Joanne SmithClients, friends and family often tell me about the latest “cleanse” they are doing. In the past, these cleanses were usually mentioned in association with a New Year’s resolution or as part of a springtime detox, but the trend now is to do them several times a year. This concerns me. While they can sound like quick, healthy ways to purify the body, increase energy and/or lose weight, many of these intense, short-term concoctions are actually detrimental to liver function and can make you feel worse.

Your liver is an amazing organ with over 500 functions. For example, it regulates glucose, produces and secretes bile, stores vitamins, converts thyroid hormones, purifies and clears harmful substances such as bacteria, as well as breaks down and detoxifies unwanted and potentially harmful toxins. This last function is particularly important for anyone living with a disability or chronic health condition who regularly consumes prescription or over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, antibiotics and steroids. When medications are metabolized, toxins are created.