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Sustaining Liver Health

Liver Pain Liver Pain

The liver works hard to process what we ingest. There are effective natural ingredients that can offer help when needed.

Non-GMO Project

In the hope of successfully maintaining and improving liver health, manufacturers and suppliers use cleanse and detox ingredients in a variety of ways, as they are impacted by trends, market status and scientific research.

Common Ingredients & Concerns

Liver health is associated with many ingredients, but the first that comes to mind is milk thistle.

“Milk thistle extract is the supplement of choice for liver protection,” noted Guy Woodman, general manager with Euromed USA, Inc. in Pennsylvania. “Euromed has been producing Milk Thistle extract since 1971. Our organization has generated a large body of published studies culminating in Euromed’s Milk Thistle extract receiving a widely positive endorsement by the news media.”

Elyse Lovett, MS, MBA, marketing manager with Kyowa Hakko USA (New York) was in agreement regarding milk thistle’s popularity, but added that the impact of glutathione should not be ignored.

“There are a lot of different ingredients out there for liver health/detoxification. Milk thistle is probably one of the most popular ingredients in the market in this category, but glutathione awareness for detoxification is on the rise,” said Lovett. “Glutathione is known as the master antioxidant; Setria, the branded form of glutathione [by Kyowa Hakko] supports the function of your liver, kidneys GI (gastrointestinal) tract and intestines—the body’s major detoxification pathways. Setria Glutathione helps eliminate toxins, ingested chemicals and potential carcinogens that the body has already absorbed. It also intercepts and neutralizes toxins in the GI tract before they are even absorbed.

However, it must be noted that in terms of milk thistle, the potential obstacle lies in utilizing the proper dosage, as suggested by Woodman.

“Milk thistle extract is considered safe for consumers but requires higher doses for efficacy. This higher dosage can be challenging to include in multi-nutrient formulations,” he said.

From a more macro perspective, enzymes play a critical role in assisting with liver detoxification.

“Key ingredients that can enhance the body’s natural detoxification pathways are going to provide a mechanism of action that the body understands and activates more readily,” said Chris Fields, vice president of scientific affairs, Texas-based Applied Food Sciences, Inc, an ingredient supplier that offers Calcium D-Glucarate for liver health. “The cytochrome P450s are a family of enzymes that are found in numerous tissues throughout the body. However, a majority of these are found in the liver. The P450s are important for the detoxification of many foreign substances including environmental toxicants and medications. The P450s are also important in controlling the levels of different molecules produced in the body such as the synthesis and breakdown of hormones, steroids and multiple other molecules. In humans, 58 different P450s have been discovered. Yet, only a subset of these is involved in the degradation of xenobiotics. Science is evolving to a point where we understand what impacts these P450 enzymes and help foster enhanced detoxification.”

Of course, when dealing with compounds, one must always keep proper safety in mind.

“Everything from nitrates and sulphates to pesticides, herbicides and benzoates are found in our food supply, our health and beauty products, and in the environment we live in,” Fields added. “Science has provided us with the means to both measure the exposure of these compounds and understand the potential negative role they have on overall health and wellness by their impact on receptor cites.”

Complete Control

As previously mentioned, milk thistle is commonly recognized as a useful ingredient towards effectively combatting liver health, but Euromed for instance, controls its seed cultivation process.

“There is a growing interest in organic certified milk thistle seed extract. Third World countries use sewage on agricultural fields due to a deficit of treatment facilities,” he said. “Euromed cultivates its “elite” seed cultivar in Europe without the use of agricultural chemicals, and sewage sludge use is strictly prohibited. The control of the seed cultivation enables Euromed to offer a fully traceable organic certified milk thistle extract.”

The company’s Silactive product’s solubility, among other features, make it an ingredient for others to be aware of, as Woodman suggested.

“Euromed, as the world’s leading manufacturer of milk thistle extract, has improved the solubility of the silymarin isomers in milk thistle extract with the development of Silactive. This milk thistle extract contains all six silymarin isomers in the proper USP (United States Pharmacopeia) ratio. Silactive also uniquely satisfies the USP dissolution/disintegration requirements of not less than 75 percent in 40 minutes. This milk thistle extract provides USP-grade composition of all six silymarin isomers and beneficial high solubility.”

State of the Market

As Lovett noted, liver health and detoxification markets are on an incline, since consumers are continuously becoming more educated on the various benefits of whole body detoxification.

Consumers digging deeper into these types of ingredients suggest that liver health is becoming more widely embraced.

“Liver health has become more mainstream and is moving away from professional or doctor-prescribed lines, as more individuals take a more proactive approach with their health and the products they purchase,” observed Fields. “Furthermore, consumers take more self-prescribed over-the-counter (OTC) medications, which tend to accumulate and put additional loading on the liver function.”

Credit can be given to the elderly demographic, as this age group feels the brunt of liver decline, such as reduced blood flow and a decrease in metabolism.

“The market for liver health dietary supplements is robust. The population of the U.S. is aging, presenting challenges to government and individual budgets for health care,” said Woodman. “Older people have a predisposition to a variety of diseases that are negatively influenced by poor liver health. The detoxification capability of the liver declines with age; oxidative stress increases and efficiency of DNA repair declines, negatively affecting the regenerative capability of the liver. The mass of the liver decreases with age, and reduced blood flow to the liver diminishes the metabolism and clearance of drugs from the bloodstream.”

Woodman also said he foresees further growth in the industry, due to an increase in toxin exposure from pollution and even forces of Mother Nature. It is also worth noting that the liver can suffer from toxicity from OTC medication.

“Looking forward, liver protective supplements will continue to grow in popularity,” he explained. “Human exposure to environmental toxins is increasing and thus the burden on liver detoxification. Government regulations of industrial pollution are being rescinded and offshore areas, which were previously off-limits, are being opened for oil drilling. Global warming is exacerbating hurricane strength, often resulting in the release of toxic waste into the ocean and bodies of water during severe storms. In 2017, in Texas, Hurricane Harvey caused tremendous toxic material release into both air and water. Unfortunately, the pendulum is swinging to the side of increased population exposure to environmental pollutants,” Woodman said.

“Excess doses of the everyday OTC medication acetaminophen are one of the most common causes of drug-associated liver toxicity,” he continued. “The ability of the liver to convert toxins in the bloodstream to harmless substances for removal from the body varies in all individuals.”


Although specifics may be a challenge to pinpoint, research surrounding liver function from a general outlook is a recommended focal point.

“I think measuring detoxification markers is probably one of the more difficult measurements to identify within the ingredient space, but liver function is a key area when looking at cleansing and detoxification,” Lovett said.

As of late, fatty liver disease has been of importance to research, being how impactful non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) can be.

“Over the last few years, there has also been a lot of interest in dietary supplements to address fatty liver disease,” Woodman explained. “Approximately 30-40 percent of Americans have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, a condition most do not recognize, as there are no symptoms. A liver with more than 5 percent fat indicates NAFLD. There is no approved prescription medication for this condition, so milk thistle extract is a supplement sought out by consumers for this condition.”

Research in this field has also allowed companies to know the impact of harmful chemicals in order to potentially avoid complications. It is imperative that ingredient manufacturers and suppliers accomplish their number one long-term goal: consumer safety.

“Key research is leaning toward understanding the role environmental toxins and everyday exposure to these toxins have on liver loading, overall health and longterm negative effects to primary biological systems,” noted Fields. “For example, we now better understand the role BPA (bisphenol A) has as an estrogen mimicker in the body and can help foster enhanced glucuronidation to increase its removal before it negatively impacts other pathways of estrogen metabolism. Conventional cleanse programs are being substituted for fresh juices and juice cleanse options. Consumers are looking for optimum ways to truly detoxify their systems and not just flush out their digestive tract—they are understanding the role that food and food compounds have on blood purification, etc. Consumer groups such as the EWG (Environmental Working Group) as well as health and wellness companies such as GAIAM are starting to talk about detoxification, which helps the everyday consumer fully understand both the benefits and means for cellular detoxification at its core.” NIE

For More Information:

Applied Food Sciences, Inc., www.appliedfoods.com
Euromed USA, Inc., www.euromedphytoproof.com
Kyowa Hakko USA, www.kyowa-usa.com