Liver detox: Worth it or worthless?

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Left unchecked, liver disease can result in cirrhosis, cancer and even early death.

Avoiding excessive alcohol and maintaining a healthy weight and diet are the best solutions, but is there any value to quick-fix liver detoxes?

Teas, pills and oils – if you search for a liver detox online, you'll see dozens of products offering a quick fix, whether you're worried about fatty liver disease or a night of drinking.

"The liver is a very complex organ," Dr. Douglas Denham said. "It does a lot of things, very involved in fat metabolism in both creating new fat and breaking down old fat kind of thing."

You want to take care of your liver, but are supplements worth it or worthless? There's no evidence to show detoxes work. Some juice cleanses can even make you sick.

A natural detox with antioxidants from coffee, green tea, raw garlic, and fruits and veggies can protect liver cells from damage. Instead of a pill, get your vitamin E from almonds, sunflower seeds and plant-based oils.

But if you're really concerned, talk to your doctor.

The plant milk thistle has been said to benefit the liver, and while some studies showed the supplement reduced inflammation, others have found there is no benefit whatsoever.

RESEARCH SUMMARY
LIVER DETOX: WORTH IT OR WORTHLESS?
REPORT #2718

BACKGROUND: The liver is the largest organ inside your body and helps the body digest food, store energy, and remove poisons. Liver diseases can be caused by viruses, such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C; by drugs, poisons, or too much alcohol which include fatty liver disease and cirrhosis; liver cancer; or inherited diseases, such as hemochromatosis and Wilson disease. Symptoms of liver disease can vary, but often include swelling of the abdomen and legs, bruising easily, changes in the color of stool and urine, and jaundice, or yellowing of the skin and eyes. Tests like imaging tests and liver function tests can check for liver damage and help to diagnose liver diseases. The increase among 25 to 34-year-old's is troubling because the deaths are due to cirrhosis, while older people are dying from liver cancer and non alcoholic fatty liver disease. (Source: https://medlineplus.gov/liverdiseases.html and https://www.webmd.com/digestivedisorders/news/20180719/us-deaths-from-liver-disease-rising-rapidly#1)

DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT: Finding the cause and extent of liver damage is important in determining the route of treatment. A group of blood tests called liver function tests can be used to diagnose liver disease. An ultrasound, CT scan and MRI will help show liver damage. Removing a tissue sample (biopsy) from the liver may help diagnose liver disease and look for signs of liver damage. Treatments for liver disease depend on your diagnosis. Some liver problems can be treated with lifestyle modifications, such as stopping alcohol use or losing weight, typically as part of a medical program that includes careful monitoring of liver function. Other liver problems may be treated with medications or may require surgery. Treatment for liver disease that causes or has led to liver failure may ultimately require a liver transplant. (Source: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/liver-problems/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20374507)

NEW TREATMENT FOR LIVER DISEASE: Researchers at Texas A&M University College of Medicine and Central Texas Veterans Health Care System have discovered a potential new treatment for chronic liver diseases. The research focuses on melatonin, a hormone associated with maintaining circadian rhythms. Receptors for this hormone can be found in the liver, as well as elsewhere in the body. Previous experiments using mice showed that melatonin helps reduce the processes that cause liver fibrosis (scarring that ultimately leads to cirrhosis). When researchers bred mice that were incapable of expressing different kinds of melatonin receptors, the mice showed different rates of liver fibrosis. Fibrosis was significantly decreased in mice incapable of expressing one receptor known as MT1. This suggests that drugs designed to block MT1 activity could potentially help slow liver disease progression. (Source: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-04/eb2-nli041218.php)