Pathways of Elimination: The Liver

In 1994, a Russian naturopathic physician named Ilya Metchnikoff discovered that the body would recycle whatever toxin it could not purge via the elimination pathways.  These pathways are the lungs, liver, kidneys, skin, colon lymph and blood.  Each of these pathways works with the others to break down and eliminate toxins from the body.  If one of the pathways is compromised in any way, it places greater burden on the other pathways.

Constipation is an example of the colon not functioning to its fullest capacity. Edema in the tissues is an example of the kidneys, lymph and skin not functioning to their fullest capacity.  Bloating, belching and flatulence or gas are the result of the liver not functioning well. Poor circulation is an example of the blood pathway not functioning at its best.

The key to good health is to know these seven pathways and do whatever it takes to keep them functioning optimally.

So let’s talk liver!   The function of the liver is to break down everything that enters the body and redistribute it to other organs or pathways.  Toxins will be distributed to the kidneys and colon, however when it gets overloaded, it tries to utilize every other elimination system until they become full.  The liver chemically converts destructive toxins into less harmful substances that the colon and kidneys can eliminate. When toxins fail to be eliminated due to overburdening of the pathways, they are then sent to the fat cells to be stored.

Some helpful herbs for the liver are milk thistle (silybum maarianum), artichoke leaf (cynara slolymus), dandelion root (taraxacum oficinales), ashwagandha (withania somnifera), and garlic (allum sativum).  Dandelion root is widely available in our backyards (but collect what is about 100 feet away from the roads to protect from possible pesticide contamination from neighboring yards or spray trucks).   The greens are bitter and can be added to salads, or steamed and added with other greens.

Make your own Dandelion Root Tea

Gather the entire plant from your backyard.  Some lawns will still have dandelions growing in the fall but others may need to wait until spring.  Spring dandelions are best for leaf gathering because the leaves are tender and new, but fall dandelions are best for root harvesting because they are more nutrient dense.

There are a lot of dandelion look-a likes out there so be sure you are pulling up a dandelion plant.  The leaves are long, and jagged (pictured below).

Shake dirt off before bringing into the home and remember that there are insect eggs and possibly adult insects so be sure to wash the whole plant well to remove what dirt and insects did not shake off.

Separate the root from the leaves and chop the root coarsely.  Bring 1 quart of water to a boil in a saucepan and add 2 teaspoons of the root.  Cover and lower the heat to simmer for about a minute.  Remove from heat and let steep for about 40 minutes. You may add the leaves and flowers about 5-7 minutes before you are ready to strain it so as not to damage the nutrition from them.

Strain by placing a strainer over your teacup and pour.  Add honey if desired.

Drinking a few cups daily will help cleanse your liver and support its function.  If you have bloating, belching, gas, or constipation, dandelion root tea may help remove the burden.