What Is a Liver Detox?
A liver detox, cleanse, or flush is a program that claims to take out toxins in your body, help you lose weight, or improve your health.
You want to do everything you can to take an active role in your health. But if you think you need a liver detox, you should know that there isn’t much it can do for you.
Your liver is one of the largest organs in your body. It helps remove waste and handles various nutrients and medicines.
Most people think a cleanse will help their liver remove toxins after they drink too much alcohol or eat unhealthy foods. Some hope it will help their liver work better on a daily basis. Many believe it’ll help treat liver disease.
Like most detoxes, a liver cleanse has specific steps. It may tell you to fast or to drink only juices or other liquids for several days. You might need to eat a restricted diet or take herbal or dietary supplements. Some detoxes also urge you to buy a variety of products.
Are Liver Detoxes Safe?
There are medical treatments for liver diseases. But nothing shows that detox programs or supplements can fix liver damage.
In fact, detoxes may harm your liver. Studies have found that liver injuries from herbal and dietary supplements are on the rise. Green tea extract, for example, can cause damage like that from hepatitis. And the coffee enemas involved in some regimens can lead to infections and electrolyte problems that might be deadly.
Other things to know about these programs and products:
Some companies use ingredients that could be harmful. Others have made false claims about how well they treat serious diseases.
Unpasteurized juices can make you sick, especially if you’re older or have a weakened immune system.
If you have kidney disease, a cleanse that includes large amounts of juice can make your illness worse.
If you have diabetes, be sure to check with your doctor before you start a diet that changes how you usually eat.
If you fast as part of a detox program, you may feel weak or faint, have headaches, or get dehydrated. If you have hepatitis B that has caused liver damage, fasting can make the damage worse.