Do you feel like your body is giving you signals that it’s time to take a break from alcohol? Do you get the feeling like your hangovers are no longer manageable, you’re starting to see the aging effects on your skin, or perhaps your energy levels are becoming sluggish? If so, then now is a good time to give your liver a rest, listen to your body and take a detox from alcohol. 

Most of us are aware that alcohol can cause liver and kidney problems, addiction, weight gain, severe headaches and memory loss, yet we have all been guilty of drinking and partying too much and not actually realising how harmful the effects of ingesting alcohol on a regular basis can be. I hold my hands up to being completely guilty of this one. It wasn’t until I completely gave up alcohol for nearly 2 years that I understood more about toxin build-up and how the liver gets affected. Even though most of us don’t have a serious problem, and we only use alcohol socially, there are things we can do now to protect the health of our liver and reduce alcohol consumption. 

The liver is one of our most important organs and is involved in thousands of biochemical mechanisms making it second only to the brain in importance and complexity. As a Health Coach and Detox Specialist, I have become acutely aware of the detrimental effects on the liver of modern living, with its chemicals, excessive fat intake, pesticides, hormones, and stress. This suggests to me that we as a culture are in need of liver support, more than we ever have been and one herb that is known for its liver healing properties is Milk Thistle. 

Milk Thistle

Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) has been used since Greco-Roman times as an herbal remedy for a variety of ailments, particularly liver problems. Several scientific studies suggest that active substances in milk thistle (particularly silymarin) protect the liver from damage caused by viruses, toxins, alcohol, and certain drugs such as acetaminophen (a common over the counter medication used for headaches and pain; acetaminophen, also called paracetamol, can cause liver damage if taken in large quantities especially by people who drink alcohol regularly.

(Rosalee de la Forêt,Herb Mentor,MILK THISTLE MONOGRAPH)

One mechanism of action is that milk thistle can increase glutathione in the liver. (1) Glutathione is often referred to as the “mother of all antioxidants” because of its role in liver detoxification pathways and its regenerative nature. Glutathione levels also decrease with aging and low levels play a role in many degenerative diseases.

“I like to combine milk thistle seed with dandelion root and turmeric root to create a simple liver tonic that heals, repairs, detoxifies and gently stimulates the liver.”

Alan Tilloston – The One Earth Herbal Sourcebook

In its simplest form, detoxing from alcohol involves abstaining from alcohol for a period of time and allowing the body to eliminate all traces of the substance from the tissues and bloodstream. Having a break for around 4-6 weeks can give your body a great chance to eliminate and restore. Plus there are so many great alcohol-free beverages available these days, that you probably won’t even miss it!

Some of my absolute favorites include…

1. Savyll Bellini Cocktail 0.0% 250ml

If you enjoy a glass of prosecco or champers, you want to give this a try! The perfect fusion of ripe white peach aromas, dry prosecco notes, and aromatic bitters. Best served poured into a chilled prosecco flute.

2. Beer – Fungtn Reishi Citra 0.4% 330ml

Never have I enjoyed a glass of non-alcoholic beer so much, this is light refreshing, calming, and honestly so good. If you’re a beer lover, but want to reduce how much you’re drinking, here is a great alternative. A juicy, sour Citra hop beer enhanced with adaptogenic organic Reishi mushroom. Reishi Citra is a truly unique tasting beer that delivers functional, positive benefits in every sip.

3. Genie Dry Apple Kombucha 0.0% 330ml

Think refreshing cider on a summer’s day when you take a sip of this! A deliciously fruity, fermented soda made with black tea and apple juice for a naturally tart, crisp kick. The fermented kombucha cultures and antioxidants in each sip help you feel good. Store chilled and serve over ice.

Allowing your body a break from drinking may eventually lead to healthier habits, as you experience increased energy and vitality after your body begins to recover. Many clients that I work with report an increase in energy, sexual drive, function, and a decrease in appetite after the detox period. 

1. Vargas-Mendoza, Nancy, Eduardo Madrigal-Santillán, Angel Morales-González, Jaime Esquivel-Soto, Cesar Esquivel-Chirino, Manuel García-Luna Y González-Rubio, Juan A. Gayosso-de-Lucio, and José A. Morales-González. “Hepatoprotective Effect of Silymarin.” World Journal of Hepatology 6, no. 3 (March 27, 2014): 144–49.

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