Liver Damage and Turmeric (Curcumin)

Turmeric, which contains active substance curcumin, has long been used in different preparations for liver health. Studies have shown that it can indeed help protect liver from damage and supports its regeneration. Learn how turmeric works and how to take it for liver conditions.

Curcumin in turmeric has been known to cure and prevent many kinds of diseases. It's been used in China and India as a traditional healing spice for centuries. Now, in modern medicine, the use of curcumin for treating and preventing different diseases has been supported by a lot of studies.

One organ that benefits from the use of curcumin is the liver. Here, you will learn the liver diseases that curcumin might be useful for, and what you can do to maximize the positive effects of this wonder spice on your body.

Liver diseases

The liver is a football-sized organ that is located under the rib cage on the right side of the abdomen. This organ is very important because without it, we cannot digest food, absorb nutrients, and eliminate toxic substances from the body.

Liver disorders can occur in a number of ways. They can be inherited or acquired. Acquired liver disease can be a response to certain viruses or chemicals. Some liver problems are temporary, and they get better on their own. Unfortunately, there are also some that can stay for a long time, and cause serious complications.

There is a wide range of diseases and conditions that can adversely affect your liver. Some viruses that damage the liver are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. Drinking too much alcohol, taking drugs, and poisoning also cause liver problems. Scar tisse in the liver, which is caused by an illness, is called cirrhosis. One common sign of liver disease is jaundice, or yellowing of the skin. Cancer can also affect the liver due to various factors. One type of liver disease that is inherited is called hemochromatosis – a condition which causes the body to absorb too much iron from food.

Turmeric and liver health

Turmeric is used in India as a tonic for the stomach and liver. Detoxifying the liver once every year using turmeric is recommended by practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine. This is said to ensure its smooth and healthy functioning.

The reason why turmeric is used for this detox is one of its compounds known as curcumin. This substance has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects on the body, and it has long been tied to liver health.

Curcumin in turmeric help enzymes flush out known dietary carcinogens, leading to enhanced protection against liver damage. It also assists in the regeneration of affected liver cells. Aside from helping out the liver, curcumin also improves the health of the gallbladder.

Research Related to Liver Health and Curcumin

Scientific reserach has recently demonstrated curcumin’s value to those with liver disease.

Studies at a Glance:

  • Studies on lab mice have shown that liver damage may be lessened by consuming diets supplemented with curcumin. This also has a positive effect against an autoimmune disease in the liver known as sclerosing cholangitis.

  • Turmeric has the ability to protect the liver against damaging chemicals, such as carbon tetrachloride and acetaminophen, as seen in in vitro and animal studies.

  • Studies suggests that curcumin might be able to help prevent alcoholic liver disease or ALD.

In Austria, a research team chemically induced liver injuries in lab mice, then gave them curcumin. After four to eight weeks of consuming diets rich in curcumin, the rodents' liver damage was significantly reduced. In addition, the curcumin in their food helped improve a serious liver condition called sclerosing cholangitis, an autoimmune disorder (1).

According to the research, curcumin may have several positive effects on liver health. One of these effects is that curcumin blocked signal pathways that are important for inflammation to form. This ultimately slowed the development of scarring, which leads to reduced bile duct blockage and damage to liver cells.

As seen in animal and in vitro studies, turmeric can defend the liver from the effects of various chemicals including carbon tetrachloride (2), (3) and acetaminophen (4). Acetaminophen is more popularly called Paracetamol, which is a medicine used for headaches and pain. This medicine may be a common drug in all households, but it can still damage the liver if you take too much of it.

A multicenter research (5)  has shown that curcumin has the ability to stop the activation of a key molecule called nuclear factor kappa B (NFkB). This effect is important for the liver sinceNFkB)triggers the chain reaction that leads to inflammation and death of tissues. According to the study, curcumin blocked endotoxin-mediated activation of NFkB and suppressed the expression of cytokines, chemokines, and other enzymes responsible for inflammation and pain. Ultimately, curcumin stopped both the pathological and biochemical changes caused by alcohol. This effect made scientists believe that turmeric may be helpful in preventing alcoholic liver disease or ALD.

Taking Curcumin for Liver Disease

There are many different formulations of curcumin on the market.  Read through our article Choosing the right curcumin supplement to learn more about the different options that are available to you. Meriva curcumin and BCM 95 are both good supplements that are often used for improving liver health.

Curcumin is best absorbed if you take it on an empty stomach or at least 3 hours after meals.  Typical dose for curcumin supplements is between 400  and 500 mgs per serving.

Go through our article on How to take curcumin to learn more about the dosage and potential side effects. Curcumin affects medications that are metabolized through liver, so the article also discusses common medications, which interact with curcumin.

  1. Curcumin improves sclerosing cholangitis in Mdr2−/− mice by inhibition of cholangiocyte inflammatory response and portal myofibroblast proliferation. Anna Baghdasaryan, Thierry Claudel, Astrid Kosters, Judith Gumhold, Dagmar Silbert, Andrea Thüringer, Katharina Leski, Peter Fickert, Saul J. Karpen, and Michael Trauner. 2009.
  2. Inhibition by curcumin of multiple sites of the transforming growth factor-beta1 signalling pathway ameliorates the progression of liver fibrosis induced by carbon tetrachloride in rats. 2012. Qun-yan Yao, Bei-li Xu, Ji-yao Wang, Hong-chun Liu, Shun-cai Zhang, and Chuan-tao. 2012.    
  3. Selective Inhibition of Activated Stellate Cells and Protection from Carbon Tetrachloride-Induced Liver Injury in Rats by a New PPAR γ agonist KR62776. Myung-Ae Bae, Sang Dal Rhee, Won Hoon Jung, Jin Hee Ahn, Byoung-Joon Song, and Hyae Gyeong Cheon.
  4. Curcumin protects against acetaminophen-induced apoptosis in hepatic injury. Gang Li, Jun-Bao Chen, and Quan Gong. 2013.
  5. Curcumin Prevents Alcohol-Induced Liver Disease in Rats by Inhibiting the Expression of NF-κB-dependent Genes. Amin A. Nanji1, Kalle Jokelainen, George L. Tipoe, Amir Rahemtulla, Peter Thomas, and Andrew J. Dannenberg. 2002

Supplements commonly used for Liver Disease:

Curcumin and Turmeric

Curcumin in turmeric has been known to cure and prevent many kinds of diseases. It's been used in China and India as a traditional healing spice for centuries. Now, in modern medicine, the use of... read more…

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