Posted on: June 29, 2016 at 2:19 pm
Last updated: September 11, 2018 at 11:42 am

What are the major organs in our bodies set to detoxify the body of toxins and waste? The lungs? The kidneys? The liver? The answer is, all three help the body detox!


Why Detox?

The lungs naturally detoxify the body of waste through the act of breathing and releasing carbon dioxide. Oxygen is important for every cell of our bodies, and our lungs help bring in just that (alongside some other gases). How much air the lungs can take in at a time lessens with age, so it’s important to take good care of our lungs.

The kidneys play a major detox role by detoxifying the blood of toxins and other waste. They also have the important job of managing water levels as well as blood pressure. Vitamin D is also produced in the kidneys.


Of course, the liver is also well known as an important site of detoxification. Your liver produces bile, which helps your body break down food, primarily fat. The liver also plays a part, alongside the kidneys, in detoxifying the blood by getting rid of old blood cells, storing important minerals, and more.

As you can see, the health of these organs is major, as they work so hard in trying to help our bodies function optimally and stay healthy. With the current lifestyle, pollution, and types of products available to consumers, these three organs can get overloaded with the amount of work they have to do. This can lead to them working less efficiently and potentially becoming damaged with the very toxins they want to get rid of.

A natural detox program 1-2 times per year can be a great way to give these hard working organs a break, and keep them in tip-top shape.  Weight loss, increased energy, a stronger immune system, clearer skin, and a metabolism boost can all be the product of a well done natural detox program.

Using Detoxifying Herbs

Herbs have been used throughout time all over the world from China, the Middle East, Europe all the way to North America to help heal the body. According to the University of Maryland Health Center:


“Herbal medicine, also called botanical medicine or phytomedicine, refers to using a plant’s seeds, berries, roots, leaves, bark, or flowers for medicinal purposes. Herbalism has a long tradition of use outside conventional medicine. It is becoming more mainstream as improvements in analysis and quality control, along with advances in clinical research, show the value of herbal medicine in treating and preventing disease.”

Even modern medicine is beginning to catch up on the benefits of using herbs to help the body through scientific evidence. Check out the best herbs to detox and support the liver, kidneys and lungs below! Simply choose whichever one feels like the best fit, and enjoy the warm feeling of eating earthly goodness.

To Cleanse the Liver: Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)

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Despite its funny name, milk thistle (silybum marianum) is touted as an excellent herb for supporting liver detoxification. This is thanks to its active compound called silymarin. This flavonoid safeguards the liver from toxins. In fact, if you’re worried about too much liver damage due to anti-inflammatory drugs such as Tylenol, this flavonoid protects the liver from that damage too.

Silymarin is also an antioxidant and is anti-inflammatory. Not enough antioxidant support for your liver can lead to oxidative stress, which studies have shown leads to liver problems. Silymarin also helps with the body’s bile making process, and by doing so improves digestion.

Potential side effects of milk thistle:

  • According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, this herb is generally safe. However, women that are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take milk thistle. Also, people who have experienced hormone-related cancers, such as breast cancer, should also not take it. Some symptoms to watch out for are nausea and vomiting, as well as upset stomach.

This herb is sold in capsule form or supplement, containing about 120 – 140 mg of silymarin, in liquid form such as a tincture, as well as in well-formulated tea and tea blends.

To Cleanse the Liver: Dandelion Root (Taraxacum officinal)

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Dandelions are known for their bright marigold colored flowers. Though many garden keepers do NOT appreciate this classic “garden weed”, this multipurpose herb’s leaves can be used as a diuretic, or enjoyed in a salad for its bitter qualities.

For it’s “liver loving” properties dandelion root is where there is a high concentration of active compounds. Dandelion acts as a digestive stimulant and may be helpful for indigestion, and to help move bowels.  Having antioxidant properties and liver protective properties, a small sample of human studies and several animal studies have suggested that the extract of dandelion root has protective action against alcohol-induced toxicity in the liver by helping to provide antioxidant support (92).

You can enjoy a dandelion greens salad, or take dandelion root in capsule form or supplement, in liquid form such as a tincture, as well as in medicinal tea and tea blends.

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To Cleanse the Lungs: Osha Root (Ligusticum porteri)

Osha root, an American root hailed as magical by some Native American tribes, is a true friend to the lungs. According to Dr. Edward Group, a doctor in chiropractic medicine and a prominent figure in the field of naturopathy, Osha root is “arguably, the best American herb for lung and throat problems”. What makes Osha root so arguably special?

Osha root is a strong antiviral as well as an anti-bacterial, both qualities which the body prizes.  It can help the lungs through the common cold, all the way to more serious respiratory problems. Osha is also considered a bitter herb, meaning it can help stimulates appetite and improve digestion.

Osha root eases chest stuffiness, formally known as chest congestion, by helping coughs become productive so you can expel the uncomfortable mucous stuck in your chest.  It can also relax muscle tissues under stress, and help the lungs breathe more deeply. A key benefit is that it increases blood circulation to the lungs, allowing more oxygen to come in to help the body, and bringing the pesky carbon dioxide out. Many people enjoy this root in the form of tea.

Although osha root has many benefits,  this herb isn’t good for pregnant or breastfeeding women, as it can cause contractions in the uterus. Also, some people may decide to take osha root in the long term. In this case, experts suggest taking a week long break every few months, so that our body continues to benefit from it (taking it non-stop can make the body stop doing so).

To Cleanse the Kidneys: Burdock (Arctium lappa)

Burdock is a nutrient-rich food, which has a lot of benefits for the kidneys and blood. Burdock has been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments. Traditionally, it has been used as a:

  • “Blood purifier” to clear the bloodstream of toxins
  • Diuretic to help eliminate excess water by increasing urine output
  • Topical remedy for skin problems such as eczema, acne, and psoriasis

Burdock is considered by many herbalists to be the best known medicinal for skin conditions (Hoffman, Moore) through its ability to increase circulation to the skin and highly effective, gentle, and multipurpose nature. It also promotes the flow of bile and is a mild diuretic and lymphatic.

You can eat the burdock’s root, seeds, and new stems. According to, “young stalks are boiled to be eaten like asparagus, raw stems and young leaves are eaten in salads”.

Precautions should be made if you are sensitive to daisies, chrysanthemums, or ragweed, you may experience an allergic reaction to burdock, including dermatitis. Pregnant or nursing women should avoid burdock as it may cause damage to the fetus.

Healthy, Natural Detoxing

A great time to detox is during the change of season, when our immune system needs the most support. Remember a well-rounded detox program takes into consideration your food, beverages, lifestyle factors, and supportive herbs and supplements.

As always, we need to make sure that these new dietary additions work well with our current medications, as well as current health problems. In case you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you want to use a herb after making sure it’s safe for you and the baby.

Image Sources

Dr. Nadia Kumentas ND
Co-founder at Affect Health
Nadia Kumentas is a Toronto-based naturopathic doctor, tea drinker, yoga doer, animal lover, and plant enthusiast. She is also the co-founder of Affect Health, a professionally formulated medicinal tea company. "

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