Supporting the Liver in Detoxification

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Justin Lam, ABAAHP, FMNM; Dorine Lam, RDN, MS, MPH

Read Part 1 | Part 3

Benefits of Detoxification

The role of the digestive tract and liver in detoxification

  1. Digestive tract is cleansed of accumulated waste and fermenting bacteria, reducing food allergies and unwanted organisms such as candida when you have your liver in detoxification.
  2. Blood purification can take place and benefit the kidneys and liver in detoxification. This is not possible during routine eating patterns.
  3. When you have a liver in detoxification, mental clarity is enhanced as chemical and food additive overload is reduced, diminishing brain fog.
  4. Reduced dependency on habit forming substances such as sugar, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and drugs is a symptom of liver in detoxification.
  5. Facilitates Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome recovery.

Major Detoxification Centers of the Body

  1. Skin – excretes toxins such as DDT, heavy metals and lead through sweat.
  2. Liver – filters blood to clear bacteria, bile secretion to eliminate cholesterol, hemoglobin breakdown products and extra calcium. It also purges prescription drugs due to amphetamines, digitals, nicotine, sulfonamides, acetaminophens, morphine and diazepam.
  3. Intestines – mucosal detoxification to rid toxins from bowel bacteria and excretion through fe1ces of fat-soluble toxins excreted in the bile.
  4. Kidneys – excretion through urine of toxins after they are made water-soluble by the liver.

Detoxification for Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome Sufferers

So, what should you know about your liver in detoxification mode if you have adrenal fatigue syndrome? Keep reading to find out. The more advanced the adrenal fatigue, the more care should be considered before embarking on any form of detoxification therapy including a liver in detoxification. The reason is simple. The weaker the body (as in advanced stages of AFS), the more congested the detoxification organs. These include the liver, kidneys, and the skin. Too aggressive a detoxification program can lead to massive release of internal toxins that the body is unable to excrete on a timely basis. A liver in detoxification that is too intense may result in ill affects and negative results. This can lead to a variety of unpleasant side effects, including fatigue, anxiety, brain fog, heart palpitations, fever, dizziness, hypoglycemia, insomnia, feeling wired, joint pain, ringing in the ears, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, chills, and tingling sensations, just to mention a few.


A number of natural greens are proven to effectively remove noxious substances from the body without further upsetting its delicate balance in such cases. This may be considered for those in advanced stages of AFSif the dosage is titrated properly. Here are a few of the more popular, natural cleansing substances available.


As it happens, the popular culinary herb cilantro (also known as coriander and Chinese parsley), is also one of the most dependable natural detoxifiers known, especially effective in removing mercury, heavy metals, and other toxic contaminants from the body. Available in juice, fresh, or dried forms (found at most health food suppliers), cilantro can simply be added to your diet as seasoning.


A single-cell, fresh-water green algae scientifically proven to bind with mercury, lead, and cadmium, chlorella is superior in safely drawing out toxic metals that accumulate in the gut and intestinal tract. High in protein and other essential nutrients, advocates of chlorella claim that in using it as a dietary detoxifier, it has the added benefits of helping control weight, supporting the immune system, and even preventing cancer. Be mindful that too much chlorella introduced into the body too quickly can produce unpleasant side effects — gas, bloating — primarily in the digestive tract. So, begin with a relatively low quantity and slowly increase to achieve a gentle detox.


Green apples and the liver in detoxificationMany people find fruit pectin to be the gentlest natural substance for ridding the body of harmful contaminants. Derived from fruits high in pectin such as green apples, and the white part of citrus fruit—as well as bananas, grapes, carrots, beets, okra and cabbage—pectin has been shown to draw heavy metals, toxic chemicals, and other substances into the blood stream where they can be carried from the body (with the urine).Pectin can be introduced into the body simply by eating plenty of pectin-rich fruits and vegetables, or by adding a processed pectin product to a glass of water, organic grape juice, or fresh veggie juice—which can help speed the detox process. (Beware of pectin sold in grocery stores as some brands contain MSG.)

Wheatgrass and Barley Grass

Adding wheatgrass (available in either juice or powder form) or barley grass/leaf (available primarily in powder and capsule form) to freshly juiced fruits or vegetables is an ideal way to remove toxins from the body.While wheatgrass is unquestionably high in vitamins, minerals, and all nine essential amino acids — and a very effective natural detoxifier — advocates report that barley grass is generally easier on the digestive tract, and has the added benefit of being high in organic sodium and therefore beneficial to those with arthritis symptoms. Accordingly, if you choose to use wheatgrass, start with a small amount (1/2 ounce per day) and increase as the body permits.

(Note: Bear in mind that using any detoxification agent requires repeated or prolonged use over a period of time until all symptoms have dissipated. And even when utilizing a gentle, all-natural substance, side effects may include nausea, vomiting, muscle aches and pains, dizziness, and fatigue. Additionally, detoxification can cause a temporary flare-up of your symptoms — this simply indicates that toxins are being flushed from your system—and normally passes relatively quickly. However, if side-effects become severe, reduce the quantity of whichever detox agent you’re using, and should symptoms persist, consider a different detoxifier or consult a natural health practitioner for advice.)

Nutrients for the Liver in Detoxification

Here is a list of foods that the AFS sufferer should consider for liver support. Bear in mind that the body’s ability to tolerate these foods is highly dependent on the stage of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS). Typically, the more advanced the AFS, the less the body is able to tolerate these foods, even though they may be good for the liver. Always consult your health care practitioner before embarking on this diet if you are an AFS sufferer.


Brussel sprouts support the liver in detoxificationThere are many ways of taking in more sulfur. Cooked vegetables offer generous quantities of non-protein bound sulfur and cruciferous vegetables like sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, bok choy, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower are good sources. Red radish, turnip, daikon root, rutabaga, collard greens, Napa cabbage, mustard greens along with garlic and onion are other foods that offer non protein bound sulfur. While the above list is acceptable for normal healthy people, those with AFS need to be more careful. Why? Because most sufferers of AFS have some degree of estrogen dominance and their ovaries and thyroid are usually off balance. Goitrogenic foods including cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli or cauliflower should therefore be taken in moderation and in cooked form.

Protein bound sulfur is also essential and the best foods for that are egg yolks and meat. One or two soft-boiled eggs daily can offer sufficient protein bound sulfur. The more advanced the AFS, the less tolerable egg yolks are to many when the yolk is well cooked. Those in this category can take poachedor properly cleaned raw egg instead.

Folic Acid

Lack of folic acid is linked to liver injury due to a hampered ability to mobilize the essential amino acid methionine, which your liver needs for normal metabolism and fat lipid oxidation.

There are many foods that are generously rich in folic acid including egg yolks, soy, liver and kidney, split peas, almonds, lentils, sweet potatoes, dried soy beans, asparagus, beetroot, oranges and peaches. And if you have ovarian-adrenal-thyroid (OAT) axis imbalance commonly seen in advanced stages of AFS, avoid soy.


Niacin, also known as Vitamin B3, is a water-soluble vitamin that can cleanse the blood, the lymph system, and the liver. Niacin can break down the fat cells where toxins are kept which will then be carried out of the body. Large amounts of niacin can be toxic and cause uncomfortable reactions such as flushing or reddening of the skin as well as an upset stomach so always consult your healthcare practitioner before embarking on a high dose niacin detoxification program.


As sixty percent of all the B12 in the liver (thirty percent of all the B12 in the body) is in the mitochondria of the liver powering the cells to do their job it is clear how low B12 levels could potentially damage the liver.

Vitamin B12 can be obtained from meat (poultry is ideal), cooked fish (especially sockeye salmon, haddock, rainbow trout and white tuna) and whole egg. The problem with B12 in an AFS setting is that this vitamin tends to be quite stimulating. Sufferers may be addicted to an ever-increasing amount in order to stay energized over time, resulting in a state of wired and tired. Reduction can be very problematic due to addiction as well as unpleasant withdrawal symptoms that can trigger adrenal crashes.

Other Vitamins

Vitamin B6, along with niacin, helps the liver create energy. Vitamin B6 also aids the liver in removing toxins and excess hormones in the body. Vitamin C and E, when taken together, may assist people with fatty liver disease.


Cod helps the liver in detoxificationBetaine can be obtained from foods that are rich in choline. Eggs, cod, beef liver, toasted wheat germ, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, salmon and shrimp.


The correct form of selenium is important in the glutathione synthesis and breakdown of certain toxic compounds in the liver. Sardines, blue corn, organic yellow corn, anchovies and herring are the common sources for selenium.

Vegetable Juicing

An excellent way to develop good health and toxin cleansing is by juice fasting. This is because juices, without their pulp (fiber), contain excellent sources of vitamins, minerals and enzymes. One can readily drink the juice of several heads of lettuce at one go but may not be able to consume the same amount of lettuce as a whole. Juices also contain good sources of antioxidants and enzymes needed for toxin cleansing and excretion. At the same time, they are easy to digest and thus can help to eradicate digestive problems. As a result, drinking juices allows the body to receive plenty of nutrients with minimal digestive action needed. Moreover, fasting on mono-juices allows the body to have sufficient time to process these juices and valuable digestive enzymes can be preserved. During fasting, a sense of well-being, renewed energy, clearer thoughts and cleaner body systems can result.

Vegetable Juicing Program For AFS Sufferers

Fruit juices are very different from vegetable juices. Fruit juices should be avoided as the high sugar content of fruit juice raises blood sugar and insulin levels and are not as helpful to a liver in detoxification. This can lead to insulin resistance and ultimately diabetes in the long run. Many AFS sufferers have subclinical reactive hypoglycemia. Fruit juices can worsen the condition.

Vegetable juices are not as pleasant-tasting as fruit juices. The beginner should begin by gulping the juice, as this is probably the best way to get started. This process will ensure that the juice is in minimal contact with the taste buds. Start slowly by drinking only one or two ounces and finally up to 12 ounces each time. Too much vegetable juicing may trigger adrenal crashes. Always consult your doctor before you start.

Eat some vegetables before, during or after the vegetable juicing. The chewing motion will stimulate gastric juice secretion and aid digestion. It is also important to do some chewing during juicing.

As vegetable juicing is not a natural phenomenon in modern day society, the body will need some time to adapt. It is important to pay heed to your body’s signals on which vegetable juices to consume and which types to continue in small amounts.

The pulp is one of the best parts of the juice although its palatability leaves much to be desired. It adds bulk and fiber to your diet and helps bowel movements. Try mixing ten percent of the pulp back into the juice and slowly increase the amount in accordance with your tolerance level. Very few people can consume all the pulp juice as it is quite thick and would look like a bowl of porridge instead of a glass of juice.

Juice fasting is good for supporting the liver in detoxificationAll vegetable juices should be consumed immediately. Vegetable juice is one of the most perishable foods. Do not keep for more than 24 hours. Storage is tricky. Oxidation should be prevented. If you have to keep the juice, put it in a glass jar with an airtight lid and fill it to the brim to minimize air space. The oxygen in the air (remember air contains twenty percent oxygen) will oxidize and damage the juice. Wrap the jar with aluminum foil to block out all light, which would also damage the juice and then store it in the refrigerator. The juice should be taken out of the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to consumption, as it should ideally be consumed at room temperature.

The beginner should start with celery, fennel (anise) and cucumber. These vegetables may not be the most nutritious but at least they are more tolerable and palatable than others when embarking upon the initial process for your liver in detoxification.

Once the beginner is used to the taste of vegetable juices, other recommended vegetables include spinach, Swiss chard, beet greens, cabbage, bok choy, arugula, endive and lettuce.

Herbs can also be added to juices such as parsley and cilantro.

The advanced juicer wanting to put their liver in detoxification mode should try collard greens, dandelion greens and mustard greens, as these vegetables are very beneficial. These greens are quite bitter tasting.

To make your juice more palatable to your mouth and your liver in detoxification, you can also add small quantities of carrots and beets. These vegetables are relatively high in sugar content compared to their green leafy counterparts. Coconut is another option to improve the taste of vegetable juices. They are also a good source of fat to balance the meal. Improper or excessive juicing can trigger adrenal crashes. Consult your health practitioner before embarking on any juicing program.

Juicing with the right juicer is important. The heat generated from an ordinary juicer can destroy precious antioxidants quickly. A good all around slow juicer such as Omega VRT350 is recommended.

Read Part 1 | Part 3

© Copyright 2014 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Lam’s Key Question

It is always good to do it once a year, provided that your body is strong. Those who are in advance AFS should be very careful.

Liver in detoxification
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I just want to say thank you for this information you have put out on the internet. I started eating for the type O and to this day I feel great! I went through a rough time at first, it was like a quick detox for me going from eating bad to eating good. I had lots of blurry vision and unsteady walking, but I didn’t stop. I just keep going so I could feel better. I have lost 11 lbs. so far and I am sharing this info with everyone I care about, and those who want to listen. I am a very caring person and want to see everyone healthier.