Based on centuries of experience, folk medicine recommends such herbs for liver and kidney problems that have stood the test of time also according to today’s scientific studies. The best known is the active ingredient silymarin extracted from the seeds of milk thistle, which is suitable not only as a dietary supplement, but also as a medicine, and can also help in liver diseases of various origins.
3-5% of chronic kidney failure results from overdosing on painkillers because oxidative stress rises during the breakdown and excretion of drugs containing paracetamol or ibuprofen.
Dandelion extract successfully decreased kidney dysfunction in experimental rats with paracetamol overdose: fewer cells died in the kidneys, and signs of regeneration were found. It also counteracted the elevations in liver enzymes.
Besides, Silymarin supports the detoxifying function of liver cells.
The toxic compound called benzo(a)pyrene, which is present in small amounts in tobacco smoke or smoke-exposed grilled foods, increases the risk of developing cancer and nerve damage. Supported by silymarin, liver cells can neutralize the harmful effects of the compound more effectively.
Fatty liver is caused most often by alcohol consumption, but non-alcoholic fatty liver is also becoming more common. For example, obese people with high cholesterol levels and diabetic patients are more likely to suffer from it. This is in line with the observation that unhealthy, fat-rich food can cause fatty liver disease in experimental animals.
Unfortunately, some medications (certain corticosteroids, antidepressants, tamoxifen) can also cause fatty liver.
In one study, patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease took one of the main components of silymarin, called silibinin, and vitamin E for one year. As a result…
…the degree of inflammation and hepatic fibrosis related to fatty liver decreased in a significant number of patients. The plasma levels of liver enzymes related to hepatic impairment (transaminase AST/GOT; gamma-GT) improved as well.
In another 1-year-study, ALT/GPT liver enzyme levels were lowered with the combination of vitamin C and vitamin E, which also prevented the worsening of fatty liver and fibrosis in patients.
Silymarin inhibits the development of liver tumors (hepatocellular carcinoma) by interfering with the chronic inflammatory processes and neutralizing the damaging effects of free radicals on DNA, as evidenced by laboratory and animal experiments.
Moreover, silibinin can improve the quality of life in patients with liver cancer treated with sorafenib. Also, based on laboratory data, Polysaccharides derived from dandelion may inhibit the formation of blood vessels in the tumor.
Hepatitis virus infection leads to chronic liver damage. During the treatment of patients infected with hepatitis B virus, it has been observed that
The use of silymarin in addition to antiviral agents (lamivudine, interferon) reduced serum levels of AST/GOT and ALT/GPT liver enzymes and lowered the markers of hepatic fibrosis.
Thus, the authors recommended the consumption of silymarin for Hepatitis B patients.
The development of fatty liver is partly related to the condition of the intestinal flora. Through metabolic changes, the overgrowth of certain intestinal bacteria can make patients more prone to this disease.
In an experiment, where mice were fed a diet containing kombucha tea, the proportion of Lactobacilli (lactic acid bacteria) increased, and consequently, the process of fatty liver formation was hindered – as the authors said.
In addition: the glucuronic acid content of kombucha can also contribute to the removal of toxins from the body by supporting the body’s antioxidant and detoxifying systems.
Heavy metal poisoning typically results from the contamination of drinking water or soil. In this case, the micro- and macro-elements enter our body in much larger amounts than we need. Cadmium and lead are particularly toxic, but other metals can also cause severe conditions.
Silymarin was able to protect human sperm cells from the heavy metal cadmium. It also relieved the hepatotoxic effects of thallium and decreased the kidney damage caused by manganese in rats.
Dandelion protected lead-exposed rat embryos and newborn rats from brain damage.
Common symptoms include headache, nausea, fatigue, dry mouth, and decreased cognitive and visual abilities.
Vitamin B6 is a precursor to the coenzyme pyridoxal phosphate, which accelerates alcohol breakdown, prevents acetaldehyde from inactivating the energy-storing ATP molecule, and plays a role in serotonin synthesis, which helps to lessen hangover symptoms.
Silymarin helps to scavenge free radicals from the breakdown of alcohol that causes micro-inflammations in the liver, thus protecting normal liver function.
Dandelion extract has a similar effect. A study conducted with Korean university students discovered that consuming dandelion extract in addition to drinking 72 g of alcohol (equal to around 4 cans of 4.5% beer) reduced oxidative stress and increased antioxidant enzyme activity and relieved hangovers.
Dandelion root extract also counteracts the kidney-damaging effects of painkillers taken against headaches, which you can read more about in the “Kidneys and Liver” TAB.
By living the modern way of life, our body is exposed to countless amounts of chemicals and environmental pollutants, so it is no wonder that the popularity of detoxification is rising sharply. Instead of sonorous but scientifically questionable detoxification treatments, it is much more rewarding to support the health of our main detoxifying organs, the liver, and the kidneys, but bowel cleansing, lung clearing, or blood vessels “unclogging” can also help our bodies.
For a healthy person, it is worth having a cleansing treatment even twice a year. This can be planned to start after a holiday since people usually drink more alcohol on vacation than usual, which puts a burden on the liver. It is also more difficult to say no to the street fast food and local specialties, and eating irregularly can upset the balance of our gut flora.
It is advisable and also recommended to have a detoxification cure after antibiotic treatment, in case of intermittent or regular medication use (e.g. acetaminophen used against the common cold slows down the cleansing function of the kidneys, thus toxins may be excreted at a decreased rate) or for those, who smoke or drink alcohol every week. Consumption of illegal drugs is also likely to cause liver and kidney problems, as they can contain a lot of impurities or by-products with unknown effects.
For cancer patients, it is advisable to use detoxification after chemotherapy or radiation therapy, as most conventional chemotherapeutic agents, although they accumulate mostly in tumor cells, also poison the body. Many, who have undergone chemotherapy suffer from liver damage or kidney failure – the latter can also be linked to serious kidney stone disease. In this case, the only thing to look out for is to wait at least 24 hours after chemotherapy, because if you start detoxification right after treatment, you may reduce the antitumor effect of chemotherapeutic agents.
Considering the regenerative capacity of the body and liver, as well as the condition of the body, the duration of herbal treatment is usually recommended to be 1-3 months.
When our excretory organs are under pressure, metabolism increases, thus oxidative stress elevates. Antioxidants can neutralize free radicals formed as a consequence of oxidative stress. Some antioxidants can also be considered a “fuel” for detoxification, for example, glutathione can directly attach to the substance to be removed, facilitating its excretion. Other antioxidants help prevent liver cells from being damaged by reactive by-products formed during the breakdown of xenobiotics.