Your detox plan should support the organs and systems that naturally neutralize and eliminate toxins. These five botanicals offer a great start:
1) Milk thistle (Silybum marianum), known for centuries as a liver cleanser, has been clinically shown to increase levels of glutathione, the amino-acid compound that's necessary for toxin removal. Take a teaspoon or two of the ground seeds twice a day, or ingest it as a tea or tincture, or in capsules, according to package instructions. (Sylimarin, which is a complex of flavolignans, is another option.)
2) Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) supports the liver, the adrenals, and the immune system. It also acts as a gentle laxative. Take it as a tea or tincture according to package instructions. Licorice may not be appropriate for patients with high blood pressure, so consult your doctor before using it if you are at risk.
3) Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis) stimulates the gallbladder, the kidneys (as a diuretic), and the liver, increasing bile production. The more bitter, the better, advises herbalist Sharol Tilgner, N.D., at least in terms of increasing the liver's ability to function optimally. Harvest some fresh, or purchase as a tea.
4) Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis), a Chinese tonic herb, is a multitasker. "It's an antioxidant, an anti-inflammatory, a liver protector--they keep finding out more about it," notes Tilgner. Chew the berries, drink the tea, or take 10 to So drops of tincture, up to four times a day. (Talk to your doctor if you have high blood pressure.)
5) Burdock (Arctium lappa), the cleansing herb of our grandparents, can today back up its traditional use with research. It helps protect the liver and clears toxins that lead to skin eruptions like eczema and acne. Cook with the root, or take 20 to 40 drops of tincture up to four times a day.