the word detox spelled on a blue plate

Recent years have seen a rise in new detoxes, potions, and supplements all claiming to improve health. After an indulgent weekend, many of us feel like our body might need a cleanse – perhaps you’ve even tried a liver detox?

We spoke to Professor Darrell Crawford, consultant hepatologist and GMRF’s Director of Research, about some common myths surrounding liver health to help us sort the fact from fiction when it comes to liver detoxes.

What is a liver detox?

Common liver detoxes include diet-specific changes (such as a juice cleanse or limiting processed foods) or taking natural supplements (e.g. turmeric and milk thistle).

1 Liver detoxes help cleanse the liver of toxins and make you healthier – FICTION

Professor Crawford says there is little scientific evidence to show that herbal supplements make an immediate improvement to overall health. People who report feeling better after liver detox activities usually experience the benefits of limiting sugary and fatty foods as well as significantly reducing alcohol  consumption. Your liver is a natural filter, and if taken care of, does an amazing job without extra help.

2 Liver detoxes help with weight loss – FICTION

There is no research that proves that liver detoxes help with weight loss. And in fact, some cleansing diets may cause some weight gain for some people. In most cases, people will experience fluid loss disguised as weight loss. Once normal eating and drinking habits pick up again people regain weight fairly quickly.

3 Liver detoxes can help fight and prevent liver disease – FICTION

No current research shows that liver detoxes can protect or prevent against liver disease. There are many factors that contribute to liver disease, some lifestyle and some genetic. Modern lifestyle choices such as excessive drinking and eating foods high in fat and sugar, are major contributors to the increasing rate of liver disease. Research underway at GMRF is studying how we can help slow
down the progression of liver disease.

So, do liver detoxes work?

We have limited scientific evidence to show that trending liver detoxes make any significant difference to improve health and wellbeing. Professor Crawford recommends speaking with your GP before starting any sort of detox or drastic lifestyle change.


* This article contains general information only. GMRF always suggests  speaking to a health professional for specific advice.

Speak to your doctor about taking natural supplements as even natural products can interact with prescription medication and some natural substances can be toxic to the liver in some people e.g. black cohosh for menopause is associated with acute liver injury.