Q. Dear Terry, “I recently got off some medications that are known for being hard on the liver. What do you suggest for helping to support my liver now that I’m off these medications?” – Patti W., Casper, WY
A. Dear Patti, The liver is one of the body’s hardest working organs, and your well-being depends on it working at its very best, every day. When the liver is healthy, it can effectively counter many threats, including poor diets, environmental and internal toxins, and the use of common over-the-counter drugs.
But over time, the challenges add up, so the liver needs nutrients to restore its detoxification abilities. Three of my favorite botanicals for liver health include milk thistle, andrographis, and grape seed extract.
Many people have heard of milk thistle’s supportive properties for the liver. One of the compounds in milk thistle, called silybin, has been shown to prevent the formation of free radicals, turn off inflammation signals, inhibit fibrosis (a buildup of scar tissue in the liver), and has even been lifesaving in cases of poisoning from the Death Cap mushroom (Amanita phalloides). I prefer milk thistle that is standardized to at least 29% silybin.
Andrographis has been used in Ayurvedic practice for thousands of years and is highly valued for its role in liver support. Andrographis increases the activity of a protein called Nrf2, which is like an “on switch” for antioxidant defenses, like glutathione and superoxide dismutase. One of the big contributors to liver dysfunction is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Andrographis has been shown to reduce fatty acid content in the liver by 33% and decrease the laboratory measures of liver damage. I prefer andrographis that is standardized to the key compound andrographolide.
Grape seed extract protects liver cells from oxidative damage and shows great promise for people suffering from NAFLD by reducing the accumulation of fat deposits in the liver. Other research shows that grape seed extract can protect the liver from heavy metal damage. Grape seed extract was shown to protect against lead-induced liver injury by improving the way the liver detoxifies poisonous substances from the body. I prefer French grape seed extract that is tannin-free with small, easily absorbed oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs). Low-molecular weight OPCs are considered the most beneficial compounds in grape seed extract. Tannins, another form of OPC, are not readily absorbed and therefore, cannot protect your liver.
I recommend taking 100 mg of milk thistle, 200 mg of andrographis, and 100 mg of French grape seed extract, once or twice daily.
Terry . . . Naturally