Medicinal Plants Used in Liver Protection - A Review

Amit Roy1, Dayananda Bhoumik2*, Ram Kumar Sahu1, Jaya Dwivedi3

1Columbia Institute of Pharmacy, Tekari, Raipur (C.G.), India

2Oriental College of Pharmacy, Raisen Road, Bhopal (M.P.), India

3Department of Chemistry, Banasthali University, Rajasthan, India

Received: 10-Jan-2014 , Accepted: 09-Feb-2014

Keywords: Herbal drugs, Hepatoprotective, Liver Injury, Hepatotoxicity



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Liver is the very important part of our body responsible for the maximum metabolic and secretory activities and therefore appears to be a sensitive target site for substances modulating biotransformation. Liver is also associated in detoxification from the exogenous and endogenous challenges like xenobiotics, drugs, viral infections and chronic alcoholism. The period and intensity of the pharmacological response to drugs is influenced by their metabolic rate and hence substances capable to modify drug metabolism would be able to change the result of drug therapy. During all such exposures to the above mentioned challenges, if the usual defensive mechanisms of the liver are overpowered, the effect is liver damage. Liver injury or liver dysfunction is a major health problem that challenges not only medical professionals but also the pharmaceutical company and drug regulatory authorities. Liver cell injury caused by various toxic chemicals like certain antibiotics, chemotherapeutic agents, carbon tetrachloride, thioacetamide, excessive alcohol consumption and microbes. Herbal medicines have been applied for the treatment of liver disorder for a lengthy period. Many herbal preparations are available in the market and therefore present review is aimed to compile the data on promising phytochemicals from medicinal plants that have been tested in hepatotoxicity models using modern scientific system.

1 Introduction

Vast ethnobotanical knowledge exists in India from ancient time. The dictionary of Indian folk-medicine and ethno botany includes 2532 plants. India has about 45,000 plant species and many of them have been studied for their medicinal properties. About 2000 figures are available in the literature and commonly 500 species are used by indigenous systems. Even though early (4500-1500 BC) origins and a long history of usage in the last two centuries, the Ayurveda had received very little official support and hence less attentions were noticed from good medical practitioners and researchers. A large extent of work is now being done on the Botany, Pharmacognosy, Biotechnology, Chemistry and Pharmacology of herbal medicines. The importance of ethnomedicine has been realized and work is being done on psycho energetic plants, domestic remedies and plants sold by street drug vendors. The statistical methods are being used to assess the credibility of claims. A few recent works in drug development relates to species of Commiphora (used as a hypolipidaemic agent), Picrorhiza (which is hepatoprotective), Bacopa (used as a brain tonic), Curcuma (anti-inflammatory) and Asclepias (cardiotonic). An analysis of folk claims found 203 plants for evaluation. Fewer well known ethnomedicines have been identified that are used to treat intestinal, joint, liver and skin diseases1. Routine random efforts are not likely to increase the desired success rate of discovery. Experience indicates that a modified collection policy offers the best chances for the discovery and development of agents for the treatment of AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) and cancer2.

It has been calculated that approximate 75,000 types of higher plants species exist on the world. A reasonable estimate of about 10% has been used in traditional remedy. However, perhaps only about 1% of these are recognized through scientific studies to have therapeutic value when used in extract form by human3.

Hepatic disease is a united term for an entire group of trouble that afflict the tissues, structures and cells of the human liver. Large number of important functions is performed by liver, so there are lots of opening for somewhat to go incorrect. One of the most common causes of liver disease is inflammation, which often results from abuse of alcohol, poor diet or even malnutrition4. Drug induced liver damage or liver dysfunction is the most important health crisis that challenges not only medical personnel but also the pharmaceutical field and drug control board. According to the United States Acute Liver Failure Study Group, drug induced liver injury accounts for more than 50% of acute liver failure, including hepatotoxicity caused by over dose of acetaminophen (39%) and idiosyncratic liver injury triggered by other drugs5. Hepatic-cell injury caused by various toxic chemicals (certain antibiotic, chemotherapeutic agents, carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), thioacetamide (TAA) etc.), excessive alcohol consumption and microbes6.

Ethnopharmacology can be an important element for developing nation`s medical and economic system. Third World governments are being encouraged to seek a synthesis between modern and traditional medicine. Even though developing countries are providing many of the raw materials needed in drug manufacturing and the final products are often returned as high-priced medicines. In spite of tremendous strides in modern medicine, there are hardly any drugs that stimulate liver function, offer protection to the liver from damage or help regeneration of hepatic cell. Several formulations containing herbal extracts are sold in the market for treating liver disorders. But management of liver disorders by a simple and precise herbal drug is still an intriguing problem. Several medicinal plants have been extensively used in the traditional system of medicine for the management of liver disorder. Here, a list of hepatoprotective plants with their reported active chemical components and their possible underlying mechanism are tabulated in table1.

2 Discussions

From this review study, it is clear that the medicinal plants play a significant role against on various diseases. Different medicinal herbs and plants extracts have potent hepatoprotective activity in various animal models. The hepatoprotective activity is probably due to the presence of flavonoids, phenolic compounds, polyphenols etc in all few herbal plants. The results of this study indicate that extracts of leaves and plants extracts of some medicinal plant have good potentials for use in hepatic disease. The present review study give evidential explore mechanism of action of medicinal plants against experimentally induced hepatotoxicity.

The predicted mechanism of action of various plant extracts may be attributed to antioxidant properties and the presence of flavonoids, to increase the reduced level of blood glutathione in experimental animal models, to increase total proteins, to inhibit lipid peroxidation and increase in the antioxidant enzymatic activity, to decrease the hepatic marker enzymes (AST, ALT, ALP, and arginase) and total bilirubin in plasma, to enhance antioxidative enzymes, including SOD, GPx, CAT and GST, to decrease MDA level, SGOT, SGPT etc. Hence the review study is concluded that the herbal drug possesses hepatoprotective activity and it has been proved by different animal models give many links to develop the future trials.

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