The liver is one of the body’s most important organs : via the portal vein, it brings back blood loaded with nutrients: carbohydrates, fats and amino acids, in particular (1).
Depending on the body’s needs, the liver supplies glycogen, glucose and fatty acids, and synthesises blood proteins (albumin, hemoglobin, globulin, etc, as well as coagulation factors).
But the liver also fulfillls an important detoxification function in the body. A kind of waste treatment plant, it converts toxins into non-toxic substances: fat-soluble products are transported to the intestines and water-soluble ones to the kidneys. These two fellow emunctories then take over the job of detoxification (2).
So for overall drainage of the emunctory organs, it’s vital to take care of the liver and ensure it remains working as it should.
To this end, it’s obviously best to avoid alcohol. In fact, so toxic is ethanol to the body, that converting it into acetaldehyde and then acetate requires the entire liver to be mobilised, preventing it from processing any other toxins. What’s more, the ethanol and acetaldehyde produced by this conversion of ethanol have a toxic effect on liver cells. So to look after your liver, you first need to minimise your consumption of alcohol (3).
In a similar vein, it’s also advisable to restrict your intake of fat, sugar and salt: the more demands you make on your liver, the less capacity it has for detoxification!
In terms of natural active ingredients, certain plants are recognized for helping to maintain a healthy liver or supporting its detox potential: these include artichoke, milk thistle and chlorella (all of which feature in the supplement Liver Support Formula, along with other natural compounds such as Picrorhiza kurroa, gingko, L-citrulline, etc.) (4-6).
Last but not least, good hydration is also a key factor in cleansing the emunctory organs, the liver being the most important, followed by the kidneys and intestines.
After the liver, the kidneys constitute a second filter of the blood While they also have hormonal and enzymatic functions, they are most definitely emunctory organs and thus help to detoxify the body (7).
In fact, the kidneys filter around 190 liters of blood a day, that’s around thirty complete circulation cycles! When blood passes through the kidneys, toxins are eliminated in urine along with any excess acids from food. In this way, the kidneys enable the body’s acid-base balance to be maintained.
Finally, the kidneys produce renin, which regulates blood pressure, erythropoietin (EPO), which stimulates bone marrow to produce red blood cells, and calcitriol, an active form of vitamin D which supports calcium absorption in the gut.
The number one rule for flushing out the kidneys is to ensure good hydration: this means drinking at least 30ml of water per kilo of bodyweight a day. So someone weighing 70kg, for example, should drink a minimum of 2.1 liters of water a day (8).
In addition, a study showed that a higher intake of vitamin B6 was associated with a lower risk of kidney stones, due to vitamin B6’s ability to reduce urinary excretion of calcium oxalates (9).
If you’re prone to kidney stones (but also calcification, tartar, etc), it’s also advisable to avoid eating too much dairy produce, spinach, sorrel, nettles, etc.
Finally, naturopaths often recommend consuming plants such as field horsetail, dandelion, noni or chanca piedra (‘stone-breaker’) (which are synergistically combined with vitamin B6 and magnesium in the supplement Kidney Detox Formula) (10).
The process of digestion having begun in the mouth, throughout the digestive system, nutrients from food are absorbed, converted and used in the stomach, liver, small intestine, etc. The remaining food residues then arrive in the colon in liquid form. As they move through the colon, these residues get dehydrated until they form stools which can then be excreted.
But the purpose of the colon is not just to absorb water from food waste. It contains trillions of bacteria which play a role in digestive, metabolic, immune and neurological functions: this is the gut microbiota (11).
Amongst others, these bacteria are responsible for destroying the last toxins from food to prevent them from contaminating the body. It’s therefore crucial to look after your colon if you want to detoxify your body as a whole.
It has been widely demonstrated that non digestible fibre is crucial for supporting the gut microbiota: whole grains, mushrooms, as well as flax and chia seeds all help to drain this emunctory organ.
It’s also important to restrict your consumption of fats, sugar and alcohol and to avoid smoking, all of which adversely affect digestion in the gut.
Certain foods are recognized as supporting gastrointestinal health : they include senna, celery, papaya and dandelion (all of which feature in the supplement Colon Cleanse Formula).
The body’s first defense barrier against external attack, the skin has multiple functions: it protects the body from the cold, heat, dehydration, radiation and chemicals (through the buffering capacity of the hydrolipid film and protective acid mantle) as well as bacteria and viruses.
As the first barrier, the skin comes under regular attack, particularly from atmospheric pollution.
That’s why it’s so important to take care of your skin by not smoking, cleansing your face daily, protecting it from external aggressors and moisturising it regularly with suitable creams.
And eating a healthy, balanced diet is, of course, another excellent way of maintaining healthy skin and its emunctory function.
While the primary function of the lungs is to transfer oxygen from the atmosphere to the bloodstream, and vice versa for carbon dioxide, they also help to protect the body from harmful substances in the atmosphere, such as smoke, pollution, bacteria and viruses.
Toxins like these are able to be trapped by mucus, a thick, viscous fluid produced by the lungs and expelled when we cough or swallow. Thus the lungs are very much emunctory organs and they contribute to detoxification of the body.
However, between atmospheric pollutants, smoking, the cold, etc., our lungs can fill up with mucus that’s hard to shift, impairing their emunctory capacity. They therefore sometimes need a little help to maintain their respiratory function.
In this regard, maritime pine bark is known to be excellent for the respiratory tract as is turmeric, also recognized for supporting both the respiratory and immune systems (which is why both these natural substances feature in the supplement Lung Detox, formulated to cleanse the lungs) (12).
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