(NaturalNews) We rarely give one of our most hard working organs, the liver, much thought unless something goes wrong. Located in the upper right hand side of the abdomen, mostly behind the rib cage, the liver produces and secretes bile into the intestine to help digest fat and it also helps purify the blood by changing potentially harmful chemicals, including drugs and toxins, into harmless ones. When the liver can't protect adequately against chemical assaults, the impact on health can be serious and even deadly.
Now comes new research published in the Society of Chemical Industry's (SCI) Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture that concludes an Indian herb may offer a way to help the liver fend off toxins.
Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides), which grows in the mountains of China and Russia, has been shown to be rich in vitamin C, vitamin E, flavonoids and essential fatty acids. Its berries are well known for their cholesterol lowering properties and the leaves are sometimes used to make a tea. Now scientists in India say the herb has even more health benefits: Sea buckthorn's leaves are rich in anti-oxidants and are protective against liver disease.
In a clinically controlled study, scientists gave six groups of rats a liver damage agent, carbon tetrachloride (CCI4) in various dosages and three groups of the animals received 50, 100 and 200mg of sea buckthorn leaf extract respectively for five days followed by a single dose of CCI4 on the 5th day.
The results showed that the leaf extract acted as a protective mechanism in the liver. The group given CCI4 minus the leaf extract suffered significant liver damage compared to the control group that did not receive CCI4. In comparison, livers of the rats given leaf extract at 100mg and 200mg and CCI4 were protected from harm.
If the herb also protects the human liver, it could be an important natural weapon in the arsenal against liver disease. While the liver can regenerate, it is not always able to and, according to the National Institutes of Health's Action Plan for Liver Disease Research report, more than 17,000 Americans are waiting for a liver transplant to save their lives.
The NIH estimates that 1 of 4 Americans will have a disease of the liver or its related bile duct system during their life. Even when liver disease does not require a transplant, it can take a significant toll on a person's quality of life and ability to earn a living due to symptoms including fluid retention, muscle weakness, fatigue and nausea.
About the author
Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA’s "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic’s "Men’s Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.