If you have acne – or any skin ailment, for that matter – you may want to consider supporting your liver. I want to share one of the most famous naturopathic theories, practiced for centuries before the advent of modern medicine and dermatology: if the body is not efficiently detoxifying via the bowels, urine, and sweat then toxins will try to get out of the body through the skin.
This means that crazy rashes, psoriasis, eczema and acne can all be the result of poor elimination. And the liver is at the heart of proper detoxification and elimination.
Now this is not a scientifically-proven theory according to western medicine, but centuries of traditional medicine throughout the world have used this theory successfully. Traditional remedies for healing the skin are jam-packed with liver-loving herbs such as milk thistle, dandelion, burdock, yellow dock and artichoke. As a naturopathic doctor treating acne for over 10 years, part of my treatment plan for every patient includes liver support. I find that it is almost impossible to successfully treat acne or any other skin condition without it.
And now, more than ever, the liver needs to be supported as it is over-burdened with toxins and pollutants in our environment. Since the advent of the industrial revolution over 100,000 industrial chemicals have been introduced into our environment, many of which we know nothing about.
According to the Environmental Working Group, research has shown that newborn babies contain up to 287 industrial chemicals in their umbilical cord blood. It is fair to say that after living on this earth for a few decades our toxic body burden is bound to be even higher. And this means that the liver’s job is even greater now then it was when traditional doctors were prescribing liver herbs for acne a century ago.
So how do you support the liver?
The first step is to reduce the amount of toxins that the liver has to process.
- Eat a whole foods diet with lots of fruits and vegetables
- Eliminate processed and packaged foods
- Purchase the ‘Dirty Dozen’ foods (these contain the most pesticides) organic. Includes strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, pears, cherries, grapes, celery, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes.
- Drink filtered water
- Stay away from the 3Ps (non-organic poultry, plastics and pesticides)
The second step is to give the liver some support. Here are a few ideas:
- Start each morning with a cup of warm water with the juice of ½ a lemon squeezed in, before you consume anything else. The lemon stimulates bile production in the gallbladder, and the bile helps the liver to detoxify. The bile also helps prevent constipation, which helps to further remove toxins from the body.
- Add some liver-loving foods into your diet, such as artichoke, beets, greens, apples, lemon/lime, plum, seaweed, apple cider vinegar, chlorella powder and avocado. Based on Traditional Chinese Medical theory, these foods have been supporting the liver for centuries.
- Herbs have been used for centuries to help heal and support the liver. Some of the best, and most readily available, herbs for the liver include dandelion, milk thistle, yellow dock and burdock. Sometimes a cup or two of milk thistle tea is all your liver needs – other times a custom formulated tincture works best. Be sure to consult with your MD or ND to find the safest, most effective solution for you.
So the bottom line? If you have acne, or any other skin problem, give your liver a bit of love!