4 Ways to Gently Support Your Liver for Acne Free Skin

If you’ve been keeping up with The Love Vitamin, you’ll know that I just did a liver flush, and it turned out to be, by far, the most unpleasant thing I have ever done in the name of health!

As much as people SWEAR by the liver flush, it seems very strange to me that in order to be healthy, you are supposed to put your body through something so difficult.

Don’t we want to work with our body instead – lend it some tender loving care so that it can do its own detoxifying (which it is doing all the time anyway)? Instead of forcing it to with a giant mug of olive oil and some epsom salts which may result in you puking on yourself?

Today I’m going to discuss several ways that you can do just that – support the liver…. gently!! So that you don’t have to go through what I did with my liver flush experience and also get your skin looking fabulous at the same time.

1. Eat and Live a Low Toxins Lifestyle

As I mentioned in a previous article, the liver does SO many jobs in the body. Its an extremely important organ. It:

  • Detoxifies chemicals such as drugs, alcohol, and heavy metals
  • Produces bile that aids in the digestion of fat
  • Produces blood proteins and other cofactors needed to produce red blood cells
  • Stores glycogen which is used to produce energy
  • Stores Vitamins A, D, and B12
  • Neutralizes free radicals

And as I said, for those with acne, a significant role it plays is to deactivate used hormones so that they can’t continue to float around in your body and cause hormone imbalances that may lead to skin problems.

The thing is that the more toxins that we bring into our bodies through our diets, stress, and other means, the more time the liver has to spend on its job of detoxification and it no longer has enough time to do its other jobs properly (like deactivating those pesky hormones). This is what leads to disease.

So in order to give your liver a fighting chance, the best thing you can possibly do is simply lower your toxic load. You can:

  • Switch the majority of your diet away from processed foods that contain chemicals
  • Switch all of your skin care products to natural products, and eliminate those that aren’t necessary
  • Watch the environmental toxins in your home – switch to more natural cleaning products, consider safer cookware, and get house plants that filter the stuffy indoor air
  • Minimize use of caffeine, alcohol, and cigarrettes
  • Keep your stress levels in check, as emotional toxins can also lead to an inefficient liver

2. Get the Specific Nutrients for Phase I and II Liver Detoxification

Your liver is detoxifying all day, every day through something called “detoxification pathways”, and it performs this in two distinct phases.

In Phase I, called “oxidation”, the liver uses oxygen and enzymes to change the toxins into a more water soluble form so that they can easily be excreted by the kidneys or bile. In Phase II, called “conjugation”, oxidized chemicals are combined with sulfur, specific amino acids, or organic acids, and then excreted.

It’s important that both of these pathways are working properly. Sometimes in Phase I, the converted toxins are actually more harmful than their original state, and if the body cannot excrete them in Phase I, you’re in trouble.

In order to have both pathways tip top, you need the right nutrients to keep them up and running.

  1. Get enough zinc. Zinc deficiency can alter Phase I detoxification toward a direction that encourages cancer promoting chemicals. Zinc is found in abundance in animal products and certain foods like pumpkin seeds, but you can also take a zinc supplement. Zinc is great for treating acne as well.
  2. Get your protein. Many amino acids are used in Phase II – two of the most important ones being cysteine and methionine. Get these through protein sources such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products or vegetarian sources such as nuts, seeds and beans.
  3. Increase glutathione levels. Glutathione is your body’s master antioxidant, but cannot be absorbed orally in supplement form because the molecules are too big. It’s manufactured in the liver from raw amino acid building blocks. One way to increase glutathione production is take  an N-acetylcysteine supplement, which is a precursor to glutathione synthesis.
  4. Eat a variety of healthy foods. This is so that a variety of liver friendly bioflavanoids (specific food compounds) are consumed, Vitamins C and E, and also stock up on B vitamins, as they are particularly important for liver detox.
  5. Eat foods containing sulfur compounds. These are vital in Phase II. These include onions, garlic, egg yolks, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale.

3. Take Herbs that Help Assist Liver Detox

Taking specific herbs can help to gently support the liver in its detoxification pursuits (without any agony!). These work by providing the liver with specific bioflavanoids that it needs.

The most famous liver herb is milk thistle, which contains the the active bioflavanoid family called silymarin. It increases glutathione levels, resulting in improvement of the clearing of unwanted toxins in the blood. Milk thistle also helps in the regeneration of liver tissue and decreases inflammation.

Other herbs that can assist in liver function include artichoke leaf, turmeric, dandelion, oregon grape, bitter fennel, licorice, yellow dock, burdock, and gentian.

Personally I think it’s a great idea to take an all around liver supplement that includes a mix of some of these things. Two brands that I’ve used in the past and were recommended to me by my naturopath are Hepacaps and Thorne SAT Liver Support.

4. Make Sure Your Digestion is Running Smoothly

The primary way that toxins come to your liver is via the digestive system.

After your intestines break down your food into individual amino acids, vitamins, minerals and the accompanying toxins, the liver absorbs this in the form of nutrient rich blood via the hepatic portal vein.

If your digestion is inefficient, fewer nutrients get to your liver, and more toxins do. Therefore, one of the best things you can do is make sure your digestion runs smoothly.

  • Take probiotics and live fermented foods to ensure you have a healthy garden of good bacteria. The more bad bacteria in your gut, the more toxins they create.
  • Take HCL betaine if you suspect you have low stomach acid.
  • Take an expandable soluble fibre to help with constipation and to absorb and bind toxins on their way out. I like psyllium husk, but others prefer ground flax seed or chia seeds.
  • If you suspect you have a leaky gut (which is when the intestine is irritated and lets in larger molecules and more toxins to the blood stream than it should), consider taking the amino acid L-glutamine.
  • Chew your food thoroughly and eat mindfully. Don’t eat while stressed.

Watch This Article in Video Form

Yes, I’m wearing a silly hat but it was quite hot out that day!

photo from Resource Naturopathy

Comments

  1. says

    Hi Tracy!
    I love this post. I had a bit of a revelation this week in which I realized that I believe my liver’s poor state is what is contributing to my all around poor health (acne included). I’m currently doing a parasite cleanse, and then I’m going to finish it with a liver flush. I agree with you that the liver flush seems to be a bit unnaturally violent to do on a regular basis… but I wonder for people like me who most likely have a congested liver (and have been doing gentle forms of liver detox and support for almost two years with no great effect) if maybe flushing until you’re clear and then just keeping up with natural, gentle liver support is key. I’ve only been health conscious for the past four years, and before that I pretty much drowned myself in processed, unnatural poisons of all sorts – food and skin products alike!
    Just my two cents. I’ll report back once I finish my first flush! :)
    xx

    • Tracy says

      Hi Desi!
      Well, if you want to, give it a try! It probably wont hurt to try it once (although I admit I personally kind of regret it as I seem to be almost worse off now..) Let us know how it goes. I hope you have a better experience. The comment down below from “C” seems to demonstrate that not everyone has a terrible time with it.

  2. C says

    Wow, I’m sorry the liver flush went so horribly for you. That totally didn’t sound like fun. I am wondering if maybe the intense nausea you experienced was because of the parasites you were expelling? I hope you elaborate more on the little critters you think you saw.

    I want people to know that I did Hulda Clark’s liver flush once before and didn’t experience anything bad, other than the unpleasantness of “peeing out of my butt” (thanks Epsom salts). I decided to do the flush because I’d been told by more than a few natural health practioners that my liver was congested and unable to process extra hormones. I’d also been having some digestive issues (gas and bloating after Anything I’d eat) that I wanted to nip in the bud, as well as a bit of persistent acne. After the flush my digestion felt awesome(no more gas or bloating for the next few months), my skin got clearer, I felt like eating more wholesome foods, had less cravings, and I felt increased energy. I liked the results of the flush and I’ve always intended to do another flush again soon, just the whole idea of taking my whole precious day off to stay at home by the commode is hard for me to plan. I didn’t do a parasite cleanse first last time, but intend to do one before my next liver flush.

    It sounds like the flush is necessary if you do the parasite cleanse, to expel the little wormies. I don’t know that any of the aforementioned liver treatments would be able to have that effect-? How else can you make sure your body expels any parasites?

    • Tracy says

      Hi C – that’s great that you didn’t have such a bad experience. If you don’t find it hard on the body and it has clear benefits, then go for it I guess! Personally I’m kind of jealous as it seems like it made both my digestion and my skin worse :(

      As for it being necessary after a parasite cleanse… yes, that’s why I did it, in case it was truly necessary. I didn’t want to leave those guys in there. I’m not really sure on this one though. I asked around in the Humaworm forum and it sounds like not everyone does the liver flush after the parasite cleanse and they’re alright.

  3. T says

    Hi Tracy,

    This might be a bit off topic but can you please recommend me anything to eat that would help me gain weight and at the same time it is good for acne? There’s just too much info on the net and it’s really confusing.

  4. Krista says

    you mention zinc…just wondering, can too much cause cystic acne? I think I may have found that to be the case… My first day starting zinc 50mg tablets, the next day I had a painful deep-under-the-skin pimple. Then I ate pumpkin seeds last week and got same kind of pimples under my nose. It COULD be other things (period, possible other foods, stress) but is it possible to be the zinc? I’ve temporarily stopped taking it but don’t want to stop if it’s not even the cause. Thoughts anyone?

    • Tracy says

      You know, I don’t know… a quick google search came up with this: http://www.acne.org/messageboard/index.php/topic/76578-zinc-cause-acne/
      So you may not be alone in this problem, but I don’t know why zinc would cause acne. Usually it sounds like it helps it greatly. What are you taking zinc for? Is it for acne? You say you don’t want to stop it, but why? are there other things you want to take it for?

      Also, just a thought but maybe it’s the type of zinc you are taking and another form would be better. I usually recommend zinc picolinate

      • Krista says

        Sorry for the delay. Yeah, I started to take it for acne but then realized it might be causing the cystic acne. I was taking zinc gluconate 50 mg. I haven’t gotten any since I stopped taking it. Hmm maybe zinc and I just don’t get along…

  5. Ella says

    Dude, I hear you on the liver flush! I did one a few years ago and it SUCKED. I felt awful during and after, with no benefit (that I could see) to my poor skin. I wont be traipsing off to glug cups of olive oil again any time soon!

  6. Hannah says

    Hi, I was just wondering if anyone had had adverse affects from taking the Milk Thistle? I’ve been on a wholefood diet for 3 weeks; I started taking milk thistle about 3 days ago (capsule form – just one a day) and it seems to have completely blocked me up when I’ve been totally and shockingly regular since I started eating this way for my skin. I know it’s really meant to help the liver and therefore to help clear my skin, but I worry that if it’s blocking up my digestion that that might create more toxins than an unhelped liver would anyway. And it’s quite uncomfortable. I’ve totally lost my appetite cause I feel like I can’t possibly fit anything else in. Can anyone help??

    • Kit says

      Hey Hannah – have you checked out the other ingredients in your milk thistle capsule? I’ve had problems in the past with fillers in cheap supplements. In my opinion/experience, it’s best to spend more for something hypoallergenic and as clean as possible. Check the allergen information on your supplement – maybe go to the manufacturer’s website? I know spending more money sucks, but trying another version of milk thistle might help you determine if you have a problem with this brand or the herb itself (which would surprise, but is always possible).

  7. Kit says

    This is really interesting. I was considering a liver flush, but now I really don’t want to. I’m almost done with my gut-healing period, but I can’t bring myself to risk doing something so violent to my body after babying my digestive tract for so long. It just seems wrong…

    I’ve decided to tackle my remaining mild acne with a liver support approach. I’ve been on Accutane three times, just got off birth control pills, can’t tolerate ANY caffeine, and get drunk off so little alcohol that it’s positively ridiculous- I’m talking moderately drunk after a single glass of good wine. Pathetic. I’ve never been a heavyweight, but it’s gotten much worse lately. And I do have small breakouts the morning after I’ve accidentally gotten tipsy.

    So all this leads me to believe that my liver is just not processing things right. I guess we’ll see, but this does seem like a really logical approach. I’ve just started on a bottle of milk thistle capsules.

    Do you happen to know anything about how much milk thistle is advisable to take in a day?

    • Tracy says

      Hi Kit, I’m not sure off the top of my head how much milk thistle is okay for one day, I would just take it as directed on the bottle

  8. Monica C says

    Hi Tracy
    i just stumbled upon this thread while searching desperately for help with my acne. It started right after I got off birth control. I laways had great skin and now, it’s completely out of control.
    Do you recommend taking Zinc, Milk Thistle and Psyllium all together?…I do have a constipation problem and I do notice that any time I have a zip of alcohol, I break out even worse.
    I am so confused and desperate.
    thanks in advance

    • Tracy says

      Hi Monica,
      Yes you can take them all, but make sure you don’t take the psyllium at the same time as other supplements because it can reduce effectiveness due to it’s absorption power. Also, if you have acne due to coming off birth control pills, look into the herb Vitex. Usually people have low progesterone afterwards, and vitex helps you naturally raise your progesterone.

      • Monica C says

        Thank you Tracy. I started with the psyllium first and I will continue with it alone for about 2 more weeks just to make sure I don’t have any allergic reaction to everything all at once. I am def going to look into the herb Vitex. Someone also recommended I take LiverCare to start detoxing my liver little by little. I just don’t want to overwhelm my body with a bunch of different things…what do you think?

  9. Rainie says

    Hi Tracy,
    I have been started to take milk thistle-liver supplement a week ago as I’m suffering with acne problem. But, after I started to take that supplement, my acne has gotten worse. Do you think this is the process of detoxing? Or I should switch to another supplement?

    • Tracy says

      Hi Rainie,
      Yes, milk thistle can definitely cause detox reactions as it starts detoxifying the liver! I’d wait it out… if it doesn’t go away after a while or continually gets worse, then stop it

  10. Savanna says

    Hi Tracy. I started milk thistle and a few days later began breaking out on my cheeks (an area that was never really too bad). I started freaking out, so I stopped it. Was this just a way of releasing the toxins? Should I try the liv-tox instead? I want something that doesn’t make it go crazy. I am on birth control pills and I am starting to believe that is contributing to my liver being congested. Help please! I would greatly appreciate your advice. Btw I LOVE all of your videos and advice. You are so inspiring! Thanks :)

  11. Carla says

    Can I take liv tox and milk thistle at the same time? I started taking regular estro block and milk thistle/ burdock root and it was working but then it stopped, am going to order the extra strength estro block next time , I get cyst on my jaw and cheeks

    • Tracy says

      Hi Carla… hmm.. maybe. Liv-tox contains milk thistle though. Maybe look up the maximum dose of milk thistle you should take per day and see if taking liv-tox plus an extra milk thistle supplement would be too much

  12. Savanna says

    Tracy, do you have any idea how long it takes hormones to balance after stopping birth control? I quit mine about 2 months ago and have been getting cystic acne on my chi. And jawline….I never had that post BC! I am taking vitex..do you think that will help any?? And is this painful stuff on my jawline something that will never go away?

    • Tracy says

      Hi Savanna, it will go away, but it can take time for your hormones to balance out. Here is some advice from the ladies over in the wean off the birth control thread (http://thelovevitamin.com/769/can-you-wean-off-the-birth-control-pill/) on what to do to help:

      “Lately I’ve done a bunch of reading up online as to how to get rid of (or at least tone down) that post-Diane breakout, and several things seem to be recurrent:
      – Liver-friendly supplements (burdock root, turmeric, artichoke, black radish, wild pansy, beetroot, etc.) to help flush out the excess synthetic hormones and toxins accumulated in the body.
      – Probiotics, to counteract candida (often present if you’ve been on the BCP for a while) and help digestion.
      – A sugar-free diet, because the post-Diane breakout is linked to a surge in testosterone, and sugar causes the body to produce more testosterone, so basically the least sugar you consume, the better. Plus, sugar fuels candida, so if you do have a latent yeast infection, you’re killing 2 birds with 1 stone. Also, mint/Spearmint (in capsule form/herbal tea) helps reduce testosterone”

      You can also try the things mentioned here in this article – DIM and/or Vitex

  13. Julia says

    Oh sorry! I meant Liv-tox! I’m thinking, since it’s like a detox (?) should I take it for like 1 month or do you take this on regular basis? :)

    • Tracy says

      Oh yeah the name is misleading! You can take it for ongoing liver support. At least that’s what I do… I’ve been taking one a day for about a year so far

  14. Tanya says

    Hi, Tracy!

    Thank you for your work and for giving me hope to get rid of my adult acne (40yo!).

    I will appreciate if you can answer my questions.

    1 week ago I started on Estroblock Pro with two pills (I know, stupid), got detox symptoms, started reading your articles again and now third day I’m on one pill and already feeling good. For about 2 months I’m taking Gaia Liver cleanse and Gaia Deep Liver Support. Wondering if they can be taken instead of Liv-Tox. Ingredients differ a lot but since I already have pills… Shall I order Liv-tox or finish Gaia pills? Do you know anything about how important Schisandra fruit, Picrorhiza root and Niruri herb that Gaia pills do not have?

    I will get all the rest to help with liver detox (N-acethyl Cysteine, Calcium D-Glucarate, selenium and taurine). I think my diet is good: organic as much as possible, no processed foods, no GMO, no dairy except plain yogurt (gotta have my dips), no sugars, breads or other flour products, no chemicals (at least trying), etc. Basically all I eat is veggies, green smoothies, quinoa and backwheat (for grains), eggs, meat, fish. I also take lots of supplements, probiotics and vitamins which I know are good quality and what I need (none of them interfere with my acne, checked).

    And since I’m at it, do you have anywhere on your blog recommendations for face skin care? I seems to produce a lot of certain fat that clogs pores. I’m not using anything on my face except very mild natural scrub in the shower. Pores on my nose are pretty good size and once I clean them it takes about 2 days to fill them up. I suspect hormonal imbalance has something to do with it but it is so strange how they fill up so quickly.

    Well, anyway, sorry for a long detailed post, poor Eniglish and lots of questions.

    And thanks again!

  15. Trish says

    Hi Tracy!
    So, I’ve embarked on this healing and cleansing journey and truthfully, it’s only been about a week, but I feel better already.
    One of the supplements I opted to try for my liver was Milk Thistle – wow, you were right when you said don’t take this if you have allergies to ragweed. My eyes and throat were so irritated, I had to stop immediately. So, I thought I would give Liv-Tox a try – I went to Amazon and tried to order it, but for whatever reason, they won’t ship to my area, which is odd. I’ve ordered a lot of stuff from Amazon….I live in Cambrige, Ontario which isn’t off the map or anything!! Anyway, long story, short: where do you buy your Liv-Tox from, and do you know if they will ship across Canada?!

    • Tracy says

      Hi Trish, I wouldn’t recommend Liv-tox for you as it also contains milk thistle! I think the only liver support supplement I know of that doesn’t contain milk thistle is called Liv 52 by Himalaya Herbals

  16. Brandy says

    All of your articles are blowing my mind today as I just randomly stumbled upon this site. :::brain matter exploding all around::: I’m excited to try something new! Should I just try livtox first or estroblock? Or both? Thanks!

  17. May says

    Hi. Great info! I’m currently taking Liv-tone from genuine health for a liver detox. But do you know if I’m suppose to do a parasite cleanse first?

  18. Alyssa says

    Hello,

    It looks like they discontinued LivTox – does anyone have any replacement brands that work well besides LivTox?

    • Tracy says

      Well, prior to Liv-tox, my naturopath recommended a supplement called Hepacaps, but then they couldn’t easily get it in Canada anymore so she switched to using Liv-tox. So see if you can find Wise Woman Hepacaps, that is what I would recommend. I still need to find a good replacement I can get easily in Canada

  19. says

    Tracy!

    My liv-tox is almost finished and I wonder of the Thorne SAT as you now recommend (instead of liv-tox) is just as good? I see that you recommend it instead of liv-tox on “things I like”, is it because liv-tox isn’t available for all counties at amazon anymore (have had hard time to find it lately) or is it because of something else?
    And is Thorne SAT as natural as liv-tox according to its components?

    Thanks!

    • Tracy says

      Hi Julia,
      Basically, they discontinued Liv-tox, I still don’t know why. And then I got overloaded with emails asking about what to take now… so I spent quite a while trying to decide on a supplement which was made of similar herbs and was of similar quality. Thorne was what I decided on, at least for now. I actually haven’t tried it yet, so I indeed hope it works as well as Liv-tox. I know Thorne is a supplement brand that naturopaths use and the product has great reviews on Amazon. So…. yep. I’ll be trying it as soon as my Liv-tox runs out! x

      • Julia says

        I’m about to order Thirne now, but just one question:
        What’s the difference between Thorne S.A.T. och Thorne Liver cleanse? Because when I read about them it sounds like Thorne Liver cleanse is more optimal to take when you eat Estroblock? What’s your thoughts on that? It’s just a feeling I have, I’m not educated in the subject at all :)

        • Tracy says

          Hi Julia, they have different herbs in them. Thorne is a replacement supplement for the one I used to take and love and recommend (Liv-tox), but it was discontinued, so this is one with similar herbs and of similar quality. Liv-tox worked great with Estroblock so this one should too! :)

  20. Julia says

    Hi Tracy, sorry to bother you again.. Just wonder if you know anything about the supplement “HealthForce Nutritionals, Liver Rescue 4+”? You get a lot for almost the same price as Thorne. Why I’ve hard time to decide which supplement I’ll by now since Liv-tox isn’t available anymore, is because I’m a poor student..
    Thanks for helping with your knowledge!

    • Tracy says

      Hey Julia, one of the reason’s I’m recommending Thorne is because I know it’s a good quality supplement that naturopaths use in their practice, I don’t know if that is true about Healthforce, so I don’t know if it’s the same. I can’t research it right now – I’m in Nepal and the internet here is painfully bad! It might be just fine but I don’t know.

  21. Nicole says

    Hi!! I have been following your site for quite some time now. Thank you for all the incredible information; you have really helped me get through my battle with adult hormonal acne. I’m still in the midst of working through my problems, but my skin is doing a lot better right now… thanks to a liver supplement, eating healthy, and Omega3.

    I had a question about the liver supplement though, and I hope its not too late to reply to this post…

    Should I be taking the liver supplement for long term? I started with Just taking milk thistle. I just finished a 2 week course of taking 3 a day. Today I am starting on a different supplement that supports both phases… could I take one a day for long term use?

    • says

      Hi Nicole, well from what I found when researching it, it didn’t sound to me like there was any defined limit on how long you could take milk thistle for. I’ve been taking a liver supplement for at least a couple of years now.

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