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Did you know that herbal drugs can damage your liver?

Saba Alam
Lenovo Many GEOs

The liver is the body’s second-largest organ after the skin and is located below the right lung, under the ribcage. This football-sized organ is responsible for separating waste and nutrients as they move through the digestive system. In addition, it produces bile, a substance that transports toxins out of the body and thus helps digestion.

Liver disease and Herbal drugs: Correlation

In the Covid times, there has been a push for herbal drugs, also called immunity booster herbs. But were you aware that certain herbs damage the liver while healing it at the same time? 

With limited regulations in the production of these herbal drugs, their effect on the body is yet to be fully known. When an extract of the herb is used, it is concentrated, making it more likely to cause toxic liver diseases. Toxicity in the liver that comes from herbs, medicines, and other supplements (herbal and otherwise), is called hepatotoxicity or toxic hepatitis.

Herbs that damage the liver are called hepatotoxic herbs. Most of the time, liver damage happens because the dosage of these herbal drugs is too high. For example, herbs like comfrey, Brahmi, green tea extract, sacred bark, chapparal, golden ragwort, when taken in excess, can cause a lot of harm to the body. Very often, herbs with a bitter taste are used to treat liver conditions by stimulating the appetite and forcing digestive juices to flow. For example, bitter aloe stimulates bile production, which helps digest fats. When consumed in excess, they can lead to toxicity.

Symptoms of toxic liver disease

Some types of liver diseases rarely show any kind of symptoms. A liver specialist can be consulted if a person shows any of the symptoms:

– Jaundice – getting yellow in skin and whites of the eyes. It happens when the liver can’t clear a substance called bilirubin.

– Extreme itching and bruising easily

– Abdominal pain, especially on the right side due to irregular build-up of fluid. This problem is also called ascites.

– Changes in the colour of stool/urine

– Fatigue – trouble in concentration or focusing 

– Nausea or vomit 

– Swelling in the arms or legs, also called oedema

– Headaches 

– Diarrhoea

– Weight loss

Is liver transplant an option to consider?

Liver transplant or replacement means removing the whole or part of the liver from a cadaver or a living donor and planting it in a patient suffering from end-stage liver disease, replacing their diseased liver.

A liver transplant is suggested if the physician diagnoses that the liver can no longer function adequately, either because of an infection or from certain medications and disorders complications. It is likely to be seen in people who consume alcohol in large quantities, have a gene mutation, are older, or have an existing liver condition or hepatitis. Therefore, book regular check-ups at the best liver transplant hospital in India and consult with the specialist there. It is equally important to know the liver transplant costs in India.

With recent advances in surgical procedures, most liver transplant recipients have generally lived nearly 30 years of normal life after the transplant. 

However, there are risks associated with liver transplants: rejection and infection. Rejection occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the new liver like an alien, just as it would attack any virus. In addition, because the immune system is weakened, it is easier for transplant patients to get other infections.

Liver transplant cost in India

Based on the case’s complexity, patients must stay in the hospital for 3 to 4 weeks after a liver transplant. In addition, sometimes, the transplanted liver could face rejection, so patients have to take immunosuppressive medicines regularly for the rest of their lives. So, the liver transplant cost is one part, but the need for medication continues for the rest of the patient’s lives.

This cost could range anywhere between INR 20 – 25 lakhs by some estimates. The various components of this include: 

  • pre-transplant evaluation
  • surgery 
  • post-surgery recovery period. 

The recipient’s insurance covers the medical expenses, including transplant evaluation, transplant surgery, and follow-up appointments. Most insurance companies do have coverage plans which include liver transplantation, but one might need to consult with their insurance carrier to confirm the same.

Conclusion

All the hospitals may not be equipped to do a liver replacement procedure or have a team to consider it. It is recommended to search some of the best liver transplant hospitals in India. Though prevention is the best way, if needed, the treatment and replacement should be ideally covered by the health insurance. So, it would help in choosing a healthcare provider accordingly.


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