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Love Your Liver


The liver is a truly amazing organ! It does so much for us and often gets very little credit. The liver is well-known as the organ that processes alcohol, with Milk Thistle sales going through the roof around Bingemas, I mean Christmas! However, the liver plays a really important role in overall health and does so much more than just process alcohol – so, don’t wait until a big night out to treat it right!

Alfred Vogel said;
‘The liver is the regulator of your health.’
‘Whatever toxic substances reach the liver via the portal vein from the intestinal tract are intercepted, so that no harm can come to the body.’

As a herbalist, the liver is often one of the first things I address with a client, whether they are coming to me for hormonal issues, sleep problems or digestive complaints.

Here are some of the liver’s superpowers:
Has a major role in the detoxification of alcohol; processed foods; pesticides; herbicides; chemicals and hormones in our water supply; hormones from our own bodies; and both synthetic and natural drugs.
Helps metabolise carbohydrates, proteins and fats to give you energy and repair tissues and organs.
Stores fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) and some others like B12, zinc, magnesium and more.
Creates proteins, amino acids, fats and cholesterol, all of which are really important in the day to day running of our whole bodies!

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the liver is associated with anger. For anyone feeling particularly angry or frustrated, a liver cleanse might be in order. The time associated with the liver in TCM is 1-3 am. I find this particularly useful in clinic, because anyone who wakes up each night between these times usually benefits from liver support and cleansing.

It seems half the world knows about Milk Thistle as a ‘liver herb’; however, I want to shine the spotlight on another liver hero: Artichoke. Known botanically as Cynara scolymus (what a great Latin name!), Artichoke is a wonderful plant, herbal medicine and food. Bees love the big purple flowers! It’s a hardy perennial that you’ll see growing in lots of gardens.

One of the oldest cultivated vegetables, it was highly valued as far back as Ancient Greece and Rome. It can be cooked at home (rather laboriously I find!) or eaten in fancy restaurants: yum! The easiest way to get artichoke into your diet is from the precooked jars of artichoke hearts, or as a herbal tincture. It is available on its own as a tincture or as part of bitter herbal blends.

The bitter principles such as cynarin and sesquiterpene lactones account for some of artichoke’s bitter brilliance. It provides great general support for the liver and for digestive discomfort like gas, bloating, IBS and Crohn’s Disease. It enhances digestion and absorption, particularly of fats, and stimulates metabolism. Its side-benefits include: loads of antioxidants; protection from free radical damage; and protecting the heart by lowering harmful cholesterol and lipid levels.

I use the tincture a lot in my clinic and love to cook with artichoke too. I often chop artichoke hearts from the jar straight into a pasta sauce or on top of homemade veggie pizzas. My new favourite way to eat artichoke is this wonderful artichoke dip:


150g jar of artichoke hearts
1 clove of garlic Handful of fresh Basil
2 tbsp of thick plain yogurt – dairy free versions work fine too!
1 tbsp of olive oil
2 tsp of lemon juice

  1. Drain off the oil/brine that the artichoke hearts are preserved in.
  2. Add them to a blender along with the remaining ingredients.

Et voila! restaurant quality artichoke dip to impress your friends and family (and their livers too!)

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Love Your Liver