Using herbs for detoxifying is a wonderful way to step into the new year. Clearing your body and mind of toxins can help you take powerful steps forward in your healing journey.
Before we jump into the best detox herbs, we want to remind you that your body is always detoxing. You do not need to create these processes because a healthy body already has the most efficient detox systems available. So when an herbal practitioner talks about ‘detox herbs,’ what we mean is, “supporting your natural detoxification organs using plant allies.”
How Our Bodies Detox Naturally
Our main detox organs are our liver and kidneys, but we also use our lungs, our digestive system, and our skin to push toxicants out of our bodies. Detoxifying is one of the most miraculous things that we do and it is quite complex.
The Three Phases of Detoxifying
Phase one is the activation of detoxification in the body. This happens in your liver, and differentiates between fat soluble and water soluble toxicants.
Fat soluble toxicants are identified by the liver and broken down by its enzymes. From here, they either exit the body through the digestive tract or they’re pushed into the bloodstream.
In phase two, the toxins found in the bloodstream undergo a complicated enzymatic process to become water soluble. In this form, they can act as independent toxic agents and can cause internal damage. Good thing it only takes about five minutes for our kidneys to filter all of the blood in our bodies.
Phase three is all about excretion. Water soluble toxicants are removed from the bloodstream predominantly via the bladder, lungs, and digestive tract – ie, anywhere water leaves our body.
How to Know When You Need a Boost
Even though our bodies work hard to keep our blood clean and flowing smoothly, you shouldn’t feel like it is working too hard.
As urban herbalists, we and our clients are surrounded by toxicity, from the traffic we get stuck in on the way to work to the added preservatives in every packaged product out there. City living can tax anyone’s natural systems, so it is not a bad idea to add detox support to your routine a couple times each year.
Everyone is different, but the most common indication that someone needs detox support is feeling sluggish, especially after eating. Besides being an indication for overeating, sluggishness could be your body telling you that your liver needs some love.
Other common symptoms include constipation, headaches, depression, and anxiety. If there is not a clear underlying cause for the issue, consider offering support to the organs of elimination with plant allies.
6 Herbs to Aid Detoxifying
1 – Elecampane
Elecampane is an amazing plant ally for folks that need some herbal detox support. It is a tonic herb that supports and stimulates every organ of elimination – especially the lungs and liver. Use a small amount throughout your detox by making a honey’d cordial with the root and adding it to your daily tea.
2 – Yellow Dock
Yellow Dock is specific for the liver and the digestive system. We use it in our herbal iron tonic to stimulate the blood because this plant stimulates the liver, helps to move stagnation within the digestive system, and improves fat digestion. While this plant ally is technically a tonic herb, taking too much can be overstimulating and have a laxative effect and working with yellow dock for longer than a few weeks can be habit forming, making it great for a short term, powerful detox support.
3 – Dandelion
The whole plant of our famed friend, the Dandelion, is fantastic support throughout your entire detox. Eating the leaves in your salads adds a bitter flavor to stimulate your digestive system, and acts as a diuretic for stimulating your urinary system. Using the root in your tea protects and supports your liver, while adding a healthy prebiotic to your diet.
4 – Cleavers is a Fantastic Detox Herb
Cleavers, Galium aparine, is a nutritive diuretic that feels restorative rather than depleting you during a detox. This plant is different from the other herbs on the list because it only hangs around for a few weeks each year, and it is only truly viable when it is fresh. The best way to use Cleavers to detox is by picking it fresh in the morning sun and using it to make a sun tea to sip all afternoon. You can also add it to your springtime pesto, but make sure that you blend it well – Cleavers is nature’s velcro, and can be irritating on your throat if it’s too coarse.
5 – Milk Thistle
Milk thistle is very hepatoprotective and increases the production of bile, so using it protects the liver while stimulating it. This gives your liver the space to heal while it processes your blood. The part of this plant used is the seed. The major constituent, silybin, isn’t water soluble so milk thistle is typically used in an alcohol extract or the seed itself is ground and ingested.
6 – Herbs for Detoxifying: Ginger
Ginger is a fantastic helper throughout a detox because it is so stimulating to the blood. It makes you sweat, increases circulation, and improves your appetite. It’s often that, in the throes of using herbs for detoxifying, you can feel a little nauseated and sluggish. The flavor and stomachic qualities of ginger offer a boost to your vitality.
These are our top 6 herbs for detoxifying. Share your favorite detox herbs in the comments below!