces a bright yellow flower in springtime and summer, the benefits of dandelion root as a liver support medicine continue with The Journal of Basic and Applied Zoology claiming that dandelion prevents liver fibrosis, inflammatory response and oxidative stress when tested on rats.
Known traditionally for adding flavour to curried dishes and soups, the numerous health benefits now associated with turmeric continue to rise, with a supplement for liver repair now one of them.
Found in the root and known as curcumin is one of the world’s most trusted natural anti-inflammatory ingredients. Studies published by the NLM reveal curcumin can help support cirrhosis treatment by eliminating what’s known as leptin’s effects.
Considered by many as one of the most popular herbal remedies for fatty liver treatments, turmeric improves bile production to support detoxification and restore liver function while preventing fat building in the body. Other benefits of turmeric as a liver supplement include supporting the healthy condition of our liver tissue and helping the metabolic process.
The BMC are also confident in turmeric’s ability to treat NAFLD and help with inflammation. Interestingly, NLM published a study showing people with NAFLD who took 2 grams of turmeric each day for eight weeks showed significant reductions in liver enzymes.
8. Reishi Mushroom
Reishi mushroom, otherwise known as “Lingzhi” or “Ganoderma lingzhi”, is a polypore fungus originating in East Asia. In 2013, a report published in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms showed how reishi mushrooms can induce hepatoprotective effects on acute liver injury.
The antioxidant properties of reishi make it a useful liver supplement to fight harmful immune responses that slow down liver function. Working as an “adaptogen”, reishi mushroom can improve liver function and prevent liver disease while allowing the body to remove toxins and bacteria.
Reishi helps the body produce more glutathione with preventative and therapeutic effects to help treat liver injuries too. And if that wasn’t enough, various studies show reishi can improve fatty liver conditions such as non-alcoholic steatosis and support alcohol-related liver injuries by meliorating lipid metabolism and modulating the intestinal microbial composition.
9. Milk thistle
The milk thistle plant, also known as “Silybum marianum”, contains silymarin, an effective medicinal ingredient for liver health supplements and the most researched plant in liver disease treatments.
According to research published by NLM, silymarin helps support cell walls in the liver and encourages regeneration. Some studies have seen the use of milk thistle in hepatotoxicity treatments in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
The antioxidant properties in milk thistle make it an effective liver support supplement by improving healthy liver function fight against oxidative stress.
Science Direct’s research showed the positive effects of silymarin supplementation on 40 patients with type 2 diabetes by increasing superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase and total antioxidant capacity by up to 30% compared with those treated with a placebo.
More medical benefits of silymarin see it applied to alcoholic liver disease, viral hepatitis (acute and chronic) and various other toxin-induced liver diseases.
Our bodies produce choline from a specialised fat molecule known as “phosphatidylcholine”.
Studies of choline date back to the 1930s when scientists revealed that deficient choline levels caused fatty liver disease in dogs and rats. However, when scientists increased the choline levels, it resolved liver diseases.
In playing a vital role in fat metabolism and homocysteine regulation, choline supports our amino acids and methylation reactions essential for gene expression. Furthermore, choline improves mitochondria membranes in our cells. So, overall we can see the role of choline as an ideal liver supplement to maintain our overall liver function.
Artichoke is another natural ingredient we can find growing in the garden with multiple benefits for our liver health and function. The NLM shows the research of artichokes supporting blood sugar regulation, cholesterol metabolism and general liver health.
The health benefits of artichoke as a liver supplement stems from various phytochemicals, such as phenolic compounds, flavonoids, and prebiotic fibre (insulin). Combining these phytochemicals alongside antimicrobial and immunomodulatory properties supports the liver to remain strong and healthy.
Finally, by providing liver protection and support with cholesterol xenobiotics and other metabolites that detoxify, artichokes also encourage bile erection when digested with fat-soluble vitamins.
The plant “Astragalus”, native to Mongolia, contains various benefits that enhance healthy liver support and function. Active compounds found in the root are what researchers believe contribute to the benefits astragalus offers.
With an ancient history across traditional Chinese medicines, NLM research suggests more than 100 compounds found in astragalus can lead to the development of new drugs and therapies for various diseases. One of these beliefs is that some compounds can help strengthen the immune system and reduce inflammation.
According to NLM, other bioactive benefits of astragalus include immunomodulation, antioxidant, antitumor, anti-diabetes, antiviral, hepatoprotection, anti-inflammation, anti-atherosclerosis, hematopoiesis and neuroprotection.
More studies are required to verify the benefits of astragalus in scientific accreditation. But many high-profile sources suggest it is an ideal liver supplement to boost health and maintain the optimal function of our livers.
Famous for its powerful anti-inflammatory properties, ginseng is the root of plants belonging to the genus Panax across Asia and America, characterised by its ginsenosides and gintonin properties.
NLM studies show ginseng can demonstrate antioxidant effects to protect us against various liver damages and diseases caused by toxins, viruses and alcohol. As a liver supplement, ginseng is believed to boost cell regeneration after liver injury or surgery.
Medical studies concerning chronic liver failure have reported the benefits of ginseng to improve liver function while reducing fatigue and inflammation.
Popular for its refreshing flavouring qualities, peppermint is also known for its benefits to the liver and kidneys in combating oxidative damage.
The NLM reports that peppermint can help reduce liver enzymes when trialling the effects of peppermint oil on serum lipid peroxidation and hepatic enzymes after immobility stress in mice. Further NLM-published tests showed peppermint oil increased bile flow when tested on rats and cultured human liver cells.