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Liver Disease
 

Liver Disease Introduction

:liver.jpg The Liver is the largest glandular organ in the human body and has a central role in maintaining health. Among the liver’s most important of functions are the detoxification of blood from substances, such as drugs (including alcohol), hormones, and other impurities. An interesting feature of the liver is its dual blood supply, known as portal circulation. The arterial blood supply to the liver orginates from the the Aorta, while the Portal vein leads from the digestive organs. Disorders of the liver include; fatty liver, Cirrhosis, and Hepatitis, among others.

Liver Disease Symptoms

The liver’s primary function is the breaking down of hemoglobin, which it then secretes into the digestive tract as conjugated bilirubin. Because of this process, it is common for irregularities in liver function to result. These irregularities may result in symptoms that include the yellowing of the skin and eyes; also known as jaundice. Other symptoms of liver disease can include:

  • malaise
  • nausea
  • light colored stools
  • abdominal edema (ascites)
  • and darkening of the urine

Symptoms of liver disease are variable depending on the severity and type of the disorder.

Liver Disease Statistics

Alcoholic Liver Disease is caused by chronic and excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages. Typically, liver disease due to alcohol consumption usually becomes symptomatic when patients are in their 30’s, with major symptoms appearing in their 40’s.

Infectious disease of the liver often results with contact with contaminated water, food, and fecal matter. Hepatitis B is another disease that may adversely affect the liver and can be transmitted sexually. Cleanliness is an important factor in preventing the spread of infectious diseases of the liver. Food handling must be done with care. Personal hygiene and safer sex practices are also integral for reducing the risks of transmission as well.

Liver Disease Treatment

Standard treatment of liver disorders is dictated by the nature of the disorder in question. In some cases, the cessation of exposure to offending substances, such as alcohol, can allow the liver to regenerate itself. In cases of infectious disease of the liver, drug therapies with interferon can slow the damage caused by the viral infection. However, the course of Hepatitis is highly variable, and in extreme cases liver transplant may be necessary.

Supplements helpful for Liver Disease

Zinc

Among its many functions in the body, the mineral Zinc plays a key role in the breakdown of alcohol that is accomplished in the liver. Zinc deficiency causes a reduction in the ability of the liver to carry out its function of breaking down alcohol. Depressed levels of Zinc have been associated with an increase in the rate and severity of Cirrhotic disease in alcoholics. [1, 2, 3]

Vitamin A

Vitamin A aids in fetal development, and play vital roles in both vision and immunity. It has been observed that liver disease, caused by alcoholism, produces symptoms similar to those seen Vitamin A deficiency, including, poor night vision and skin problems. Low Vitamin A levels have been measured in Cirrhotic patients and have been corrected with the dietary supplementation of oral Vitamin A. Supplementation of this vitamin has also resulted in marked improvements regarding the eye’s adaptation to the dark. Vitamin A supplementation has been shown to also improve taste and smell perception in cirrhotic patients. [4, 5, 6, 7]

Carnitine

Carnitine is an amino acid that is synthesized from two other amino acids, Lysine and Methionine. Carnitine plays a role in the metabolism of fats, triglycerides, and fatty acids. Supplementation of Carnitine has been shown to reduce the severity of the fatty liver formation that can take place as a consequence of alcohol consumption. Fatty liver is the first step in the process of more severe liver damage; a progression caused by chronic alcohol consumption. [8, 9]

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an essential antioxidant nutrient that is necessary for human health. Vitamin C must be obtained from diet, as the human body lacks the ability to naturally produce this water-soluble vitamin. A majority of patients with liver disease caused by alcoholism have low Vitamin C levels. Vitamin C levels are also related to the rate of alcohol clearance from the blood, as high alcohol levels are directly linked to lower Vitamin C levels. Vitamin C has also shown efficacy in the treatments and prevention of Hepatitis, with a reduction in symptoms such as jaundice. [10, 11, 12]

B-Complex Vitamins

Vitamins of the B complex variety play a wide variety of roles in the human body. These processes range from hormone inactivation in the liver to energy metabolism. It is common for alcoholics to have a deficiency in one or more of the B vitamins, most commonly Thiamin (B1). B-compound deficiencies can severely impair the liver’s ability to detoxify alcohol and other harmful substances. [13, 14, 15, 16]

Selenium and Vitamin E

Selenium and vitamin E are antioxidant nutrients that are important for many functions in the body, including the quenching of free radicals. Free radicals are formed during the detoxification of alcohol and lower antioxidant levels have been measured in the blood of alcoholics. Antioxidant supplementation can also help to mitigate the damaging effects of alcohol consumption on the liver when the antioxidants are taken prior to drinking. [17, 18, 19, 20]

Liver Extracts

Extracts of liver have been shown to be effective in mitigating damage to the liver caused by hepatitis infection. Liver hydrosylates are also effective for promoting the regeneration of liver tissue. [21, 22, 23]

Thymus Extracts

Extract of the Thymus gland is an effective treatment for many viral infections and has been investigated for use in hepatitis infection. Thymus extract has been shown promote the declination of specific liver enzyme levels, when administered to Hepatitis B patients. [24, 25, 26]

References

[1] Das I, Burch RE, Hahn HK. Effects of zinc deficiency on ethanol metabolism and alcohol and aldehyde dehydrogenase activities. J Lab Clin Med. 1984 Oct;104(4):610-7.

[2] Atukorala TM, Herath CA, Ramachandran S. Zinc and vitamin A status of alcoholics in a medical unit in Sri Lanka. Alcohol Alcohol. 1986;21(3):269-75.

[3] Murray and Pizzorno, Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (Roseville CA: Prima Health, 1999), 211-220.

[4]Russell RM. Vitamin A and zinc metabolism in alcoholism. Am J Clin Nutr. 1980 Dec;33(12):2741-9.

[5] Herlong HF, Russell RM, Maddrey WC. Vitamin A and zinc therapy in primary biliary cirrhosis. Hepatology. 1981 Jul-Aug;1(4):348-51.

[6] Garrett-Laster M, Russell RM, Jacques PF. Impairment of taste and olfaction in patients with cirrhosis: the role of vitamin A. Hum Nutr Clin Nutr. 1984 May;38(3):203-14.

[7] Murray and Pizzorno, Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (Roseville CA: Prima Health, 1999), 211-220.

[8] Sachan DS, Rhew TH, Ruark RA. Ameliorating effects of carnitine and its precursors on alcohol-induced fatty liver. Am J Clin Nutr. 1984 May;39(5):738-44.

[9] Murray and Pizzorno, Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (Roseville CA: Prima Health, 1999), 211-220.

[10] Yunice AA, Lindeman RD. Effect of ascorbic acid and zinc sulfate on ethanol toxicity and metabolism. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1977 Jan;154(1):146-50.

[11] Murray and Pizzorno, Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (Roseville CA: Prima Health, 1999), 211-220.

[12] Yunice AA, Hsu JM, Fahmy A, Henry S. Ethanol-ascorbate interrelationship in acute and chronic alcoholism in the guinea pig. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1984 Nov;177(2):262-71.

[13] F.R. Klenner, “Observations of on the Dose of administration of ascorbic acid when employed beyond the range of a Vitamin in Human Pathology,” J Appled Nutr 23 (1971): 61-68.

[14] Baines M. Detection and incidence of B and C vitamin deficiency in alcohol-related illness. Ann Clin Biochem. 1978 Nov;15(6):307-12.

[15] Biskind M, Biskind G. “Effect of vitamin B complex deficiency on inactivation of estrone in the liver.” Endocr 1942;31:109-14.

[16] Murray and Pizzorno, Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (Roseville CA: Prima Health, 1999), 211-220.

[17] Murray and Pizzorno, Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (Roseville CA: Prima Health, 1999), 211-220.

[18] Lecomte E, Herbeth B, Pirollet P, Chancerelle Y, Arnaud J, Musse N, Paille F, Siest G, Artur Y.Effect of alcohol consumption on blood antioxidant nutrients and oxidative stress indicators. Am J Clin Nutr. 1994 Aug;60(2):255-61.

[19] Suematsu T, Matsumura T, Sato N, Miyamoto T, Ooka T, Kamada T, Abe H. Lipid peroxidation in alcoholic liver disease in humans. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1981 Summer;5(3):427-30.

[20] Di Luzio NR. A mechanism of the acute ethanol-induced fatty liver and the modification of liver injury by antioxidants. Am J Pharm Sci Support Public Health. 1966 Jan;15(1 Pt 1):50-63.

[21] A. Ohabayashi, T. Akioka, and H. Tasaki,” A study of Effects of lIver Hydrosylate on hepatic Circulation,” J Therapy 54 (1972): 1582-5.

[22] K. Sanbe et al., “Treatment of Liver Disease-with particular Referance to Liver Hydrosylates,” Jap J Clin Exp Med 50 (1973): 2665-76.

[23] Murray and Pizzorno, Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (Roseville CA: Prima Health, 1999), 211-220.

[24] Galli M, Crocchiolo P, Negri C, Caredda F, Lazzarin A, Moroni M. “Attempt to treat acute type B hepatitis with an orally administered thymic extract (thymomodulin): preliminary results.” Drugs Exp Clin Res. 1985;11(9):665-9.

[25] F. Bortolotti et al., “Effect of an Orally administered Thymic Derivative, Thymomodulin, in Chronic Type B Hepatitis in Children,” Curr Ther Res 43(1988);67-72.

[26] Murray and Pizzorno, Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (Roseville CA: Prima Health, 1999), 512-519.