Detox and other Functions of the Liver

a graphic with a quote from the wiki...the liver is a vital organ which has a wide range of functions including detoxificationIn the Liver Detox Part 1 we took a bird’s eye view of the process of detoxification in the liver.

Like the very best water filters have several stages, the liver has different ways to purify the liquid flowing through it. And since blood is a lot more complicated than water the liver is very sophisticated in the way it deals with the toxins it processes 

So yes the liver acts like a filter for the blood. It also produces a special fluid, called bile and dumps a lot of toxins in the bile which takes them out of the liver to the gall bladder and then down to the large intestine.

After filtration, specialist liver enzymes with the rather odd sounding names, the “cytochrome P450” enzymes get to work on the remaining toxins in the blood and take them through several stages of transformation in order to detox them. 

What is vital in all these parts of liver detox is preparation.

Let’s look at the first stage first where the Liver acts like a filter 

Filters get a lot wear and tear and the filter function of the liver works every second of every day like the heart does. Bacteria and debris hit the liver and it must be able to cope.

The physical structure of the liver must be intact for the filter function to work and it must be able to resist the inflammatory actions of the bacteria it handles.

Vitamin C is vital in both functions – vitamin C strengthens collagen which maintains the mechanical structure of the liver and vitamin C also acts as a powerful anti-inflammatory protecting the liver against damage by bacteria and inflammatory chemicals.

The functions of the liver depends on the health of the membranes in the liver through which the filtration take place. 

If there is a history of alcohol abuse or a high intake of fructose the liver may well have fatty tissue formed by the side effects of the detox of alcohol and fructose.

Fatty acids are important to cell membranes so Essential fatty acids help to keep the liver healthy. 

Cholesterol is another essential fat in the function of the liver. On a low fat diet the liver has to work harder to regulate blood cholesterol and has to make extra cholesterol to make up for that missing from the diet.

On a traditional diet with an adequate cholesterol intake the liver can take a well deserved rest and scale back its cholesterol production. 

Finally for the energy flow of the liver – the liver is a very hardworking organ and it gets the energy for the work it does from the mitochondria in the liver cells.

Mitochondria act like tiny power plants and they need protection against their own power! 

That inner protection is provided mostly by a vitamin like substance called  CoQ10.

So far then we have vitamin C, EFAs and CoQ10 as important for the health of the liver cells. 

Then we get to look at the alchemy going on in the liver!

Alchemy is the mystery of turning substances into something else and the liver does that by turning toxic molecules into nontoxic molecules – a bit like the Police disarming a gunman! 

Well all this alchemy comes at a cost. The liver needs a long list of materials to do its job and they come from your diet and supplements

Here is a short list of some of the inputs needed by the liver….. 

  • Minerals such as copper, zinc and magnesium
  • Vitamins such as B complex and vitamin C
  • Foods like cabbage, turmeric, citrus (excluding grapefruit)
  • Amino acids which are mostly provided by proteins in the diet. This does not mean that you need to be on high protein diet. In fact such a diet gives the liver more work to do by detoxifying the extra ammonia from the protein which has to be eliminated from the body as urea.

I’ve kept the list short, really. The point is that liver detox needs the liver itself to be healthy and well fed! 

And for the whole body to be in a reasonable state of health and low levels of stress.


Because detox is a resource hungry activity and if you are in need of healing and destressing then get that done first and when you are ready you can focus on the detox and take your health to a higher level.

Detox is part of a healthy life but so is nurturing and so is healing. A healthy life has all 3.

We’ve looked at some of the functions of the liver – filtration, detox, cholesterol regulation amongst others and seen some of the complexity.

I hope that helps to clear away some of the myths about detox and helps you to admire the power and intelligence of the liver. Doing a liver detox is very worthwhile and may be a life changing event because afterwards you can find yourself feeling very much healthier and energetic.

Alex Newell ND

I'm Alex Newell and I am a Physicist who retrained as an Osteopath and Naturopath when my own health began to decline in my 30's. In fact I kept training and asking questions and began writing books and blogging over the last few years. The purpose of this blog, is to help those with an interest in Natural Health Care to improve their health and detox and chelate industrial chemicals out of the brain and body in a safe and effective way. Please feel free to ask questions and contact me

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