12 Naturally Detoxifying Herbs and Foods

Are you feeling plugged up, run-down, depleted, overweight, stuffy, puffy, itchy, tired, and TOXIC? It’s important to see your trusted physician when things are not going smoothly, but it’s also wise to do everything you can with diet and nutrition. Detoxifying is a daily process that our body does for us naturally and effortlessly. Find out more about how we can support this process to help our bodies detoxify the natural way.

The Five Main Detoxification Systems

Our bodies are detoxifying all the time as we go about our day-to-day lives. There are five main detoxification systems in the body:

The Lymphatic System from medthermography,com

  1. Lymphatic – The lymphatic system is part of the vascular system which is an important part of the immune system. It consists of lymphatic vessels that carry lymph toward the heart. Lymph is a clear fluid in the body.
  2. Respiratory – The respiratory system provides oxygen and removes carbon dioxide, a waste product that can be lethal. There are 3 major parts of the respiratory system: the airway, the lungs, and the muscles of respiration.
  3. Excretory System – The excretory system includes all the organs involved in removing unnecessary fluids from the body and includes the primary urinary system which consists of the kidneys, the ureters, bladder, and the urethra.
  4. Human Digestive system – The human digestive system consists of the gastrointestinal tract plus the organs of digestion: small and large intestines, appendix, liver, stomach, gallbladder, pancreas, rectum and anus.
  5. Integumentary system – The integumentary system consists of the largest system, the skin, and also included is hair, scales, feathers, hooves, and nails, all of which protect the body from various kinds of damage, such as loss of water or abrasion from outside.


Why is it Important to Detoxify?

These five systems listed above, all work together to neutralize and eliminate harmful substances from our bodies such as:

  1. Food additives
  2. allergens
  3. pesticides
  4. heavy metals
  5. free radicals
  6. metabolic waste

If too many harmful agents accumulate in our bodies, we are unable to get rid of them, resulting in fatigue, headache, low back pain and eventually disease.  What can we do to help our bodies detoxify naturally and support these five detoxifying systems?

How Can We Detoxify Naturally?

We can help the body get rid of toxins naturally by eating healthy herbs and foods in safe doses, to help to cleanse the body of impurifications. It is also wise to buy organic foods and/or wash them thoroughly to remove any possible pesticides or toxic agents.

Five Detoxifying Herbs

My favorite five detoxifying herbs are milk thistle, licorice, dandelion, schisandra and burdock. These are all powerful cleansers and very helpful in natural healing. Of course, over indulging in any foods or herbs can have some side effects of stomach irritation or stomach pain, bloating, loss of appetite, high liver enzymes, or weakness. Always check with your trusted nutritionist, doctor or health practitioner and use common sense when altering your diet. Never overindulge or deprive the body of other necessary nutrients.


Milk thistle – Milk thistle has been known for centuries as a liver cleanser. It increases glutathione, the amino-acid compound that removes toxins. Milk thistle can be taken as a supplement in pill form, liquid extract, or as a tea.


Licorice – Raw natural licorice supports the liver, adrenals and immune system and can be a gentle laxative. It is not for high blood pressure patients, and suggested that one consults witha doctor before taking. Licorice can be available in bulk as licorice root, or as a supplement, oil, or powder.


Dandelion – Dandelion stimulates the gallbladder, kidneys and liver, increasing bile productions and has been long known as a powerful cleanser. Dandelion root is available in bulk, as in tea, as an oil extract, powder, or as an herbal supplement.


Schisandra – Schisandra chinensis, or Wu Wei Zi, is a red berry called magnolia berry or five-flavor-fruit.  It is found in the forests of Northern China and the Russian Far East. it is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and liver protector.  Schisandra has been shown to be effective in treating coughs, night sweats, insomnia and physical exhaustion, and is available in many forms in bulk as dried berries, and also as a tincture, extract, powder, or tea.

Burdock – Burdock is used to treat ailments due to toxicity, such as angina, and facilitates the removal of heavy metals. Research has shown that it protects the liver and clears toxins that lead to dermatitis, eczema, and acne. Burdock can be digested by drinking a tea, used in a tincture, or applied in a salve, or oil for healing the skin.


Seven Detoxifying Foods

My seven favorite detoxifying foods are apples, grapes, artichokes, cranberries, leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, etc.), lemons and whey. Overeating of detoxifying foods can cause bloating, frequent urination, stomach pain or diarrhea. It’s important to detox carefully and eat these foods in moderation, and check with your trusted health practitioner, doctor or nutritionist if you make any major changes to your diet.


Apples– Apples help to cleanse the colon because of being high in fiber and pectin. Fiber helps cleanse the body. The flavonols in apples help to ward off cancer, and its antioxidants support brain health. The saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” may be more than just an silly rhyme.



Grapes – Grapes, like apples, are also high in fiber and contain procyanidolic oligomers (PCOs) that act as antioxidants. PCO is the flavonoid that gives color, juiciness and flavor to the grapes. The darker grapes, such as black and purple grapes, are considered to be the best for detoxification. Grape and water fasts have been used for many years for detoxification.


Artichokes – Artichokes are a great source of antioxidants and help to cleanse the liver, and help it decongest fat. The cynarin in artichokes increases bile production in your liver, which in turn rids cholesterol from your body. Artichokes are low in calories and fat, rich in fiber, antioxidants, folic acid, flavonoids, polyphenols, vitamins and minerals.


Cranberries – Raw unsweetened cranberry juice kills the bacteria in the urinary tract and has been used for many years to treat urinary infections. It is a natural diuretic and is full of antioxidants. They are low in calories and high in vitamin C, vitamin A, and contain proanthocyanidins (PACs), an antioxidant that may help prevent a range of diseases. . People who are on blood thinners should ask their doctors before they eat large doses of cranberries, because they are high in vitamin K. Cranberries can be also taken in pill form.


Dark green leafy vegetables – Dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and kale, help to purify the gastrointestinal tract. These vegetables are rich in vitamin A – good for building your body’s natural defences, vitamin C for healthy skin and bones and vitamin K to help your body heal itself quickly when necessary, and rich in potassium and iron. It’s best to digest organic vegetables grown without the use of pesticides and grown in untreated soil.


Lemons – Lemons are high in vitamin C and can boost the immune system. They can help with improving the skin, supporting weight loss, and aiding digestion. Lemon water benefits the enzyme functions in your body, stimulating the liver and flushing out toxins. Lemon is a mild diuretic, helping the urinary tract and detoxing the body and skin. It can help with bloating and gas. It is high in citric acid, so those with high acid or GERD, should be wary of stomach upset if using too much lemon. It also can be harsh on the teeth so it’s best to rinse the teeth after digesting lemon.

Whey – Whey is the liquid that separates from the milk when creating cheese or yogurt. It is a complete, high-quality protein, containing all of the essential amino acids. Whey is very digestible and supports the immune system. Several studies with rodents and humans have shown that whey protein may strengthen the body’s antioxidant defenses by increasing glutathione, one of the body’s most important antioxidants.  If you are making homemade cottage cheese, yogurt or paneer, and see the watery liquid leftover, this is whey. You can add it to smoothies, soups or rice. Whey can also be found as a powder in protein drinks. If you are purchasing whey, make sure it is certified, raw and organic.

As with all diet programs it’s strongly recommended that you consult with your trusted health practitioner before starting any new diet.


More Helpful Resources

20 Healthy Ways to Detox That Don’t Involve Juicing, Reader’s Digest-May 24, 2018

If You’re Missing This Food, You’ll Never Be Able To Properly Detox, mindbodygreen.com-May 22, 2018

The Most Popular Types of Detoxes and Cleanses and What to Know Everyday Health, Inc. (blog)-Jan 4, 2018

Things to know before you try a detox diet KPRC Click2Houston-May 30, 2018



Jean E. DartJean Dart, M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University, is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.” She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder, and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance, a 501(c)3 health education nonprofit organization. All photos used in this article are by www.pixabay.com unless otherwise noted. To find out more about our Health Educators, or to apply as a Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance writer or volunteer, visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com

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