Today, more and more people are discovering the health benefits of burdock root, particularly for skin, digestion, and detoxification. What's more, you can enjoy this little-known gem as a tasty root vegetable!
Burdock has some interesting Trivial Pursuit or Jeopardy facts surrounding it. If you've ever removed a sticky round burr from your clothing after hiking through the forest, there's a good chance you've encountered seeds of the burdock plant. Burdock's ingenious mechanism for seed dispersal was the inspiration for Velcro. However, the plant's roots, not the seeds, pack the most powerful health benefits.
What Is Burdock Root?
Burdock (Arctium lappa) is a big-leaved biennial plant with purple, thistle-like flowers. Native to Asia and Northern Europe, you can find burdock plants growing throughout the world. Its many uses are gaining popularity in the United States and beyond. In homeopathic circles, you may have seen burdock sold as lappa.
Burdock root is an underground tuber that you can use as food or as a medicinal herb. In Japan, people use burdock as a food source in many dishes and call the root gobo. The root is crispy with a sweet, earthy flavor that resembles celery.
You can use burdock root to improve your health and well-being since it is rich in essential nutrients, minerals, and antioxidants.
Top 10 Benefits of Burdock Root
Traditionally, people used burdock root for a number of ailments, including joint discomfort, sore throats, respiratory infections, and skin-related conditions. Today, research also points to its powerful ability to boost your immune system and so much more. Read on!
1. May Promote Normal Wound Healing
One study looked at how the Amish take care of burns; they apply a mix of therapeutic herbs and then wrap the burn in burdock leaves — which have many of the same biological compounds as the root.
Did you know that burdock leaf acts as an effective remedy for wounds or burns?
The researchers found this practice resulted in no infected wounds, no "trauma" when changing wound dressing, and minimal or no discomfort. Researchers concluded that the burdock dressings were an effective alternative to conventional burn care.
Burdock may have antibacterial properties. Studies have documented that compounds in burdock repel certain harmful organisms. Burdock root contains chlorogenic acid (which also happens to be a component of green coffee beans); this compound reduces redness and swelling — not to mention, it also promotes normal blood glucose levels and fat metabolism.
2. Reduces Redness & Swelling
Over time, toxins build up in your body from the foods you eat, water you drink, and air you breathe. These toxins, as well as exposure to UV light, can cause your cells to generate free radicals that oxidize or damage cells. The build-up of these toxins and the resulting cell oxidation can lead to systemic redness and swelling in your body, which, in turn, causes discomfort — and may lead to a host of other ailments.
As an antioxidant, burdock root can stop toxins and free radicals from wreaking havoc on your body.
Burdock root contains antioxidants and other bioactive compounds that counteract free radical damage in your body. Besides chlorogenic acid, scientists have isolated arctigenin (a lignan, if you know your biological compounds) and arctiin as two major bio-active components in burdock root that reduce redness and swelling.[4, 6]
3. Boosts Skin Health
Whether you have dry skin, acne, eczema, or psoriasis, the properties in burdock root make it a great choice to make your skin glow! Burdock's active ingredients promote blood circulation, pushing blood to the surface of the skin — which make it look supple and younger-looking.
If you're looking for healthy, glowing skin, give burdock root a try!
No need to search for the fountain of youth — research shows that burdock root can lead to healthier-looking skin. Whether you take it in a capsule, tea, or extract — or you eat burdock root for dinner — its effects work from the inside out. Some studies have found it helpful when applied topically, as well.
4. Promotes a Healthy Body Weight
Burdock root is low in calories, with just 72 calories per 100 grams. But that's not what makes it helpful in managing body weight.
Compounds found in burdock root may boost your metabolism and improve weight loss!
One study found that taking burdock promoted normal body weight in rats, and also had fat-reducing properties in human cells in vitro. According to the study, "These results suggest that burdock root is expected to be useful for body weight management."
5. May Prevent Cell Proliferation
A number of studies have looked at how burdock root affects the harmful and excessive growth and spread of cells in the body. Burdock root acted against liver cell masses in vitro (in a lab study on cells), and prevented them from growing.
The lignan arctigenin in the root has been shown to work against harmful breast tissue cells as well.. Overall, burdock root may have positive effects on overall health and longevity by keeping cells in a healthy state.
6. Aids in Digestion
The inulin in burdock root is a natural dietary fiber that is not absorbed or digested by the stomach. It acts as a prebiotic, which means food for beneficial bacteria found in your gut. Once burdock (and the inulin it contains) moves through your intestines, probiotics (friendly bacteria) use it to flourish. And the helpful gut microbes keep your digestion working well.
Did you know that burdock root acts as a prebiotic? This helps probiotics thrive in your gut.
Burdock root has been used in traditional Brazilian medicine for centuries for the digestive system. That therapeutic benefit now has scientific evidence to back it up. At least one animal study showed that burdock root might soothe digestive disorders by thickening the colon wall and reducing redness and swelling.
7. Natural Diuretic for the Kidneys
Burdock root is a diuretic which can increase urine output, making it a natural alternative to water pills if you should need a temporary reduction in swelling.[4, 6]
Diuretics stimulate and detoxify your kidneys, helping to promote fluid balance and cleanse your body of waste. Burdock root also deters harmful organisms that are sometimes associated with kidney and urinary discomfort.
8. Promotes Liver Health
Watch out! Burdock root may be your new go-to for liver health.
In support of traditional use, animal studies have found that burdock root may help cleanse and detox the liver from certain harmful substances. One animal study showed that the antioxidants found in burdock root may help protect liver cells from acetaminophen (Tylenol) damage.
It's well known that alcohol is bad for your liver. Avoiding alcohol altogether is ideal, but if you do partake in occasional alcohol, certain herbs and foods may cleanse your liver.
A second animal study found burdock root improved several markers of liver health caused by drinking too much alcohol. These markers include glutathione and cytochrome P450 — a substance that increases in heavy drinkers and activates bad chemical reactions in the body.
9. Promotes Healthier Hair
Pro tip: Try burdock root to eliminate dandruff or dry scalp!
Whether you want to eliminate the dry scalp that causes dandruff or stop hair loss, burdock root is an effective tool to add to your hair care arsenal.
Burdock contains fiber, essential fatty acids, and vitamins that are all good for healthy hair, but scientists have pinpointed the antioxidant lignan arctiin as the biological component that may promote hair growth and prevent hair loss. People use burdock root oil for dry scalp, itching, and dandruff, though there are limited studies on its effectiveness.
10. Acts as a Natural Aphrodisiac
If you're looking to boost your libido, look no further than burdock root. The plant extract has long been used as a natural aphrodisiac to stimulate sexual drive and response — benefits that have been verified scientifically, as well.
In one study, burdock increased testosterone and several components of sexual performance in rats. The researchers credited burdock's diverse array of flavonoids, saponins, lignans, and alkaloids for this effect.
How to Use Burdock Root
Burdock root is versatile and can be used in a number of ways, depending on your personal preference and reason for using it. If you want to consume it as a vegetable, look for it in the produce section. If you can't find it, look at an Asian market.
Many people drink burdock root in tea, which you can find online or in specialty markets, including health food stores or Asian markets. You can also take burdock capsules filled with the root powder or take it in liquid extract form.
Always look for high-quality, organic extracts. You can purchase these in your local health food store. It is best to avoid alcohol-based extracts.
You can use the roots raw as a salad vegetable, or cook them in stir-fries as you do carrots. Burdock root doesn't require much seasoning; cooked and sliced, it can be enjoyed with salt and drizzled with olive oil, or with a healthy vegan dip.
Simple & Tasty Burdock Chips
Several burdock roots
Organic olive oil
Himalayan pink salt
Heat oven to 450 F. Wash and scrape your burdock roots and cut into thin strips.
Drizzle olive oil on the sliced roots until lightly coated.
Once browned on the bottom, flip and bake the other side for 5 to 10 minutes.
You can purchase dehydrated burdock root herbs — which may contain just the root or other plant parts — or make them yourself. Once dried, you can steep it in tea, add to a recipe, or grind and add to a capsule.
1 burdock root
Cut the roots into small pieces with a paring knife or grate the root.
Arrange the root pieces in a single layer on a baking sheet to dry in the sun for 3 or 4 days, or bake them at 250 F for 4 hours.
Dried roots will keep in an airtight container for up to a year.
Burdock Root Tea
You can purchase pre-prepared burdock root tea or use dried roots you've harvested yourself.
Burdock also contains folate, manganese, calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium as well as antioxidants like quercetin, luteolin, and phenolic acids.
One serving of burdock root can contain nearly 4 grams of dietary fiber.
Precautions & Side Effects
While the use of burdock root is generally safe, it is important to exercise caution and use responsibly. Here are a few known side effects.
Both topical use and oral consumption may cause allergic reactions. If you are allergic or sensitive to any plants in the Asteraceae family, including ragweed, marigolds, daisies, and chrysanthemums, avoid burdock root.
While burdock root can promote normal blood sugar levels, people with diabetes should exercise caution when using herbs that affect blood sugar, especially if they take insulin.
Do not use burdock if you are taking blood-thinning medications (including aspirin), because that can increase the risk of bleeding, especially in people with bleeding disorders.
Avoid using burdock root if you are pregnant or nursing, as it may cause oxytocin-like effects and stimulate your uterus.
If you are harvesting the plant in the wild, be aware of what you are picking. Belladonna and nightshade, both deadly weeds, closely resemble the burdock plant.
As a general rule of thumb, if you are on any medications, speak with your healthcare provider before using a new supplement, including burdock root.
Points to Remember
Whether you are looking for a natural remedy for a particular ailment or want to support and improve your overall health, burdock root is a popular and versatile option to consider.
The roots can provide nourishment and healing, particularly for long-term chronic illnesses caused by redness and swelling. Other health benefits include promoting healthy skin and hair, detoxifying the kidneys and liver, helping digestion, and limiting the growth of bad cells or harmful organisms.
Burdock root is generally safe for most people, so try it out and see how it helps your health and well-being.
Have you tried burdock root? Do you have any favorite recipes? Share your story below!
You’re probably familiar with hydrogen peroxide and know it can be used to whiten teeth, sterilize a cut, or as a mouthwash. However, do you know about food grade hydrogen peroxide?
Watch below or read on to learn about the basics, benefits, and uses of food grade hydrogen peroxide.
What Is Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide?
Length: 7 minutes
What Is Hydrogen Peroxide?
Hydrogen peroxide is a naturally acidic compound that has two hydrogens and two oxygens. It is stable in an acidic environment, and it releases and decomposes into oxygen gas inside the body.
Most people are familiar with three-percent hydrogen peroxide — the concentration typically found at the drugstore — and use it to clean wounds. However, there’s a 35-percent concentration of hydrogen peroxide that’s often referred to as food grade hydrogen peroxide.
3% vs. 35% Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide
Three-percent hydrogen peroxide is the variety you've seen at your grocery store, and I don't recommend taking it internally. Thirty-five percent hydrogen peroxide is less commonly found on store shelves but is available online. It’s sometimes used by alternative medicine practitioners.
Three-percent hydrogen peroxide typically contains stabilizers like tetrasodium phosphate, sodium stannate, acetanilide, and phenol — none of which are good for you. Food grade hydrogen peroxide is pure and doesn’t contain stabilizers. However, it is caustic, and you still need to be careful with it.
For example, if you spill it on your fingers, it will turn your skin white, and you’ll experience what's called a “hydrogen peroxide burn.” It goes away in a few hours, but be extremely careful — especially if you have children.
Regardless of the strength, you should never drink any undiluted hydrogen peroxide — even if it's food grade. Also, you should not ingest large quantities of any hydrogen peroxide.
Benefits of Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide
One of the best features of food grade hydrogen peroxide is that it’s a strong oxidant. So, whenever you have high levels of oxidants in your body, food grade hydrogen peroxide bonds to them to activate enzyme systems and stimulate oxygenation and detoxification.
Food grade hydrogen peroxide is healing, but it's also a good idea to follow up with antioxidants when using it.
Some natural health practitioners use hydrogen peroxide or ozone therapies, then wait a couple of hours and administer high doses of vitamin C — a potent antioxidant (vitamin C is just one type of supplemental antioxidant that can be used). The oxygen grabs on to the positively charged toxins and harmful organisms. Drinking purified water and taking antioxidants helps to cleanse the body.
Uses of Hydrogen Peroxide
Here in Houston, we’re constantly exposed to smog and different types of chemical residue. There’s mold, fungus, and other stuff floating around in the air — issues that are present in any big city. To help soothe the irritation those things cause, I use a hydrogen peroxide sinus rinse.
I mix six drops of 35-percent food grade hydrogen peroxide in about four ounces of water. Shake it up, and then put it in a nasal sprayer. It’s a really effective solution for flushing and soothing the sinuses.
Of course, that’s just one way to use hydrogen peroxide. Other common uses include:
How Much Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide Should You Take?
When I take food grade hydrogen peroxide, I'll usually mix three drops with about eight ounces of water to dilute it. I'll do that two times per day, working myself up if I'm going to be doing an oxygen infusion. The next day, I'll mix six drops, and the following day I'll mix 12 drops, and so on. However, I never go above 20 to 25 drops twice per day.
Should You Mix It With Apple Cider Vinegar?
Food grade hydrogen peroxide can be mixed with organic raw apple cider vinegar because the apple cider vinegar is an acid, and hydrogen peroxide is stable in an acidic solution. Some people combine lemon juice, water, and a little hydrogen peroxide. You could use only organic apple cider vinegar which should be fine because acids help to stabilize reactive oxygen species.
Points to Remember
Hydrogen peroxide is a powerful natural remedy for many ailments. I prefer 35-percent food grade hydrogen peroxide because it does not contain stabilizers.
While hydrogen peroxide offers several benefits, keep in mind that it’s caustic. Be careful about drips and spills — especially if there are children around. Never drink undiluted hydrogen peroxide. Also, you should not ingest high quantities of any hydrogen peroxide.
Have you tried food grade hydrogen peroxide? What do you use it for? Share your comments below!
The body is an incredible machine. Each person's body has a built-in detox system — starting with the gastrointestinal (GI) tract — that processes toxins, chemicals, and other harmful substances that your food inevitably contains.
The GI tract begins to remove harmful substances from your food by sending them out of the body in your stool or to the liver and kidneys to be fully detoxified. The GI tract also breaks down the food you eat, using the nutrients to build muscle, bone, brain, and other critical body tissues.
Over time, your gut can get overwhelmed from the toxins it absorbs from the food and water you consume, the air you breathe, and the products you use on a daily basis. A gut cleanse — sometimes called a colon cleanse — can ensure all those toxins aren't affecting your ability to stay healthy.
Short Breakdown of the Gut Cleanse
Get Ready: Stock up on raw organic apple cider vinegar (ACV), distilled water, and healthy, plant-based foods, or fruit if you're doing the fruit-only option.
Make ACV mix: Prepare six gallons of ACV mix by adding two tablespoons of ACV per one gallon of distilled water.
Days 1 to 6: Follow a healthy diet with three small meals throughout the day, such as avocado, nuts, or fruit. Drink an ACV mix throughout the day. Before bed, take an oxygen-based colon cleanser.
Post Cleanse: Follow a healthy, plant-based diet with three small meals throughout the day. Make sure to drink lots of water with fresh lemon.
When someone refers to the "gut," they're typically referring to the entire digestive system. That's everything from mouth to anus — including the esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small intestine, and large intestine, also called the colon.
Every section of the digestive tract has a function, and the colon is one of the most important. It's a U-shaped part of the intestines that is up to six feet long. The colon has four sections: ascending, transverse, descending, and sigmoid. A whole ecosystem of gut bacteria resides inside the colon, helping to keep your digestion on track.
What Is a Gut Cleanse?
A gut cleanse is an incredibly effective way to improve your overall health and wellness, boosting your gut's ability to digest food and detoxify harmful substances. A gut cleanse has three main components: eliminating, flushing, and replenishing.
First, you eliminate food items known to cause digestive issues, such as dairy, meat, gluten, and other allergens, while eating a clean diet — ideally, all fruit — for several days. Next, you flush your digestive system of all the extra waste, toxins, and organisms it has collected over time. Last, you replenish your gut's beneficial organisms, also called probiotics.
A gut cleanse is a three-step process — eliminate, flush, and replenish — that can kick-start a new, healthy lifestyle.
Cleansing your gut is something you should regularly do — it's not just a one-time quick fix. Your gut needs regular maintenance. Doing a gut cleanse is a great opportunity to kick-start new, healthy habits. You will feel so much better after clearing out the old gunk and welcoming in healthier foods, more beneficial probiotic bacteria, and smoother digestion.
Signs That It's Time for a Cleanse
The Standard American Diet (SAD) is ruthless when it comes to messing with your gut health. All of the meat, dairy, sugar, wheat, and fried and processed foods unleash all sorts of havoc on your body, leading to accumulated toxins and even compacted fecal matter in the gut. Many people say that they can feel when it's time for a gut cleanse.
Your body is constantly sending signals that you need to cleanse, and some people say they can even feel when it's time for a gut cleanse!
Your body is pretty good at sending out signals to make sure you're aware that something is off-balance. If you notice any of the following symptoms, it's a pretty strong indicator that it's time for a gut cleanse.
To ensure you're doing the gut cleanse properly, be sure to follow the dietary instructions below. In some ways, a cleanse is similar to fasting. You will be eliminating a lot of foods that you ordinarily eat unless you already follow a very clean diet.
Gut Cleanse Diet
You have two options for the gut cleanse diet. The fruit-only option is ideal, and you will get the best results with it. However, you can also do a gut cleanse by eating mostly plant-based foods.
Option 1: Fruit-Only Diet
While performing your gut cleanse, you should eat organic fruit. Choose fruits from the following list. These particular options are full of nutrients and water and are gentle on your digestive system. You can eat as much fruit as you want.
If you need a heartier option, you can eat a plant-based diet; eliminate meat, dairy, eggs, soy, wheat, and gluten-containing products. Eat organic or locally grown food for best results. Below are a few additional tips:
Eat healthy, plant-based foods for six days straight with three small portions daily.
Eliminate meat, dairy, eggs, soy, GMOs, wheat and gluten-containing foods.
Eat lots of salads, vegetable soups, raw nuts, seeds, and fruits.
Do not cook any food in a microwave as this will reduce the effectiveness of cleansing.
You'll want to make sure you have the proper ingredients for this gut detox on hand before starting. All the items on this list work together to balance out your gut microflora, remove toxins from your system, and normalize your digestive health.
The distilled water, lemons, and apple cider vinegar create a drink you'll hydrate with throughout the cleanse. Here's how to make it:
Take one gallon of distilled water and pour out four ounces
Add two tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar
Add the juice from half a lemon
Mix and refrigerate
This gut cleanse is a six-day process. Each day, make one gallon of the apple cider vinegar cocktail and drink it throughout the day.
Save eight ounces of the apple cider vinegar mixture for the end of the day. Just before you go to bed every night, use it to take six capsules of Oxy-Powder. If you have any left over after that, don't save it — pitch the rest and make a fresh batch in the morning.
Select a personal affirmation that works for you, perhaps related to the reason why you're doing the cleanse. Are you trying to improve your overall health? Try, "I am healthy." Is it to rid yourself of toxins? Say, "I am clean." Are you determined to lose weight? Repeat, "I am lighter." Or pick an affirmation that aligns with your goals.
Important: Drink 12 to 20 ounces of the gut cleanse cocktail when you wake up and between meals.
Drink the remaining eight ounces of apple cider vinegar mix.
Before closing your eyes, repeat your affirmation to encourage a restful night’s sleep.
Repeat these instructions for six days. After the first full day of the cleanse, you should expect to have three to five bowel movements every day. If you don't, increase your Oxy-Powder intake by two capsules every night until you hit the three to five mark the following day.
Note: Because a gut cleanse flushes out most of the food and compacted waste that has accumulated in your gut, you will want to replenish your gut microbes with beneficial bacteria at the end of your cleanse. Take a probiotic supplement that can boost the results of your cleanse.
Benefits of a Gut Detox
A healthy gut means a happy body. When your colon and digestive system are working the way they should, your body's natural ability to detoxify itself is at peak performance.
If your digestive system is not working properly, you most likely aren't getting all the nutrients available from what you eat. Your body may also be having trouble absorbing enough water from your food. A gut detox can get your digestion to a better place. Below we list the top benefits of a gut cleanse.
Balance Your Emotions
When your gut is in proper working order, it can affect your mood in a good way. Several studies show that anxiety and stress increase with greater inflammation in the body — and inflammation occurs when your diet is less than optimal. A gut cleanse can normalize this systemic redness and swelling, helping to balance out your emotions.
Regulate & Restore Your Immune System
The micro-organisms in your gut interact quite closely with your immune system, and depending on which organisms you've got, there's a potential link to autoimmune diseases.
A gut detox can help eliminate the harmful organism in your body, helping the gut to heal and keeping your immune system on track while replenishing your gut with beneficial microbes.
Relieve Constipation & Promote Regularity
Your body can have a hard time with digestion when you follow a poor diet that's full of processed foods, meat, and sugar. An unhealthy diet can lead to compacted waste — or, in other words, constipation.
Since you eliminate unhealthy foods on a gut detox, while focusing on drinking water and eating fiber-rich foods, it helps your system, removing waste and flushing out the bad stuff.
Essentially, your gut will be reset following a cleanse, which means your bowel movements will likely be more regular and consistent, and you'll be processing and digesting food at healthy levels again.
One of the most commonly reported benefits following a gut detox is a big energy boost, especially if you follow it up by switching to a healthier diet.
You may not even need that cup of morning coffee anymore. You'll not only feel more awake, but you will also just feel better overall.
Jumpstart Your Metabolism
Both new research and therapies focus on how the microbiome in your gut helps regulate metabolism. A gut cleanse could be just what you need to take your body's innate calorie-burning power to a higher level.
As a bonus, once your biome is in top shape, it may help you fight against obesity. Early studies show that new therapies focused on gut flora could be effective at lowering obesity rates. This is why replenishing the gut with beneficial probiotics is essential to the overall effectiveness of any cleanse.
Boost Nutrient Absorption
Within your gut, the colon absorbs nutrients from the food you're eating. If your gut is unhealthy, those nutrients may not be properly absorbed.
When that happens, you're at a higher risk for things like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), malabsorption syndrome, leaky gut, Crohn's disease, and nutritional deficiencies.
Strengthen Your Brain
Recent research shows that the health of your gut can have a positive impact on brain function. Specific diets — like the healthy one you'll adopt after your detox — can help normalize neurodevelopmental disorders.
Some probiotics are also known to influence brain activity, so be sure to add them back into your diet with supplements once the cleanse is over.
Other Ways to Maintain a Healthy Gut
Once you're done with the cleanse, make following a healthy diet your new norm, especially if you previously ate meat, dairy, or a lot of processed foods. There are other options for maintaining a healthy gut as well — things you should probably do together with that diet, listed below.
Digestive enzymes have one main purpose — to break down food so you can digest it more efficiently — but they also boost your health in other ways.
Enzyme supplements support normal digestion, reduce bloating and gas, protect your cells and tissues from oxidative damage, and deter systemic redness and swelling.
Adopt a Plant-Based Diet
Animal-based diets have an undeniably negative affect on gut health. A plant-based diet that focuses on organic fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and grains helps to normalize mood, fight obesity, and promote a healthier gut microbiome.
A plant-based diet promotes strong digestion, and helps with heart health, anti-aging, and so much more. Herbal and green teas, as well as supplements, can add additional nutrients and antioxidants to your plant-based diet.
Supplements can help introduce the right probiotics into your body. Choose supplements that contain many probiotic strains as well as prebiotics, fiber-rich "food" for the microbes. You can also add dairy-free probiotic foods to your diet for additional benefit. Many fermented foods, like kombucha, sauerkraut, and kimchi, naturally contain beneficial probiotics.
When you exercise, it boosts the number of beneficial microbe species in your gut, which boosts digestion as well as your immune system.
Points to Remember
A gut cleanse, also known as a colon cleanse, is an important part of regulating your digestive system and getting your body back on track. With an unhealthy internal system, you'll feel sick and sluggish. A gut detox can also normalize your mood, immune system, and digestion — all the while promoting regularity.
We recommend our Colon Cleanse Kit as part of a healthy lifestyle to simultaneously support your gut and colon.
An ideal gut cleanse spans six days. During that time you will eat only fruit — or a clean, plant-based diet — allowing your gastrointestinal tract to clean itself out, lighten its load, and detoxify. Apple cider vinegar, lemon, and gut-detox supplements, taken at regular intervals, help the process. Taking a probiotic after you complete the cleanse helps ensure your gut stays healthy afterward.
Once you finish the cleanse, it's important to maintain optimal gut health. You can do this by exercising, taking supplements, changing your diet, and controlling stress.
Have you ever done a gut cleanse? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Located just below the liver, the gallbladder plays an important role in the digestive system. Its main role is to store and recycle bile, which breaks down the fats in the food we eat. However, the gallbladder also communicates with other organs to perform key digestive functions such as waste elimination and enzyme production.
One of the best ways to promote optimal wellness is by making a gallbladder and liver flush part of your healthy lifestyle. Many adults over 40 have issues with cholesterol or follow a poor diet and, subsequently, suffer from gallbladder problems. However, anyone can benefit from this simple detox for your liver and gallbladder, especially if you follow a diet that includes meat, dairy, and processed food.
Short Breakdown of the Gallbladder Cleanse
Preparation: Stock up on raw organic apple cider vinegar (ACV), Epsom salt, extra virgin olive oil, distilled water, and healthy, plant-based foods.
Days 1 to 4: Add two tablespoons of ACV per one gallon of distilled water, for a total of three gallons. Drink this mix throughout the day. Follow a healthy diet with three small meals throughout the day, such as avocado, nuts, or fruit.
Day 5, during the day: Eat the gallbladder cleanse soup or juice as described in the recipes below.
Day 5, at night: Perform a flush by drinking one tablespoon of Epsom salt mixed with water. An hour and a half later, drink 3/4 cup of organic extra virgin olive oil.
Day 6: Throughout the day, drink plenty of purified water with fresh lemon juice. Have fruit for breakfast, the rest of your gallbladder cleanse soup for lunch and a salad with a light protein for dinner.
The gallbladder is a small pear-shaped organ located on the right side of the body, underneath the liver. The gallbladder stores bile, a yellow-green fluid made by the liver that helps break down fats from food.
When you eat, the gallbladder releases bile through ducts into the upper part of the small intestine. This organ is an important partner with the liver in removing toxins from the body.
Causes & Symptoms of Gallstones
Most gallstones are formed from hardened cholesterol mixed with bile. If they get large enough, they can block the ducts and prevent bile from flowing out. This can irritate the gallbladder and affect its normal function.
Some symptoms of gallstones include a yellowing of the skin (jaundice), fever with chills, indigestion, or gallbladder discomfort, which can be felt on the upper-right side of the abdomen and the right shoulder. Sometimes gallstones become so severe that they need to be surgically removed. Risk factors for gallstones can include:
Not enough high-density lipoproteins (HDL, or "good" cholesterol)
Rapid weight loss
Gallbladder Cleanse Protocol
A gallbladder cleanse is a safe, natural way to cleanse the gallbladder and improve both gallbladder and liver function. It's easy to perform at home, but you can easily perform this while working as long as you have time at home on your flush day.
The protocol for the five-day cleanse has two phases: eat a gallbladder cleanse diet over four days, followed by a flush on the fifth day.
The cleansing effect of the magnesium sulfate from the Epsom salt and the olive oil will help flush out your gallbladder. It will also stimulate your liver's detoxification abilities.
The key ingredients for your gallbladder cleanse are raw, organic apple cider vinegar, Epsom salt, extra virgin olive oil, distilled water, and healthy, plant-based foods.
Follow an organic, plant-based diet in the days leading up to the cleanse, and of course, during it. Allowed foods include vegetables, fruits, herbal teas, fresh fruit juice, nuts, and seeds. Make sure you are drinking purified water throughout the cleanse.
For an effective gallbladder cleanse, eliminate all dairy and meat products, as well as fatty, processed, and genetically modified (GMO) foods. Do not consume alcohol or tobacco, and avoid fried or spicy foods.
For an extra boost, you can enhance your ACV water with an herbal liver-support formula such as Livatrex®.
In the morning, mix two tablespoons of raw organic ACV with one gallon of distilled water, shake, and refrigerate. Eat three small meals and two snacks per day and drink the distilled water mix. Eat your food slowly and chew it thoroughly to encourage efficient digestion.
Around noon, eat the gallbladder cleanse soup or drink the cleanse juice. See the recipes below:
Gallbladder Cleanse Soup
1 cup organic broccoli
1 organic beet
2 organic carrots
2 bay leaves
10 organic garlic cloves
1/2 organic onion
1/4 organic lemon
1 tablespoon Himalayan crystal salt
Wash and finely chop the ingredients. Add them to a pot with 32 ounces of distilled or purified water, then bring to a boil. Reduce to low heat and let simmer for 30 minutes and enjoy.
Gallbladder Cleanse Juice
3 organic carrots (washed and peeled)
2 organic apples (washed and cut)
1 organic beet (washed and peeled)
6 organic kale leaves
1/2 organic lemon (washed and peeled)
1/2-inch ginger root
Use an extractor to get all the juice and enjoy.
Select either an avocado seasoned with lemon and sea salt or a handful of walnuts for dinner. Alternatively, you may fast through the afternoon with just the ACV and water mix.
Day 5: The Flush
On day five, you will perform a gallbladder flush. This involves two steps done in the evening before you go to bed.
First, you will consume a mixture of one tablespoon of Epsom salt and eight ounces of warm, purified water around 7 p.m. Drink it quickly and ensure you are near a bathroom as you may experience liquid stool within 20 minutes.
You will follow this with six ounces of organic cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil between 8:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. You need to try to drink it all. If the taste is too much, try the following tips to make it more palatable:
Refrigerate the oil for a few hours.
Combine the oil with two tablespoons to one-half cup of freshly squeezed grapefruit, orange, or lemon juice in a jar and shake until mixed.
Pour the juice into one cup and the oil in another. Alternate between drinking from the two with a straw.
Getting Ready for Bed
Immediately after you finish drinking the oil, lie down on your right side with your knees pulled up to your stomach. Stay in this position for 30 minutes, then stretch out and try to go to sleep. Any cramping you experience is a positive sign that your body is releasing toxins; walk around for 10 minutes to help it subside. Another common side effect of a gallbladder cleanse is nausea; this is a sign that you may need another cleanse. Allow yourself to vomit if needed.
The Day After
Immediately after waking up, take six capsules of Oxy-Powder®. This will help flush what's been released from your gallbladder in your bowel movement.
Eat fruit for breakfast, the remaining gallbladder cleanse soup for lunch and a healthy dinner of salad and a light protein. Drink distilled or purified water with fresh lemon throughout the day.
Benefits of a Gallbladder Cleanse
Purging your gallbladder helps it perform its normal functions. And, as an important partner to the liver, those functions — which include supporting the overall digestive process, bile production, and maintaining a healthy metabolism — are vital to your health and well-being. Below are the top benefits of performing a gallbladder cleanse.
Releasing toxins helps remedy the unwanted symptoms they can cause, including affecting the flow of bile, discomfort, and gallbladder irritation.
Promotes Normal Gallbladder Function
A healthy gallbladder supports the immune system by helping the liver eliminate the toxins that affect your energy, appearance, and daily performance. By doing this cleanse, you support gallbladder function, as well as that of your liver.
Boosts Fat Digestion
Cleansing the gallbladder — a warehouse for bile — helps the body digest and absorb both fats and fat-soluble vitamins in the small intestine.
Promotes a Healthy Body Weight
A gallbladder cleanse may help promote a healthy body weight by encouraging normal function of the digestive system.
Flushing the gallbladder also makes it easier for the liver to perform as a maintainer of metabolism and producer of bile.
Encourages Overall Vitality
Clearing the pathway between the gallbladder and the liver allows the rest of the body to receive the nutrients that promote overall energy, health, and wellness.
The Best Ways to Avoid Gallstones
One of the best ways to avoid gallstones is by following a diet that provides a satisfactory amount of healthy fats and high-fiber foods. Following a plant-based diet is associated with a decreased risk of developing gallstones, according to research.
Avoid refined carbohydrates and consume less sugar. Seek ways to safely lose weight if you are overweight or obese, and maintain an optimal weight by eating healthy food and engaging in regular physical activity. Obesity is a known risk factor for developing gallstones.
If you have any health concerns or take any medications, consult your healthcare professional before performing the gallbladder cleanse. Side effects may include nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and vomiting.
Some people experience a "healing crisis" during their cleanse, which, because of the flow of toxins out of their body, can actually make them temporarily feel worse. Symptoms can include nausea, headaches, fatigue, and general malaise. Keep in mind that your body is detoxifying and you will soon feel better.
Points to Remember
The gallbladder is primarily a storage site for bile, which is a key ingredient in the digestive process that helps break down the fats in food. The gallbladder also plays an important role in communicating with other digestive organs.
Adults over 40, especially those who are overweight or have problems with cholesterol, are particularly prone to developing gallstones and may benefit from doing a gallbladder cleanse. These unwanted deposits can block the bile from being released and lead to symptoms such as abdominal discomfort and irritation. However, a gallbladder cleanse is good for nearly everyone, regardless of the diet they follow since we are all exposed to many toxins in the environment.
We recommend incorporating our Liver Cleanse Kit which you can also perform as part of a healthy lifestyle. This kit is a natural way to simultaneously support your gallbladder and liver.
The gallbladder cleanse involves four days of eating fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds while avoiding processed foods and meat, followed by a gallbladder flush. The flush involves consuming Epsom salt and water followed by organic olive oil to remove toxins from the body. Many people report feeling better than ever after completing a cleanse.
Have you tried a gallbladder cleanse? Share your story in the comments below!
Ask anyone who has had a kidney stone, and they'll tell you that it's one of the most unpleasant experiences they have ever had! Different types of kidney stones exist, but the most common is a calcium oxalate stone. In some people, calcium oxalate accumulates in their body and forms stones that must be eliminated through the urinary tract or in stool. In the United States, kidney stones affect one in 11 people, with higher rates among men, and overweight men and women.
If you tend to develop kidney stones, or if they run in your family, you may want to try a low-oxalate diet. Although a low-oxalate diet is commonly adopted by people who experience kidney stones, some experts also recommend it for autistic children. Preliminary evidence has linked a diet high in oxalate with autism; in some cases, experts recommend a low-oxalate diet as therapy.[3, 4, 5]
Here, we will describe how to start a low-oxalate diet, what you can eat, what to avoid, and the benefits of eating this way.
Quick Tips to Start a Low-Oxalate Diet
On a low-oxalate diet, you will keep your consumption of oxalate in foods to around 40 to 50 milligrams (mg) per day. Some experts say that up to 100 mg per day is acceptable.
When following this diet, you do not always have to avoid higher-oxalate foods. Your diet should consist mostly of low-oxalate foods with occasional medium- or high-oxalate items.
Spinach has the highest oxalate level of any vegetable or fruit — more than 100 times higher than even most high-oxalate foods. On this diet, you'll need to avoid it!
Most legumes are high in oxalate, but soaking them pulls the oxalate into the water (which you can then dump out).
Boiling vegetables reduces their oxalate content 30 to 90 percent.
Consume 800 to 1,200 mg of calcium per day when following a low-oxalate diet because it reduces how much oxalate is absorbed into the bloodstream.
If you are male, don't take high doses of vitamin C as it can increase your risk of developing stones.
What Is Oxalate?
Oxalic acid is a molecule that plants (and humans, actually) produce naturally and, as a result, it's in many plant foods. When it is bound to minerals — like calcium — it is called an oxalate. Although oxalate is present in plant foods, it isn't a nutrient. In fact, it's sometimes called an anti-nutrient because when oxalic acid binds to minerals like calcium, the body can't use those minerals. Second, oxalate is an insoluble crystal. When these crystals are small, they come out of the body easily. But, when they collect and grow in size, they're what we refer to as kidney stones, and they're painful and difficult to pass. Though other types of kidney stones exist, oxalate kidney stones are the most common.
What Increases Oxalate Levels?
Men who consume more than 1,000 mg of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) per day have a higher risk of forming calcium oxalate kidney stones. This is likely because the body converts vitamin C into oxalate.
Taking antibiotics may also increase oxalate levels. Antibiotics kill good gut bacteria that feed on oxalate. With less of those beneficial bacteria, more oxalate persists to form calcium oxalate stones.
Understandably, eating a diet high in oxalate is one thing that increases its level in the bloodstream and urine. If you tend to get kidney stones, you may consider this diet.
What Is a Low-Oxalate Diet?
A low-oxalate diet is, obviously, one that's comprised of foods that are low in oxalate.
Many healthcare providers recommend this diet as a preventative measure for people who have developed kidney stones.
The average oxalate content of most diets is around 70 to 150 mg per day. On a low-oxalate diet, you will typically keep your oxalate intake at or under 40 to 50 mg per day. Although, some nutritionists say you can eat up to 100 mg of oxalate per day.[11, 12]
What Can You Eat?
When you follow a low-oxalate diet, you are not purely restricted to low-oxalate foods, as total consumption is what matters. Set a goal of keeping your oxalate intake below 40 to 50 mg per day. With planning, you can actually eat foods with medium levels of oxalate, or, occasionally, items on the high-oxalate list.
Also, think about portion size when considering whether to eat a high-oxalate food. For example, sunflower seeds are a high-oxalate food, but when you add a tablespoon of them to your salad, the serving size is small enough to provide valuable nutrients and a nutty flavor, while still keeping your overall oxalate levels low. On the other hand, when you eat multiple low-oxalate foods, it adds up.
The following vegetables are all low in oxalate. They are all good choices for someone following a low-oxalate diet.
1 small onion
This list, while not exhaustive, provides some examples of low-oxalate fruits.
1 ounce (1 small box)
Low-Oxalate Bread, Cereal, & Grains
There are not many healthy grains that you can eat when following a low-oxalate diet. Processed white flour and wheat flour, as well as brown rice flour, are high in oxalate so do not eat foods made with either, including bread, pasta, and crackers. Wheat germ is also extremely high in oxalate, so avoid it.
Wheat and gluten-containing grains should be avoided anyway because gluten can cause digestive and systemic issues in many people. But even gluten-free grains like millet, brown rice, buckwheat, and quinoa are high in oxalate, and might need to be avoided on this diet.
The best choices for a low-oxalate diet are:
Whole oat bread
Low-Oxalate Protein Sources
There are many plant-based sources of protein that are low oxalate. It's not necessary to rely on meat and endure the negative health effects it causes.[13, 14] In addition, raising animals for consumption harms the environment in numerous ways. The best protein sources are certain legumes — but not all.
Most beans have high or at least moderate levels of oxalate, but if you soak them and then drain the water, oxalate levels in the beans are reduced.
Some moderate-oxalate protein sources include:[11, 12]
Red kidney beans
Raw coconut meat
Water is always the best choice of a beverage and, in fact, if you have kidney stones or are trying to prevent them, it's a good idea to increase your water consumption. Avoid draft beer or specially crafted beers, as they can be high in oxalate. On a low-oxalate diet, you can have the following beverages:
Sometimes people see the name "calcium oxalate stones" and think they must avoid foods with calcium. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Increasing your dietary intake of calcium will actually reduce the amount of oxalate in your body.
When calcium binds to oxalate in your intestines, it's more likely to be excreted in your stool before making its way to the kidneys.
Try to get two to three servings of calcium with each meal. If you eat a food that is high in oxalate, pair it with a high-calcium food. You can also get your calcium from certain vegetables or supplements.
Some studies link calcium supplements to higher stone formation rates — but only in people who already tend to get kidney stones, and this research is controversial. Experts recommend getting your calcium from food or taking calcium supplements with meals to minimize the risk of stone formation.
Avoid These High-Oxalate Foods
The good news is that you can still eat many foods on a low-oxalate diet.[11, 16] Below, we've listed common foods that are high in oxalate content. Occasionally, you can eat some of these, but do not eat them regularly if you are following the low-oxalate diet.
1 ounce (22 nuts)
Baked potato with skin
1 ounce (18 nuts)
Sweet potato with skin
*Best avoided at all times.
One study found some foods raise urine oxalate levels more than others, even ones with a higher oxalate content. These foods include spinach, rhubarb, beets, nuts, chocolate, tea, wheat bran, and strawberries. Although these foods offer important nutrients, they're best avoided if you follow a low-oxalate diet.
Low-Oxalate Diet Meal Plan
The following is an example of what a low-oxalate diet might look like:
Breakfast: Chickpea scramble, coffee
Lunch: Greek salad with cucumbers, tomatoes and raw organic goat cheese with vinaigrette dressing
Dinner: Lentil chili, sliced pineapple for dessert
Breakfast: Plain coconut milk yogurt with sliced banana and blueberries, coffee
Lunch: Roasted butternut squash topped with raw organic goat cheese
Dinner: Cooked black-eyed peas tossed with sautéed celery, red peppers, and onions in a vinaigrette dressing, fresh cherries for dessert
Breakfast: Blueberry smoothie with banana and pea protein
Lunch: Romaine lettuce salad with avocado, cucumbers, mushrooms, and vinaigrette dressing
Dinner: Pumpkin soup
Other Natural Ways to Reduce Oxalate
There are several easy ways to reduce your oxalate levels, from drinking water to lowering your salt intake.
Drink Plenty of Water
When you drink a lot of water, your urine becomes less concentrated with substances that can cause kidney stones. The extra fluid intake causes you to urinate more, which means that oxalate is less likely to settle in your kidneys, bind together, and form stones.
One study found that people who produce between 2 to 2.5 liters of urine a day are 50 percent less likely to have kidney stones than those who urinate lesser amounts. In order to produce 2 to 2.5 liters of urine a day, you need to drink about eight to ten 8-ounce glasses of water.
Reduce Salt Intake
When you consume more salt, calcium concentrates in your urine resulting in a greater chance of developing oxalate stones. Try to limit your daily salt intake to 1,500 mg. To do this, you will need to read nutrition facts labels.
Many processed foods, such as canned food, fast food, and deli meat, are high in sodium, so avoid them — they are generally bad for your health anyway.
Limit Vitamin C Supplements
On a low-oxalate diet, you'll need to limit your vitamin C supplements. One study found that men taking 1,000 mg of vitamin C per day had a higher risk of developing calcium oxalate kidney stones than those who did not take vitamin C supplements. Women who took the same amount of vitamin C did not have a greater risk of kidney stone formation, nor did men who took lower levels of vitamin C.
The researchers recommend that men who tend to form kidney stones reduce their intake of vitamin C supplements. Dietary intake of vitamin C — in other words, vitamin C from food — was not associated with kidney stone formation in men or women, though few participants in the study consumed more than 700 mg per day from diet alone.
Consume More Citric Acid
You can find citric acid in many fruits and vegetables, especially lemons and limes. Citric acid can reduce your chances of developing calcium oxalate stones. When citric acid binds with calcium in the urine, it prevents it from bonding to oxalate. Citric acid also binds to existing calcium oxalate crystals, preventing them from getting larger, which means they are easier to excrete in urine.
How to Get Started
Begin by keeping a food diary and using online resources to calculate how much oxalate you typically consume. Next, start looking at charts of low-oxalate foods and look for opportunities to replace a high-oxalate food with one that is low in oxalate. If you have many high-oxalate foods in your regular diet, try switching to moderate-oxalate foods and then to low-oxalate ones.
Points to Remember
Oxalate forms when oxalic acid in plants binds with a mineral, such as calcium. Oxalate can create kidney stones in some people. A low-oxalate diet is one way to reduce your risk of developing calcium oxalate kidney stones. Some experts consider a low-oxalate diet a promising therapy for autistic children, as well.
Followers of a low-oxalate diet should keep their consumption of oxalate around 50 to 100 mg. You can do so by consulting many of the charts available that list low-oxalate foods. In addition to a low-oxalate diet, you may also want to increase your consumption of water, calcium, and citric acid and decrease your salt intake.
If kidney stones are or have been an issue for you, check out our article about the best remedies for kidney stones. It has more than a few good tips to help support normal, healthy kidney function.
Is a low-oxalate diet something you've tried or considered? What insight can you provide? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us.
As the most common chronic liver disease in the West, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a scary-sounding diagnosis. People with this condition are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, liver failure, hepatitis, and diabetes. But the good news is that you can manage NAFLD with dietary and lifestyle changes.
Unfortunately, most people wait until they're diagnosed with NAFLD to take positive steps to improve their health. One of the best ways to reduce the chance you will get fatty liver disease, lessen its symptoms, or reverse its impacts involves following a plant-based diet.
In a nutshell, shifting to a healthier diet not only reduces your risk of this condition, but it can also help you manage its symptoms. Studies found that people with NAFLD who ate a vegetarian diet had less severe fibrosis (a symptom of fatty liver) compared with those who consume meat. We will discuss the ideal diet tailored for people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
What Is Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease?
Affecting approximately 25 percent of Americans, NAFLD occurs when fat accumulates in the liver, causing enlargement of this critical organ that supports digestion, removes toxins, and stores energy. Most people have small amounts of fat in their liver, but if it rises to more than 5 to 10 percent of the liver's weight, you have NAFLD. The disease is mostly diagnosed in people between age 40 to 60 but can occur at any age.
If you do not deal with NAFLD early on, it may develop into non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a more severe type of inflammation that can lead to a variety of health problems, mostly in the liver.
How Does Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Differ From NAFLD?
Alcoholic fatty liver disease is related to excess alcohol intake, while NAFLD is not. Studies have shown that many people who engage in heavy drinking every day or almost every day will develop fatty liver disease. Around 40 percent of people with moderate alcohol intake (defined as one to two drinks daily) also show changes associated with fatty liver disease.
Fortunately, this condition can usually be reversed by limiting or eliminating alcohol and improving one's diet. On the other hand, NAFLD can be caused by diet and lifestyle and is influenced by genetics. Scientists believe that when the process by which the liver produces bile acids is affected, it can lead to the development of both diseases.
What You Can Eat
Changing to a healthy diet is key to fighting NAFLD, reducing its symptoms, and getting your liver health back on track. Strive for a plant-based diet that's high in fiber and rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, and seeds. A registered dietitian or nutritionist can help you create a new diet plan, but here are some suggestions on which foods to eat and which to avoid.
Unprocessed or minimally processed whole grains, including oats, brown rice, and quinoa (technically a seed), are best on this diet. If bread is labeled as whole grain, check the ingredients to make sure the first ingredient listed is a grain. Oatmeal is particularly good on this diet because it reduces LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol — also known as the "bad" type of cholesterol.
Leafy green vegetables like spinach, bok choy, kale, collards, cabbage, arugula, and watercress pack a powerful antioxidant punch. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, and horseradish) appear to reduce the amount of fat the liver absorbs.
Beans are good for your heart, the more you eat, the more you... help your liver. Legumes, such as chickpeas, lentils, green peas, kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, navy beans, and peanuts, are great sources of fiber, complex carbohydrates, and protein, and can help control cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Walnuts & Other Nuts
Tree nuts provide beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, which improve liver fat levels and HDL cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol) in people with NAFLD. Walnuts, in particular, are high in omega-3s. A study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology showed that eating walnuts improved liver function in one group of patients.
You can eat good, healthy fats on a plant-based diet designed for fatty liver disease. Monounsaturated fats are an excellent source of healthy omega-3s and are found in olive, peanut, and canola oils, as well as avocados and most nuts. Sources of polyunsaturated fats include avocado, flaxseed, walnuts, and peanut oils. For saturated fats, only use coconut oil — which may benefit a fatty liver — and avoid animal fats and palm oil. Use organic, non-GMO, cold-pressed oils.
While more research is necessary to draw solid conclusions, preliminary studies suggest that drinking coffee may reduce symptoms of NAFLD, including fibrosis of the liver. Several possible mechanisms by which this occurs include antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fibrotic effects.
Foods to Avoid
Take these foods off your shopping list. They can lead to inflammation, and increase your calorie, bad fat, and sugar intake unnecessarily.
Processed Foods & Empty Carbs
A diet that's high in starches and sugars makes NAFLD worse by increasing blood glucose, insulin, and triglycerides. In one study, patients who restricted their carbohydrate intake to 40 percent of calories had significantly lower levels of liver enzymes than those with a high-carb diet, even though each group lost the same amount of weight. Avoid sugar, especially white sugar, white potatoes, white rice, and processed grains. Eliminate white bread, pasta, and pastries. No more than 10 percent of your daily calorie intake should come from simple carbohydrates.
I don't recommend any meat consumption; red meat and processed meat are particularly harmful. Many studies have shown that eating meat increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and morbidity. Animals raised for meat are usually given hormones and antibiotics and fed unnatural corn diets versus being grass-fed. Factory-farmed meat, in turn, negatively affects your health.
Studies have shown that a diet high in saturated fat can increase the risk of developing NAFLD and make the disease worse. Experts recommend you replace most saturated fat with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. It's also smart to avoid fish oil, which can be high in mercury. Overall, you should get 25 to 30 percent of your daily calories from fat.
Because they're usually fried in processed, GMO cooking oils, fried foods are especially high in bad fat. They also add extra calories and salt to your diet. You can steam or bake most foods that you typically fry, using spices and herbs to heighten their flavor.
High-fat dairy products contain high levels of unhealthful saturated fat. I recommend skipping dairy altogether and opt for coconut milk or other non-dairy varieties. You can drink organic coconut or almond milk, use them in smoothies or coffee, or buy nut-milk yogurt.
Without exception, experts recommend that patients with NAFLD consume no alcohol at all. A study published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology found that drinking even a modest amount of alcohol can make it impossible for the condition to improve.
Salt & Sugar
In general, limit salt intake to 1,500 milligrams daily because it makes your body retain water. Also avoid added sugar, which increases fat levels in your liver. That means you should avoid soda, fruit juice, and many packaged foods. Sugar hides in a lot of items, so read the nutritional labels of all foods carefully!
Example a of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Diet Menu
In general, you want to follow a diet that is low in calories, carbs, sugar, and saturated fat, and high in dietary fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Some experts recommend the Mediterranean diet — or a plant-based version of it. Not only will this way of eating reduce your bad fat consumption, but it can also help you better manage blood sugar issues or diabetes, improve cardiovascular health, and reduce cholesterol levels. Here is an example meal plan that could work for you.
Breakfast: Oatmeal with blueberries and chopped almonds on top; coffee
Lunch: Avocado, low-fat cheese, and sprouts on whole grain toast; carrot sticks; apple slices
Snack: Almond butter on apple slices
Dinner: Cold sesame peanut noodles; steamed spinach with a touch of olive oil and roasted garlic
Breakfast: Bananas in low-fat plain yogurt; whole grain toast with peanut butter; green tea
Lunch: Lentil soup
Snack: Carrot sticks and hummus
Dinner: Broccoli slaw salad with tofu, ginger, sesame seeds, carrots, green pepper, cilantro, sesame seeds with olive oil/vinegar/sesame oil dressing; avocado
Breakfast: Kashi with fresh peaches; black tea with lemon
Lunch: Green salad with hummus; a cup of raspberries
Snack: Trail mix of sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts and cashews
Dinner: Cauliflower crust pizza with olive oil, goat cheese, basil, and fresh, chopped tomatoes; roasted asparagus with lemon juice
Herbs & Supplements That May Help
If you have NAFLD or any condition, consult your healthcare professional before you start taking any supplements or herbal remedies. Some can harm the liver or interact with medication. However, some supplements have shown promising results as specialized nutrition for the liver.
Carnitine, an amino acid that plays a crucial role in the body's energy production, may slow down NAFLD's progression. Studies have found that this supplement may work particularly well for diabetics with NAFLD.
As the most active nutrient in turmeric, curcumin contains powerful antioxidants. One study found that people who took curcumin had significantly lower liver fat content compared with those who did not — a 78.9 percent reduction in liver fat compared to only 27.5 percent.
Garlic & Garlic Oil
Studies show that garlic can reduce liver injury and the buildup of fat and collagen. It may reduce liver inflammation as well. Garlic oil also may help with weight loss, and it reduces systemic redness and swelling in the body.
In one study, thirty-four patients who took 300 milligrams of glutathione daily for four months showed a decrease in alanine aminotransferase levels, and also in triglycerides, non-esterified fatty acids, and ferritin — a blood cell protein that contains iron.
Green Tea Extract
The key enzyme in green tea may slow the development and progression of NAFLD. Green tea is a source of polyphenols, which have an anti-inflammatory effect.
Zinc & Selenium
NAFLD can cause mineral deficiencies in blood and the liver. An early study on animals showed that zinc and selenium supplementation may normalize disease symptoms but did not prevent its onset.
Several vitamins may provide benefits for people with a fatty liver, or those looking to prevent it. Vitamin C and vitamin E are antioxidants that block reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the body. One animal study found they helped prevent the progression of fatty liver disease. New studies associate deficiency of vitamin D, an important nutrient, with NAFLD.
Address Fatty Liver Disease With Lifestyle Changes
If you have NAFLD, you may want to consider making lifestyle changes that will propel you forward on your journey to greater health. In addition to changing your diet, one of the most important changes you can make is increasing your physical activity. Studies found that when patients with NAFLD engage in aerobic exercise or weight resistance, it reduced their risk of getting diabetes by 35 percent and cardiovascular disease by 49 percent.
Studies have shown that even minimal physical activity can have a positive impact on NAFLD. Consider working with a physical trainer to help you devise an appropriate workout plan.
A good nutritionist or registered dietitian can help tailor a diet for your specific needs. However, go slow with the weight loss as rapid weight loss through extreme low-calorie intake or fasting can make NAFLD worse. Experts recommend that you lose weight gradually and by following a healthy diet. Aim to lose seven percent of your body weight in regular increments over a year.
Points to Remember
If you want to reduce your risk of developing the disease or manage its symptoms, your best bet involves enacting appropriate lifestyle changes, especially following a diet tailored to NAFLD. I recommend you follow a whole food, plant-based diet. Eat fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Avoid alcohol, red meat, fatty, and processed food.
In addition, perform a liver cleanse two or three times a year, stay active, exercise regularly, and maintain a healthy body weight. Supplements such as garlic oil, curcumin, carnitine, or green tea extract may provide targeted nutrition to the liver. With the appropriate steps and guidance from your healthcare practitioner, you can point your liver health in the right direction.
For smokers, quitting is — by far — the most important step you can take to improve your health as well as that of your family. Maybe you're worried about the harm cigarettes have caused your body, concerned about the effects of second-hand smoke on those around you, or feel like your tobacco use comes at a high cost. Whatever your motivation, remember that quitting smoking is a journey that requires a plan of action. Making the firm decision to quit is the first step on your path to better health.
Six Steps to Quit Smoking for Good
There are many effective ways to quit smoking, and while no one method works for everyone, following these steps can help you along your path to living a smoke-free life.
1. Pick a Quit Date
After you set a date, add it to your calendar to help you stick to it. Select a date that gives you enough time to build the confidence and willpower you need to successfully quit, but isn't so far ahead that you may start second-guessing your decision.
2. Remove All Nicotine Products
The night before your quit date, get rid of your cigarettes and any triggers, such as lighters or ashtrays, that you associate with smoking. Don't tuck them away “just in case." Throw them out to remove the temptation and reinforce the reality of your decision. Also, clean your home, your car, and any other places where you've smoked to remove the odor of cigarettes.
3. Get Quitting Aids (If You Need Them)
Some people find that nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) like gum, inhalers, nasal sprays, and patches increase their chances of overcoming their addiction. If you opt to use one of these aids, it should only be temporary. If you use NRTs or quit cold turkey, stock up on oral substitutes like gum and toothpicks to help distract you when a craving hits. Other natural options to help you kick the habit include hypnosis, acupuncture, and support groups.
4. Know Your Smoking Triggers
Cravings are a normal part of quitting smoking. For most people, certain things will trigger an urge to smoke. If you've cleaned everything and removed the scent of smoke, you've already eliminated one common trigger. Consider tracking your smoking habit before you quit, and pay attention to any patterns in your smoking behavior, such as after meals, after sex, or during times of stress. Have a specific plan for each of these situations.
5. Ask for Support
Having support is crucial to quitting. Friends, family, your healthcare practitioner or other smokers who have successfully quit can provide emotional support and encouragement. Tell people in your life that you're quitting, and be clear about what you need from them. Do you want a friend to call every day to check in with your progress and hold you accountable? Do you need a friend you can call whenever you want to pick up a cigarette, to talk you out of it, acting as a “sponsor” of sorts? Do you need your family members to remind you of the reasons why you're quitting? Identify what will help you succeed and then ask for it.
6. Stay Busy
When you feel the urge to smoke, do something to distract yourself. Stretch, go for a walk, take a shower, or call a friend. Cravings rarely last more than a few minutes, so any time you feel one coming on, take a moment to do something different. Take ten deep breaths, chew some gum, or take a whiff of peppermint essential oil and wait for the craving to pass.
Health Effects Timeline
No matter how long you've been smoking, your body will begin to heal, and your health will improve soon after you quit. You will notice some changes right away, while others become more noticeable as time goes on.
20 minutes: Your heart rate and blood pressure return to a normal range.
8 hours: Your body’s oxygen levels return to normal and risk of a heart attack decreases.
24 hours: Your lungs begin to clear out the mucus caused by smoking. Coughing is normal at this stage.
48 hours: Your sense of smell and taste start to return.
2 weeks to 2 months: Your lung function increases up to 30 percent.
1 year: Your risk of heart attack is cut in half.
10 years: Your risk of dying from lung cancer is cut in half.
20 years or more: Your risk of getting heart disease is the same as someone who has never smoked.
Benefits of Quitting Smoking
The health benefits of quitting are the same for all types of smokers no matter your gender, age or how long you've been smoking. Although giving up this bad habit is challenging, the benefits are worth it. Here are the top six benefits.
Reduce Your Risk of Cancer
Along with improving your heart health, reducing your cancer risk is one of the major health benefits of quitting smoking. Smokers are almost 20 times more likely to die of lung cancer than non-smokers. Smoking also increases the risk of other types of cancer, and when you quit, you significantly reduce your risk of developing this invasive and life-limiting disease. Start your journey to better health today!
Lower Your Cholesterol
Smoking reduces the amount of high-density lipoproteins (HDL) in your blood, which is the “good" cholesterol that protects against heart disease. HDLs carry bad cholesterol (low-density lipoproteins, or LDL) to the liver, so that it can get flushed from the body. Without HDLs, your risk for arterial plaque buildup increases, leading to heart disease. Research shows that smokers have a 2 to 4 times greater chance of developing heart disease than nonsmokers. So, when you stop smoking, you lower your bad cholesterol which, in turn, decreases your risk of heart disease.
Improve Your Blood Pressure
Every time you have a cigarette, your heart rate and blood pressure rise. Within hours of quitting, both your heart rate and blood pressure go down.
Boost Your Immune System
Quitting smoking lowers inflammation in your body, improves circulation, and increases oxygen levels — all of which have a positive effect on your immune system. With a stronger immune system, your body can more easily fight off viruses and illnesses.
Tobacco smoke causes premature aging and makes you look older by causing wrinkles and sagging skin. The nicotine in cigarettes constricts your blood vessels, depriving your skin of oxygen and nutrients. Once you are smoke-free, your skin will look more vibrant and healthy.
Taste Buds Improve
Smoking damages nerve endings in your mouth and nose, which dulls your senses of taste and smell. Within just 48 hours of quitting, you will start to notice that food and drinks taste better as the nerve endings in your mouth begin to heal.
Potential Side Effects
While they aren’t side effects per se, your body has become addicted to nicotine, and as it eliminates the poison from your body, you may experience a healing crisis as you adjust to living tobacco-free, particularly in the early stages of your quitting journey. These include:
Nicotine is a drug, and it's why smoking is addictive. When you quit smoking, your body will go through nicotine withdrawal as it adjusts to going without. Withdrawal symptoms can last up to two weeks, but you are likely to experience the most difficult symptoms during the first few days.
Hold steady in your determination to live a smoke-free life and know these symptoms will pass.
Feeling irritable is a normal part of nicotine withdrawal. Let your family and friends know that you may be a bit grumpy over the next couple weeks as you adjust physically and mentally to this new state of health. Light exercise such as walking and yoga can help improve your mood, as can meditation and breathing exercises. Aromatherapy with essential oils can work wonders on your mood.
Constipation and other digestive issues are normal in the first few weeks after you quit. Drink plenty of water and increase your fiber intake by eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to help your body return to more regular bowel movements.
Your body may confuse nicotine cravings for food cravings, causing an increased appetite. This can last for several weeks after your quit. Try eating smaller amounts of healthy foods throughout the day rather than three large meals.
For the first two weeks of being smoke-free, you may have difficulty focusing or experience “brain fog." Know this is normal. Eat throughout the day to help maintain steady blood sugar, which can also make it easier to stay focused.
Nicotine is a stimulant, so when it's gone, you might feel tired. It can take a few weeks for your energy levels to return to normal as your body adjusts. In the meantime, get more rest, exercise (which gives you more energy and helps you sleep), and drink lots of water to flush your system.
Best Tips for Long-Term Success
Even after most of your cravings and nicotine withdrawals have passed, staying smoke-free can be challenging. There are things you can do to avoid slip-ups and set yourself up for long-term success.
Drinking water doesn't just keep you well-hydrated, it also breaks down chemicals and flushes them out of your body. This directly helps you eliminate the toxins caused by smoking. Drinking water can also help you combat cravings. Hold each sip in your mouth for a few seconds when a craving strikes, or drink through a straw to keep your mouth busy.
You can increase your chances of successfully quitting while improving your health by reaching for your gym shoes instead of cigarettes. Thirty minutes of exercise each day is an effective way to boost your mood and help you get better sleep — all of which will help keep cravings and withdrawal symptoms at bay.
Deep breathing can help you get through cravings. When a craving hits, inhale through your nose and hold it for a count of five. Slowly breathe out through your mouth for a count of seven. Repeat as many times as necessary to reduce your cravings, stress, and anxiety. Deep breathing exercises are great to perform while sitting still in a quiet room or even while going for a walk outside in nature.
Infrared (IR) saunas help detoxify your body through the use of heat. Just 10 to 15 minutes can work up a vigorous sweat and remove toxins, promote circulation and healing, decrease pain and fatigue, and improve skin tone and elasticity. Be sure to drink plenty of water before and after your sauna sessions.
Do a Lung Cleanse
A lung cleanse is a natural procedure designed to detoxify, cleanse, and refresh the delicate respiratory linings of the bronchial passages and lungs by purging them of accumulated toxins.
Quitting isn't easy, but it can be done! As you go along your quitting journey, it's important to remind yourself of the reasons why you're quitting, particularly when you feel the urge to smoke. Make a list of your reasons and read them to yourself often to help you stay the course. When you want to quit, put the date on the calendar. Enlist people to help support you, especially friends or family members who are former smokers themselves. Know your triggers — things that make you want to smoke — and eliminate them. Have a plan to distract yourself whenever a craving comes on. Know that when you quit smoking, you are doing the single most important thing for your health and it will only improve with time.
For long-term success, increase your physical activity, eat detoxifying foods, engage in breathing exercises, and cleanse your body. The freedom you will experience after you've successfully quit will be incredible. It won't take long before you're a healthier, happier version of yourself!
In Indian mythology, neem has a divine origin. When the elixir of immortality was being carried to heaven by divine beings, drops fell on the neem tree, which led to its miraculous healing properties. Found throughout the Indian subcontinent, Ayurvedic medicine practitioners have used the bark, leaves, flowers, seeds, and fruits of the neem tree (Azadirachta indica) for centuries.
Neem comes in many forms, from oil to tea to honey. Neem benefits your skin, hair, immune system, and more. You can grow it in your flower garden and put it to use as a natural, chemical-free insect repellant and herbicide. Here's everything you need to know about neem oil benefits and uses.
What Is Neem Oil?
Known as the Indian lilac tree, practitioners of Ayurvedic and Siddha medicine throughout India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, and the Maldives have relied on the neem tree throughout the ages to promote health. In Sanskrit, people call the neem tree arista (which means "perfection, happiness, secure") as well as nimba, which means "to give good health." It turns out neem oil contains quercetin, a flavonoid plant pigment that acts as a strong antioxidant with well-documented health properties. Neem oil contains several other active compounds, including nimbi, salannin, azadirachtin, and several fatty acids.
Neem oil is made either by cold-pressing seeds or soaking crushed seed kernels and extracting using hexane. Cold-pressing is ideal since heating removes active compounds, and hexane may add unwanted chemicals. Hexane extraction is usually used to make soaps.
7 Health Benefits of Neem Oil
Various parts of the neem tree, including seeds, leaves, flowers, and bark, contain a host of nutrients and plant compounds with health-enhancing properties. Over the past thousand years, natural health practitioners have prescribed its use for a variety of ailments such as snake bites, malaria, and even constipation. Here are some of the most well-known health-related uses for neem and products made from it.
1. Supports Digestive Health
Neem has long been used to help promote gut health and digestion. In the Ayurvedic tradition, the tree's bark is used to help different stomach ailments, including gas and bloating. Modern research has verified that neem extract has gastroprotective properties: a 2004 study demonstrated that 30-60 mg of the extract, taken twice a day, had a positive impact on stomach ulcers.
2. Aids Cleansing & Detoxification
Neem's support for digestive health extends one step further than just helping your digestion. It turns out the tree's bark may help defend against intestinal invaders. Neem offers significant activity against various types of harmful organisms, especially those that affect the digestive system. By promoting good bacteria (probiotics) while deterring harmful ones, neem supports a healthy and happy gut.
3. Encourages Healthy-Looking Skin
Neem essential oil is also known for its skin-enhancing benefits. Practitioners of Siddha medicine, a traditional practice from Southern India and Sri Lanka, added neem oil to herbal concoctions or made neem soap to help skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, ringworm, and even leprosy. You may find neem oil listed as an ingredient in many natural cosmetic, soap, and anti-aging products. Neem's fatty acids, vitamins, and powerful antioxidants are the perfect trifecta to help rejuvenate the skin by diminishing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
4. Promotes Healthier Hair
Neem's benefits also extend to your hair, helping to make it stronger and fuller. Using a shampoo with neem oil helps improve scalp health through its anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. You'll see healthier hair follicles as a result. Those same properties curb dandruff by providing nourishment across the entire scalp and deter Candida, a fungus known to cause those pesky skin flakes. Neem can also help you rid yourself of every parent's nightmare: lice. Topical lice products with neem seed extracts have been shown to eradicate the adult lice in a single treatment — but not the nits (eggs), which you will still have to remove manually.
5. Boosts Oral Health
Before you could buy toothbrushes on store shelves, Ayurvedic practitioners recommended their patients use neem twigs to clean their teeth, relieve painful toothaches, and prevent gum disease. Perhaps it's no surprise to learn that, today, neem bark is an active ingredient in several natural oral health products, from toothpaste to mouthwash. Neem's anti-bacterial properties help limit bacterial growth in the mouth, reducing the risk of swollen gums (gingivitis), bad breath (halitosis), and even more serious dental issues like plaque buildup and tooth decay.
6. May Act as a Natural Birth Control
Research suggests that neem may have anti-fertility effects, acting as a natural birth control. A study found that neem leaf extract has spermicidal (sperm-killing) action, reducing human sperm motility to near zero at a 3mg dose. Studies showed that applying neem oil intravaginally before sex prevented conception in rhesus monkeys, rats, and rabbits. Neem oil may prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg in humans, as well as lab animals. The anti-conception effects were completely reversed after its use stopped in studies. We don't recommend relying on neem for birth control; always consult your healthcare provider.
7. Acts as an Antioxidant
Neem's impressive health-related properties don't stop there. Scientists have found the strong antioxidant plant pigment called quercetin in neem. This and other compounds act as free radical scavengers, picking up harmful reactive oxygen species (ROS) throughout the body. Neem also reduced premature cell death (apoptosis) of healthy cells, while helping to destroy harmful cells. Researchers have found neem can be an effective tool for promoting good health. It's easy to see why neem is known as a "wonder tree."
Forms of Neem
Different forms of neem supplements and applications are available, ranging from:
Neem Bark: Neem bark is often ground to a powder. This neem powder is then used to protect the gastrointestinal tract, to repel harmful intestinal invaders, as well as an insecticide.
Neem Leaves: Neem leaves can be used as a poultice or steeped into a tea to reduce stomach upset or fever, and to help promote heart health.
Neem Oil: Neem oil is made from the seeds of the neem tree. It can be used to help promote clear, healthy skin, for gut health, as a birth control, and for natural pest control. You can buy neem oil spray or straight oil that can be diluted as needed.
Neem Tea: Neem tea is made from whole or ground leaves. It is bitter on its own, so is usually combined with blends of other herbs and spices, like green tea, licorice root, fennel seed, or orange peel.
Neem Honey: Neem honey is collected from beehives that are placed near groves of neem trees. The honey can be used to help settle the stomach. It also has strong antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties
Neem Oil Uses
There are many ways to use neem, both health-oriented and otherwise. Neem has so many health-promoting properties that it's commonly used in personal hygiene, from improving your breath to reducing wrinkles. In addition to helping your health, neem can be used in your garden and for your pets!
To use neem's wrinkle-smoothing and skin-health-boosting properties, look for complexion bars, lotion, facial oil, body polish, body wash, and facial cleansers. Because of neem's therapeutic properties, you can also buy ointments, chapsticks for your lips, or just pure neem oil for various uses. Neem oil is an excellent natural remedy for psoriasis, eczema, and dry skin.
How to Use: To soothe acne, dab undiluted neem oil directly to the spot using a cotton swab. For larger patches of dry skin from psoriasis or eczema, add ten drops of neem oil into a carrier like almond, jojoba, or coconut oil in a glass storage bottle. If you don't like the scent, you can add a few drops of lavender or your favorite essential oil. Once mixed, you can apply some to your hands, then rub over the affected area. If you prefer a less-oily option, add the neem oil to aloe vera gel instead. Don't apply pure neem oil if you have sensitive skin, as it can irritate. Instead, mix pure neem oil with any of the carriers mentioned above or aloe vera to dilute its concentration down to 3 to 25 percent.
Because of neem's ability to deter harmful organisms, people have used it for oral health for centuries. While we don't use neem twigs the way they used to in ancient India, today you can find neem-containing mouthwash or toothpaste, as well as tooth and gum powder.
How to Use: To spiff up your oral care routine try these tricks. Spread a dab of neem oil along the length of your dental floss and floss as you normally do. This gets the neem into your gums and in crevices that you may not get to with your toothbrush alone. You can also add a couple of drops of neem oil to your toothpaste, or rub a drop or two along your gum line.
Neem promotes healthy hair and scalp, reducing dandruff and keeping your locks lustrous. Products for hair include dandruff-fighting shampoo and conditioner, and you can apply neem oil — diluted in a carrier like almond oil — directly on the scalp for dandruff or lice. Because neem is gentle for children, there are also baby care shampoos and care items.
How to Use: If you want to use your own hair care products but get the benefits of neem, add ten drops of neem oil into three tablespoons of your favorite shampoo or lotion. Pure neem oil has a strong garlicky odor, which is why many products combine it with other oils, like lavender oil or eucalyptus oil.
You can safely use neem oil on food crops to keep aphids, mites and other plant-killing insects at bay. It can also protect you from unwanted attention from ants, mosquitoes, and other flying pests while gardening, or when outside. Some use neem oil to keep bed bugs away from their home. The oil also has anti-fungal properties, resisting mildew and root rot in plants.
How to Use: You can create homemade pesticide. In a spray bottle, add one teaspoon high-quality neem oil to a quart of water. Add in 1/8 teaspoon liquid soap to help the mixture stick to plants and surfaces. You can spray this concoction directly onto the leaves of the plant. Consult a local natural gardening center to help determine how much and how often to use the spray.
Neem's insecticidal properties can also help keep your pets healthy. When applied topically (to the skin), the oil can help dogs avoid the vexing bites of fleas, midges, mites and other biting insects — the very ones that may carry worms or disease. Always dilute the oil to prevent irritation. Neem oil, when diluted, can soothe itchy, inflamed skin.
Neem oil should never be taken internally by pets since ingestion can be dangerous for them. There are some neem products available at specialty veterinary stores, but you can easily make neem products at home. Neem can interfere with certain medications, so discuss your use of this supplement with your veterinarian to make sure it's safe before using it on your pet.
How to Use: To make an insecticidal shampoo, add 25 mL of high-quality neem oil to 400 mL of your favorite pet shampoo. Alternatively, if you prefer a daily topical spray, you can add one cup of neem leaf to one liter of water. After simmering for five minutes, add the water to a spray bottle to use as needed.
Side Effects & Safety of Neem
For the most part, neem is safe and well-tolerated in adults when used externally. People with sensitive skin should always dilute neem oil with a carrier oil. Internal use of neem oil may cause loose stools or vomiting, so exercise caution before consuming it internally. Based on animal studies, a safe serving of 0.2 mL/kg neem oil has been suggested for adults. Always choose the purest, highest-quality supplements or oils because some may otherwise be contaminated.
Neem may temporarily reduce male and female fertility, so avoid it if you are actively trying to get pregnant or might try to conceive within a few months. The studies do indicate that its anti-fertility effects are quickly reversible after discontinuing its use.
Some studies suggest that excessive amounts of neem oil might be toxic and negatively affect the brain, kidney, and liver. Neem is known to interact with a variety of different drugs, including common diabetes medications. As with all supplements and medications, talk to your healthcare provider before taking neem to make sure it's appropriate for you.
Points to Remember
There's good reason why neem has a long history of use by natural medicine practitioners. It offers many impressive health benefits including aiding cleansing and detoxification, promoting digestive health, acting as a natural birth control, and deterring harmful organisms in the body as well as the home and garden.
Neem contains quercetin, a strong antioxidant, as well as other plant pigments, fatty acids, and nutrients that work together to promote the impressive health benefits that are increasingly backed up by science.
Neem is generally safe for use, but may interact with some medications, and has anti-fertility effects, so it should not be used if you are trying to conceive a child. Consult with a healthcare professional to know how much neem is right for you.
Milk thistle has been used by traditional healers around the world for more than 2,000 years to support prostate, liver, and gallbladder health and more recently, scientists have started documenting the herb’s incredible health benefits.
What Is Milk Thistle?
Known sometimes as Mary thistle or holy thistle, and scientifically as Silybum marianum, milk thistle is a flowering plant originally from the Mediterranean region, although it has been brought to other regions, including North America. The prickly purple-flowering plant is in the sunflower or Asteraceae family. The plant was named milk thistle because of the milky white fluid inside of the stems, which is sometimes visible as white veins on the leaves. Milk thistle seeds, leaves, roots, young stalks, and flowers can be consumed for health benefits. Milk thistle can be purchased as a capsule, liquid supplement, or as a tea.
What Are the Active Compounds in Milk Thistle?
The extract of the milk thistle is called silymarin, and it contains several components, including silychristin, silydianin, and silybin (also called silibinin), which are flavonolignans. Silybin is the most abundant and most beneficial of the components, making up about 50 to 70 percent of silymarin.
How Does the Body Use Silymarin?
Silymarin has a bioavailability of around 30 to 50 percent; in other words, 30 to 50 percent of the flavonolignans get used by the body. Interestingly, when a healthy person consumes silymarin, the body converts it relatively rapidly to other chemical byproducts that do not have biological activity, with its peak activity occurring one to two hours after consumption. However, in patients with liver dysfunction, silymarin and the flavonolignans it contains stay in the blood longer and at concentrations three to five times higher than that of a healthy patient.
Silymarin, including its main component silybin, strengthens and stabilizes cell membranes, stimulates protein synthesis and cell regeneration in the liver, and prevents the production of prostaglandins that otherwise lead to irritation in the body.
How Milk Thistle Provides Liver Support
Milk thistle and its active components particularly help detoxify and support liver health. Milk thistle can counteract toxin-related damage and other conditions that produce redness and swelling. Milk thistle:
Protects against toxic substances
Protects against harmful organisms
Promotes normal liver function
Reduces iron overload in thalassemia patients
Boosts glutathione levels
May promote weight loss
The most-known and well-established health benefit of milk thistle is how it supports your liver. Silymarin directly blocks toxins that the liver encounters, preventing them from entering liver cells, thus preventing premature cell death. Silymarin is an antioxidant that soothes redness and irritation,[4, 5] provides a defense against various types of harmful organisms,[1, 2] and prevents the formation of scar tissue, or fibrosis, in the liver and elsewhere in the body.[1, 6]
Protects Against Toxic Substances
Milk thistle counteracts toxin-related injuries to the liver. Scientists have found that silymarin protects against liver damage from drug use, viral hepatitis,[1, 7] death cap (Amanita) mushroom poisoning,[2, 8] and acetaminophen.[1, 9] Over 80 percent of the liver is comprised of cells known as hepatocytes. Silymarin keeps toxic compounds from entering these cells, protecting them and, in turn, their contribution to liver function. It has helped support the liver in individuals exposed to high amounts of hydrogen sulfide. That’s an amazing variety of scientifically documented liver benefits for this purple flower!
Defends Against Harmful Organisms
Studies found that silymarin slowed and prevented infection in animals by preventing viral entry, fusion, and RNA and protein synthesis. Several small clinical studies found that silymarin given intravenously (in the veins) protected against viral proliferation in patients, and the treatment was well tolerated with no side effects. In other words, it stopped harmful organisms like viruses from spreading and growing.
Promotes Normal Liver Function
Because of the way it promotes normal liver tissue, milk thistle extract may help normalize liver function in people whose liver is challenged. In clinical studies on people with severe liver conditions, silymarin therapy normalized bilirubin levels, a yellow compound that comes from breaking down the heme in blood. Silymarin also normalized certain liver enzymes. As a result, silymarin-treated patients lived four years longer, on average, compared with those who did not receive it.
Reduces Iron Overload in Thalassemia Patients
Thalassemia is one of the most common genetic disorders worldwide. It results in anemia, or low blood levels of iron, requiring regular blood transfusions that can lead to iron toxicity and iron overload. Over a nine-month treatment, thalassemia patients given silymarin experienced better liver function and reduced iron overload as opposed to those using a placebo.
Boosts Glutathione Levels
Glutathione or GSH is known as the body’s super antioxidant, and it is abundant in the liver. Glutathione bonds with toxins in the body, making them too big to cross cell membranes. This effectively makes the toxins inactive — and easier for the body to transport them out through urine or feces. Silymarin from milk thistle boosts levels of glutathione, which helps the liver detoxify itself of harmful substances.[2, 12]
May Promote Weight Loss
One study in laboratory mice found that obese mice fed silymarin not only improved their liver function and reduced the circulating blood plasma lipids, it also led to a significant amount of weight loss (even when food intake remained the same) compared to mice not given the milk thistle compound. The jury is out on whether these weight loss results might apply to people.
Milk Thistle & Liver Detox
If you want to detoxify your liver, add milk thistle to your daily regimen. Whether you want to take a supplement or drink milk thistle tea, you should definitely consider the health benefits of this incredible herb. You can even try a full 5-day Liver Cleanse that includes eating a diet free of processed foods and toxins and taking a supplement that includes milk thistle. See our detailed Liver Cleanse Guide.
Milk Thistle Tea Recipe
The seeds of milk thistle are usually used to make tea. You can buy milk thistle seeds in bulk online or at many larger health food stores. You can also buy it in tea bags, already prepared.
To make milk thistle tea yourself follow these instructions:
Milk thistle seeds
Pick a natural sweetener: Organic raw honey, agave, or stevia
Crush one tablespoon of the seeds and place in a tea infuser with three cups of boiling water.
Milk thistle has an excellent safety record. The United States National Toxicology Program studied silymarin and found it to have no harmful effects on lab rats that consumed it daily for two years. In fact, the studies even found that milk thistle reduced the incidence of those rats getting liver tumors.
Milk thistle may have interactions with alcohol, anti-inflammatory drugs, antiretrovirals, estrogen, fertility agents, anti-anxiety drugs, and products used for heart, stomach or intestines. Check with your healthcare provider for further information and guidance about whether milk thistle is right for you.
Milk Thistle Dosage
While clinical studies have tested doses between 210 mg to 2100 mg daily, the typical and recommended dosage of milk thistle is 420 mg. You can drink up to six cups of milk thistle tea daily.
Best Milk Thistle Supplement
I recommend Livatrex®, our herbal liver support liquid supplement. It is a blend of raw herbal extracts including milk thistle seed, yellow dock root, chicory, and borotutu bark. It uses triple distilled water and vegetable glycerine as a base instead of alcohol, which can harm the liver.
Points to Remember
Milk thistle provides many benefits to your overall health, but specifically supports liver function and liver health. The herbal extract of milk thistle is called silymarin, and the main component of silymarin is silybin. Milk thistle provides an excellent, scientifically well-documented means to help boost your liver functioning. If you are concerned about your liver function or want to detoxify your liver, try a milk thistle supplement, milk thistle tea, or a full liver cleanse.
Is milk thistle part of your supplemental regimen? What benefits have you noticed?
Your kidneys are among the most important organs in your body. They work hard every day detoxifying the blood and sending waste toxins out through the urinary system. Kidneys also balance electrolytes, regulate minerals, like calcium, and help maintain a healthy blood pressure. With all this work to do and with so many chemicals in our environment, it’s not surprising that one in three Americans is at risk of developing kidney disease in their lifetime or that 10 percent of Americans will develop painful kidney stones. Supporting your kidneys with a cleanse or simply incorporating certain foods and herbs into your diet can improve kidney health and provide other health benefits.
Short Breakdown of the 4-Day Kidney Cleanse
Pre-Cleanse: Gather necessary supplies like healthy foods, distilled water, apple cider vinegar (ACV), and lemon juice.
Days 1–4: Minimize your consumption of solid foods, eating only kidney-cleanse friendly fruits like watermelon or avocado, as well as raw nuts and seeds, if needed. Drink a full glass of the Kidney Cleanse Drink at 9 a.m., 12 p.m., 3 p.m., and 6 p.m. or every three hours starting after your first meal. Drink ACV-Lemon water throughout the day.
Part of your body’s renal or urinary system, the kidneys are curved, fist-sized organs located halfway down your back that perform critical functions in your body. Perhaps most importantly, they are instrumental to your ability to detoxify chemicals you encounter. They filter more than 200 quarts of blood daily, removing nearly two quarts of water and metabolic waste that gets excreted as urine.
The kidneys also help regulate and balance your sodium, phosphorus, and potassium levels. The importance of these nutrients is often glossed over, but proper, balanced levels are critical for good health and life.
Finally, the kidneys are responsible for releasing three hormones — erythropoietin, renin, and activated vitamin D. Erythropoietin supports red blood cell production, renin controls blood pressure, and vitamin D is necessary for the body to effectively use calcium, as well as many other benefits.
Signs of Poorly Performing Kidneys
Kidney issues can arise silently or suddenly. High levels of calcium in the blood may lead to calcium deposits in the kidneys, which ultimately produce kidney stones. People with stressed kidneys may experience the following symptoms:
A kidney cleansing diet involves eating foods and herbs that support normal kidney function while avoiding foods that discourage kidney function. It can be done for a brief period, as an actual cleanse, and below, we provide a protocol for a four-day Kidney Cleanse. You can also take a less regimented approach and simply incorporate these foods and herbs into your regular diet. Either way, taking these steps will provide specialized nutrients that support your kidneys and boost your overall health and wellness.
Herbs for Kidney Cleansing
Since ancient times, herbalists have embraced the therapeutic characteristics of plants and used them as remedies for a variety of health conditions, including helping kidney function. The following herbs can be taken in supplements or used to make tea. A few are listed below, but see more in our best herbs for kidney cleansing article.
This herb known popularly as java tea (Orthosiphon stamineus) contains caffeine, and, as its name indicates, is typically served in herbal tea form. Studies found that it lowers uric acid in the blood, which can otherwise accumulate and cause painful conditions like gout, which is a painful form of arthritis associated with kidney dysfunction. It also helps protect the kidneys and stomach, lowers cholesterol, balances blood sugar, and is an antioxidant.
Brahmi or Gotu Kola
Also called water hyssop, this herb (Bacopa monnieri) is frequently used in Ayurvedic medicine. It reduces oxidative stress on cells, and specifically protects the kidneys by balancing blood sugar, uric acid levels, and blood lipid levels. Brahmi also increases blood flow to the brain.
This low-growing evergreen herb, also called bearberry leaf (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), has been safely used for centuries in traditional medicine to support urinary tract health. Uva ursi can deplete potassium levels by increasing urination, so make sure you get enough in your diet.
Scientists have found this marsh plant to be as safe and effective as the commonly used diuretic, hydrochlorothiazide, without causing excess loss of electrolytes. Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) not only works to cleanse the kidneys but it also helps protect the liver.
Kidney Cleanse Foods
There are many foods that help detox the kidneys. You can add these to your regular eating plan, or follow a temporary diet that focuses specifically on kidney-cleansing foods. If you have kidney disease, your healthcare provider may have specific diet recommendations, such as limiting sodium (salt) and potassium. However, if you are trying to be proactive about kidney health, these foods are just a few kidney-cleansing foods you can try.
Sodium bicarbonate, commonly used as baking soda, has incredible benefits for the kidneys! In a two-year study, only 9 percent of patients with chronic kidney disease who took a small daily dose of bicarbonate developed end-stage renal disease, compared to 45 percent of the other group.
Vegetables and fruits high in antioxidants are generally good for the kidneys. That’s because antioxidants counteract the harmful effects of certain toxic chemicals and harmful free radicals in the blood, which, of course, filters through the kidneys. Celery is known to help urinary tract issues and reduce blood sugar, blood pressure, and blood lipids (fats).
These watery vegetables have many kidney-boosting properties, including preventing the accumulation of uric acid crystals in joints, which leads to gout. Cucumbers are also high in silicon, and act as a diuretic, helping the kidneys remove toxins.
Beets have high levels of antioxidants, and help remove calcium buildup in the kidneys, which otherwise can lead to kidney stone formation. You can drink beet juice, eat whole beets. Eating your beets raw in salads or in juice is a great boost to your kidney cleansing.
Onions and Garlic
Both of these bulbs from the Allium family contain high levels of quercetin, a powerhouse nutrient that helps reduce swelling and redness, and protects kidney cells from damage.
Foods to Avoid for Healthy Kidneys
Just as certain foods help the kidneys function better, other foods stress the kidneys. High-protein diets with a lot of red meat and full-fat dairy stress the kidneys. If you are doing a cleanse or just want healthier kidneys, avoid these foods:
One of the most effective strategies for promoting kidney health is to combine the various fruits, vegetables, and herbs that support kidney health so they can work together. Below are just a few ideas you can use to get started.
Ginger Root and Turmeric Tea
To make a tasty kidney cleanse tea that also benefits your digestive system, squeeze the juice from a one- or two-inch piece of ginger root into hot water. Add a half teaspoon of turmeric. Turmeric not only has antioxidant properties, it also reduces harmful molecules circulating in your blood, which benefits the kidneys. Ginger scavenges damaging free radicals and improves kidney function. Together they pack a punch!
Fruit and Vegetable Juices
Make juice from fresh organic watermelon, beets, ginger, celery, and lemon for super kidney benefits, or try one of these kidney-cleansing drinks.
Dr. Group’s Kidney Cleanse Drink
Although this drink is part of the four-day protocol outlined below, you can drink a glass of this anytime for a kidney-cleansing boost. Add a dash of raw, organic, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar (ACV), a squeeze of lemon, and a dropperful of Renaltrex® to distilled water. Renaltrex is an all-natural, vegan blend of several of the kidney-cleansing herbs listed above. It’s available in the Kidney Cleanse Kit, which is linked to below.
4-Day Kidney Cleanse
If you want to perform a four day kidney cleanse, these instructions will tell you what you need to know before you start and while you are detoxing.
Items You Need for the Kidney Cleanse
The following are the supplies you will need for the four day kidney cleanse.
We recommend you follow the schedule below to maximize the benefits from your kidney cleanse. However, you may modify it to fit your daily routine, especially if your work schedule varies (for example, you work nights).
Make sure you do not eat 30 minutes before or after drinking the Kidney Cleanse Drink.
Preparation (Day 1 Morning Only)
7:30 am: Step 1 — Make Your Kidney Cleanse Drink: Start with 1 gallon of distilled water. Pour out 5 ounces of water to make room for the ingredients you will add. Add 2 ounces (the whole bottle) of RenalTrex, 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) of organic raw apple cider vinegar (ACV), and the juice of 1 organic lemon. Shake and refrigerate – You will drink this gallon over the next 4 days. If you need to work or run errands during the day, bring it with you in a small cooler.
7:30 am: Step 2 — Make Your Water / Lemon / ACV Drink: Take a second gallon of distilled water and pour out 6 ounces. Add 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) of organic raw apple cider vinegar to the water. Add 4 ounces of fresh-squeezed organic lemon juice (approximately the juice from one lemon). Drink this for snacks, during meals, and between meals when thirsty. Drink as much as you like throughout the day. The more you drink, the more successful your kidney cleanse will be. When you finish this mix, make another gallon and continue to drink as needed.
Daily Protocol (Days 1-4)
8:00 am: For breakfast, choose one of the following kidney-cleansing fruits and eat as much as you like: apples, cranberries, grapes, oranges, papaya, watermelon, strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. For best results, all fruit should be organic. If fresh fruit is not available, use frozen or dried.
9:00 am: Drink one 8-ounce glass of the Kidney Cleanse Drink.
10:00 am: Water / Optional Snack – Drink 12 ounces of your Water/Lemon/ACV Drink. If you need a small snack, munch on organic raw sunflower, chia, hemp or pumpkin seeds. Also, raw nuts such as walnuts, Brazil nuts, or almonds will work. It’s best to avoid the snack if possible and just drink the Water/Lemon/ACV Drink. Remember you are cleansing!
12:00 pm: Drink one 8-ounce glass of the Kidney Cleanse Drink.
1:00 pm: For lunch, eat fresh organic vegetables, make homemade vegetable soup or broth, or eat a salad. Use or combine the following vegetables: kale, dark leafy greens like kale, collard greens, spinach, asparagus, beets, cabbage, celery, turmeric, ginger, and parsley. Drink only the Water/Lemon/ACV Drink with your lunch meal. Make your lunch in the morning and bring it with you to work or if you eat out, eat a salad.
3:00 pm: Drink one 8-ounce glass of the Kidney Cleanse Drink.
4:00 pm: Drink 12 ounces of the Water/Lemon/ACV Drink. Optional: if you want a small snack, have one handful of organic raw seeds or nuts.
6:00 pm: Drink one 8-ounce glass of the Kidney Cleanse Drink.
7:00 pm: Dinner: follow the same suggestions as you did for lunch using fresh organic vegetables, homemade vegetable soup, or eat a fresh salad. Drink only the Water/Lemon/ACV Drink with your dinner meal.
8:00-10:00 pm: Before bed, take 4 capsules of Oxy-Powder and 2 capsules of Latero-Flora. The Latero-Flora will help balance the probiotic bacteria in the intestinal tract to assist in kidney cleansing. Try to not go to bed past 10 pm.
Helpful Notes About the Cleanse
To Summarize, drink four 8-ounce glasses of the Kidney Cleanse Drink: at 9 a.m. (or one hour after breakfast), 12 p.m. (or one hour before lunch), 3 p.m., 6 p.m. (or one hour before dinner). Throughout the rest of the day, drink the Water/Lemon/ACV drink. The more you drink, the more it flushes out your system.
For optimal results drink only the Renaltrex Kidney Cleanse Drink and Water/Lemon/ACV drink throughout the four days. Avoid milk, alcohol, bottled juices, energy drinks soft drinks or diet drinks, as these liquids will decrease the effectiveness of the kidney cleanse, and add more toxins to your body.
You should be able to perform this kidney cleanse while carrying on your normal daily activities. Oxy-Powder can cause watery stools, so make sure a bathroom is nearby. If your stools are liquid, remember this is not diarrhea but the detoxing of compacted fecal matter from the intestinal tract.
Being aware of your kidneys is important for everyone, not just people with impaired kidney function. A kidney cleanse can help you maintain the health of these two important organs throughout your life. There are many kidney-cleansing herbs, foods, and teas you can add to your lifestyle to boost your kidney health. To get the best bang for your buck, perform a four-day kidney cleanse. This involves following a clean diet that’s based on simple, organic vegetables and drinking a special Kidney Cleanse Drink that contains specially formulated herbs.
Have you ever done a kidney cleanse? Are you thinking about trying one? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Please tell us about your experience in the comments section below.