Herbs that promote the liver and digestion

Lack of appetite, heavy feeling in the stomach, nausea, belching, all symptoms that are annoying and do not immediately mean going to the doctor. Many of these complaints can be improved with cleansing and liver-stimulating plants. The main plants for the liver: dandelion, milk thistle, artichoke and turmeric. The liver also plays an important role in minor digestive complaints. Inexplicable, vague or vague digestive or fatigue complaints can (partly) be caused by a poorly functioning ­liver.

Poorly biodegradable chemicals, including some medications, or too much alcohol or drugs, among other things, can reduce the functioning of the liver without someone being demonstrably ill. As long as it is not a case of hepatitis, alcohol or drug poisoning, a general practitioner in our country will rarely look at the liver.

Within phytotherapy, ­chola goga has traditionally been used for these types of liver complaints, in addition to carminatives : agents that improve the functioning of the liver. Almost all these herbs have in common that they ­are somewhat bitter in taste. Processed in a tea, they will therefore often be found in combination with herbs that taste better. The most important of these are the following:

Milk thistle

Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is a plant on which a surprising amount of research has been done, especially in patients ­. It has a protective and healing effect on the liver against various forms of poisoning. Even against fatal ­poisoning by the green tuber amanite mushroom (Amanita phalloides), if taken beforehand. According to various studies, the effects on various liver diseases are stronger than with a placebo. Changes in tissue and blood have been objectively demonstrated. The mechanism of action is ­known. The side effects with short-term use are minimal (particularly looser stools). It is a mystery why this plant is not more known. Extracts of mariadi stel are available in the form of capsules and as a tincture.


Everyone will have eaten the culinary herb turmeric (turmeric) as an ingredient in curry. It is also responsible ­for its yellow color. Turmeric is also available separately , as a culinary herb (Curcuma domestica, from India) and as medicinal turmeric (Curcuma xanthorrhiza, from Java), the effect hardly differs. The spice comes from the rhizome of a plant related to ginger. It has a stimulating effect on the liver and promotes bile secretion, and it also has an anti-inflammatory effect. Animal tests also show a protective effect on the liver.


The dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is known all over the world as a medicine for the liver. This interesting plant also contains a wealth of vitamins and minerals (including, in the leaves, more vitamin A per gram than the well-known orange carrots, which are recommended for their high vitamin A content). Dandelion extract directly affects both the liver and the gallbladder. It ­increases the supply of bile, improves the flow of substances through the liver, counteracts gallstones and inflammation of the bile and has other influences. However, as virtually no research has been done on patients, it is difficult to say anything about the degree of effect. It comes down to trying ­. Tea and tablets of dandelion (extract) are available ­. The plant can of course also be used fresh in lettuce.


Double-blind research has also shown that artichoke extract (from Cynara scolymus) improves the functioning of the liver ­. In this case it is the leaf that is used for the liver. Extracts and syrups are commercially available, but there is nothing wrong with making a tincture or tea from an artichoke leaf from the garden. Tastes very bitter, as is the case with most herbs for liver, bile and digestion.

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