(Natural News) Liver diseases — including cirrhosis — is a leading cause of death and disability today. One way to protect your liver naturally is to take chicory (Cichorium intybus L.), a flowering plant that belongs to the dandelion family, which has been found to possess hepatoprotective properties.
In a study published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements, researchers from Egypt looked at the phytochemical and liver-protective activity of dried chicory extracts against carbon tetrachloride-induced liver damage in mice.
Chicory has been used in the past by the Egyptians as an herbal medicine for keeping the liver and gallbladder healthy. The herb’s benefit on the liver has also been validated by science. Researchers at Mansoura University in Egypt reported that chicory might help reduce oxidative stress and liver injury in certain circumstances.
For the study, there were five groups of mice. The first group served as the control, the second group received carbon tetrachloride, the third received dried chicory extracts only, the fourth received chicory extracts and carbon tetrachloride, and the fifth group received silymarin. The given chicory extracts were at a dose of 500 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) body weight.
The administration of carbon tetrachloride caused damage to the liver. This is because it caused significant changes in alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), bilirubin, albumin, total protein, and gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT). However, these changes were brought back to their normal values after the administration of chicory extracts. Histopathological tests of liver tissues further supported these findings. Overall, these outcomes indicated that chicory extracts contain strong liver-protective effects.
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Based on the findings of the study, the researchers concluded that the treatment with chicory extracts could protect the liver from damage and even treat a liver injury.
Three other herbs for liver health
In addition to chicory, there are also other herbs that can protect your liver. These three herbs are promising natural means of improving liver health:
- Burdock: Burdock, which is an herb widely used as a natural detox remedy, also has liver-protective effects. An animal study published in 2000 suggested that burdock may help protect liver cells from damage caused by acetaminophen, a drug widely used to relieve pain. Another animal experiment revealed that this herb contains antioxidants that may minimize the harmful effects of toxic substances formed from the metabolism of acetaminophen. Moreover, other animal studies reported that burdock might also help protect the liver from damage caused by alcohol intake.
- Milk thistle: People with cirrhosis of the liver may benefit from milk thistle. A report published in 2001 analyzed five clinical trials with a total of 602 cirrhosis patients and found that treatment with milk thistle could result in a significant decrease in liver-related death. A more recent study review suggested that milk thistle may help fight inflammation related to hepatitis C and protect liver cells from damage.
- Turmeric: Turmeric may benefit people with hepatitis B and hepatitis C, according to preliminary research. A study published in 2009 found that turmeric extract helped prevent the replication of the hepatitis B virus. In a test tube study published in 2010, researchers discovered that turmeric extract might help suppress the hepatitis C virus from replicating
Other ways to protect your liver
- Follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly: Adhering to a healthy diet and exercising regularly help the liver function well. Unhealthy eating, such as eating lots of fatty foods, can increase your risk of being overweight and developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
- Limit alcohol consumption: Alcohol can harm or destroy liver cells, and liver damage can result in the buildup of fat in the liver, inflammation or swelling of the liver, and scarring of the liver. A small amount of alcohol can make liver disease worse.
- Avoid exposure to toxins: Breathing in or touching toxins can harm your liver cells. It is best to avoid using cleaning and aerosol products, insecticides, and chemicals for these contain toxins. The additives in cigarettes also have toxins, so refrain from smoking.
Read more news stories and studies on natural medicines for preventing and treating liver damage by going to AlternativeMedicine.news.