The liver is the largest endocrine gland.
The liver plays the most important role in the metabolic process. The upcoming holidays will surely be a time of intense work for our organs. There is a close connection between the work of the liver and the digestive and circulatory systems. In addition to its role in detoxification of xenobiotics, digestion, synthesis of important plasma proteins, gluconeogenesis, lipid metabolism and storage, the liver also plays an important role in iron homeostasis and is involved in immune responses.
The causes of damage to hepatocytes include, in particular, improper diet, excessive alcohol consumption, viruses, certain drugs, toxins in food, e.g. molds, heavy metals or abnormal metabolic products. Any pathophysiological changes have serious consequences for the entire human body.
The liver creates about 600-800 ml of hepatic bile per day, which thickens into follicular bile.
The most important bile acids in human bile are: cholic acid, chenodeoxycholic acid. They are in the form of sodium salts. They are mostly coupled with glycine and taurine, appearing as:
Bile acids conjugated with amino acids are resistant to intestinal hydrolytic enzymes and are reabsorbed unchanged (hepatic and intestinal circulation). Unconjugated bile acids are partially converted by bacteria present in the intestines into deoxycholic and lithocholic acids. Bile plays a very important role, including: it influences the absorption of lipids (in the absence of it, only about 50% is absorbed). It determines the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K (in the absence of it, they are almost not absorbed). Bile acids are one of the factors that regulate the absorption of water and electrolytes in the colon. On the other hand, bile acid salts: facilitate the digestion of lipids (they are emulsifiers), stimulate the secretion of pancreatic juice and activate lipase, take part in the absorption of calcium, prevent the formation of cholesterol stones in the bladder, less often in the biliary tract, because they keep cholesterol in a soluble form, stimulate the motility of the gastrointestinal tract .
Appropriate herbal preparations can be used to restore the functional balance. Herbal medicines facilitate the liver detoxification process, have diuretic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral properties, increase the flow of bile, eliminate cramps in the biliary tract, increase the production of bile in the liver, also stimulate digestive function as they regulate the amount of gastric juice, normal intestinal peristalsis and supply of biliary pancreatic juice.
Chologenic drugs – stimulate the liver to secrete bile:
- Raphacholin C. When used regularly and for a longer period, it stimulates the secretion of bile, thanks to which it has a protective effect on the liver parenchyma, accelerates the removal of harmful substances in the bile and enhances the intestinal function. Thanks to the rich content of the substance (dehydrocholic acid, black radish extract, medicinal charcoal, artichoke extract, peppermint oil), it is used in indigestion, discomfort caused by abnormal function (flatulence, constipation) and in gall bladder disorders.
- It contains the necessary phospholipids that improve and support the work of liver cells and have a positive effect on lipid metabolism and at the same time inhibit atherosclerotic processes. Phospholipids are incorporated into the cell membranes of damaged hepatocytes. They restore their proper function and enzymatic activity. Polyunsaturated fatty acids reduce cholesterol and normalize serum lipoprotein levels (reduce LDL, increase HDL).
Plant materials that have a beneficial effect on hepatocytes and help in chronic liver inflammation include:
- Milk thistle – the raw material is fruit containing up to 2-3% of silymarin, which is a strong antioxidant. Silymarin has a protective effect in the case of poisoning with toadstool toxins, it stimulates RNA polymerase, which promotes the regeneration of these cells. Due to the inhibition of prostaglandin synthesis and lipid oxidation, this flavonoid has a certain anti-inflammatory effect, stimulating the regeneration and production of new cells, and, above all, detoxifying. It protects the against numerous poisons, incl. such as: alcohol, carbon disulfide, pesticides. Examples of over-the-counter preparations are: Sylimalor and Lagosa,
- Common artichoke. It contains flavonoids (luteolin, apigenin), sugar-inulin, proteins, fats and vitamin C. Due to inulin, it can be used by diabetics. It has hepatoprotective, antimicrobial and cholesterol-reducing properties. Has an antioxidant effect. It is used in the treatment and long-term prophylaxis of elevated levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. It inhibits the development of atherosclerosis and lowers cholesterol levels even in patients resistant to clofibrate. It prevents fatty liver after partial hepatectomy. Increases spontaneous diuresis in patients resistant to furosemide and ethacrynic acid. Preparations based on artichoke are: Cynarex, Verdin Complexx, Artichoke leaf juice (Alter Medica),
- Source of protein, unsaturated fatty acids, phospholipids, flavonoids, lecithin, phytoestrogens, B vitamins, potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and calcium. When delivered to the system, they integrate into the cell and cytoplasmic membranes of hepatocytes damaged by hepatotoxic factors, restoring their proper functioning. Lowers cholesterol. It is helpful in the fight against gallstones. It reduces the concentration of triglycerides in the blood due to the high content of dietary fiber and lowers blood sugar levels. It removes constipation and facilitates bowel movements. Unfortunately, it is ineffective in the case of irreversible changes in the liver (cirrhosis, viral hepatitis). Examples of preparations can be: Esseliv, Essentiale Forte,
- Kudzu root. Isoflavones (puerarin) in kudzu influence alcohol metabolism in hepatocytes by inhibiting the activity of enzymes that break down ethanol to acetaldehyde and then to acetic acid. This results in reducing the symptoms of alcohol poisoning, the so-called hangover.
Liver: drugs for cell damage:
- Tymonacyk; preparations: Heparegen. In liver cells, thiazolidinecarboxylic acid is metabolized to cysteine, thanks to which it protects parenchyma against the damaging effects of bacterial and viral toxins, as well as ethanol, benzene derivatives and heavy metals. It also has a choleretic effect and reduces plasma lipids. The main indications for the use of this drug are liver diseases of various etiologies, as well as toxic liver damage caused by alcohol, drugs or chemicals,
- Ornithine; preparations: Hepa-Merz, Hepatil. An amino acid indirectly involved in the synthesis of urea from ammonia in the liver. Accelerates the detoxification processes in liver and brain cells thanks to the increased elimination of ammonia.
Despite the large number of medicinal preparations supporting the work of the liver, they have a limited range of action. It is worth taking care of everyday habits that protect us from damage to liver cells. As soon as the first symptoms of the disease appear, you should consult a doctor for a referral for appropriate tests.
- Lamer-Zarawska, B. Kowal-Gierczak, J. Niedworok, Fitoterapia i leki roślinne,
- Ożarowski, Ziołolecznictwo – Poradnik dla lekarzy, PZWL,
- Matławska, Farmakognozja, UM Poznań.