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Liver toxicity (hepatoxicity) causes and maintenance

Updated on June 17, 2010

Our Liver, the Oil Filter of Our Body

Sure, the title of this capsule seems hokey, but this is essentially true. There are many factors that affect liver health, and I'll eventually cover all of them. I'd like to assert right now, I'm neither a steroid user, nor do I advocate illicit use of these substances, particularly in competition.

While there are a great many causes for hepatoxicity, the most common are diet, alcohol consumption, and drug use. While speaking of drugs, transdermal (absorbed through the skin like nicoderm etc, sublingual (under the tongue), and injectables have a lesser likelihood of causing as profound an effect as oral meds and supplements. The physiology behind this is really quite simple: it comes down to how many times the substance passes the liver. Ingesting a drug causes two passes through the liver. Injections, transdermals and subliguals require just one pass.

The more the liver processes, the greater the potential to raise liver enzymes above an acceptable level. Alcohol also "may" lead to cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver. While the liver is by far the most resilient organ in the human body, it is not impervious to permanent damage. Please note, too, elevated liver enzymes aren't always simple hepatoxicity. Gilbert's syndrome (while extremely rare), and clogged bile duct are more causes of this ailment. Discuss any of these with you doctor if your enzymes are high.

Some people take for granted that medicines don't always help us full-circle. In the case of this article, I'll point to acetaminophen (Tylenol, Excedrin and the like) are extremely hepatoxic. One should absolutely never use this substance for a hangover, nor if you have several drinks per day (as I do- boy do I). There are entirely too many drugs to list all of them, but alcohol (is a drug) and acetaminophen are in most people's homes.

Enter fatty foods AND cholesterol drugs (like statins). Fatty liver is indeed a consideration, as are statin drugs (and I mention them together as they certainly have a relationship). If your enzymes are high, trimming back the fats in your diet may help. Alcohol is another BIG one. I drink well outside the "moderate range". My liver function always come back great, even though I'm taking prescriptions that cause liver damage.

Now that you know what relationship your atmosphere has on liver function, the next portion will discuss phospholipids, herbs (especially milk thistle- and why IT works), water and dietary considerations. As I feel doctors may become a bit jaded in their approach, I will mention certain considerations to consider. Bear in mind, please-- I am not a doctor, nor any licensed health care provider. These are my opinions based on some valid studies, as well as anecdotal evidence.

Gonna go grab a few drinks and get on with prevention, maintenance (I'm not allowed to say cure), and other ways to stay healthy in conjunction with these tips.

Look here for some related material:

Non-food items/supplements

   One of the liver's "superfoods" is lecithin. Lecithin contains phosphotidyl choline (or phosphotidylcholine) which is a necessary nutrient to begin with. Outside being a fat emulsifyer, making lipids (fats) more soluble, the brain's myelin sheath is comprise of such. PC is necessary for nerve health amongst many other things, too.

   This is one of the more costly nutrients to isolate, so choosing the best brand is key.I've found Now to have an excellent range of products that regularly score well in Consumer Lab's tests. They offer soft gel and granule forms. I find granules best as I can mix them with my pre/post workout drinks. This brand's granules mix very well, too.

   Phosphotidtyl serine (phosphtidylserine) is another phospholipid that may help, but it's extremely expensive, and PC works just as well.

   The following capsules will discuss a few faster options, as well as herbs that actually have science to back their efficacy.

   I'm going to state this now, and reissue the warning throughout these capsules-- explosive diarrhea is a potential side effect. Yes, oily poop!


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    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 7 years ago from The Great Northwest

      great hub. Not until recently did Tylenol get noticed for being bad for the liver. I am on steroid medication for a chronic illness and get regular blood tests for monitoring of my liver. Steroids are bad for the liver as are most medications, but my liver function has actually improved since I started drinking an herbal tea perdiodically for detox- it includes milk thistle which is great for the liver. I knew that my meds were bad for my liver so before waiting to have issues, I drink that tea and use other natural remedies. Some people have bad arthritis and migraines and have to use meds that are harmful to the liver so if they're going to they should counteract it.