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No scientific evidence to show liver detox is safe and effective: Experts

IANS Apr 20, 2024

The liver is a self-sufficient organ capable of filtering toxins without the need for special detox, said doctors on World Liver Day on April 19 warning against such prevalent practices that may harm the organ.

In recent years, liver detox has gained fame with several influencers and celebrities promoting concoctions of natural herbs and spices like milk thistle and turmeric, as well as some juices of ash gourd, and Indian gooseberry (amla).

However, health experts cautioned against their potential harm to the liver.

“Detox diet refers to a diet based on liquids, fruits, and vegetables with a period of fasting. There is no scientific evidence that such therapy works and it’s not understood what toxins are cleared,” said Dr Piyush Ranjan, Senior consultant, and vice chairman, of the Department of Gastroenterology.

“Various herbs used during these therapies may have potential hepatotoxic effects,” which can cause liver injury, he added.

It is commonly believed that liver cleanses or detoxification are essential for maintaining daily health and are particularly beneficial after excessive consumption.

Recently, actress Samantha Ruth Prabhu in a podcast was heard mentioning the benefits of herbs such as “dandelion” for liver health and detoxification.

“In reality, the liver is a self-sufficient organ capable of filtering toxins without the need for special cleanses. Products marketed with claims of detoxifying the liver are not regulated or approved and lack substantial evidence to support their effectiveness,” said Dr. Surakshith TK, Consultant - Gastroenterology and Hepatobiliary Sciences, Fortis Escorts, Okhla Road, New Delhi.

“Detox myths surrounding liver health can be dangerous as they often promote extreme methods that may harm rather than help. From restrictive diets to unproven supplements, these myths can lead to nutrient deficiencies, dehydration, and even liver damage. It's crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before attempting any detox regimen to ensure safety and effectiveness,” added Dr Vikas Jindal, Consultant, Dept of Gastroenterology at a hospital in New Delhi.

The doctors called for maintaining a healthy lifestyle to boost liver function. True detoxification involves daily actions to support your body's natural detox pathways through diet, exercise, sleep, hydration, and potentially smart supplementation.

“For good liver health, one needs to completely stop alcohol. Taking a balanced diet and cutting down on unsaturated fats and processed food is helpful. Dietary changes along with regular exercise help in maintaining ideal body weight,” the health expert said.

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