The liver is an important organ that handles many processes, such as digestion, generating hormones, and purifying the blood.
The liver is our body’s main filtering and detoxification organ, but some supplement brands claim that the liver could benefit from certain supplements.
These supplements may have properties that support proper liver health and function, as well as other benefits, like aiding detoxification or preventing inflammation.
We’ll cover which supplements are best for the liver in this post. You’ll learn what ingredients to look out for when choosing a liver supplement, including whether these products are effective, and other things you can implement to sustain liver health.
Are Liver Supplements Effective?
Liver supplement manufacturers may state that their supplements can have certain effects, including:
- Supporting liver health
- Aiding kidney and liver detoxification
- Improving liver function
- Preventing inflammation by defending liver cells
- Encouraging bile production
- Promoting proper immune and respiratory system function
- Aiding weight loss and improving metabolism
Despite these claims, it’s important to be cautious when taking liver supplements. Research states that in the United States, 20% of liver injuries are the result of herbal supplements.
Data from the DILIN (Drug Induced Liver Injury Network) indicates that herbal nutritional supplements could be responsible for more serious liver issues compared to regular medication.
Liver supplements may lead to the following issues:
- Poor blood clotting ability
- Yellow eyes and skin, known as jaundice
- Abdominal swelling
- Brain disorders
Serious liver injuries caused by these supplements may need a liver transplant. However, data from the DILIN investigation indicates that fatalities and liver transplants were more likely in individuals that took herbal nutritional supplements.
The FDA also does not govern supplements in the same way as medication. This means that supplement brands can start to market and sell supplements without FDA approval.
It’s better to be safe than sorry, so always do your research and get approval from your doctor before trying a liver supplement.
Common Liver Supplement Ingredients
Here are some common ingredients in liver supplements to look out for, as well as any cautionary advice you should bear in mind before trying these ingredients.
Milk thistle is the most popular supplement for liver issues in the United States. This herbal supplement is made up of 50% silibinin, the active substance within silymarin. Silibinin is an antioxidant, a substance that can tackle inflammation-causing free radicals.
A study found that taking seven grams of Epaclin daily, a nutritional supplement that contains amino acids, vitamin E, and silymarin, considerably reduced the number of enzymes linked with liver injuries.
A different trial looked at participants taking antituberculosis drugs. The results indicated that taking 420 mg of silymarin per day, for four weeks, led to a 28% decreased risk of drug-related liver issues.
This sounds promising, but the results of a Cochrane review show that despite silymarin supplements leading to a slight decrease in liver enzymes, the gains aren’t medically relevant.
The Cochrane review originators also state that most of the studies used in the review involved weaker techniques. More research is required to assess how effective milk thistle is.
Milk thistle appears to be safe, but take care, as some individuals experienced allergic reactions or GI issues after consumption. Milk thistle can also decrease blood glucose levels, so diabetes patients should get their doctor’s approval before trying it.
Artichoke leaf contains antioxidants that may defend the liver. Animal studies have shown that the substance could aid liver cell regeneration.
Studies involving participants with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease found that artichoke lead decreased liver damage markers more than a placebo. Despite this, more research is needed to look into the medicinal advantages of artichoke leaf supplements.
Dandelion has been used to address liver issues in the past, but there isn’t that much evidence to support these claims.
A lot more studies and research is needed to establish whether the ingredient is effective and safe for consumption.
An active substance called glycyrrhizic acid is present within licorice root. This may lower inflammation within the liver and may help to regenerate impaired liver cells.
The findings of one rat study indicated that raw licorice root extract undid the effects of fat buildup and alcohol-related inflammation in the liver. Despite this, the present findings aren’t extensive enough to encourage licorice root supplements for liver health.
The NIDDK (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases) also states that taking large amounts of licorice root for a long time can cause muscle and heart complications.
Other Ways To Keep The Liver Healthy
The current evidence we have isn’t enough to support taking supplements for the liver. Keeping up with a healthy lifestyle is the best thing you can do to improve liver health. Here are some things you can do to sustain good liver health:
Curb Fatty Diets
Consuming lots of fatty foods, like fast food, sweets, and fried food, can easily cause weight gain. Obesity and being overweight can make it more likely to develop non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Sticking to a healthy, nutritious diet is a good way of keeping the liver lean and healthy.
Certain products, like aerosols, household cleaners, and pesticides, contain harmful chemicals which can harm the liver. If you need to use these items, always ensure the room is properly ventilated.
It’s also important to avoid smoking, as the toxins and carcinogens within cigarettes can also lead to liver damage.
Reduce Alcohol Intake
Large amounts of alcohol, like wine, beer, and hard liquor, can impair the liver cells to cause cirrhosis.
If you drink, only do so in moderation. Women should avoid drinking more than one drink a day, while men should avoid drinking more than two drinks per day.
Don’t Mix Medication and Alcohol
Drinking alcohol alongside your medication can increase liver damage. Always go through the guidelines carefully before taking any prescribed drugs. Do not drink alcohol if the label declares mixing the two is unsafe.
The Bottom Line
Some studies indicate that milk thistle, licorice root, and artichoke leaf may prevent liver damage through anti-inflammatory effects. Despite the research, we still need more human studies to confirm these effects.
All of these ingredients have health risks, so it’s important to get your doctor’s approval before trying any liver supplements with these ingredients.
If you’re concerned about liver health, healthy lifestyle measures can be more effective than supplements. Avoiding fatty foods, drinking in moderation, and avoiding toxins can help you avoid liver issues later down the line.