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Your liver is one of your body’s most important organs. Apart from releasing and storing energy from food, it removes all the toxins and waste from your blood. As a result, liver disease patients often have to go through a transplant. To avoid this, some people turn to liver supplements that promise to detoxify the liver tissue and improve its functioning capabilities.
Do Liver Supplements Work?
Dozens of medical products with names like “liver rescue” and “liver rescue” claim to get your liver into an optimal liver function and improve your general wellness.
Most liver supplements make the following claims:
- Promote liver function.
- Support liver health.
- Detoxify the kidneys and liver.
- Increase the production of bile.
- Support immune function.
- Protect liver cells.
- Repairing liver tissues.
- Increasing metabolism and aiding in weight loss.
In reality, most commercial liver supplements don’t live up to all their claims. However, some studies have found benefits of using some ingredients like milk thistle, found in detox supplements.
What Are the Implications of Using Liver Supplements to Treat Liver Disorders?
Unfortunately, taking liver health formula can sometimes cause liver problems to their users. According to the National Library of Medicine dietary and liver, supplements cause 20% of liver injuries in the US. Another study by the Drug-Induced Liver Network (DILIN), revealed that herbal dietary supplements can be more harmful than conventional drugs.
Liver injuries from herbal liver supplements can lead to:
- Abdominal swelling.
- Reduced blood clotting.
- Brain damage or encepathology.
- Yellowing of eyes and skin.
People with drug-induced liver disease might require a liver transplant. In fact, the DILIN study discovered that liver transplants and death were common in people who used herbal supplements as opposed to pharmaceutical ones.
The FDA controls supplements differently from medication. They don’t require the same rigorous tests medications have to go through. As a result, supplement manufacturers can start selling herbal supplements without the FDA’s approval.
Common Ingredients in Liver Health Supplements
While the ingredients in most liver and dietary supplements differ, many of them contain a combination of three main herbal ingredients: artichoke leaf, milk thistle, and dandelion root.
Milk thistle is the oldest natural liver supplement. In fact, it has been used for more than 2 millennia and is the most widely used ingredient for liver ailments in the US.
The main active compound in milk thistle extract is silymarin, which comprises several chemical compounds. Studies by the NIH suggest that silymarin helps regenerate liver tissues, reduce inflammation, and repair damaged liver cells. Milk thistle was found to be well tolerated by the body but could cause mild allergic reactions.
Another study looked at the impact of silymarin on children diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL.) The children were undergoing chemotherapy which causes liver damage. After 28 days, the children who had been taking liver supplements were found to have reduced fewer signs of liver problems.
Many studies involving silymarin have shown benefits in patients with liver disease, cirrhosis, Hepatitis b, and c. A 2017 study analysis found that the compound reduces a few enzymes that are responsible for liver damage.
Since milk thistle extract has been proven to be safe, you can use it as a supplement to support liver health. However, it’s important to note that it lowers blood sugar levels. So it’s important to consult a professional physician before using it if you’re diabetic.
Artichoke leaf is commonly eaten in Europe, North America, and the Mediterranean for its liver detoxification properties. The leaf has cynarin which promotes the production of bile in the liver. This catalyzes the detoxification process and improves how the liver metabolizes alcohol and other harmful toxins.
Just like milk thistle, this liver supplement contains the precious silymarin which is known for enhancing liver function.
In studies conducted in 2018 and 2016, artichoke leaf extract was found to reduce markers of liver damage in people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD.) Further studies conducted on animals revealed that artichoke extract can help in generating new liver cells and producing liver enzymes.
Dandelion root is another excellent liver supplement. As a liver health supplement, the root has anti-inflammatory properties and improves the liver’s ability to produce bile.
A Korean study on rodents found that the high concentration of antioxidants in dandelion root help protect the liver from environmental toxins such as chemicals and alcohol. When the test was repeated in rabbits on a high-cholesterol diet, the root improved their lipid profile and antioxidant enzyme activities.
As a bonus, dandelion root contains many vitamins and nutrients. It also protects the body against oxidative stress related to atherosclerosis.
Other popular ingredients in supplements include:
- Licorice root.
On their own, these ingredients have been found to have significant benefits to liver health. However, some herbal supplement companies do not mix them appropriately or add potentially harmful chemicals.
How to Take Care of Your Liver
It’s important to take care of your liver, just as it takes care of your body. Here are some of the things you should do for good liver health.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Chronic liver disease and other liver diseases are primarily caused by lifestyle factors. Some eating habits such as saturated fat intake burden your liver and affect its functionality. This can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and permanent liver damage.
Adding natural liver detox foods like beetroot to your diet will also go a long way in keeping your liver healthy. If possible, you can also lose weight and stay in shape.
Minimize Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol is a healthy liver’s worst enemy. Not only does it cause alcohol-induced inflammation, but it might also lead to alcoholic fatty liver disease and eventually liver cirrhosis.
Medical experts define heavy alcohol use as 15 or more drinks a week for males and eight or more for females. Drinking four to five drinks in two hours can cause a condition known as steatosis, where fat droplets accumulate in your liver.
Although you can reverse the effects of steatosis by limiting your alcohol consumption, continuous binge drinking can lead to alcoholic liver disease.
The Dietary Guidelines for America 2016 to 2020 recommend having a maximum of two drinks a day for males and one for females.
Consider Compound Medication Prescriptions
One of the greatest risk factors for liver disorders is chronic drug use. Many illicit drugs like cocaine and heroin can lead to inflammation of liver cells which obstructs healthy liver function. This is just one more reason to stay away from illegal drugs.
According to the FDA, some OTC (Over the Counter) drugs especially NSAIDs, antibiotics, and cancer drugs can have adverse effects on liver health.
Unlike illicit drugs, you can’t quit these drugs before you make a full recovery. Fortunately, compound medication is an excellent alternative to commercially produced medication. This mode of treatment offers patients customized treatments, keeping in mind several factors including underlying conditions. If you’re going to use drugs that might harm your liver for a prolonged period, you might want to consider discussing compound medication prescriptions.
Fort Worth Pharmacy is Here to Help With Your Liver Health
We are surrounded by numerous toxins in the air, food, and environment. Eating natural foods that support good liver health will strengthen the organ and help it process those toxins.
Prolonged use of over-the-counter drugs can also put you at risk of getting liver diseases. Contact us today to learn how compound medication can manage your condition while taking care of your liver.