The liver is the largest internal organ. It is a chemical factory for the body playing a vital role in producing important compounds, acting as a store for vital nutrients, and playing a central role in detoxifying the body.
The liver has multiple functions in the body. Thus, it is prone to disorders. Fortunately, it is a highly regenerative organ. Thus, it is more likely to have chronic issues rather than acute failure.
It is prone to infections, damage by substance abuse, and even due to the toxic effects of certain medications. However, the most common liver issue these days is a non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Infections, NAFLD, and the use of medications cause chronic liver inflammation and increase liver cancer risk (1).
Most people would have some issues related to liver health. One does not essentially need to use herbal supplements to manage liver diseases. Many are living with sluggish liver due to obesity, dietary issues, and other reasons.
Pharmaceutical drugs may be suitable for some liver conditions like viral liver infections (viral hepatitis). However, herbal supplements have broader use, and most adults would benefit from their intermittent use. They might be used even to improve liver health, detoxify the body.
Milk thistle has a long history of use for liver health by humans. Ancient practitioners have recommended it for ages. The botanical name of the plant is Silybum marianum. It is now among the most well-studied plants, and thus it is at the top of the list.
Generally, seed extract of the plant is used for liver health. It is rich in flavonolignans like silydianin, silychristin, and silybin, together called silymarin. Silybin is the most vital among them as it is 50-70% of silymarin. Silymarin is a potent antioxidant, free radical scavenger, and prevents lipid peroxidation. It also has a mild fibrinolytic activity. Thus, it is pretty good at protecting liver cells and even reversing the damage (2).
Studies show that milk-thistle may be suitable for various liver conditions. Thus, it may help protect liver cells from toxins and even poisoning. In addition, it may have a role in reducing the risk of cirrhosis. These benefits are supported by numerous clinical trials (3).
Similarly, silymarin may have a role as supportive therapy in those living with hepatitis. Studies show that regular use of silymarin/milk thistle can help reduce liver inflammation and promote healing processes (4).
However, more importantly, it seems that silymarin is quite suitable for chronic conditions like NAFLD, which is present in about 25% of adults. Moreover, prolonged use of silymarin may lower inflammation and boost liver function. Furthermore, studies show that its benefits for liver health are not associated with weight loss (5).
It is an extract of the root of plant burdock that is related to sunflowers and daisies. It has been used in Europe for several centuries to promote digestion, detoxify the body, and other health benefits. It has also gained significant popularity in North American in recent years.
Studies show that it has an excellent antioxidant capacity, and thus it may help reduce oxidative stress. In addition, it is especially good for protecting liver cells from various toxins. Although there is limited research into the herb, recent findings indicate that it is quite potent (6).
Taraxacum officinale or dandelion does not need any introduction. It grows widely in various parts of the world. It has been used for managing multiple health conditions since ancient times. It appears to suppress inflammation and promote tissue regeneration. Many of its benefits are due to sterols and terpenes.
There are multiple ways in which it may help in chronic liver conditions. It has antioxidant capacity; it may also have antilipidemic action (thus good for NAFLD). Furthermore, it has antifibrotic action, which may play a role in preventing liver cirrhosis. Additionally, it may even help reduce the risk of liver cancer. Therefore, it may be used in order to avoid or manage a vast number of chronic liver conditions. Finally, it may be used to prevent liver disease or just boost liver function (7).
It is well known for boosting energy levels. Ginseng is often described as one of the most potent adaptogens. However, it is also good at suppressing inflammation and protecting cells due to its antioxidant action.
Moreover, now researchers have understood that the herb contains more than 40 ginsenosides. These ginsenosides have many effects on liver health. For example, they are known to alter the activity of liver enzymes. Thus, they are especially good for detoxification. Additionally, they may help regulate liver function, lower inflammation, and even help prevent liver cancer (8).
Sarsaparilla or Hemidesmus indicus has a long history of use in traditional medicine in India. In Ayurveda and traditional Indian medicine, it has been used to treat numerous health conditions like urinary tract infections, skin infections, impotence, and liver diseases. It seems to have potent hepatoprotective and cardioprotective properties. It even appears to lower inflammation and have some immunomodulatory action. Thus, it can help boost liver health and may have many other health benefits (9).
Cloves are frequently used to flavor food and beverages. They are appreciated as they bring warmth to a body. However, cloves also have a long history of use in various medical conditions. Additionally, they appear to be quite good for liver health. Thus, eugenol in cloves may help lower cholesterol, protect liver cells from damage, and even reduce NAFLD risk. Moreover, cloves are also suitable for metabolic health (10). Interestingly, cloves appear to be quite good for reducing diabetes-associated damage to the heart, liver, and even eye lens (11).
To conclude, these are some of the most well-tested and yet safest of herbs for liver health. Needless to say, they may help even better when used in combination. Fortunately, we have compiled them all into a supplement here for you Liver Love. Further, it is worth understanding that they have numerous other health benefits.