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Year : 1999  |  Volume : 31  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 166-175

Development of phytomedicines for liver disease


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A phytotherapeutic approach to modern drug development can provide many invaluable drugs from traditional medicinal plants. Search for pure phytochemicals as drugs is time consuming and expensive. Numerous plants and polyherbal formulations are used for the treatment of liver diseases. However, in most of the severe cases, the treatments are not satisfactory. Although experimental evaluations were carried out on a good number of these plants and formulations, the studies were mostly incomplete and insufficient. The therapeutic values were tested against a few chemicals-induced subclinical levels of liver damages in rodents. Even common dietary antioxidants can provide such protection from liver damage caused by oxidative mechanisms of toxic chemicals. However, experiments have clearly shown that plants such as Picrorrhiza kurroa, Andrographis paniculata, Eclipta alba, Silibum marianum, Phyllanthus maderaspatensis and Trichopus zeylanicus are sufficiently active against, at least, certain hepatotoxins. Screening plants for antihepatitis activities remains in its infancy. P.kurroa, E. alba, Glycyrrhiza glabra, A. paniculata and P. amarus are likely to be active against Hepatitis B virus. In the case of severe liver damage, most of the liver cells die or turn into fibrotic state. In this case, the treatment should include in addition to the therapeutic agents, agents which can stimulate liver cell proliferation. For developing satisfactory herbal combinations to treat severe liver diseases, plants have to be evaluated systematically for properties such as antiviral activity (Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, etc), antihepatotoxicity* (antioxidants and others), stimulation of liver regeneration and choleretic activity. The plants with remarkable activities for each of the above properties have to be identified. Single plant may not have all the desired activities. A combination of different herbal extracts/'fractions is likely to provide desired activities to cure severe liver diseases. Development of such medicines with standards of safety and efficacy can revitalise treatment of liver disorders. * hepatoprotective activity.






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