Liver as our Great Alchemist Part 5: Herbal medicine - BodyMind Institute

Liver as our Great Alchemist Part 5: Herbal medicine

By Dr. Terry Willard | Blog

Sep 15

Average Reading Time: 5 minutes and 10 seconds

In this, our fifth and final blog on The Liver – Our Great Alchemist, we are going to go through the protocol that I have found over the last 30 plus years to be the most effective to regulate, balance and yes, Detoxify the Liver using the Herbal Medicine. But before we do that, I want to recap the journey we have gone through so far. In the first blog, we saw how our liver worked somewhat like an alchemist, tucked away in a dark corner, doing many jobs tirelessly, transmuting nutrients and toxins into golden health. 

We also introduced the concept of liver detoxification, an extension of full body detoxification. In part 2 we got down to the nitty-gritty of liver detoxification and looked at the well researched phase I and phase II of liver detoxification. We also introduced a third phase, one of eliminating the toxins neutralized in the first two phases from the body. We saw that part of this process was to start with an full body Herbal D-tox, before we work on liver detox. In part 3 we glanced at ways to assess if phase I and phase II worked properly. We showed you both lab tests, self-tests and signs to help you determine there working order.

You were also introduced to the concept of the energetics of the liver and that ‘liver energy’ exists in every cell of the body, not just the liver. Along with these energetics we saw that emotions; especially anger, jealousy, envy, competition, resentment, irritability and frustration are part of a vicious cycle related to liver energy. In the last blog, part 4, we looked at another concept of liver health, and that was the balance between deficiency and excess. We listed different botanicals that have been shown to help regulate the various aspect of this balance. It was also shown that often people fluctuate between the different stages of this balance.

Here we are going to look at a protocol that I have been using for over 30 years to balance out the three phases and the fluctuations between excesses and deficiency.  This protocol is quite convenient as we don’t have to concern ourselves with which phase, excesses or deficiencies we have. We just detoxify and tone up the liver, to support our overall alchemical partner – the liver.

But before we do this, I want to add a special note, that over 80% of the time, I start with a 12 day Herbal D-tox before I go onto the Liver D-tox. We need to cleanse the whole body, especially the digestive tract before we get down to the specifics of the liver.

The Protocol

The first ingredient might seem a bit mundane as it has been in the supplement industry for over 50 years. Well there is a good reason for this as it works at a fundamental level of body chemistry to regulate all kinds of metabolic issues and that is Vitamin C. Vitamin C is an important part, working as an anti-oxidant to reduce tissue damage in the liver that can arise from phase I and phase II of detoxification. In itself this would be useful, but if you might note, the formula I have chosen also has plenty of flavonoids associated with it.

Bioflavonoids are well known to work on capillary beds, and basically the liver is an organ that is really a large filter consisting of dense capillary beds. So, we don’t want to sell the flavonoids and vitamin C short, we need them as a major part of the protocol. Take: one tablet, twice daily, with breakfast and supper.

Vitamin C-Herbaplex

  • Vitamin C                                   500 mg


  • Lemon Bioflavonoids              250 mg
  • Hesperidin Complex                 50 mg
  • Rutin                                            50 mg
  • Rose Hip Powder
  • Parsley
  • Red Raspberry
  • Mullein Leaves                          250 mg

Vitamin C is necessary for many of the body’s cleansing processes, Vitamin C is recognized as an antioxidant, detoxifier and an essential nutrient for the formation and maintenance of connective tissue (teeth, gums, bone, muscle and cartilage). It is necessary for the release of folic acid from food and it facilitates the absorption of iron.

Rutin and the Bioflavonoids are also called ‘Vitamin P’ or permeability factors, decreasing the ‘leakiness’ and the fragility of capillaries. Many nutritionists think of this combination as a Vitamin C complex, as they are all contained in foods high in C and seem to act in similar ways within the body.

Rose Hip Powder is included to ensure that any of Nature’s mystery factors are also present in this cleanse. The herbal base in this tablet is added to work on co-factors of the cleansing process.


  • Black Radish  (Raphanus sativus nigra)
  • Barberry root bark (Berberis vulgaris)
  • Dandelion root  (Taraxacum officinale)
  • Ginger root  (Zingiber officinalis)
  • Cramp bark (Viburnum opulus)
  • Marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis)
  • Wood Betony (Pedicularis canadensis)
  • Parsley root  (Petroselinum sativum)

BiliHerb: is used to stimulate bile flow, decreasing cholesterol build-up in the gallbladder while dissolving calculi. This herbal formula can be used to detoxify the liver (hepatic) area, strengthen liver functions for blood cleansing and aid nutrient storage and many general hepatic functions. Other benefits of BiliHerb include detoxifying the liver, while toning it. It is specific for regulating phase I and II of the liver detoxification.

Dosage: 2 tablets twice daily with breakfast and supper.

Black Radish can lower blood bilirubin levels through its cleansing action on the liver. Black Radish has also been shown to be the best herb for dealing with gallbladder congestion. Barberry root bark, which has been used since the time of Galen and Dioscorides, is very successful for stimulating bile flow and for detoxification of the liver. Grieve, in A Modern Herbal, says that it is an “. . . excellent remedy for functional derangement of the liver.”

Dandelion is one of the great herbs for the liver, both detoxifying and strengthening. Dandelion also aids in cleaning the blood and has immuno‑modulating properties.

Ginger is beneficial for circulation in the liver as well as supporting the tubular functions in the liver/gallbladder area. The anti‑microbial action of ginger, along with its soothing action on the entire digestive system helps enhance this formula.

Parsley and Dandelion roots are both known for their hepatic qualities and for their abilities to dissolve gallstones or prevent formation. Cramp bark can be used to stop cramping in the digestive tract and biliary ducts. Marshmallow is soothing to the mucus membranes. Wood Betony is a soothing hepatic which also strengthens the spleen, thereby giving additional blood cleansing and supporting liver function.

Dosage: 2 capsules, two times daily.

Milk Thistle

  • Milk Thistle seeds extract (80% Silymarin; Silybum marianum) 175mg
  • Dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale) 85mg  
  • Ginger root (Zingiber spp.) 60mg                                   
  • Burdock root (Arctium lappa)  60mg                            
  • Black Radish root (Raphanus sativa nigra) 60mg        
  • Parsley root (Petroselinum crispum) 35 mg

Indication: Used as a traditional herbal medicine formula as a liver protectant, to promote a healthy liver and promote bile flow.

Designed as a traditional herbal medicine formula, Milk Thistle plus is taken as a liver protectant in order to promote a healthy liver. Therefore, the major ingredient in this formula is Milk Thistle, but all of the rest of the botanicals are consistent with this purpose.

Dandelion is traditionally used in Herbal Medicine to help increase bile flow (cholagogue)

Ginger root is traditionally used as a digestive aid for colic and nausea and to aid in bile flow.

Burdock root (Arctium lappa) is traditionally used as an alterative to cleanse and help the liver.

Black Radish root (Raphanus sativa nigra) is traditionally used to lower bilirubin from the liver and to assist in bile flow.

Parsley root (Petroselinum crispum) is used in a supporting role both for the gallbladder liver and to support the urinary tract in this process.

Milk thistle plus protects and tones the liver. It works on both liver deficiency and liver excess.  Take: 2 capsules, twice daily with breakfast and supper.

Article By Dr. Terry Willard, Faculty Member here at the BodyMind Institute
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About the Author

For over forty years, Terry Willard, Cl.H., Ph.D., has studied the medicinal properties of plants. He is recognized as one of North America’s leading Clinical Herbalists. He appears regularly in the print and electronic media as an exponent of responsible herbal use. He is the past-president of the Canadian Association of Herbal Practitioners, a professional member of the American Herbalist Guild and in the Canadian Health Food Association’s Hall of Fame. Dr. Willard is the author of twelve books on the subject of Herbs including the pivotal Wild Rose Herbal Series – a series of three textbooks written to educate herbalists. Two of his books, Mind-Body Harmony and Dr. Willard Flower Essence: Emotional Alchemy and Spiritual Evolution, have been particularly popular with the general public.