While our bodies have an advanced detoxification system—led by the workhorse organ, the liver—to filter out these toxins, it’s possible for a toxic backlog to occur and for liver function to suffer as a result.
When this happens, a person might have what I refer to as a congested liver. This congestion can cause symptoms such as digestive problems, fatigue, skin breakouts, extreme sensitivity to medications and/or supplements and more. Unless this “congestion” is cleared up, the symptoms will continue.
People with thyroid disorders such as Hashimoto’s are especially prone to developing liver dysfunction as they are more likely to have an impaired overall ability to handle toxic exposure. In these instances, a congested liver can cause poor processing of thyroid medications and lead to unresolved symptoms despite the use of prescription medications.
What I’ve discovered is that there are actions you can take to rejuvenate your liver and reboot your body’s detoxification system. In my new book, Hashimoto’s Protocol: A 90-Day Plan for Reversing Thyroid Symptoms and Getting Your Life Back, I’ve dedicated an entire chapter to this process—over 60 pages are stocked full of information on how to improve liver function with my Liver Support Protocol.
But you don’t have to wait until you have the book in hand to get to work on decongesting your liver and improving your body’s detoxification abilities. Here are some ways you can get started today.
There are two key elements to restoring optimal liver function: eliminating hidden toxins that are encountered in everyday life and supporting the liver as it works to process out toxic buildup in the body. In Hashimoto’s Protocol, I help people accomplish these goals in four steps:
- Remove potentially triggering foods. The body can react to a trigger food just like it would a toxin, especially in a person with autoimmunity who is more likely to have intestinal permeability. This step is all about removing potentially toxic foods such as gluten, soy, alcohol, caffeine and sugar.
- Add supportive foods. Green juices, turmeric tea, fermented foods, cilantro, sprouts and seedlings, and other such foods have proven to be helpful in reducing inflammation and revitalizing the liver.
- Reduce toxic exposure. Whether you know it or not, your home is filled with places for toxins to hide. If you want to reduce your overall toxic exposure, you must consider your bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom, as this is where most of them will be lurking. In the bedroom, I recommend using detoxifying plants and an air purifier, and in the kitchen, a quality water filter is essential, as is the use of glass (instead of plastic) containers and Teflon-free pots and pans. The bathroom is likely to house a trove of toxins since this is where we keep most of our personal care products. Detoxing your personal care products might seem like a big undertaking, but you can start by searching www.safecosmetics.org and www.ewg.org/skindeep/search to see where your current products stand. (I list some of my favorite products in the book!)
- Support detoxification pathways. There are activities and supplements that can help boost detoxification. I’m going to focus on activities here since that will be the easiest for you to implement. One of the best ways to help your body process a toxic backlog is sweating. I recommend hot springs, hot saunas, hot yoga, or other forms of exercise that generate a good sweat.
It’s important to note that the goal of these activities isn’t to exhaust you, but rather to gently encourage the body to release toxins through the natural process of sweating. If you have a thyroid disorder, it’s especially important that you not overdo it with sweat-inducing activities as this could end up making you feel worse instead of better. I think this is in part why many of my clients with Hashimoto’s have reported that they feel much better after an infrared sauna session—it’s one of the gentler ways to encourage sweating.
The steps I’ve shared here and those detailed in the Liver Support Protocol in the book are meant to promote a gentle reboot of the body’s detoxification system. Forceful detoxes, such as coffee enemas or juice fasts, might be helpful to some, but they’re not healthy for people with thyroid disease. And truthfully, I tend to believe that the more patient, supportive approach is better for everyone in the long-term.
If you are currently dealing with a thyroid disorder or another autoimmune condition, liver support can produce a profound improvement in how you feel each day. Because autoimmunity can often lead to a reduced flushing of toxins, excess inflammation, and intestinal permeability, which causes poor nutrient absorption (some of which are needed to support detox pathways), your liver is in even greater need of some assistance. In just two weeks of following the Liver Support Protocol, I’ve had Hashimoto’s clients improve or resolve symptoms related to hormonal imbalances, rashes, joint pains, mood swings, fatigue, and brain fog.