Spring Cleaning: Nuturing Your Liver

By Dr. Chris D. Meletis, N.D.

March 2017

Every morsel of food you swallow to nourish your body must be processed by your liver. Not only does your liver produce bile to help break down fats, the liver processes the nutrient rich blood that filters from your intestinal tract. Healthy foods that are fresh, organic and minimally processed put the least amount of burden on your liver. Unhealthy foods, beverages or medications require your liver to work much harder than initially designed.

Modern dietary lifestyles have brought some seriously toxic baggage to the liver and to the body as a whole. Think for a moment about your great grandparents. It’s likely they consumed organic food, breathed fresher air, ate closer to the earth (garden to table) and did not have the exposure to petroleum by-products, air pollution, herbicides and pesticides that now flood our bodies.

Because of this, I encourage my patients to think of spring as a season to reawaken and cleanse the body. Unfortunately, when we don’t keep up with cleansing our overburdened bodies, the price we pay is with our health.

Don’t Overthink a Spring Cleanse

Oregon's Wild Harvest Spring Cleaning by Dr Chris Meletis

It is simple and the math works. If you take away your toxic exposure and increase your “biodynamic cleanse,” you will net out with less burden on your liver and less resistance to optimized wellness. Your health will jump start in a positive direction with the spring season. Here are five goals to focus on during the process:

#1 - Eliminate the Waste

It is vitally important that your colon empties two to three times a day. If you are not eliminating the waste products that have accumulated in your GI tract, the result is sluggish “waste management” and the reabsorption of toxic water back into your body. If your bowels are running slow, your stools are harder and drier; that is not pristine water absorbing back into your body.

#2 -  Eat Fiber and Fresh Produce

Fibers from sensible grains and fresh produce act like a proverbial sponge, helping bind up toxins and escorting of them through the GI tract and out of the body. Adequate ruffage also helps support a healthy microbiome, the friendly probiotics that inhabit your colon and that literally outnumber the total human cells that make up your body.

#3 - Minimize Ingested Burdens

Junk foods and sugary beverages ultimately serve as burdens to our bodies and interfere with our wellness goals. This includes excess alcohol and caffeine, and foods with artificial ingredients, flavors, coloring and sweeteners. Avoid factory farmed animal products that are not raised with the traditional practices that our ancestors used. Look for pasture-raised proteins. Minimize refined grains and sugar. Steer away from the “dirty dozen” fruits and veggies, you can find a link here: https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php

#4 Work up a Sweat

An active body, generally, has a better gastrointestinal rhythm and improved toxic elimination. Relative to your level of fitness, working up a little perspiration is a great way to support detoxification. Make sure to shower off that sweat so that it does not reabsorb back into your skin. I am also a huge advocate for shower filters to help minimize skin exposures to any unnecessary contaminants in the water.

#5 Use Herbals to Nourish and Nurture your Liver

There are many herbs and herbal combinations that I use in my clinical practice including, Burdock, Milk Thistle, Dandelion, Holy Basil, and Artichoke Leaf to support a general flush.

Milk Thistle (Silymarin marianum) is a natural source of antioxidants, including silymarin, which help confer protection against damaging free radicals that are so pervasive in modern life. Silymarin has also been shown to help support natural production of glutathione that is essential for proper liver detoxification. There have any been research studies showing that Milk Thistle can help support healthy blood sugars. It is vitally important to remember that excess blood sugars accelerate multiple disease processes in our body.

Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum) is rich in essential oils, accounting for its very pleasant aromatic properties. Many cultures around the world routinely use Holy Basil as part of their meal preparation. In my practice, patients incorporate Holy Basil to support healthy blood sugars, digestive elimination and combat the stress that abounds in daily life.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) and Burdock (Arctium lappa) are all too often overlooked. When most of us think of Dandelions we think of weeds in our yard, yet the therapeutic Dandelion species can help nourish liver and whole body health. Plus, fresh pristine Dandelion leaves are a great addition to salads.

Burdock root contains high amounts of inulin and mucilage that can be soothing to the gastrointestinal tract. Its bitter constituents, much like Swedish bitters, can aid in digestion. Burdock in turn has been used in traditional herbal medicine to help with detoxification of heavy metals, support lymphatic health and blood purifier.

Radiant skin comes from within

You need to have a healthy digestive tract that can absorb the nutrients, vitamins and herbs you consume to properly nourish your skin. Herbs like Holy Basil and Milk Thistle have long been used to support a healthy complexion. Employing a healthy dose of common sense about what we put in and on our bodies, and utilizing herbs such as Milk Thistle, Dandelion, Artichoke and Burdock supports our bodies in a world far more challenging than 100 years-ago.

Welcome each season with a Cleanse

My most health-committed patients undertake a quarterly cleanse that focuses on liver supportive herbs. With each seasonal change, they take nature’s cue to help their body flourish as the weather and their diet changes. As we March into spring, there is no better time to tend to our inner needs, lessen our burdens, and prepare for the seasonal transition that happen in our body and lives.


Dr. Chris Meletis, N.D.Dr. Chris Meletis, N.D., has 24-years of experience practicing as a Naturopathic Doctor in Portland, Oregon.  He is dedicated to using his vast knowledge about alternative medicine to help his patients and generously give to those in need. He has written over a dozen books and 100's of national articles, and was named Naturopathic Physician of the Year in 2003 by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.  Read more about Dr. Meletis here.  Or, visit our "Ask Dr. Meletis, N.D." page for additional articles. 

*Statements herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, and are not intended to treat or diagnose any disease or health condition. The information on this website, and provided by Dr. Chris Meletis, N.D., is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is recommended that patients check with their doctors before taking herbs, to ensure that there are no contraindications with prescription medications. There is additional information linked within this site to HealthNotes®, a third party educational source, containing the latest research on health and supplements. Oregon's Wild Harvest will not be held accountable for this information and consider it an education reference only.  

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