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Can Detoxifying Your Liver Help Improve Your Thyroid Health?

Many people are aware of the benefits of doing a liver detoxification, and I personally like to do one at least a couple of times each year.  On the other hand, many people haven’t gone through a liver detoxification, and this is something that just about everyone can eventually benefit from.  This doesn’t mean that everyone who decides to follow a natural treatment protocol needs to go through a liver detoxification, although some people choose to do this.

I’ve been asked by a few people why I choose to go through a few detoxifications per year, especially since I eat well most of the time.  There are a few reasons for this, and one reason is because I don’t eat a perfect diet.  Every now and then I’ll eat something that I shouldn’t, and when I’m on vacation I definitely don’t eat as well as when I’m at home.  In addition, even though I eat well most of the time and use natural products in my home, I can’t control the outside environment.  So I’m constantly being exposed to toxins outside of my home.

And this of course applies to just about everyone else.  Unless if you eat a 100% organic diet and live in a plastic bubble so that you’re not exposed to any environmental toxins (assuming the plastic bubble is BPA free of course), then you can benefit from following a liver detoxification every now and then.  Just because I choose to do one a couple of times each year doesn’t mean that everyone needs to do one this frequently.  It would be great if most people did one at least annually, but many people have never gone through a single detoxification, and these are the people who really need to consider going through one.

Plus, getting back to eating a 100% organic diet, keep in mind that organic food isn’t completely free of toxins.  While organic food without question has less toxins than non-organic food, it still isn’t toxin-free. For example, if you eat certified organic meat, then it should be free of any hormones or antibiotics. However, nothing can be done to eliminate the toxins that have built up in the tissues of these animals.  Just like you and I, these animals are exposed to numerous toxins which build up in the tissues.  But besides meat, other organic foods also have toxins, but they have lower amounts than non-organic food.

What Does A Liver Detoxification Program Entail?

There are many different liver detoxification programs out there.  Some of them are one week programs, other are ten day programs, while other programs last greater than one month in duration.  I’m not going to promote specific products here, as that’s not the purpose of this post, but the detoxification program I recommend is a 21-day program.  There are actually a few different good quality 21-day detoxification programs, and most of them share a few commonalities.

The most important factor is to eat well during this time.  So one definitely wants to eat only whole foods, and avoid the refined foods and sugars.  You want to eat plenty of vegetables, and a small amount of fruit is allowed.  It is usually recommended not to eat nuts and seeds during this time because they are difficult to digest.  Most dairy products should also be avoided, although some programs will allow people to eat a healthy source of whey protein.  Whey protein is a great source of glutathione, although some people are sensitive to whey.  All other dairy should be avoided during this time, including cow’s milk, yogurt, cheese, and even eggs.  Most of the 21-day programs I’m familiar with involve avoiding all meat either the first week to ten days of the program, or somewhere in the middle of the detoxification.

But wait a minute?  I’ve just discussed foods you need to avoid eating, but the only foods I have stated you CAN eat are plenty of vegetables and a small amount of fruit.  What else can you eat when going through one of the detox programs I recommend?  Well, in addition to the fruits and vegetables, these programs usually have a whole-food or rice-based protein powder that helps with the detoxification process, but also is a source of nutrients and calories.  So one usually will need to have at least two or three of these smoothies each day.  Some detox programs allow a minimal amount of brown rice and lentils.  Others are more flexible in allowing gluten free grains such as quinoa, millet, and buckwheat.  But you really do want to minimize your consumption of grains during this time, even if they are gluten free.

A few supplements are also usually taken during the liver detoxification program.  These supplements usually aid in the liver detoxification process, and some also can help to provide some gallbladder support.  Some other supplements that might be taken during this time include fatty acids and probiotics.  Once again, each program will differ in their dietary requirements and recommended supplements.  Usually during the 21 days you want to minimize your consumption of other supplements and herbs that you might currently be taking.  Of course if someone is taking Levothyroxine or antithyroid medication then they should continue taking these medications.  It all comes down to risks vs. benefits, and although some natural healthcare professionals would advise their patients to stop taking the Methimazole or PTU due to the impact it can have on the liver, it of course is still important to manage the hyperthyroid symptoms while detoxifying.  And even though it would be great to not take any medication when detoxifying, you still will benefit if you are taking medication during this time.

Some people have asked me about the effects of detoxification on the medications they are taking.  In other words, will following a liver detoxification program reduce the effectiveness of these medications?  This isn’t something I commonly see with my patients, although from time to time detoxifying will have this effect.

How Can A Liver Detoxification Help With Your Thyroid Health?

As I stated earlier, going through a liver detoxification isn’t always a necessary component of a natural thyroid treatment protocol.  However, the liver plays many important roles in the body, and if it isn’t detoxifying properly then this will cause issues.  And keep in mind that one can’t rely on the liver enzyme tests on a blood panel to reveal if one has a healthy liver.  These are valuable to detect certain pathologies of the liver, or they can be helpful to determine if someone is taking too much antithyroid medication, which in turn can give us an idea about the detoxifying ability of the liver.  But just looking at the liver enzymes alone usually won’t tell us whether your liver is doing a good job of eliminating toxins.

As for the relationship between the liver and the thyroid gland, the liver is one of the main areas where the conversion of T4 to T3 takes place.  And so if there are problems with the liver then this can affect this conversion.  But while conversion problems do happen, in most cases I’m not putting the person on a liver detoxification for this purpose.  The main reason is because most people have been exposed to many different toxins, and while eating better and minimizing one’s exposure to environmental toxins can help, some of these toxins remain within the tissues of the body.

Does this mean that following a single liver detoxification program will remove all of these toxins from the body?  This definitely isn’t the case, as no program is going remove ALL of the toxins from the body.  Plus, even though this article is focusing on the health of the liver, some people need to do other things to detoxify their body, such as utilize sauna therapy and/or colon hydrotherapy.

In summary, following a liver detoxification program might help to improve your thyroid health if you have problems converting T4 to T3.  But even if this isn’t a problem you have, most people are exposed to many different toxins, and there’s only so much that the liver can handle.  Remember that many decades ago ago we didn’t have all of these chemicals in our food and in the environment, but these days this is a big factor, and while we expect our liver to keep on doing its job, sometimes we do need to give it some extra support.  As a result, if you have never gone on a liver detoxification program, then this is definitely something you will want to consider doing in the future.


 

22 Comments

  1. Candice Roy says:

    One more question…. In your opinion, is the use of Soy products a good thing to use?

    And what of regular milk?

    Thank you,
    Candice

    • Dr. Eric says:

      Candice,

      Most soy in the United States is genetically modified, and so if you consume any soy I would make sure it’s organic and fermented. But overall I usually recommend to limit one’s consumption of soy. And the same thing goes with pasteurized cow’s milk, although raw milk is a healthier alternative.

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