The Possible Side Effects of a Liver Detoxification Diet or Liver Flush


In short, there is no real medical or scientific research to back the effectiveness of any liver detoxification diet. BUT you shouldn’t let this put you off.

A detoxification or liver flush can have potentially positive results regardless of what condition your liver is in.

And at the very least it can improve your overall feeling of well-being and even mood.

A detox or flush removes toxins that may be causing the liver to cease optimal function. Ridding your body of these toxins via a liver detoxification diet can improve your digestion of certain foods, help your body eliminate fats and improve the manufacture proteins, as well as detoxify the bloodstream.

However, whether you decide to go for a detoxification diet or a liver flush, there are some temporary possible side effects you may experience.

Potential Side Effects

Clearing Out Toxins May Cause Constipation!

According to the USC Liver Transplant Program (, the liver performs, on an average day, up to 400 functions.

Known for being the work horse organ, the liver is vital for life and a build up of toxins in it can cause anything from decreased bowel function to complete liver failure.

However, even though a liver detoxification diet is designed to promote liver health, it isn’t uncommon for individuals to suffer from constipation when they first begin the diet.

This is nearly always down to a change in diet, in particular a switch from a high carbohydrate diet to one that is high in fiber.

The USC Liver Transplant Program recommends people with bowel conditions, such as chron’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome, consider a liver flush rather than a liver detoxification diet.

A Harsh Liver Detoxification, Nothing But a Headache!

Despite the lack of scientific evidence surrounding this type of detoxification diet, one doctor from the Cedars-Senai Medical Center in Los Angeles believes the liver cleanse, or indeed any type of detoxification diet, is seriously flawed (

Dr Pressman believes that a liver detoxification diet often does not provide the individual with enough nutrients to support typical bodily functions.

Dr Pressman also believes many detox plans to be dangerously low in calories, which can cause certain side effects – the main one being severe headaches.

This is usually because detoxification diets restrict the amount of simple carbs in a person’s diet leading to a lack of glucose.

While the human body can convert muscle or fat to energy, the brain prefers to have glucose. When your brain doesn’t receive the glucose it wants and needs, this results in headaches and in severe cases, lack of focus and dizzy spells.

A liver flush, which consists of drinking a high volume of water or other fluid, will not cause headaches and is therefore best considered by individuals who may be diabetic or anyone who is susceptible to low blood sugar levels.

Experts warn against following a harsh liver detoxification diet, as it is likely to result in hypoglycaemia. Symptoms of this include severe headaches, confusion, shakiness and black outs. Before trying any type of diet or liver flush seek the advice of your doctor who will advise you on how many calories your body needs to maintain healthy function and lose weight.

Possible Metabolism Dangers

Certain liver cleansing diets can lead to problems with metabolism in certain individuals, although this is by no means a common symptom.

When you undertake a detoxification, your metabolism may slow down because of two main factors, 1) your calorie intake is too low and your body has hit “starvation mode” or 2) you are losing much needed muscle as your body is converting your muscle into energy.

Obviously, people with a slow metabolism will find it difficult to lose weight, meaning your liver detoxification diet could be doing more harm than good.

Not only that but people who suffer from a slowed metabolism for this reason will find it difficult to regain a normal rate, leading to weight gain being easier in the future.

Going for a Liver Detoxification Diet or Liver Flush?

While on the face of it a liver flush may seem more favorable than a diet because of a decreased risk of symptoms, this is not always the case. It would appear that people who undergo a detoxification flush are as at much risk of the above symptoms as those who follow a diet.

This is for a number of reasons, including:

  • Bloating – In order to achieve optimal results with a detoxification flush, you will need to substantially increase the amount of water you drink. In turn, this can cause bloating that will actually replace your appetite.

    If you don’t continue to eat healthily during the flush, you risk experiencing the same symptoms listed above.

  • Outbreaks – While it is also possible to develop a rash- usually on or around the abdomen area – when doing a liver detoxification diet, they are much more common in people who try flush cleansing.

    However, it has to be noted that this side effect is more common in individuals who use olive oil or apple juice to flush their liver, as oppose to water. The issue is believed to center around the intestines and the fact the oil/juice affects permeability although there are no studies to confirm this.

  • Kidney stones – There is some concern in the medical world that a liver flush, especially one which involves the harsher use of oil, may be responsible for the development of kidney stones.

    For this reason, individuals with kidney disease or conditions should not attempt a liver cleanse at all.

It would seem then, like most things that involve our health, that choosing between undergoing a liver detoxification diet or the alternative liver flush is very much personal choice.

Just as you would with any other major change to your lifestyle, you should weigh up the risks, as well as the potential benefits.

Once you have chosen something you think will be a good fit with your current health status and lifestyle, you can seek further advice on direction from a professional.

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