Some advocates of liver cleansing argue that so-called liver cleansers help the liver function better to remove toxins. There are no convincing studies to support such claims, although some studies support the notion that certain foods and herbal supplements may promote liver health. [Related: Saucy Science: How to Flush Out a Hangover]
It should be noted that the detoxification described here is different from the practice used in substance abuse treatment. Detoxification in that context is "the process of allowing the body to rid itself of a drug while managing the symptoms of withdrawal," according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This kind of supervised detoxification may prevent potentially life-threatening complications that might appear if the patient was left untreated.
Harriet Ball, biologist and VoYS member: “Detox is marketed as the idea that modern living fills us with invisible nasties that our bodies can’t cope with unless we buy the latest jargon-filled remedy. Last year we investigated scientific claims that are plastered on everything from sandwiches to devices that supposedly protect you from radiation. Our new investigation into detox products has convinced us that there is little or no proof that these products work, except to part people from their cash and downplay all the amazing ways in which our bodies can look after themselves!”
Sir Colin Berry, pathologist: “It’s easy to detox; just let you body use the great systems it has evolved over thousands of years to get rid of whatever is harming you. But if it’s booze, drink less as well.”
The liver typically does a "superb job" of detoxing your body, Gershon said. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. People with certain liver conditions — such as viral hepatitis (Hep A, B or C) or alcohol-induced liver disease — may not have healthy livers, and toxic substances can sometimes accumulate in their bodies. Certain substances that can be toxic in high doses, like vitamin A, iron and copper, can also accumulate in the liver or other organs as a result of disease. But there is no scientific evidence that detox diets or liver cleanses help treat liver disease.
John Emsley, chemical scientist and award winning science writer: “There is no scientific reason for people to waste time and money on so-called detox regimes, fancy diets, or expensive remedies, none of which can compare to the detox system that is already inbuilt into our natural system. This leaflet from the Voice of Young Science is a clear, sensible, explanation for anyone who wants to know how simple it really is to ‘detoxify’ our body.”
Meet the colon.