As parents, we instinctively want to protect our children from anything dangerous. Many of us choose foods that will strengthen their bodies, avoid synthetic chemicals, and turn to natural remedies and herbs instead of prescription medications. Even with these precautions, though, is it possible that our children’s systems still need to be detoxed? Is a detox necessary, or even safe for children, and at what age? Can you use herbs to cleanse your child’s liver safely?
Maybe your kids have been eating a standard American diet and using conventional skincare products, and you’re looking to make some positive changes through the use of natural remedies and lifestyle changes.
Today, we’re going to delve into the subject of using herbs to cleanse your child’s liver safely. Wherever you’re at in your parenting journey, hopefully, you’ll find this information useful for helping your kids be as healthy as possible.
Unexpected Toxins Are EVERYWHERE!
Thirty years ago we had a choice whether or not we put toxins in or on our bodies. Now, toxins are everywhere, no matter how hard we try to avoid them.
Chemtrails in the air rain dangerous heavy metals down on us and into the soil, getting into our food and into ground water. Breastmilk contains glyphosate, the toxic pesticide found in Round Up, plastics, and other toxins. Even mothers from remote Inuit tribes who follow a traditional diet were found to have toxins excreted through their breastmilk.
What the mess?!
Do Kids Need To Detox?
Before I answer the question, “Do kids need to detox?” let me first make it clear that I am in no way promoting “cleansing” for children. “Cleansing” is a popular way to flush toxins from the body. It’s usually a fast, often harsh, way to stimulate different body systems to “let go” of toxins they may be holding on to.
When it comes to children, it’s unneccesary to purge their bodies of toxins quickly as this can lead to problems (as it can with adults too). Instead, a gentle approach is best with children.
You see, our bodies are designed to gently detox on their own every day, it’s just that our modern lives are too full of toxins for our bodies to keep up with (Barclay, n.d.). Thankfully, there are things we can do to help our bodies detoxify themselves, and most of these changes come with making simple lifestyle changes like those we’ll discuss below. I personally believe this is the best, safest way to keep our children’s liver healthy and to assist them with gentle detoxification if need be.
With the constant bombardment of chemicals, many children are born with compromised immune systems and bodies that are already exposed to toxins. Add to that common children’s medications, vaccines, mercury fillings, and junk food laden diets, and this next generation is on a fast road to disaster. When their bodies become overwhelmed, chronic health issues begin to develop, and the symptoms may lay under the surface for a while before they’re noticed.
Autism rates alone have gone from 1 in 160 children to 1 in every 68 in the past 8 years and the rate is steeply rising. When the CDC data is analyzed, the autism rate is likely closer to 1 in every 18 kids right now.
Your body produces glutathione which is a key component for protecting and detoxing the liver. Different substances can deplete this glutathione, in particular, children’s Tylenol and vaccines, even more so when the two are combined. While we chose not to vaccinate, my little guy had a few rounds of Tylenol before I knew how to use herbs with children.
Thankfully, there are safe and effective ways to ensure your children’s bodies are functioning optimally, without being overburdened by a toxic overload.
2 Ways To Decrease Your Child’s Toxic Load
#1 – Lifestyle Changes To Promote A Healthy Liver
So, first things first. One of the best ways to support your child’s health is to empower them to make positive choices. You can do that by not only setting a good example yourself but by teaching your children the hows of natural living as well.
When it comes to specific lifestyle changes that can benefit your child’s liver, the first thing to be addressed is their diet.
Eating a whole food diet free of processed, preserved food is a great start. But, did you know there are some foods you can increase in your child’s diet that are better for their liver than others.
Foods that contain sulfur or are considered “methyl donors” such as cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and other greens, brussel sprouts, etc.) and garlic and onion all help to activate liver enzymes that aid in the detoxification process. Foods high in B vitamins are also great for the liver as they help to create glutathione (mentioned above) in the body. Shiitake mushrooms are another great addition to the diet as they’ve been shown to have hepatoprotective properties (Keeping Your Liver Healthy, n.d.).
Another lifestyle change you can make is to work towards decreasing external toxins you’re exposed to. You can do this by using DIY or buying toxin-free body care products to help reduce the body’s toxic load. You can also work to decrease your family’s exposure to EMFs, swap unhealthy kitchen products for healthier versions, and keeping the air in your home clean. All of these efforts will help to minimize the amount of toxins your child’s body is exposed to.
Another lifestyle change that can help improve liver health is to add herbal bitters to your child’s diet. The body has many healthy responses to herbal bitters, and one can only benifit from their use.
Bitters strengthen the entire digestive tract from the stomach to the liver, gallbladder, and pancreus and on down into the colon. Herbalist Sharyn Hocurscak says they challenge the liver (and other digestive organs) (Hocurscak, 2014a). In an article she wrote on making herbal bitters, she goes on to quote herbalist Guido Mase who says, “The ongoing exposure to a rich and potent xenobiome [bitters] keeps the liver on its toes…” (Masé, 2013), with Hocursacak adding that bitters help “the body to sort out the good and bad of ingested food and toxins, purifying the blood. These actions put bitters into an herbal classification called alteratives.” So not only do bitters strengthen the digestive tract and help it function correctly, but they support the liver in detoxification too (Hocurscak, 2014b).
You will be doing your children a favor by helping them get used to bitters at an early age. If you’re ready to incorporate bitters into your child’s diet, here’s a recipe for “summer bitters” that you can try. If you find yourself having trouble getting your kids to take bitters (and you may), you can get creative and trick your child into taking their herbal bitters. Remember, it’s best to take bitters 20-30 minutes before meals to get the most out of them.
#2 – Use Herbs To Cleanse Your Child’s Liver Safely
We all need a little more help with detoxing, and the same is true for children. There are even well-respected herbal companies that make liver cleansing products for children.
Since they’re younger and their systems haven’t fully developed yet, extra precautions have to be taken. Certain herbs aren’t safe for them, and the dosages should be adjusted based on their age or weight.
This following information is sourced from the book Herbal Medicine by Sharol Tilgner N.D.
Herbs To Cleanse Your Child’s Liver Safely
- Dandelion root – Stimulates production and flow of bile from the gallbladder. Dandelion is slow acting and is better fitted for long term use.
- Licorice – Helps restore the liver without over stimulating it. It’s also an adaptogen that modulates the immune system.
- Milk thistle seeds – Helps, protect, regenerate and restore the liver. May also help flush out foreign chemicals and excessive chemical build up that’s in the liver.
- Schisandra – A liver restorative that stimulates bile flow. It’s also an adaptogen and helps modulate the immune system.
- Turmeric – A powerful anti-inflammatory that also stimulates bile flow and production. Stimulates digestive enzymes. It’s particularly useful for clearing out liver congestion.
- Yellow dock – Helps with poor fat absorption and liver congestion. Increases production and secretion of bile and promotes digestion and elimination of the alimentary tract.
- Oregon grape root – Stimulates the liver and gall bladder, and increases production and secretion of bile. It also promotes digestion and elimination of toxin congestion in the body.
- Burdock – An anti-inflammatory that also stimulates digestion. It stimulates and cleanses the blood and lymph system, and acts as a liver tonic to help flush out built up toxins. Not recommended for long term use
As always, there are some things you need to know anytime you take herbs. All herbs can have a postitive affect on the body, but those effects can also be problematic, depending on the situation. This is why it’s best for you to do some reasearch on individual herbs to see what these affects are and if it’s an appropriate time for you or your child to take them.
When it comes to the herbs mentioned above and in the recipes below, there are some things to be aware of when taking them.
First, these herbs are not to be used during pregnancy. Next, if you have gallstones or kidney stones, these herbs can exacerbate those conditions. This is rare with children, but I wanted to mention it anyway. Lastly, some of these herbs are not meant to be used long-term (licorice, turmeric, yellow dock, oregon grape root) as they can have unwanted effects when used in large doses for lengthy periods of time. For example, high, frequent doses of licorice can lead to water retention in the body and long-term use of turmeric has been known to thin the blood.
Again, these cautions should be taken into consideration depending on the circumstances you find yourself in.
How Should Children Take Liver Cleansing Herbs?
Since most children are unable to swallow capsules, and some of the liver cleansing herbs aren’t appealing to their little taste buds in a tea, what’s the best way to give them these healthy herbs? One of the best ways is with a tincture. Tinctures are concentrated, so they can be diluted and disguised in juice, and they’re shelf stable for easier storage.
I like using an alcohol based tincture for liver cleanses, because alcohol goes straight to the liver, taking the healing herbs along with it. You can use apple cider vinegar instead, but it won’t be as effective. And if you’re worried about giving your child an alcohol-based tincture, then you’ll want to read this post where I discuss the safety and benefit of giving children alcohol-based tinctures.
Two Liver Cleansing Recipes For Children
#1 – Children’s Liver Protecting Tea
Dandelion root has an earthy taste that resembles coffee, and my husband and I love drinking it with a bit of raw honey and cream, or in my nourishing gingerbread latte recipe. It can be made into a tincture too, but it tastes really yummy as a tea. Licorice is another herb that’s really good as a tea, and its sweet flavor makes it especially appealing to children.
Because dandelion is most effective at protecting the liver when used long term, this is a tea your little ones can enjoy frequently (Tilgner, 1999).
- 1 teaspoon dandelion root
- 1 teaspoon licorice root
- 8-ounces boiled water
- Place herbs in a tea strainer.
- Pour water over herbs, and let herbs simmer gently for 10-15 minutes.
- Remove strainer. Compost herbs. Sweeten tea as desired.
Tea Dosing For Children
Be sure to adjust the dosage based on your child’s age or weight. I’ve used Freid’s rule here which is the child’s age in months, divided by 150, then multiplied by the adult dose which is 8-ounces. I’ve also given some examples of what that dosage looks like for different ages below.
- 1-year-old – .6 ounces tea
- 3-year-old – 2 ounces tea
- 5-year-old – 3 ounces tea
- 7-year-old – 4.5 ounces tea
- 10-year-old – 6.5 ounces tea
#2 – Children’s Liver Detox Tincture
Like the tea above, the recipe here contains several herbs to cleanse your child’s liver safely. Keep in mind that you will need to adjust the dosage based on your child’s age or weight using a dosing formula. Use anywhere from 2-4 weeks.
- 2 tablespoons milk thistle seed
- 2 tablespoons oregon grape root
- 2 tablespoons burdock root
- 1.5 tablespoons schisandra
- 1 heaping tablespoon turmeric powder
- 1 heaping tablespoon yellow dock leaves
- Combine all of the herbs in a clean, pint-sized glass mason jar.
- Fill the jar with 80 proof or higher vodka (organic if available). Feel free to substitute apple cider vinegar.
- Store the jar in a cool, dark place and shake 1-3 times a day for 3 weeks.
- Strain the herbs out with a clean cheesecloth or t-shirt fabric, really squeezing the liquid out of the herbs. Repeat this step a few times if needed. You can run the liquid through a coffee filter as a final filtering step to get all of the powder out of the bottom, which can make the tincture taste really bitter.
Tincture Dosing For Children
The adult dose is 35 drops, 3 times a day. You will find examples of children’s dosing below, again using Freid’s rule which is an age-based dosing formula.
Be sure to dilute the drops in a tasty tea or juice. It’s important to start with just a few drops, and increase by a few drops a day until you reach the recommended dose.
- 1-year-old – 3 drops, 3 times daily
- 3-year-old – 8 drops, 3 times daily
- 5-year-old – 14 drops, 3 times daily
- 7-year-old – 19 drops, 3 times daily
- 10-year-old – 28 drops, 3 times daily
- Barclay, L. (n.d.). Liver Detoxification — Fact or Fad? Retrieved July 05, 2016, from http://www.webmd.com/men/features/liver-detoxification—-fact-fad
- Hocurscak, S. (2014a). History and Benefits of Bitters. Retrieved October 21, 2016, from https://theherbalacademy.com/history-and-benefits-of-bitters/Hocurscak, S. (2014, March 10). History and Benefits of Bitters. Retrieved October 21, 2016, from https://theherbalacademy.com/history-and-benefits-of-bitters/
- Hocurscak, S. (2014b). Making Bitters. Retrieved October 21, 2016, from https://theherbalacademy.com/bitter-integrations-making-bitters/
- Keeping Your Liver Healthy. (n.d.). In Intermediate Herbal Course. Herbal Academy.
- Masé, G. (2013) The Wild Medicine Solution Healing with Aromatic, Bitter, and Tonic Plants. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press
- Tilgner, S. (1999). Herbal medicine: From the heart of the earth. Creswell, OR: Wise Acres.