Statistics from the World Health Organization estimate that 350 million individuals worldwide have chronic hepatitis. An estimated 200 million worldwide, and five million in the United States are infected with the most serious form, chronic hepatitis C (CHC). The death rate from CHC exceeds that from AIDS.
The drug of choice in conventional medicine for chronic hepatitis is alpha-interferon, a very expensive treatment that produces benefit in only about one-third of cases. Fortunately, several natural compounds exert some benefits of their own and may also improve the effects of alpha-interferon. In particular, glucuronate, silybin phytosome, and a component from licorice root have all shown promise.
Before discussing these supplements, let me first prescribe a dose of common sense. Avoid putting undue stress on the liver. Don’t smoke, drink little or no alcohol, avoid caffeine, and do your best to avoid harmful chemicals, especially cleaning solvents and pesticides. The most important dietary guidelines for supporting good liver function are those that support good general health: avoid saturated fats and refined sugar; drink at least 48 ounces of water each day, and consume plenty of vegetables and legumes for their high-fiber and nutrient content.
SPECIFIC FOODS TO SUPPORT LIVER FUNCTION
Certain foods are particularly helpful because they contain the nutrients your body needs to produce and activate the dozens of enzymes involved in the various phases of detoxification. Such foods include:
- Garlic, legumes, onions, eggs, and other foods with high-sulfur content
- Good sources of water-soluble fibers, such as pears, oat bran, apples, and legumes
- Cabbage-family vegetables, especially broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage
- Artichokes, beets, carrots, dandelion greens, and many herbs and spices, such as turmeric, cinnamon, and licorice
- Green foods like wheat grass juice, dehydrated barley grass juice, chlorella, and spirulina
SPECIFIC NATURAL PRODUCTS TO SUPPORT LIVER FUNCTION
For people with CHC, additional support is needed. I highly recommend taking one serving of DetoxiTech—a scientifically designed drink mix packed full of hypoallergenic protein and specific detoxifying aids, including fiber and substances that boost glutathione—one of the body’s key molecules of detoxification.
I would also recommend taking Liver Health Formula from Natural Factors. Here is a brief description of each component:
Glucuronate is a nutritional substance used by the liver to bind to toxins (excess hormones, food additives, cigarette smoke, etc.) and eliminate them from the system. In fact, of all the chemical reactions taking place in the liver cell, the elimination of toxic substances via glucuronate binding is considered the most important. Clinical studies have shown glucuronate supplementation can improve liver function considerably because it reduces stress on the liver and enhances the organ’s ability to detoxify.
Alpha-Lipoic Acid is a sulfur-containing, vitamin-like substance that is the necessary cofactor in two vital energy-producing reactions involved in cellular energy production (ATP). Lipoic acid is a unique antioxidant since it protects the liver against both water- and fat-soluble free radical damage and promotes detoxification reactions. Preliminary clinical evidence has shown benefits to people with hepatitis and cirrhosis of the liver.
Silybin Phytosome is a special extract of milk thistle bound to phosphatidylcholine. A growing body of scientific research indicates that it is better absorbed and produces better results than regular milk thistle extract. One of the most potent liver-protecting substances known, works by:
- Acting as a direct antioxidant and free radical scavenger
- Increasing the intracellular content of antioxidant compounds
- Stimulating the formation of new liver cells to replace damaged ones
Licorice Extract contains glycyrrhetinic acid, the active component shown to rotect the liver from damage, enhance the immune system, potentiate the effect of the muneenhancing agent interferon, and to aid in detoxification reactions. Clinical studies with a glycyrrhetinic acid product in Japan have shown excellent results in supporting individuals with both acute and chronic hepatitis.
- Curcumin is the yellow pigment of turmeric (Curcuma longa) and the chief ingredient in curry. Curcumin has demonstrated significant activity in many experimental and clinical studies with benefits primarily attributed to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. It is also shown to aid the clearance of toxic compounds and improve liver function.
- Panax Ginseng Phytosome has long been revered for its tonic effects. It significantly enhances liver function, including helping to regulate the protein production and filtration of the blood.
- Schizandra Berry Extract is a fully ripe, sun-dried fruit that has been a classic component in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries. Some of the benefits noted in scientific studies, include antioxidant effects; an anti-stress action, like ginseng, to combat fatigue and stress; and the ability to protect the liver from chemical damage.
In addition to these recommendations, there are three key supplements from Natural Factors that I recommend to build a foundation for good health:
- MultiStart, a high-potency multiple vitamin and mineral
- Enriching Greens, a high quality “greens” drink
- RxOmega-3 Factors, a pharmaceuticalgrade fish oil supplement
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