Complementary and alternative medicine seeks and involves a wide variety of approaches; its use began in ancient China during the Xia dynasty and in India during the Vedic period, but it is gaining popularity in clinical practise around the world due to its long-lasting curative impact, easy availability, natural way of healing, and low side-effects.
We performed a study of the benefits and limitations of using herbal products in the treatment of chronic liver disease, focusing on the most well-known, such as quercetin and curcumin. In metabolic, alcoholic, and viral hepatitis, we attempted to explain their pharmacokinetics, biological properties, and beneficial effects (as antioxidants) (considering that oxidative stress is the common pathway of chronic liver diseases of different etiology).
The lack of randomised, placebo-controlled clinical trials providing real evidence of effectiveness of such products is the key limitation of CAM’s applicability, so anecdotal success and personal experience are often the driving force for CAM’s acceptance throughout the population.
Exogenous chemicals, such as herbal supplements, vitamins, or plant extracts, and natural or self-therapies (NST) methods, such as relaxation, meditation, prayer, hypnosis, biofeedback, or physical strengthening, are two broad types of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies.
Herbal medicine was first used in ancient China during the Xia dynasty and in India during the Vedic era. The gap between Western and Eastern medicine tended to expand with the revolution of natural sciences and evidence-based medicine, with CAM gaining prominence in western countries over time (from 34% of the population in 1990 to 48 percent in 2004).
Because of its long-lasting curative effect, simple availability, natural way of healing, and less side effects, herbal medicine is gaining popularity and spreading around the world . The widespread use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is emphasised by people with chronic diseases because it encourages greater personal autonomy over health decisions, empowers people to manage their chronic conditions, and helps to avoid the frustration that is often associated with traditional health care .
Since they are “natural” or are based on a religious, metaphysical, or deeply held definition of “wellness” and wellbeing, CAM is thought to be safer and healthier than traditional medical practise. Herbal medicine treatments focus on reestablishing or restoring natural healing cycles and overall health.
Despite its growing popularity, contact between physicians and patients about the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is limited: most physicians know little about CAM, and patients avoid discussing CAM for fear of being dismissed.
Furthermore, physicians used to concentrate their attention on possible toxicities, despite the fact that detecting toxicity from herbal preparations is often difficult due to the fact that patients often self-medicate with them and can withhold this knowledge.
Toxic hepatitis is the most common adverse reaction associated with the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), and is often linked to the concurrent use of hepatotoxic ingredients like acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, as well as the hepatotoxicity of herbal ingredients themselves
Given their widespread use, physicians and health care professionals should become familiar with these products and be able to identify possible interactions between traditional drugs and herbals. Herbalists and indigenous healers around the world have historically used botanical medicines to prevent and cure liver disease.
Clinical research has verified the effectiveness of many plants in the treatment of liver disease in this century, so it’s not surprising that patients with chronic liver disease pursue herbal treatment as a primary or adjunctive treatment. Silymarin (a milk thistle extract) is the most common product among people with liver disease, particularly those who have hepatitis C virus infection.
According to Seeff et al. 41% of outpatients with a diagnosis of liver disease had used some kind of complementary and alternative medicine. Herbal products are often used to improve well-being and quality of life as well as to alleviate antiviral treatment side effects such as fatigue, irritability, and depression: reducing these symptoms can allow for greater compliance and avoid the need to reduce the dose and eventually remove interferon.
Coon and Ernst published a systematic study on the use of complementary and alternative medicine in chronic hepatitis C. The authors cited 14 randomised clinical trials that looked at the use of herbal products in conjunction with interferon-alfa during antiviral therapy.
Despite the difficulties in extrapolating and interpreting results due to the different methodological limitations of the studies considered, the authors discovered that a number of herbal products and supplements (vitamin E, thymic extract, zinc, traditional Chinese medicine, Glycyrrhiza glabra, and oxymatrine) may have potential virological and biochemical effects in the treatment of chronic hepatitis C in mice.
The use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) can be predicted by demographic, cultural, and geographic variables, as shown in several studies: sex, age, higher education level, and marital status of patients are all related to a different use of herbal products.
The aim of this study is to explain the potential function, benefits, and limitations of some commonly used herbal products in the treatment of chronic liver disease. In order to link to more recent articles about this topic, we conducted an updated search on Pubmed and Medline.
Suzin and Muzin only use herbal products because they have no side effects.