Liver Health in Malaysia
- Malaysia has become one of the “fattest” countries in Asia – nearly half the Malaysian adult population is now overweight or obese.
- Along with obesity comes obesity-related diseases. One of such disease is fatty liver.
- Lifestyle habits such as excessive alcohol consumption, sedentary lifestyle and inappropriate use of medications may jeopardize the liver’s health.
What your Liver can do
Liver is a remarkable organ responsible for a variety of functions. They include:
- Metabolism of drugs, alcohol, and environmental toxins
- Transforming of food into energy to build cells and tissues in body
- Production of digestive juice called bile which breakdowns fat, cholesterol, and some vitamins
- Storage of vitamins A, D, E, K, and B12
How to choose a liver supplement?
Given how important this organ is to your health, it’s no surprise that supplement manufacturers have jumped on the liver detox bandwagon. Dozens of products claim they can get your liver in top shape — and help you feel better in the process.
Liver tonic supplements should be taken by individuals who:
- Smoke & drink excessively
- Work without sufficient rest
- Have a stressful lifestyle
- Over-indulge in greasy fatty food
Liver Tonic Examples
1. Milk Thistle
- Most common ingredient found in liver tonic products
- Silymarin, the active ingredient, is thought to reduce damage to the liver caused by free radicals, which are produced when your liver metabolizes toxic substances (antioxidant properties). (1,2,3)
- It may also protect the livers through toxin blockade at the cell membrane level
- It enhances the detoxification process in the liver and guards against liver scarring. (4)
2. Antrodia Camphorata
- A parasitic mushroom that lives in the inner cavity of Cinnamomum kanehirai tree, which is exclusively endemic to Taiwan.
- It can scavenge free radicals responsible for cell damage, inhibiting the inflammation and induce the regeneration of the liver cells. (5,6)
- It was shown to reduce alcohol hangover symptoms such as headache, nausea, vomiting, brain fogginess and decreased concentration, by improving the metabolism of alcohol by the liver.
- It also shown to have neuroprotective effect and helps to decrease systolic and diastolic blood pressure in in vivo studies. (5,6)
Liver detox supplements should be taken by individuals who:
- Are routinely exposed to polluted workplace
- Are taking high intake of processed food
- Are looking for liver supplements which also aids indigestion
Liver Detox Examples
- It has been used for liver complaints and cleansing.
- It helps in strengthening the liver and stimulates the flow of bile. Bile is needed to aid indigestion and digestion of fat.
- The roots of dandelion provide a mild laxative effect – help to improve digestion and relieve stomach upsets such as flatulence, constipation and fullness.(7)
2. Artichoke (Cynara scolymus)
- It has antioxidant and hepatoprotective properties.
- Study shown that artichoke extract demonstrates the ability to prevent liver injury when being administered prior to exposure to a known liver toxin.(10)
- Animal studies have shown it aids in regeneration of liver cells. (8)
- It could help in preventing stomach ulcers by increasing the amount of mucous that protects the stomach lining. (11)
Liver detox supplements should be taken by individuals who:
- have been consuming alcohol excessively for a long time
- Are at risk of liver scarring (i.e. being overweight) or those with liver disease
A Liver Regeneration supplement example
Essential Phospholipids (EPL)
- Phospholipids are essential components of all cellular and subcellular membranes in our body. Damage to phospholipids by free radicals from excessive alcohol and toxins could lead to liver diseases. (9)
- EPL helps to reconstruct the damaged cell membrane structure and increase membrane fluidity. (9)
- It is also reported to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant effects and helps in preventing fibrosis of the liver. (9)
PART 3 – HOW TO PROTECT YOUR LIVER?
Other than liver supplements, you should also:
- Have a balance diet – A diet heavy in fried foods, sweets, and fast foods could leads to weight gain and increases the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
- Avoid toxins from chemicals such as some insecticides, cleaning products, and aerosols. If you have to use these products, make sure the room is well ventilated.
- Avoid smoking – Chemicals in smoking may induce inflammation in the liver which can lead to fibrosis.
- Use caution when drinking alcohol – Large quantities of beer, wine, or liquor damages liver cells and can lead to liver disease.
- Kim M. Optimal management for alcoholic liver disease: Conventional medications, natural therapy or combination?. World Journal of Gastroenterology. 2016;22(1):8.
- R. Aller, O. Izaola, S. Gómez, C. Tafur, G. González, E. Berroa1, N. Mora, J.M. González, D.A. de Luis. Effect of silymarin plus vitamin E in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. A randomized clinical pilot study. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2015. 19 (16);3118-3124.
- Ferenci P, Dragosics B, Dittrich H, Frank H, Benda L, Lochs H et al. Randomized controlled trial of silymarin treatment in patients with cirrhosis of the liver. Journal of Hepatology. 1989;9(1):105-113.
- Mulrow C, Lawrence V, Jacobs B, et al. Milk Thistle: Effects on Liver Disease and Cirrhosis and Clinical Adverse Effects: Summary. 2000. In: AHRQ Evidence Report Summaries. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); 1998-2005. 21. Available from:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK11896/
- Geethangili M, Tzeng Y. Review of Pharmacological Effects of Antrodia camphorata and Its Bioactive Compounds. 2011.
- He F., Bi H.-C., Xie Z.-Y., et al. Rapid determination of six metabolites from multiple cytochrome P450 probe substrates in human liver microsome by liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry: application to high-throughput inhibition screening of terpenoids. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry. 2007;21(5):635–643. doi: 10.1002/rcm.2881
- Schütz K, Carle R, Schieber A. Taraxacum—A review on its phytochemical and pharmacological profile. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2006;107(3):313-323.
- Salem M, Affes H, Ksouda K, Dhouibi R, Sahnoun Z, Hammami S et al. Pharmacological Studies of Artichoke Leaf Extract and Their Health Benefits. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition. 2015;70(4):441-453.
- Prasad V, Gundermann S, Drozdzik M, Gunderman K. Essential phospholipids in fatty liver: a scientific update. Clinical and Experimental Gastroenterology. 2016;105.
- Mehmetçik G, Özdemirler G, Koçak-Toker N, Çevikba? U, Uysal M. Effect of pretreatment with artichoke extract on carbon tetrachloride-induced liver injury and oxidative stress. Experimental and Toxicologic Pathology. 2008;60(6):475-480.
- Holtmann G, Adam B, Haag S, Collet W, Grunewald E, Windeck T. Efficacy of artichoke leaf extract in the treatment of patients with functional dyspepsia: a six-week placebo-controlled, double-blind, multicentre trial. Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics. 2003;18(11-12):1099-1105.