Internal Cleansing Aids

Integrative Clinical Pharmacist Scott Berliner, RPh

If you’re still trying to pull yourself together after a holiday season of overindulgence, certain nutritional supplements may help your efforts.

Milk thistle, or silymarin, supports the liver to recover from the high metabolic load of the holiday season (including alcohol) and also may increase bile output for better fat digestion. Triphala, is an Ayurvedic combination that helps the tone and motility of the colon, promoting healthy expulsion of solid toxins as well as the by products of the digestive process. It also assists the liver in detoxification.

Silymarin, the extract from milk thistle, has been used for thousands of years for liver and biliary issues. Sometimes the names milk thistle and silymarin are interchanged but silymarin is actually a flavonoid extract from milk thistle. The accepted standard is for the product to contain 80 percent of silymarin. Clinically it is the extracts, not just the herb, that has the medicinal value. It can be of great help in cleansing the liver and keeping it working at optimal levels. Absorption of the active alkaloids varies from product to product so we use a formula made by a German company that has a proprietary process of extracting the active alkaloids from the plant and then attaching the resultant extract to a substance that significantly improves the absorption. Super Milk Thistle X is the name of this product. There have been many claims for the use of this product, but most of the studies are on its use for liver and bile support. There is very little toxicity, and for most people without complicated medical histories, it is safe to take on an ongoing basis when support of this type is needed.

Triphala, as the name may indicate, is a combination of three herbs: dried fruits of Terminalia chebula, Terminalia bellirica, and Phyllanthus emblica. This supplement can be deeply toning to the digestive system as well as cleansing. Unlike laxatives, this product gently tones the gut for more efficient removal of waste by-products. It can be used on an extended basis without the addictive properties of most laxatives. Many other laxatives abnormally increase the motility of the colon. Long-term use of motility laxatives, even the natural ones like senna, can create tolerance at normal doses, promoting the use of higher and higher doses.

Remember that your liver and colon are the most important organs for the safe and healthful removal of all solid toxins from the body. If your body is not doing this optimally, whether from medication or physical illness, you should see a practitioner trained in assessing your needs and prescribing the proper supplements in the proper doses.