Gardening

Las 8 mejores plantas medicinales para cuidar del hígado

What medicinal plants are beneficial to take care of the liver? There are several and very common ailments that can affect the liver and our general health. In this article we talk about topics of great interest such as: what is the liver, its main functions in the body, and what are the best medicinal plants to maintain a healthy liver and help improve liver disorders.

What is the liver?

It is a multifunctional and complex body that stands out for its functions:

  • Vascular (stores up to 10% of circulating blood volume)
  • Metabolic (from proteins, fats and carbohydrates, among others)
  • Secretory and excretory (responsible for the formation of bile)

The liver has very important functions in digestion as well as in the processing and distribution of nutrients in the body.

We are going to know more details about what makes this organ so important in our body.

Main functions performed by the liver

In simple terms, the liver turns sugar into glycogen and stores it until needed in the body. In the same way it does with vitamins, minerals and iron. The production of bile acids breaks down the fat in food so that the body absorbs vitamins A, D and E.

In addition, the liver transforms proteins into amino acids, synthesizes non-essential amino acids, and produces essential proteins.

It filters the blood by sending toxins to the kidneys to be eliminated through the urine.

Hence the importance of paying close attention to the liver and preventing it from toxic agents that can alter its metabolism. A diet based on organic, seasonal and local fruits and vegetables, together with active lifestyle habits, is the best prevention.

Main diseases that affect the liver

When liver cells are damaged and cannot perform their functions, enzymes are released into the blood.

The diseases that can have a greater incidence in the liver and its functions are distinguished as:

  • Viral diseases ( hepatitis )
  • Long-term injuries as well as excessive consumption of toxic substances such as alcohol ( cirrhosis )
  • Conditions that have a metabolic or hereditary origin (such as jaundice and fatty liver ).

However, there are also transient liver disorders that can occur acutely and punctually.

Notably, the liver is extremely resilient and has the ability to regenerate after injury or inflammation from nutrient stores.

When the liver cannot regenerate and compensate for the damage, it begins to lose its ability to filter and store nutrients, which often occurs in diseases such as hepatitis and cirrhosis.

Cirrhosis, viral hepatitis, and diabetes mellitus alter the physiology, metabolism, and cellular composition of the liver , cases in which oxidative processes and lipoperoxidation of cell membranes prevail. That is why interactions with diabetes and steatohepatitis can occur .

These diseases may or may not have clear symptoms that the liver is not well . The easiest liver disease to detect is jaundice, which gives the body tissues a yellowish hue.

Inflammation of the liver causes a headache, swelling, and sharp pain on the right side of the body.

Ailments that affect the liver can be detected and diagnosed by performing blood tests and, in some cases, ultrasound scans and biopsies .

The 8 best medicinal plants for the liver

medicinal plants liver

  • Boldo (Peumus boldus)

Plant native to South America from which the leaves and bark are used for therapeutic purposes.

Contains flavonoids and alkaloids, tannins and resin. It is used in the treatment of headaches , rheumatism, menstrual pain, inflammation of the urinary tract and as a sedative. Boldo has choleretic, cholagogue, diuretic and stomachic properties.

Dosage: ESCOP ( European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy ) recommends 2 to 5 g as an infusion. Maximum duration of treatment 4 weeks.

Always choose an  ecological Boldo .

Precautions: It is contraindicated in cases of biliary obstruction.

  • Rosemary ( Rosmarinus officinalis )

Shrub typical of the dry and warm regions of the Mediterranean Sea. The leaves and flowering tops are used for medicinal purposes.

Among its multiple properties, it stands out as a stimulant of the gallbladder, as well as a stimulant of the nervous system, with antibacterial, antiviral, antitumor, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, antihhepatotoxic, choleretic and cholagogue, antioxidant and emmenagogue action .

Dosage: infusion with 2 to 3 g of dried leaves and flowers in 150 ml of water, three times a day.

Opt for an organic rosemary .

Precautions: Contraindicated in case of bile duct obstruction and allergic predisposition.

  • Chamomile ( Matricaria chamonilla )

Its flowers are used for multiple treatments. Contains flavonoids and tannins.

It is widely used for anxiety and insomnia, and its properties have activity in the digestive process increasing the production of gastrointestinal juices, muscle relaxation and peptic ulcer protector. It has anti- inflammatory and sedative effects .

Dosage: ESCOP recommends infusion of 3 g in 150 ml of water 3 to 4 times a day.

Look for an organic chamomile .

Precautions: it has allergenic potential.

  • Dandelion ( Taraxacum Officinale )

The active principles are extracted from the leaves, collected before flowering, and the root.

Due to its properties, it is purifying or hepato-renal draining, appetite stimulant and diuretic. It is used as a digestive tonic in cases of constipation, liver and gallbladder conditions.

Dosage: ESCOP recommends the infusion of powdered root of 3 to 5 g in three doses a day. For the powdered dry leaves, infuse 4 to 10 g three times a day. Maximum treatment time 2 weeks.

Choose an organic dandelion .

Precautions: It is contraindicated in case of bile duct or intestinal tract obstruction, acute inflammation of the gallbladder or peptic ulcer.

  • Artichoke and artichoke ( Cynara scolymus and C. cardunculus L.)

It is a domesticated plant of Mediterranean origin, only cultivated in subtropical regions.

Contains caffeilquinic acids and flavonoids. Studies have shown its efficacy in the treatment of hepatobiliary and digestive conditions , such as dyspepsia, feeling of fullness, flatulence, nausea, stomach pain and vomiting. In traditional medicine it is attributed antianemic, antidiabetic, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory and antilithiasic effects.

Dosage: EMA (European Medicines Agency) recommends: In the form of an infusion with crushed or powdered leaves, 6 g per day or 3 g twice a day. Dry extracts are also used in different doses. Maximum treatment time 2 weeks.

Find organic artichoke for infusion.

Precautions: It is contraindicated in cases of hypersensitivity to the active principles of the Asteraceae family, cases of bile duct obstruction, cholangitis, gallstones and other alterations.

  • Turmeric or Indian Saffron ( Curcuma longa )

It is a plant native to and cultivated in Asian countries with a tropical climate, widely used as part of traditional condiments, such as curry, and as a coloring.

It is used for diseases of the digestive system for its stimulating, antiulcer, hepatoprotective effect and in liver diseases . It has been confirmed to prevent liver damage induced by agents such as alcohol, iron, and toxins.

Dosage: both EMA and ESCOP indicate: infusion 0.5 to 1 g three times a day.

Organic ground turmeric and whole turmeric root .

Precautions: There is a possibility of hypersensitivity to some of its components.

  • Licorice , root liqueur, sweet stick or licorice root ( Glycyrrhiza galabra )

This root is known to be a remedy with antiulcer, expectorant and antitussive action , used for the treatment of chronic hepatitis and as an antialleric.

The active principles are both triterpenic saponosides (glycyrrhizin) and flavonoids, they have an inhibitory effect on liver cytotoxicity as antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor, as well as a hepatoprotective effect against toxicity induced by chemical agents.

Dosage: The accepted safe daily dose is 0.015 to 0.229 mg of glycyrrhizin per kg of body weight, 1 to 4 grams per day, for a maximum of 4 weeks. It is recommended to follow the instructions of a professional.

Here you have organic licorice for infusion.

Possible adverse effects and precautions: glycyrrhizin inhibits the enzyme responsible for the inactivation of cortisol and progesterone, so that continuous exposure to high amounts can cause mineralocorticoids that disappear after stopping treatment, but its prolonged or excessive use can cause edema, hypertension and hypokalemia. It should not be consumed in cases of hypertension, kidney failure or in combination with cardiac glycoside treatments.

  • Mary thistle or Milk thistle ( Silybum marianum )

It is a common plant throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia. Its main components are lipid in nature (20-30%), an oil consisting mainly of linoleic and oleic acid. The active principles are phenolic in nature.

In traditional medicine it has been used in the treatment of dyspepsia and kidney stones , as well as amenorrhea, constipation, diabetes, hay fever, varicose veins and liver diseases .

Its pharmacological activities are related to antioxidant and inhibitory properties of lipid peroxidation, as well as directly and indirectly as a modulator of inflammation, fibriogenesis and intrahepatic metabolic processes. ESCOP indicates it in cases of liver toxicity and as a treatment for chronic inflammation of the liver and cirrhosis .

Dosage: The doses are indicated for drugs that are extracted from the plant (silymarin), from 154 to 324 mg divided into 2 or 3 daily doses (HPLC method of the European Pharmacopoeia).

Precautions: Its use in infusion form is not recommended due to the low water solubility of its active components. It has moderate laxative effects and can cause gastrointestinal upset, headache, and dizziness.

Do not forget that this is general information and in no case is it a substitute for medical advice. The use of medicinal plants should not be considered safe, as they have chemical components and, therefore, they should be administered under the prescription of a professional with knowledge of their compounds, the quality of the extracts or the isolated components that it is possible to acquire, since most research is done for pharmaceutical use, not for home self-administration.

None of the medicinal plants can be used in pregnant women, children under 12 years of age and during lactation.

Sources

  • “Surgical and Radiological Anatomy of the Liver. Foundations for Liver Resections ”, Carlos Manterola, Mariano del Sol, Nicolás Ottone and Tamara Otzen. University of La Frontera, Temuco, Chile. Int. J. Morphol. 2017.
  • “The liver. Evaluation of the silent evolution of liver disease ”. PKID Report on Pediatric Hepatitis.
  • “Molecular phytotherapy as part of complementary alternative medicine in liver diseases”, María de la Luz Miranda Beltrán, Luis Huacuja Ruiz, Alama Lorena López Velázquez, Arturo Panduro Cerda. University of Guadalajara. 2005.
  • “Medicinal plants in the treatment of hepatobiliary disorders (I), (II), (III), (V) and (VII)”, María Emilia Carretero Accame. General Council of Official Associations of Pharmacists.
  • “Medicinal plants. Workbook ”, Nature Pharmacy Workshop, Loeches Business Center. UPA Madrid, June 2013.
  • Boldo. Therapeutic indications ”, Ángel M. Villar del Fresno and Pilar Gómez-Serranilllos. Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Complutense University of Madrid. 2006.
  • “More than 100 medicinal plants of Canarian folk medicine”, Cruz Suárez, S. Jorge. Obra Social de La Caja de Canarias. 2007.
  • “Functional dyspepsia. Medicinal plants for their treatment ”, M. Tránsito López Luengo, Pharmaceutical. OFFARM. 2007.

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