Cirrhosis supplements

  • Milk thistle has been used medicinally for over 2,000 years, most commonly for the treatment of liver and gallbladder disorders. A flavonoid complex called silymarin can be extracted from the seeds of milk thistle and is believed to be the biologically active component. The terms "milk thistle" and "silymarin" are often used interchangeably. Milk thistle products are popular in Europe and the United States for various types of liver disease. Although numerous human trials have been published, most studies have not been well designed or reported.
  • Danshen ( Salvia miltiorrhiza ) is widely used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), often in combination with other herbs. Remedies containing danshen are used traditionally to treat a diversity of ailments, particularly cardiac (heart) and vascular (blood vessel) disorders such as atherosclerosis ("hardening" of the arteries with cholesterol plaques) or blood clotting abnormalities. The ability of danshen to "thin" the blood and reduce blood clotting is well documented, although the herb's purported ability to "invigorate" the blood or improve circulation has not been demonstrated in high-quality human trials. Because danshen can inhibit platelet aggregation and has been reported to potentiate (increase) the blood-thinning effects of warfarin, it should be avoided in patients with bleeding disorders, prior to some surgical procedures, or when taking anticoagulant (blood-thinning) drugs, herbs, or supplements. In the mid-1980s, scientific interest was raised in danshen's possible cardiovascular benefits, particularly in patients with ischemic stroke or coronary artery disease/angina. More recent studies have focused on possible roles in liver disease (hepatitis and cirrhosis) and as an antioxidant. However, the available research in these areas largely consists of animal studies and small human trials of poor quality. Therefore, firm evidence-based conclusions are not possible at this time about the effects of danshen for any medical condition.
  • Cordyceps sinensis , the Cordyceps species most widely used as a dietary supplement, naturally grows on the back of the larvae of a caterpillar from the moth Hepialus armoricanus Oberthur found mainly in China, Nepal, and Tibet. The mycelium invades the caterpillar and eventually replaces the host tissue. The stroma (fungal fruit body) grows out of the top of the caterpillar. The remaining structures of the caterpillar along with the fungus are dried and sold as the dietary supplement cordyceps. Commonly known as "dong chong xia cao" (summer-plant, winter-worm) in Chinese, cordyceps has been used as a tonic food in China and Tibet and has been used as a food supplement and tonic beverage among the rich because of its short supply due to over harvesting. It is also an ingredient in soups and other foods used traditionally in Chinese medicine for thousands of years helping debilitated patients recover from illness. Cordyceps is used therapeutically for asthma, bronchitis, chemoprotection, exercise performance, hepatitis B, hepatic cirrhosis, hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol), as an immunosuppressive agent, and in chronic renal failure. The fungus became popular in 1993 when two female Chinese athletes, who admitted using cordyceps supplements, beat the world records in the track and field competition at the Stuttgart World Championships for the 1,500-, 3,000-, and 10,000-meter runs. The women were drug tested for any banned substances such as steroids and were negative. Their coach attributed the performance to the cordyceps supplementation.
  • The main function of L-carnitine is to transfer long-chain fatty acids in the form of their acyl-carnitine esters across the inner mitochondrial membrane before beta-oxidation. In humans, it is synthesized in the liver, kidney, and brain and actively transported to other areas of the body. For example, 98% of the total body L-carnitine is confined to the skeletal and cardiac muscle at concentrations approximately 70 times higher than in the blood serum. Supplementation may be necessary in rare cases of primary carnitine deficiency, which may be caused by a defect in carnitine biosynthesis, a defect in carnitine active transport into tissue, or a defect in renal (kidney) conservation of carnitine. Known conditions of secondary deficiency of carnitine (insufficiency), in which L-carnitine is effective, include chronic stable angina and intermittent claudication characterized by distinct tissue hypoxia (low oxygen levels). Another condition that may benefit from carnitine supplementation is decreased sperm motility. Although use in preterm infants suggests carnitine supplementation may aid in maintaining or increasing plasma carnitine levels and possibly weight gain, carnitine is not routinely added to preterm total parenteral nutrition (TPN). However, soy-based infant formulas are fortified with carnitine to levels found in breast milk. In 1986, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved L-carnitine for use in primary carnitine deficiency. D-carnitine or DL-carnitine may cause secondary L-carnitine deficiency and should not be used.
  • Zinc has been used since ancient Egyptian times to enhance wound healing, although the usefulness of this approach is only partially confirmed by the clinical data of today. Zinc is necessary for the functioning of more than 300 different enzymes and plays a vital role in an enormous number of biological processes. Zinc is a cofactor for the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD) and is in a number of enzymatic reactions involved in carbohydrate and protein metabolism. Its immune-enhancing activities include regulation of T lymphocytes, CD4, natural killer cells, and interleukin II. In addition, zinc has been claimed to possess antiviral activity. It has been shown to play a role in wound healing, especially following burns or surgical incisions. Zinc is necessary for the maturation of sperm and normal fetal development. It is involved in sensory perception (taste, smell, and vision) and controls the release of stored vitamin A from the liver. Within the endocrine system, zinc has been shown to regulate insulin activity and promote the conversion thyroid hormones thyroxine to triiodothyronine. Based on available scientific evidence, zinc may be effective in the treatment of (childhood) malnutrition, acne vulgaris, peptic ulcers, leg ulcers, infertility, Wilson's disease, herpes, and taste or smell disorders. Zinc has also gained popularity for its use in the prevention of the common cold. The role for zinc is controversial in some cases, as the results of published studies provide either contradictory information and/or the methodological quality of the studies does not allow for a confident conclusion regarding the role of zinc in those diseases.
  • Gotu kola is from the perennial creeping plant, Centella asiatica (formerly known as Hydrocotyle asiatica ) , which is a member of the parsley family. It is native to India, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Africa, Australia, China, and Indonesia. Gotu kola has a long history of use, dating back to ancient Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. Gotu kola is mentioned in the Shennong Herbal , compiled in China roughly 2,000 years ago, and has been widely used medicinally since 1700 AD. It has been used to treat leprosy in Mauritius since 1852; to treat wounds and gonorrhea in the Philippines; and to treat fever and respiratory infections in China. The most popular use of gotu kola in the United States is the treatment for varicose veins or cellulitis. Preliminary evidence suggests short-term efficacy (6-12 months) of the total triterpenic fraction of Centella asiatica (TTFCA) in the treatment of "chronic venous insufficiency" (a syndrome characterized by lower extremity swelling, varicosities, pain, itching, atrophic skin changes, and ulcerations, possibly due to venous valvular incompetence or a post-thrombotic syndrome). While quality human evidence on the efficacy of gotu kola is still lacking, gotu kola can now be found worldwide as a component of skin creams, lotions, hair conditioners, shampoos, tablets, drops, ointments, powders, and injections. Gotu kola is not related to the kola nut ( Cola nitida , Cola acuminata ). Gotu kola is not a stimulant and does not contain caffeine.
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