The liver is a large organ in the abdomen that performs many important bodily functions. At more than 3 pounds, the liver is the size of a football and the human body’s second-largest organ (after the skin). It holds up to 13 percent of a person’s blood supply and is a chief player in the digestive system.
The liver controls most chemical levels in the blood and is involved in metabolic processes. It also secretes bile which helps to break down fats, preparing them for further digestion and absorption. It produces cholesterol and proteins to help carry fats through the bloodstream, stores and release glucose maintaining blood sugar levels as needed, metabolises and excretes by-products through blood and expels from body in the form of urine and faeces.
It deserves the attention and glory. It is such a vital organ that performs over 500 tasks to keep the body healthy. Anything that is eaten or consumed, whether it’s food, alcohol, medicine or toxins, gets filtered by the liver. Keeping the liver healthy, then, takes being mindful about everything that’s consumed. Here in this article, we will discuss about the liver tonic supplements that help preserve the functions of liver.
Signs and Symptoms of Liver Diseases
Liver diseases do not generally show noticeable signs and symptoms. If they do occur, liver diseases are commonly not curable but we can slow down the deterioration in functions and properties of liver. We can observe the following signs and symptoms of liver diseases:
- Skin and eyes that appear yellowish (jaundice)
- Abdominal pain and swelling
- Swelling in the legs and ankles
- Itchy skin
- Dark urine color
- Pale stool color
- Chronic fatigue
- Nausea or vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Tendency to bruise easily
Dandelion is much more than just a weed growing in the yard. It is a flowering plant native to the Northern America. It is not only used in cuisines from all around the world but also widely used in traditional and herbal medicine. Dandelion root has a long history being held as a “liver tonic” in folk medicine. The polysaccharides in dandelion are known to have liver protective effects by lowering stress on the liver and supporting its ability to produce bile1.
Studies showed that oxidative stress is the main factor that causes liver injury2,3. A major defence mechanism for prevention and treatment of liver damage comprises reducing the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) by raising the levels of antioxidant enzymes4. The study demonstrated dandelion treatment attenuates oxidative stress with lowered ROS and increased antioxidant enzymes, suggesting the hepatoprotective effect of dandelion could be associated with their anti-oxidative properties1.
Curcuma longa (turmeric) is a widely used spice, coloring agent and source of curcumin5. It is one of the most regularly used original molecules gifted by numerous shielding functionalities that protects the liver. Owing to its established antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties, curcumin has also been used as health supplements for the management of several ailments6, including liver health issues.
The bright yellow curcuminoid is the active ingredient in turmeric and its biomembrane-protective effect against peroxidative damage is majorly associated to its ROS scavenging ability7.
Beta glucan is a type of soluble fiber made up of polysaccharides, or combined sugars. It is not naturally found in the body. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a heart-healthy label for foods that have high amounts of beta glucan, for reducing plasma cholesterol levels and risk of heart disease in 19978. When it comes to managing cholesterol levels, the liver is the key organ. Cholesterol from food mainly ends up in the liver and can increase the risk of fatty liver diseases. High cholesterol also can turn fatty liver disease into a more serious and sometimes fatal condition known as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).
Beta glucan proves to induce the phagocytic and anti-oxidative effects and also reduce the liver damage and oxidative stress in obstructive jaundice9. In the treatment group, the liver enzymes including alanine and aspartate aminotransferases (AST, ALT), gamma glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), total and direct bilirubin, MPO in the serum, and the levels of MDA and LPO in the liver tissue were significantly lower when compared with the control group9 after 10 days of beta glucan supplementation.
While taking liver tonic supplements shows experimental evidences of potential preventive and curative effects against hepatic injuries and liver diseases, lifestyle advices never grow old and here are a few suggestions to keep liver functions optimal: avoid smoking and alcohol, reduce chronic use of medications, and beware of drug-alcohol interactions that can worsen liver damage.
- Cai LL, Wan DW, Yi FL, Luan LB. Purification, Preliminary Characterization and Hepatoprotective Effects of Polysaccharides from Dandelion Root. Department of Pharmaceutics, China Pharmaceutical University, Nanjing 210009, China. Molecules 2017, 22(9), 1409; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules22091409
- Hoek, J.B.; Pastorino, J.G. Ethanol, oxidative stress, and cytokine-induced liver cell injury. Alcohol 2002, 27, 63–68.
- Cederbaum, A.I.; Lu, Y.; Wu, D. Role of oxidative stress in alcohol-induced liver injury. Arch. Toxicol. 2009, 83, 519–548.
- Kadiiska, M.B.; Gladen, B.C.; Baird, D.D.; Germolec, D.; Graham, L.B.; Parker, C.E.; Nyska, A.; Wachsman, J.T.; Ames, B.N.; Basu, S. Biomarkers of Oxidative Stress Study II: Are oxidation products of lipids, proteins, and DNA markers of CCl 4 poisoning? Free Radic. Biol. Med. 2005, 38, 698–710.
- Negi A.S., Kumar J.K., Luqman S., Shanker K., Gupta M.M., Khanuja S.P.S. Recent Advances in Plant Hepatoprotectives: A Chemical and Biological Profile of Some Important Leads. Med. Res. Rev. 2008; 28:746–772. doi: 10.1002/med.20115.
- Hewlings SJ, Kalman DS. Curcumin: a review of its’ effects on human health. Foods. 2017; 6(10):92.
- Wright J.S. Predicting the Antioxidant Activity of Curcumin and Curcuminoids. J. Mol. Struct. THEOCHEM. 2002; 591:207–217. doi: 10.1016/S0166-1280(02)00242-7.
- Othman RA, Moghadasian MH, Jones PJ. Cholesterol-lowering effects of oat β-glucan. Nutrition Reviews, Volume 69, Issue 6, 1 June 2011, Pages 299–309.
- Erkol H, Kahramansoy N, Kordon O, Buyukasik O, Serin E, Ulas N. Effects of beta-glucan on hepatic damage caused by obstructive jaundice. Ulus Travma Acil Cerrahi Derg. 2011 Jul;17(4): 303-7. doi: 10.5505/tjtes.2011.88964.