Enzymes, Health

10 Best Detox Herbs and Nutrients

A lot of herbs and nutrients can help detox the body. If you’re looking to do a thorough detox, you don’t just want those that help – you want the ones that will deliver real results.

The following list includes the 10 best detox herbs and nutrients as supported by both traditional use and modern research. For each one, three questions will be answered:

–  What is it?

–  Why does it work?

–  How can I take it?

Some on the list can be found as individual supplements or as part of a supplement blend. Others you might recognize as part of your regular diet.

Either way, making these herbs and nutrients part of your regular routine – either as a monthly detox or daily/weekly practice – will promote a strong immune response, better health, and great living.

 

#1. Bentonite Clay

What is it?

Bentonite clay is an edible clay that is consumed to ease digestion and support health. It is also used topically to treat skin irritations and dry skin. People have used it since the most ancient times. Even animals have eaten it, so you might find bentonite clay supplements for pets too.

Its largest source is Fort Benton, Wyoming, hence its name “bentonite.” This type of clay also comes from Montmorillon, France, and is also known as Montmorillonite clay.

Why Does it Work?

Bentonite clay is regarded as highly absorbent. As a detoxifier, it possesses a charge that binds to negatively charged toxins in the intestines such as pesticides, heavy metals like lead and cadmium, as well as bacteria, preventing them from being absorbed by the body.[i]

How to Take It

For digestive health and detoxing, you’ll find bentonite clay in powder and tablet form. You can find it on its own or mixed with a blend of nutrients as part of a detox or cleansing supplement.

#2. Wheatgrass

 

What is it?

Wheatgrass is the fresh young grass of the wheat plant loaded with vitamins A, B-complex, C and E, minerals, chlorophyll, and flavonoids. Due to its high concentration of chlorophyll, wheatgrass is also called “green blood.”[i] Research suggests it helps the body fight cancer and other conditions like joint pain, obesity, high blood sugar, and digestive disorders.[ii]

Why Does it Work?

Scientists have identified many ways wheatgrass can act as a detoxifier. It supplies potent antioxidant enzyme detoxifiers like superoxide dismutase and cytochrome oxidase which break down free radicals. The chlorophyll strengthens cells against free radicals and improves oxygen delivery throughout the body. [iii],[iv] Flavonoids in wheatgrass also possess powerful antioxidant properties, which helps neutralize toxins and encourages their removal.

How to Take It

Wheatgrass juice is delicious, but you can also find it as a powder, in capsules and supplements. For the freshest wheatgrass, you can grow your own at home and then blend it up with your favorite drinks or add it to salads and other dishes.

 

#s3, 4 & 5. Chlorella, Spirulina & AFA

What is it?

The saying goes, ‘Good things come in threes,’ and with blue-green algae, that’s absolutely true.

Blue-green algae are single-celled organisms that were some of the first forms of life on earth. For nutrition and detox, the three most popular forms are Chlorella, Spirulina, and AFA. Here’s a quick summary of each:

–  Chlorella. There are many species of Chlorella, but Chlorella vulgaris is the one most used in dietary supplements. It is a nutrient-loaded alga which has been well studied for its ability to detox heavy metals including lead, mercury, and cadmium. Research also supports its use for weight loss, heart health and blood sugar regulation.[i],[ii]

–  Spirulina. People have consumed spirulina for centuries, though its recent popularity comes from NASA’s research and use as a supplement for astronauts. Spirulina has a robust nutrient-density and, like Chlorella, supports detox. Studies also show it offers protection against radiation.[iii]

–   AFA. Short for Aphanizomenon flos-aquae and also known as Klamath Lake algae, these blue-green algae come from Upper Klamath Lake in Oregon. It’s special because nearly all of the nutrients are in a form the human body can easily use, meaning easy digestion, absorption, and efficient use, so energy benefits metabolism and detox. AFA also delivers unique flavonoids like phycocyanin with its powerful antioxidant properties.[iv],[v] Plus, AFA contains many of the same detoxing properties as other blue-green algae.

 

Why Does it Work?

Blue-green algae needed to develop protection against heavy metals and other toxins in their environment. Researchers have found these single-celled algae have specific peptides that bind to heavy metals.[vi] For example:

–  Chlorella traps heavy metals, preventing them from being absorbed (or re-absorbed) by the body.

–  Spirulina can also trap heavy metals, plus its strong nutrient profile includes vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants also supports the liver, the body’s detox organ.[vii],[viii]

–   AFA’s nutrient-density fuels the body’s natural detox processes, and, like other blue-green algae, it protects against heavy metals and toxins.

 

How to Take It

You can find Chlorella, Spirulina, and AFA as powders, liquids and in capsules. Many brands sell them individually, although some like Algae Infused combine all three into a single, easy-to-take capsule. One benefit of capsules over powders or drinks is that you don’t need to accustom yourself to the very “green” taste of blue-green algae.

 

#6. Alfalfa

What is it?

Alfalfa is a nutrient-dense herb in the legume family used for centuries as a medicinal herb and feed for livestock. Its scientific name is Medicago sativa. ‘Alfalfa sprouts’ can be eaten while the dried leaves and seeds are the basis for health supplements.

Why Does it Work?

Researchers have identified that the antioxidants in alfalfa are powerful free radical scavengers and cleanse heavy metals. As a bonus, alfalfa is also known to reduce a major factor in heart disease, lipid peroxidation.[i]

How to Take It

You can find alfalfa in supplements though adding alfalfa sprouts to salads, soups or really any meal is a tasty way to enjoy their immense health benefits.

 

#7. Parsley

What is it?

Parsley is a familiar herb used as a seasoning in cooking or a garnish. While it’s a common herb, parsley offers incredible health benefits with researchers identifying it as a potential “medicinal herb.”[i]

Why Does it Work?

Research has shown consuming parsley raises levels of two of the body’s powerful detox enzymes: glutathione reductase and superoxide dismutase.[ii] Parsley has also been found to contain antioxidant compounds including quercetin, carotenoids, and vitamins C and E.[iii]

How to Take It

Fresh parsley is a versatile herb. You can eat it on its own, juice it, add it to salads, or use it in cooking. If you don’t like the taste, parsley supplements are available but make sure to confirm the source of the product for the best quality.

 

#8. Cilantro

What is it?

This popular herb delivers more than great flavor to a dish – it supports the body’s natural detox efforts. It’s also known by the name coriander, the name for the seeds that come from the plant. The leaves are a rich source of vitamins A, C and K, essential minerals and powerful antioxidants.

Why Does it Work?

Studies have found cilantro raises levels of superoxide dismutase, helping the body remove toxins and free radicals. Cilantro boasts a wide range of antioxidant plant compounds which protect DNA, leading researchers to state it has “medicinal value.”[i]

How to Take It

Cilantro supplements are available, though using it in cooking adds flavor and enjoyment to every meal. You can also eat it fresh or juice it with your favorite fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

 

#9. Turmeric

What is it?

Turmeric is a spice perhaps best known for the vibrant yellow color it gives to curry. While this root which a relative of ginger adds flavor to any dish, it’s curcumin which delivers the powerful health benefits. Curcumin is a plant phenol that has been heavily researched as a treatment for joint pain, inflammation, heart health, cancer and much more.

Why Does it Work?

Curcumin boosts levels of the body’s natural toxin-clearing compounds including glutathione, superoxide dismutase, and catalase, the enzyme responsible for breaking down hydrogen peroxide, a by-product of metabolism. Studies show these effects and curcumin’s own antioxidant effect support overall health and well-being.[i]

How to Take It

Aside from curry, turmeric root can be chopped up and added to stews, soups or wherever your creativity takes you. While it adds flavor and a beautiful yellow color, it can be difficult to maximize its health potential. The challenge is that curcumin does not get absorbed easily by the body. Combining it with black pepper in cooking can help.

Turmeric or curcumin supplements are also available. Some may include black pepper to improve absorption. You can also find new innovations such as lipophilic turmeric (or curcumin) which significantly improves absorption.

 

#10. Enzymes

What is it?

Enzymes are the “sparks of life,” protein molecules that drive every chemical reaction in the body. Digestive enzymes like those in Digest Infused break down food. Metabolic, aka systemic, enzymes like those in Metabolic Infused fuel metabolism, immune response, and energy. Part of metabolism includes toxin removal, making enzymes a key component in any detox effort.

Why Does it Work?

Enzymes are like keys that break toxins apart and bind them to molecules that escort them from the body.

How to Take It

Enzymes can be taken as supplements in capsule or tablet form. Eating fresh-picked, raw fruits and vegetables also provides these enzymes.

 

[1] Moosavi M. Bentonite Clay as a Natural Remedy: A Brief Review. Iran J Public Health. 2017;46(9):1176-1183.

[1] Gore RD, Palaskar SJ, Bartake AR. Wheatgrass: Green Blood can Help to Fight Cancer. J Clin Diagn Res. 2017;11(6):ZC40-ZC42.

[1] Bar-Sela G, et al. The Medical Use of Wheatgrass: Review of the Gap Between Basic and Clinical Applications. Mini Rev Med Chem. 2015;15(12):1002-10.

[1] Gore RD, Palaskar SJ, Bartake AR. Wheatgrass: Green Blood can Help to Fight Cancer. J Clin Diagn Res. 2017;11(6):ZC40-ZC42.

[1] Padalia, Swati & Sushma, Drabu & Indira, Raheja & Alka, Gupta & Mamta, Dhamija. (2010). Multitude potential of Wheatgrass Juice (Green Blood): An overview. Chronicles of Young Scientists. 1.

[1] Panahi Y, et al. Chlorella vulgaris: A Multifunctional Dietary Supplement with Diverse Medicinal Properties. Curr Pharm Des. 2016;22(2):164-73.

[1] Mizoguchi T, et al. Nutrigenomic studies of effects of Chlorella on subjects with high-risk factors for lifestyle-related disease. J Med Food. 2008 Sep;11(3):395-404. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2006.0180.

[1] Belay, A., Ota, Y., Miyakawa, K. et al. J Appl Phycol (1993) 5: 235. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF00004024

[1] Benedetti S, et al. Antioxidant properties of a novel phycocyanin extract from the blue-green alga Aphanizomenonflos-aquae. Life Sci. 2004 Sep 24;75(19):2353-62.

[1] Ku CS, Yang Y, Park Y, Lee J. Health benefits of blue-green algae: prevention of cardiovascular disease and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. J Med Food. 2013;16(2):103-11.

[1] Perales-Vela, H.V., et al. Heavy Metal Detoxification in Eukaryotic Microalgae.  Chemosphere 64 (2006) 1–10. doi:10.1016/j.chemosphere.2005.11.024

[1] Karkos PD, Leong SC, Karkos CD, Sivaji N, Assimakopoulos DA. Spirulina in clinical practice: evidence-based human applications. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2010;2011:531053.

[1] Deng R, Chow TJ. Hypolipidemic, antioxidant, and antiinflammatory activities of microalgae. Spirulina. Cardiovasc Ther. 2010;28(4):e33-45.

[1] G Rana, M & V Katbamna, R & Dudhrejiya, Ashvin & P Jivani, N & Navin, Sheth. (2010). In Vitro antioxidant and free radical scavenging studies of alcoholic extract of Medicago sativa L. J. Biol. – Plant Biol.. 55.

[1] Tang EL, Rajarajeswaran J, Fung S, Kanthimathi MS. Petroselinum crispum has antioxidant properties, protects against DNA damage and inhibits proliferation and migration of cancer cells. J Sci Food Agric. 2015;95(13):2763-71.

[1] Nielsen SE, et al. Effect of parsley (Petroselinum crispum) intake on urinary apigenin excretion, blood antioxidant enzymes and biomarkers for oxidative stress in human subjects. Br J Nutr. 1999 Jun;81(6):447-55.

[1] Tang EL, Rajarajeswaran J, Fung S, Kanthimathi MS. Petroselinum crispum has antioxidant properties, protects against DNA damage and inhibits proliferation and migration of cancer cells. J Sci Food Agric. 2015;95(13):2763-71.

[1] Tang EL, Rajarajeswaran J, Fung SY, Kanthimathi MS. Antioxidant activity of Coriandrum sativum and protection against DNA damage and cancer cell migration. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2013;13:347. Published 2013 Dec 9. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-13-347

[1] Xu XY, Meng X, Li S, Gan RY, Li Y, Li HB. Bioactivity, Health Benefits, and Related Molecular Mechanisms of Curcumin: Current Progress, Challenges, and Perspectives. Nutrients. 2018;10(10):1553. Published 2018 Oct 19. doi:10.3390/nu10101553

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