Your liver is one of your largest and most important organs.
In addition to storing and releasing energy from foods, it acts as your body’s natural filter. Your liver catches the “gunk” in your blood, removing toxins and wastes from your system.
Given how important this organ is to your health, it’s no surprise that supplement manufacturers have jumped on the liver detox bandwagon.
Dozens of products with names like “Liver Guard,” “Liver Rescue,” and “Liver Detox” claim they can get your liver in top shape — and help you feel better in the process.
Do liver supplements work? And does the organ that detoxifies your body really need its own detox?
In reality, many of the claims on liver supplement bottles don’t stand up to the research. Although some studies have found benefits from certain supplement ingredients — like milk thistle and artichoke leaf — they were mainly in people with liver disease.
Whether these supplements can improve liver function in otherwise healthy people has yet to be proven.
How the liver works
Weighing in at about 3 pounds, the liver has a lot of important jobs.
Your liver eventually processes everything you eat. After your stomach and intestines finish digesting food, it travels through your bloodstream to your liver for filtering.
The liver breaks down fat to release energy. It produces a yellow-green substance called bile to help your body break down and absorb fat.
This organ is also involved in sugar metabolism. It pulls glucose from your blood and stores it in the form of glycogen. Anytime your blood sugar level dips, the liver releases glycogen to keep your levels steady.
When alcohol, medications, and other toxins make their way to your liver, they’re pulled from your blood. Then your liver either cleans up these substances, or removes them into your urine or stool.