Updated on February 6, 2024
7 min read

Signs a Liver Detox Is Working

Key Takeaways

6 Signs That a Liver Detox Is Working

There’s a limit to how much the liver can detoxify. If your liver is overloaded, diseased, or damaged, it will have difficulty performing its functions.

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Signs That a Liver Detox Is Working
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Reducing the toxins you consume is essential to keep your liver healthy. Here are a few signs of liver detox working properly:

1. More Energy

Toxins impair physical functions. If little to no toxins are circulating in your body, you should feel lighter, refreshed, and energetic. 

You might need a liver detox if you:

  • Nap frequently
  • Feel sluggish after 8 hours of sleep
  • Have sleeping problems
  • Have no energy

2. Improved Mental State 

A calm physical feeling is tied to a person’s mental state. Detoxification clears the brain of toxins, improving mood and other aspects of mental well-being. This is one reason detox is integral to mental health treatment programs.3

3. Clearer Skin

Toxins that stress produces are a bad combination for the skin. Therefore, detox should lead to clearer one.

Aside from toxins, the liver also deals with hormones. Hormonal imbalance can cause hormone-related symptoms like acne and skin rashes. If the liver properly functions, your hormones will balance out. 

4. Reduced Inflammation

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to infection or injury. It can also trigger the immune system to attack healthy body parts. 

If left unchecked, this could lead to:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Liver disease

The unstable molecules that the body produces from toxins can cause inflammation. If the liver isn’t functioning properly, toxins build up, interact with cells, and trigger inflammation. Proper liver detox can reduce inflammation. 

5. Healthy Gut 

Improperly digested food creates and deposits toxins in the digestive tract. If the liver doesn’t deal with these toxins bloating and nausea can occur.4

But if the liver is detoxifying correctly, there’s a high chance that these gut problems will go away. Moreover, a functioning liver promotes hormone balance and better metabolism. 

6. Healthy Weight

If the liver is detoxes correctly, fewer toxins get stored in fat. The body is more effective in its function if you’re exercising and avoiding unhealthy foods.

Some also say that the detox program’s low-calorie diet may lead to early weight loss, but this is mostly water weight. People will regain the pounds when they return to their usual diet.

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Importance of a Liver Detox

Your body is exposed to toxins regularly. Even the foods you eat and the medications you take can contain toxins. 

Some examples include:

  • Pollutants
  • Industrial products
  • Chemicals
  • Heavy metals
  • Cosmetic additives
  • Alcohol

This is why it’s essential to have a properly functioning liver. It breaks down potentially harmful substances and removes them from the body. The organ also cleanses itself of toxins. 

There are liver cleansing products available that can support its health and enhance the detox process. The most effective way to keep your liver strong is to avoid unhealthy foods and alcoholic drinks.

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The Liver Detoxification Process

The liver detox cycle consists of two steps:1, 2

  1. Phase 1: The liver activates a group of enzymes called cytochrome P450. Phase 1 generates a lot of free radicals, which are very reactive molecules that damage cells. 
  2. Phase 2: P450 enzymes convert toxins typically stored in fats into water-soluble toxins. This makes the toxins and the free radical byproducts less toxic. The body excretes these byproducts through the bile or urine.

How to Perform Liver Cleansing

Some people resort to liver cleansing for better liver function. However, they’re controversial due to insufficient scientific evidence.

Some aren’t regulated. Some may even be harmful or unsafe.5 Here are some examples of liver cleansers:

Herbal Supplements

Milk thistle treats liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. It contains an active ingredient called silymarin, a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.

Milk thistle also treats several liver disorders like cirrhosis and liver cancer.2, 6 Still, studies on milk thistle’s effect on liver health show mixed data.

Here are other liver cleansing products:1, 2, 7, 8

  • Turmeric
  • N-acetylcysteine
  • Green tea
  • Calcium D-glucarate
  • Schizandra
  • Garlic
  • Rosemary
  • Bladderwrack extract
  • Dandelion root
  • Apple cider vinegar

Amino Acids

Proteins consist of building blocks called amino acids. Some amino acids, like glycine, taurine, and glutamine, are essential for liver functions.

During phase 2 detoxification, the liver uses amino acids to convert toxins into a less toxic form. Amino acids as a liver cleanse supplement provides many benefits to patients with liver disease.2, 9

Detox Diets and Liver Cleanse Drinks

Juice fasts and enemas are other types of liver cleansers. While they may help enhance the liver detox process, seek a doctor’s advice first. This ensures that liver-cleansing drinks meet your medical and dietary needs.

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How to Perform a Liver Detox Naturally

Liver cleanses may be trendy as quick fixes for liver health. However, they aren’t long-term solutions for enhancing the body’s detox process. 

You can replace liver cleansing with living a healthy lifestyle. Or, combine liver cleansing with natural detox techniques listed below:

Eat Liver-Friendly Foods

Balance the intake of proteins from plant and animal sources. Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts enhance the liver’s P450 enzyme activity.1 Eating organic food also reduces the chances of ingesting pesticides. 

Avoid Saturated Fats and Sugar

Avoid junk foods and processed foods. Foods high in saturated fat, simple sugars, and refined carbohydrates can lead to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, diabetes, and insulin resistance. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease happens when fat deposits prevent the liver from removing toxins. 

Maintain Healthy Weight

Obesity increases a person’s risk of developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.5 This is because excess fat accumulates around the liver, making it hard to break down fats and remove toxins efficiently.

Avoid Alcoholic Drinks

Stopping alcohol consumption gives the liver a chance to recover. Heavy alcohol consumption can cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver. Alcohol also causes oxidative stress that damages cells.

How Long Does it Take to Detox Your Liver from Alcohol?

Liver detox starts within a few hours of your last drink and may last for days. How much you drink, how long you’ve been drinking, and a history of past detox all affect how the liver detoxifies alcohol from the body.

Various withdrawal symptoms may happen during the detox process:10

  • 6 hours after the last drink: You may experience minor withdrawal symptoms, like headache, tremors, and stomach upset. Heavy drinkers may experience seizures. 
  • 12 to 24 hours after the last drink: Very few people have hallucinations.
  • 24 to 48 hours after the last drink: Minor withdrawal symptoms may persist, but they may stop in 4 to 5 days.
  • 48 to 72 hours after the last drink: You may experience delirium. Elevated high heart rate, body temperatures, and seizures characterize this.
  • 72 hours after the last drink: More severe symptoms, like rapid heart rate and hallucinations, worsen during this period. 

In rare instances, withdrawal symptoms last for a month. Fortunately, not all people who stop drinking experience these symptoms.

Why is Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder Important? 

The liver can heal minor damages that alcohol caused within days or weeks. More serious liver damage could take months to heal.

Liver damage from long-term drinking or a binge-drinking session may be permanent. Here are common liver complications drinking alcohol causes: 

Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

A few days of drinking can cause fat build-up in the liver. There may be no symptoms, but this fatty liver disease is an initial sign of drinking at a harmful level. Stopping alcohol consumption for two weeks can reverse this condition.11, 12

Alcoholic Hepatitis

This condition entails an inflamed liver. It’s a more severe condition that chronic alcohol abuse cause. If mild, you can reverse alcoholic hepatitis by avoiding alcohol altogether. If severe, alcoholic hepatitis is life-threatening.11,12

Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis means the liver is irreversibly scarred. However, permanently stopping alcohol consumption can prevent further damage and increase life expectancy.11,12

It’s important to address alcohol use problems to prevent liver diseases. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that people of legal age drink moderately or avoid it altogether.

You should also limit alcohol intake to 2 drinks or less daily for men or one drink or less for women. If you have difficulty stopping, seek medical advice, support, or treatment. 

Summary

A liver detox helps eliminate toxins from the body. It’s effective if you experience the six signs mentioned above.

But long-term cleansing isn’t necessary when living a healthy lifestyle. You can craft an effective liver detox plan with the right combination of nutrition and exercise.

Stopping alcohol consumption completely is the best way to protect your liver from damage. If you have difficulty doing so, seek medical advice or treatment immediately to keep your liver from serious damage.

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Updated on February 6, 2024
12 sources cited
Updated on February 6, 2024
  1. Hodges et al. “Modulation of Metabolic Detoxification Pathways Using Foods and Food-Derived Components: A Scientific Review with Clinical Application.” Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, 2015.
  2. Bruno, G. “Detoxification: Dietary Supplements to Support & Promote the Process.”, Huntington College of Health Sciences, 2006. 
  3. Korn, L. “How Detoxification Will Improve Your Mental Health.” Psychology Today, 2017. 
  4. Pizzorno, J. “Toxins From the Gut.” Integrative Medicine, 2014
  5. Woreta, T. “Detoxing Your Liver: Fact Versus Fiction.” Johns Hopkins University, n.d.
  6. Albassam et al. “The effect of milk thistle (Silybum marianum) and its main flavonolignans on CYP2C8 enzyme activity in human liver microsomes.” Chemico-Biological Interactions, 2017
  7. Wirngo et al. “The Physiological Effects of Dandelion (Taraxacum Officinale) in Type 2 Diabetes.” The Review of Diabetic Studies, 2016.
  8. Nazıroğlu et al. “Apple cider vinegar modulates serum lipid profile, erythrocyte, kidney, and liver membrane oxidative stress in ovariectomized mice fed high cholesterol.” The Journal of Membrane Biology, 2014. 
  9. Lee et al. “Therapeutic Effects of Amino Acids in Liver Diseases: Current Studies and Future Perspectives.” Journal of Cancer Prevention, 2019.
  10. Kattimani et al. “Clinical management of alcohol withdrawal: A systematic review.” Industrial Psychiatry Journal, 2013. 
  11. “Liver Health.” Johns Hopkins University, n.d. 
  12. “Alcohol-related liver disease.” U.K. National Health Service, 2021.

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