The liver performs many important functions, including aiding digestion through the production and secretion of digestive enzymes and bile and producing proteins essential to blood clotting. Its most important function is filtering the body's blood to detoxify and eliminate harmful chemicals, with approximately 1.5 liters of blood flowing through the liver every minute.
Because the liver plays such an important role in good health, it makes sense for many to support it through liver supplements. Liver supplements contain a number of ingredients believed to aid in supporting liver health. Here is a brief overview of some of the common ingredients in some liver supplements:
Caper Bush Root
You may already be familiar with the caper bush. The unopened buds of the caper bush are preserved in brine and used as an ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine. Caper bush root extract has been used in traditional Greek, Egyptian, Chinese, Arabic, and Ayurvedic medicine for a variety of purposes including kidney function, liver function, digestive support, and skin health. Chemical compounds in caper bush root have been the subject of at least one scientific study, examining its role in liver detoxification.
You may also be familiar with chicory. Chicory leaves are used in salads and as a vegetable in Europe, namely Belgium, Greece, and Italy. In many parts of the world, including France and the American South, chicory root is roasted and ground as a coffee substitute or coffee additive. Chicory coffee is naturally free of caffeine when used as a substitute for coffee beans. Chicory originated in Egypt and was used in Egypt, Greece, and the Middle East as a traditional medicine. The Greek physician and philosopher Galen called chicory "Friend of the Liver." Chicory has been the subject of scientific studies investigating many possible health benefits including support of the digestive system, immune system, kidneys, liver, and heart.
You may be less familiar with Arjuna. Arjuna is a tree that grows primarily in India and Bangladesh. Moths eat Arjuna leaves and then produce tussar silk, an important textile product used in India to make saris. The Arjuna tree is known in Buddhism as the tree where the tenth Buddha gained enlightenment. Arjuna has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine to support cardiovascular health and has been the subject of scientific studies into its role as an antioxidant.
Yarrow may be familiar as a flower, but not necessarily as an herb. Yarrow is native to North America, Europe, and Asia. It is commonly seen in fields and on mountains as a white, red, pink, yellow, or purple wildflower and in gardens as an ornamental plant. Yarrow is resistant to drought and is often planted in gardens to attract "good" insects such as bees, wasps, ladybugs, hoverflies, and other bugs that pollinate flowers and prey on pests such as aphids. Yarrow has been used medicinally by the Greeks, Native Americans, and Chinese to reduce fever and treat headaches.
Tamarisk is a tree native to the drier climates in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Tamarisk is drought-resistant and tolerates salty and alkaline soil conditions. Tamarisk was introduced into North America as an ornamental plant but is viewed in the western United States as an invasive species that squeezes native bushes and trees out of their natural habitats along arid streams and rivers. Tamarisk was well known in ancient times and is mentioned in the Bible and the Koran, as well as Greek and Egyptian mythology. Tamarisk has been subject to scientific studies that examine its possible antioxidant properties.
Liver health supplements contain ingredients that are both familiar and exotic. These ingredients in liver supplements have long been known for their possible health effects as well as their role in ancient history.