HomeLifestyleHealth & FitnessThese types of herbal and dietary supplements may cause liver injuries -...

These types of herbal and dietary supplements may cause liver injuries – warns study

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New research claims that instances of serious liver damage related to herbal and dietary products claiming to enhance muscle development or weight reduction are on the rise, with some severe cases requiring liver transplants.

According to new research, the number of people admitted to hospitals for serious liver damage caused by herbal and nutritional supplements that promise to enhance muscle development or weight reduction is on the rise.

Between 2009 and 2020, researchers at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital analysed the records of 184 individuals admitted to the hospital with drug-induced liver damage.

According to the study’s lead author, Dr. Emily Nash, liver damage cases related to herbal and nutritional supplements rose from 15% of patients in 2009 to 2011 to 47% of patients in 2018 to 2020.

The study found 115 patients had a paracetamol-induced liver injury during the study period.

Among the 69 patients who had non-paracetamol-induced liver damage, 19 were treated with antibiotics and 15 were treated with herbal and nutritional supplements.

The research, which was published in the Medical Journal of Australia, also discovered that non-paracetamol liver damage resulted in a worse rate of transplant-free survival.

Doctor Ken Liu, one of the study’s co-authors, said that he was motivated to investigate the connection between dietary supplements and liver injuries after seeing an increase in patients suffering from injuries caused by medicines not usually linked with liver damage.

He explained:

“I was starting to see injury in patients admitted with liver injury after using bodybuilding supplements for males or weight loss supplements in females.

“I decided I better do a study on it to see if my hunch that more of these substances were causing these injuries was true.”

Liu and his colleagues argued that supplements and other alternative and natural treatments should be more strictly regulated.

Friends of Science in Medicine said that it was critical to keep in mind that Liu’s research examined only the most serious liver damage, implying that the true rate of injury is likely considerably greater.

He noted:

“The study only examines severe cases admitted to a specialised liver unit; they cannot be extrapolated to the overall incidence of complementary medicine associated liver injury in Australia.”

According to the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, the liver is responsible for breaking down medicines and generating bile, which is necessary for digestion since it takes away waste.

Medications and supplements may wreak havoc on the liver as it performs its functions.

Certain supplements produce toxic metabolites that may cause severe damage to the liver cells, to the point where they cease to function.

According to the Mayo Clinic, this damage can cause scarring, which can lead to liver failure, and can be life-threatening.

Tatyana Kushner, assistant professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, explains:

“Herbal teas and supplements can definitely lead to liver injury and even liver failure.

“Depending on the herb, the impact can be acute, and self-resolve, or develop into chronic liver disease and liver failure, which would necessitate a liver transplant.”

Long use or misuse of drugs like steroids and inhalants are known to permanently damage the liver.

Furthermore, using alcohol and certain drugs together can increase the risk of liver damage.

Image Credit: Getty

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