Best Supplements for Your Liver, According to Science
Here are four natural remedies to know about right now.
Your liver is one of the most important organs in your body. It’s often referred to as your body’s natural filter as it sifts through your blood, capturing toxins and other impurities, to then remove them from your body entirely.
Now, since this organ naturally detoxifies the body, you may be wondering why would I need to detox supplements? Your suspicions are correct, you really don’t need to take those types of pills, despite what special benefits their labels claim to provide. However, if someone has liver disease or a health complication that involves the liver, it’s possible that your organ could benefit from some extra nutrients.
An herbal remedy derived from the prickly purple plant, milk thistle extract is one of the most popular supplements to take for liver health. There’s an active compound in the milk thistle plant called silymarin that’s been shown to help reduce inflammation, regenerate liver tissues, and protect liver cells from damage in lab studies. The extract may work best as a complementary therapy for those who have alcoholic liver disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), hepatitis, and even cancer.
Results from various studies have been mixed over the supplement’s efficacy, however, in most individuals, it can’t hurt to take. Since the herbal remedy acts as an antioxidant, it’s believed to reduce the damage free radicals impose on the liver after the organ metabolizes toxic substances.
Have you ever heard of dandelion root be referred to as “liver tonic?” Research has suggested that the name comes from the plant’s ability to increase the flow of bile. (Remember, bile is an important fluid the liver produces to aid digestion.) A 2017 study suggests that the polysaccharides (a type of carbohydrate) in dandelion may support liver function by promoting detoxification. Still, whether dandelion root extract or tea actually provides health benefits to your liver remains up in the air, which just means more research is needed.
If you like spinach artichoke dip, then you may be pleased to know that artichoke may protect the liver. Some research performed on animals suggests artichoke leaf supplementation can help regenerate liver cells that have been damaged. In addition, human studies conducted on those with NAFLD have shown that the supplement reduces markers of liver damage compared with those who took a placebo. Still, clinical benefits of the remedy have yet to be recorded.
Licorice root contains an active compound called glycyrrhizic acid, which may help to reduce inflammation in the liver and even help damaged liver cells regenerate. One clinical trial conducted in 2012 that involved just under 400 people with chronic hepatitis C found that weekly injections of glycyrrhizin reduced symptoms. But, more evidence is needed before any conclusions can be made about licorice root’s ability to prevent or treat liver disease.