Licorice root extract proven to decrease liver enzymes

Sunday, June 17, 2012 by: PF Louis
Tags: licorice root, liver, enzymes

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(NaturalNews) Analysis of a small sample of blood is used for determining the amount of enzyme production of the liver, thus providing a marker for liver health in general. When the liver is distressed, damaged, or diseased, liver cells leak two specific enzymes into the blood stream.

The enzymes counted for liver function are transaminase enzymes, which are important in the production of various amino acids. Transaminase enzyme concentrations are measured in blood serum. The two types of transaminase analyzed for liver function are alanine transaminase (ALT) and aspartate transaminase (AST).

ALT and AST high counts or concentrations alone do not determine the exact liver issue, but it clearly shows the liver is in distress. This could be from a period of heavy drinking or pharmaceutical consumption, or it could lead to further testing for determining hepatitis, non-alcoholic fatty liver (NAFL), cirrhosis, or cancer.

Licorice root for decreasing enzyme counts

Licorice root has been used by traditional medical practices for centuries to treat several diseases, including liver problems. The extracted main active compound of licorice root, glycyrrhizin (glis-i-rye-sen) is getting serious attention from the randomized, double-blind crowd lately.

It's not enough that herbalism, Ayruveda, and Chinese Medicine have used licorice or the extract glycyrrhizin for liver ailments for some time. Modern science must prove it works while keeping lab technicians working. A recent central Iran study in the Gastrointestinal and Liver Clinic of Qazvin set out to do that with 66 clinical test subjects, all suffering from NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease).

Thirty-three were given glycyrrhizin capsules while the other 33 were given starch capsules without knowing who was given what. Volunteering for clinical testing is not the best way to get free treatment for whatever is being tested.

The daily dose of two grams of both the glycyrrhizin and starch capsules were given to all 66 for two months. NAFLD is relatively benign and usually treated by modifying lifestyle and diet. Metabolic syndrome or early stage diabetes as well as obesity bring about this condition.

However, NAFLD can progress into a form of fatty liver disease known as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). NASH inflammation can lead to cirrhosis (liver scarring) and require liver transplants, with a standard mainstream medical approach. It appears that some fatty livers have been inadvertently used for surgical transplants. Not exactly a good deal for anyone needing a new liver.

Early markers for NAFLD and all other liver diseases are high ALT and AST enzyme counts. Excluding all other liver problems and isolating NAFLD from hepatitis or cirrhosis or cancer was accomplished with sonography and checking for autoimmune and viral hepatitis markers.

The subjects' drug and alcohol histories were checked as well. Of the 66 clinical trial patients, 28 were women and 38 were men. The mean age for all of them was 40. Their weight, body mass index (BMI), and liver transaminase levels, ALT and AST, were measured before and after the study.

After the two month trial period, the treatment group showed a significant decrease in ALT and AST counts, where as the control group consuming starch pills showed a minor decrease. The BMI (body mass index) also decreased among the subject group, while the control group had a slight BMI increase.

The authors of the trial concluded that taking licorice root or glycyrrhizin licorice root extracts is safe and effective for reducing ALT and AST concentrations. They also recommended the usual "further studies" talking points that could give Big Pharma time to develop a synthetic version of glycyrrhizin.

Meanwhile, inexpensive natural licorice root and glycyrrhizin supplements are available online for you to treat your liver.

Sources for this article include:

Iranian licorice root extract trial information was supplied by Sheri Henson of the American Botanical Council via HerbClip, available by subscription only to NaturalNews.

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