By Cathy Schram

A Healthy Liver – When To Take Supplements

Q: I have recently been on a variety of medications and I am very concerned about the health of my liver. What can I do to protect it?

A: Your liver is one of the hardest working organs in your body. Its job is to filter out pollutants and poisons that we take in while drinking, eating and breathing. Also, anything that is absorbed through the skin (soaps, lotions, etc.) is filtered through the liver. The liver also works with the gall bladder to produce bile, which helps break down fats, carbohydrates and nutrients. We want to keep our liver functioning at an optimum level. Milk thistle is considered “Nature’s Liver Tonic”. It’s primary use is to support and detoxify the liver. The healing compound in milk thistle is silymarin and works by strengthening the cell membranes of healthy and partially damaged liver cells, thereby preventing toxic substances from entering. It also speeds up the regeneration process of cells, meaning it helps repair damage that has already been done. Look for a standardized extract containing 80% silymarin.

Q: Should I take my supplements with food or on an empty stomach? What is the best time of day to take them?

A: It is best to take a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement with meals because nutrients help the body to better metabolize food for energy and they are more easily absorbed. Some minerals should be taken separately due to their respective stimulating and calming effects. For example, chromium is best taken with food throughout the day because it helps regulate blood sugar levels, while calcium and magnesium are best taken before bed due to their relaxing effect. Because herbs are classified as a food, they can be taken with or without meals.

This herb information is for health education purposes only. It is not intended to replace the services of licensed health practitioners. Consult with a physician for any condition that requires professional care.

Do you have questions about herbs or vitamins? Send them to Cathy Schram, CNHP and Certified Herbalist. Write to: Herbs & More, 16021 Manchester Rd., Ellisville, MO 63011.