Headaches? Bad Skin? It could be your liver


Quick fix?

We live in a culture where when we have a headache we take a Panadol!  We don’t necessarily drink more water, reduce our caffeine or alcohol or eat more magnesium- and sulfur-containing foods! We’re pill poppers and typically go for the quick fix – the pill for every ill.  But at what cost?

A headache is just a headache, right?

And yet, a headache is our body talking to us.  Like all symptoms its telling us something is not quite right.  Something is out of balance.  It’s saying, “Listen!  I need something”.  Headaches can have many causes from spinal misalignment to dehydration.    But if you rule out the obvious things the next step is to check in on your liver.  Is it happy?

An unhappy liver gives us signs like nausea, constipation, acne, dry skin, sensitivity to smells, weight gain, low energy levels, poor alcohol tolerance, hormonal problems and of course the previously mentioned headaches especially hormonal headaches and migraines.  So what could be wrong?

Determining the Cause

Tests are available to measure the detoxification capacity of the liver and these can be very insightful.  Liver function tests can also be arranged though these tend to measure gross changes to liver enzyme function and are not particularly diagnostic of sub optimal functioning. Looking at a live blood prep (as I do in my clinic) can also be very helpful as poor liver function shows up in various ways in the blood.

However, usually the best way to work out what’s going on is with a thorough case history.  Occupation is important as someone working with solvents eg hairdressers, or exposure to other chemicals is likely to have an unhappy liver.  Those drinking large quantities of alcohol and caffeine can also have problems.  You can even be consuming only moderate amounts of foods and beverages that are toxic to the liver but if the other side of the scale, the nutrients that support liver function, is deficient then you too can have liver problems.  Here’s a list of some of the products that we consume that contribute to an unhappy liver:

  • Alcohol
  • Coffee
  • Chocolate
  • Caffeine containing soft drinks
  • Artificial sweeteners especially when combined with caffeine containing soft drinks
  • Processed fats such as margarine and vegetable oils
  • Pesticides and other chemicals on the food that we eat
  • Sugar
  • Chemical containing products that we use on our skin, hair, for washing clothes, killing insects, deodorising etc.

What can we do about it?

Every day we are exposed to quite large amounts of “toxins”.  This means, to stay in balance, we need plenty of nutrients and healthful substances to support liver health.

Here are some of the things you can eat to help liver function

  • Herbs such as garlic, turmeric and basil
  • Onions
  • Sulfur containing foods from the Brassica family eg broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc.
  • Drink plenty of clean water
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Fermented foods
  • Fresh, organic fruits and vegetables.

Sulfur containing foods

These foods are so important to health as sulfur plays a significant role in the detoxification pathways of the liver.  Sulfur helps eliminate excess hormones from the body, cleans the blood, supports sulfation and is a key ingredient in super important antioxidants such as glutathione.  Sulfur containing amino acids such as N-acetyl cysteine are being shown to have a broad range of beneficial effects in the body, such as the break down of mucous, mood elevation and of course liver function and detoxification.


It’s comforting to know that there are so many ways to optimise liver function many of them available in your kitchen!  That’s why reclaiming your kitchen back from Big Food is so powerful.  You can reclaim your liver health as well!


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Brenda Rogers

With over 25 years experience as a corporate trainer, naturopath, yoga teacher and wise woman educator, Brenda is the head clinician and coach at Quintessence Health.

"A healthy mind and body simply ensures you have the time and energy to fully express and manifest your life’s purpose – it facilitates the unfolding of joy."

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