What herbs are good for the liver? There are many, but today we are looking at some herbs for the liver that can be found or grown in North America
Today we are talking about herbs that are good for the liver. There are many. The liver is a large and complex organ with many responsibilities for human life and health. In the Language of Plants, herbalists from around the world and throughout time have known that the physical characteristics of a plant — such as color, aroma and flavor — can tell us much about a its potential medicinal benefits. The flavor palette of a plant is fairly accurate in what it can tell us about a plant’s medicinal properties. For example, bitterness and sourness are known to be very beneficial for liver health. Many herbs are bitter to taste, and along with sour, it opens the doors to many herbs that benefit liver and gallbladder
Color, although not nearly as accurate as flavor or aroma, can also point us in the right direction of what a plant’s medicinal benefits might be. Across cultures and time, herbalists have correlated different colors to different organ-systems. It is not foolproof, but it is a definite help when narrowing down the field of potential medicinal plant prospects. And it is always best if the color we are observing is the part of the plant that is medicinal, although it is not always the case. Yellow and orange colors often have activity associated with liver, gallbladder, digestion, and pancreatic function. The bright orange of calendula blossoms hint at its usefulness as a liver remedy. The yellow flowers of dandelion speak to its usefulness as a broad-spectrum digestive and liver tonic, even though it is the root and leaf that are more useful in this area. Yellow Dock root is aptly named, and an excellent mover of bile. The rich golden color of berberine-containing plants like barberry, Oregon grape, goldenseal, goldthread, and yellow root lets us know that these plants have strong liver detoxification properties.
What herbs are good for the liver: Dandelion root
We often think of dandelion root as “food for the liver” because it is so comprehensively beneficial for that organ. It is rich in beta-carotene and has vitamins A, B, C, and D, as well as minerals like potassium, phosphorus, and calcium in substantial amounts. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) root protects the liver from damage, while also treating issues like sluggishness, biliousness, and/or poor fat digestion. Dandelion root’s rich oiliness helps to strengthen the liver as well. And its bitter flavor is very beneficial to liver-gallbladder function and bile flow.
Being simultaneously protecting, nourishing, balancing and function-enhancing is why dandelion root is considered food for the liver. It is one of the premiere, go-to herb for herbalists encountering such health complaints as clay-colored stool, fullness in the liver, bilious headaches, vomiting bile, constipation, or loss of appetite. Dandelion root has traditionally been used in herbal formulas for addressing jaundice, as well as in formulations for those recovering from hepatitis.
What herbs are good for the liver: Rosemary
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) can be classified as a hepatotonic herb that also works as a profound cholagogue, meaning that it helps to purge bile — sometimes referred to as the “urine of the liver” — from the liver and gallbladder and out of the body via the large intestine. And by improving biliary function of the liver and gallbladder, it also helps to improve digestion of fats and oils.
Rosemary is best used for conditions where the liver or gallbladder seem cold and sluggish. Indications of this can include a pale yellowish complexion, greasy tongue, slow digestion, a bitter taste in the mouth, a lack of energy, and/or low blood sugar.
Rosemary also helps the overall metabolic (both catabolic and anabolic) activity of the liver, making it useful in any formula for invigorating metabolism, digestion of food and assimilation of nutrients.
Rosemary also helps if someone is experiencing headaches that can be sourced back to the liver or gallbladder. It helps supply the gallbladder with the energy to act, especially when it is under-functioning or experiencing spasticity.
What herbs are good for the liver: Reishi
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum, G. tsugae, G. japonicum, G. applanatum, and more) is a common Japanese name for several related medicinal mushrooms found in forests around the world. Although technically not a plant, herbalists have always included reishi and other medicinal mushrooms along with herbs in their apothecaries. Many mushrooms, as the general population is now coming to know, are profoundly medicinal.
First and foremost, reishi helps strengthen liver qi, allowing the liver to function efficiently and ward off external pathogens or environmental conditions that can lead to illness. Reishi is deeply protective to the liver and is also considered a serviceable antilipidemic, meaning it helps reduce lipid levels in the blood, in particular LDL/VLDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Reishi is useful in protocols treating any and all chronic and acute liver illnesses and deficiencies, including toxic liver, liver poisoning, elevated liver enzymes, jaundice, hepatitis, cirrhosis, fatty liver and liver cancer.
What herbs are good for the liver: Cinquefoil
Cinquefoil (Potentilla spp.) is an excellent, mild tonic for the liver, gallbladder and bile duct. Its mild nature allows it to be used steadily for long periods of time.
This astringent herb is also mildly bitter, pain-relieving, and antispasmodic. These qualities allow it to relieve tension in the liver and gallbladder, in turn leading to a smoother flow of qi and bile. which, among other things, aids in resolving biliousness, dyspepsia, regurgitating bile and congestion in the liver. It also helps to cool and descend upward-rising, excessive liver qi and heat, and so is often used in formulas to help relieve migraines and other liver-related headaches. .
Like dandelion root, cinquefoil is a very useful spring tonic for gently cleansing the liver. It has also been used to resolve jaundice, flank pain on the right side, appetite loss, and discomfort from a full liver.
Western herbalists will also use cinquefoil in formulas for passing gallstones, re-toning a “battered” gallbladder, or calming a spasming gallbladder. It’s also used in protocols for hepatitis and cirrhosis.
What herbs are good for the liver: Burdock root
Burdock (Arctium lappa) root is another medicinal plant with the ability to protect, rejuvenate, and cleanse the liver. It operates as a general nutritive tonic for the liver (similar to sarsaparilla) that helps the liver clear toxins from blood as well as create bile.
Burdock root can be combined with burdock seed as well as berberine-containing herbs (mentioned earlier) for addressing liver issues that exhibit dry symptoms, especially red, dry, hot eczema or psoriasis. For similar liver issues that exhibit damper symptoms — such as oozing eczema or chronic acne — burdock root is often combined with dandelion root and yellow dock root. Burdock root is also an excellent ingredient in digestive bitters formulas.