Garlic may both prevent and reverse liver damage. The bulb’s strong antioxidant actions are at the root of its therapeutic power. Garlic is a potential adjunct to conventional medical care if you have liver damage. Speak with your physician about which herbal remedies are suitable for you.
French scientist Louis Pasteur provided the first Western scientific proof of garlic’s ability to prevent infection in 1858, according to physician Deepak Chopra, M.D., author of “The Chopra Center Herbal Handbook.” Garlic, or Allium sativum, possesses over 200 chemical constituents and has been the subject of thousands of studies. It has shown the capacity to treat cardiovascular disease and to combat pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. Garlic has also been investigated for its potential as an anti-bacterial treatment for Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria that causes most peptic and duodenal ulcers.
About Your Liver
The term liver, or hepatic, disease refers to any medical problem that causes reduced liver function. According to the Hepatitis B Foundation, the liver becomes dysfunctional when 75 percent of its tissue is compromised. Biologists categorize the liver as both a gland and an organ, and it is the body’s largest solid organ. Among the causes of liver damage are alcohol abuse, viral infections such as hepatitis and genetic disease.
Garlic Rescues Rat Livers
In a 2011 issue of “Indian Journal of Experimental Biology,” researchers fed rats a lead compound for seven days and then gauged the amount of liver injury induced. They then gave the rats a water extract of fresh garlic, which reduced the amount of liver damage. They theorized that this was due to garlic’s antioxidant capabilities. Antioxidants hunt down and disable unstable oxygen molecules that cause cellular damage. In another animal study, scientists used alcohol to induce liver injury in rats and then gave them black garlic extract, which increased antioxidant liver enzymes. It also reduced DNA damage to white immune blood cells called lymphocytes, as reported in a 2011 issue of “Journal of Medicinal Food.” More human studies need to be completed before garlic can be recommended as a therapy for liver disease.
Although garlic has a host of health benefits, it can interact with certain medications, cautions the University of Maryland Medical Center. Included in this group are antiplatelet drugs such as indomethacin and aspirin. In addition, garlic has the potential to interact with blood-thinning pharmaceuticals and cause bleeding. Avoid garlic supplements if you are on protease inhibitors. Speak with your doctor before adding any nutritional supplements for liver disease.
- “Journal of Medicinal Food”; Hepatoprotective Effect of Aged Black Garlic on Chronic Alcohol-Induced Liver Injury in Rats; M.H. Kim et al.; July-August 2011
- “The Chopra Center Herbal Handbook”; Deepak Chopra, M.D., et al.; 2000
- “Indian Journal of Experimental Biology”; Protective Effect of Aqueous Garlic Extract Against Lead-Induced Hepatic Injury in Rats; D. Kilikdar et al.; July 2009
- Hepatitis B Foundation; Your Liver and How It Works; February 2007
Cindy Ell began writing professionally in 1990. A former medical librarian, she has written materials for hospitals, medical associations, the "Nashville Scene" and "Coping Magazine." She received her Bachelor of Arts in linguistics from the University of Massachusetts and her Master of Library and Information Science from Pratt Institute. She is currently a full-time freelance medical writer.