I’ve looked around on the web for a study on the action, effects or side-effects of this herbal supplement, Liv52 from Himalaya Drug Company. But, most of the articles I managed to find seem to present Liv52 as a sort of panacea, which , I personally don’t find very comforting, when reading about a cure/therapy/medicine. If you’d like to read them, just go to http://www.liv52.com and choose from the long list.
Anyways, I decided to look around the web for the individual ingredients of the tablet, as advertised on a 100 tablet bottle of Liv52 manufactured by the Himalaya Drug Company, Makali, Bangalore (Batch no.B059208 B): Capparis spinosa, Cichorium intybus, Solanum nigrum, Terminalia arjuna, Cassia occidentalis, Achillea millefolium, and Tamarix gallica.
This is just a work of curiosity; none of the information here is meant to be any advice or opinion as to the utility and/or efficacy of Liv52; the information presented in this blog post/page should not be construed as medical advice. Further, the information herein has been collected and presented by a layman, not related to the field of medicine in any manner whatsoever.
- Capparis spinosa:As per Wikipedia, “in Greek popular medicine, herbal tea made of caper (Capparis) root and young shoots is considered to be beneficial against rheumatism … also provides instructions on the use of sprouts, roots, leaves and seeds in the treatment of strangury (painful, frequent urination of small volumes that are expelled slowly only by straining) and inflammation (biological response of vascular tissues to harmful stimuli … clinical signs include redness, pain, swelling etc). Wikipedia entry however admits that citation was needed to support this observation. It also notes that this plant contains more Quercetin per weight than any other plant. From related Wikipedia entry, Quercetin has been reportedly demonstrated to have significant anti-inflammtory activity by inhibiting both manufacture and release of histamine and other allergic/inflammatory (again, citation needed). In addition, it was also reported to exert potent antioxidant activity and Vitamin C sparing action (citation needed). Sparing action is defined as the manner in which the presence of a nonessential nutritive component in the diet lowers an organism’s requirement for an essential component . For instance, Vitamin E protects vitamin A because it can accept oxygen and get oxidized itself, thereby acting as an antioxidant. This is referred to as exerting a sparing action on vitamin A by preventing its oxidation. It is speculated in this entry that Quercetin may have positive effects in combating or helping to prevent cancer, prostatitis, heart disease, cataracts, allergies/inflammations, and respiratory diseases such as bronchitis and asthma. It also has been claimed to have antidepressant properties and reducing risk of pancreatic cancer in smokers. All these observations, however, carried one significant rider, noted in the entry itself: Quercetin has neither been confirmed as a specific therapeutic for any condition nor has it been approved by any regulatory agency. Handbook of Herbs and Spices by K. V. Peter, Woodhead Publishing, 2004 describes the medicinal utility of Capparis as follows: “Capers are said to reduce flatulence and have anti-rheumatic effect.In Ayurvedic medicine, Capers are recorded as hepatic stimulants and protectors, improving liver function. Capers have reported uses for arteriosclerosis, as diuretics, kidney disinfectants, vermifuges and tonics” (A vermifuge is a medicine that expels intestinal worms: The Free Dictionary). “Capers contain considerable amount of antioxidant bioflavinoid, rutin.”
- Cichorium intybus: Common chicory. Per Wikipedia, the plant contains volatile oils which are toxic to intestinal parasites. Therefore its use as forage supplement for farm animals! The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook by James A. Duke (Publisher: Rodale, 2000) is more appreciative of the therapeutic benefits of Chicory: gall bladder inflammation, indigestion, lack of appetite, liver problems. According to this book, 70% mice fed Chicory survived acetaminophen overdose (acute overdoses of paracetamol/acetaminophen can cause potentially fatal liver damage: Wikipedia). Another book (Tyler’s Honest Herbal, Steven Foster, Varro E. Tyler, Routledge, 1999) refers to researchers having confirmed the hepatoprotectant activity of the plant in mice.
- Solanum nigrum: Wikipedia records the use of this plant’s leaves for treating mouth ulcers in India. Also, reportedly, Chinese experiments confirmed the plant inhibiting growth of cervical carcinoma. The Indian Medicinal Plants: A Compendium of 500 Species, P. K. Warrier et al (Orient Blackswan, 1993) describes the plant as a wonder drug: “It is useful in vitiated conditions of tridosa, rheumatalgia, asthma, bronchitis, wounds, ulcer, flatulence, dyspepsia, stangury, hepatomegaly, otalgia, hiccough, nasal catarrh, ophthalmopathy, vomiting, cardiopathy, leprosy, skin diseases, fever, splenomegaly, hemorrhoids, hoarseness, nephropathy, drospsy, general debility, regulating blood pressure, erysipelas, rat bite, pulmonary tuberculosis, diarrhea, hydrophobia, giddiness, dipsia, otopathy, rhinopathy, hepatitis and gastrohelcosis. Whew! I thought the list would never end. Now that it ended, my head is spinning and I probably need a dose of Solanum. On the other hand, the New Oxford Book of Food Plants by John Vaughan, Catherine Geissler, Oxford University Press, 2009, tells me that the plant as having no commercial value. Possibly, though, a traditional herbal remedy might not have commercial value in the sense of a cash crop, for instance. Medicinal plants: Volume 11 of Plant Resources of Tropical Africa by G.H. Schmelzer et al (PROTA, 2008) would probably lie somewhere in the middle ground. It reports the plant being used as an emollient (emollients are substances that soften and soothe the skin) and analgesic to treat itch, burns and neuralgic pains; also ‘said to have’ sedative properties; ‘considered to be a cure’ for diabetes. Extract of leaves and stem is used for treating dropsy, heart diseases, piles, gonorrhea, fevers, eye diseases and chronic enlargement of liver and spleen.
- Terminalia arjuna: The opinion in case of Terminalia appears more promising. According to Wikipedia, this plant is utilized in ayurvedic medicine for organic/functional heart problems including angina, hypertension and deposits in arteries and in treatment of pain due a fall, ecchymosis, spermatorrhoea and sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhoea. (no supporting citation). Reportedly, research suggests that Terminalia is useful in alleviating the pain of angina pectoris and in treating heart failure and coronary artery disease. It may be useful in treating hypercholesterolemia (high blood cholesterol). The cardioprotective effects of Terminalia are thought to be caused by the antioxidants in the plant. In addition to its cardiac effects, it is also reported as having possible protective action against gastric ulcers. Major Herbs of Ayurveda by Elizabeth M. Williamson (Elsevier Health Sciences, 2002) has similar observations for this plant: “traditionally used for heart problems … used in treatment of cardiovascular diseases such as angina, myocardial infarction, hypertension, congestive heart failure, coronary artery diseases and hypercholesterolemia … also used to treat hepatic, urogenital and venereal diseases…”
- Cassia occidentalis: Wikipedia does not appear to have a direct entry on Cassia occidentalis. However, another species, C. fistula has been reported as a potent Ayurvedic medicine and useful against gastrointestinal conditions. In a study by K. Usha et al, “Hepatoprotective Effect of Hygrophila Spinosa and Cassia Occidentalis on Carbon Tetrachloride Induced Liver Damage in Experimental Rats”, published in Indian Journal of Clinical Biochemistry 2007/22(2), extract of Cassia occidentalis was found to have a protective effect against induced liver damage in rats. It however cautioned that the exact nature of the hepatoprotection exhibited by the plant sample had to be studied for further details. The Pharmacology of Chinese Herbs by Kee Chang Huang describes the plant as having blood pressure lowering, antibacterial and anti-asthmatic effects. On the whole, I could not manage to find any substantial literature on this plant, besides recitals of its properties, which ranged from folklore to downright vague.
- Achillea millefolium: The Wikipedia reports various parts of this plant as useful for treatment of ailments: hemorrhoids, headaches, recovery from severe bruising, colds and influenza. Anti-allergenic compounds extracted from the flowers were reported to treat allergic mucus problems such as hay fever and mild asthma. According to the Wikipedia entry, the plant has an effect on the circulatory, digestive, excretory, and urinary systems and can be used as digestive tonic to encourage bile flow, as a diuretic, as a tonic for the blood and to stimulate the circulation. Acording to the Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook by James A. Duke (Publisher: Rodale, 2000), it is useful for gall bladder problems (“stimulates gall bladder’s release of bile, which improves digestion and eases gastric complaints”), gastritis, hemorrhage, intestinal bleeding, lack of appetite, liver disease, menstrual pain etc.
- Tamarix gallica: Wikipedia does not list any medicinal property of this plant (as on 09.01.2010). C. P. Khare, in Indian Herbal Remedies: Rational Western Therapy, Ayurvedic, and other Traditional Usage (Springer, 2004) describes the use of plant extracts against sore throat and stomatitis.
The ingredients of Liv52 have been reported as having an effect on the liver. To summarize what was found in the above mentioned articles, webpages and books, in the context of liver:
- Capparis spinosa: Hepatic stimulants and protectors, improving liver function.
- Cichorium intybus: Treatment of gall bladder inflammation, indigestion, lack of appetite, liver problems; hepatoprotectant.
- Solanum nigrum: Treatment for chronic enlargement of liver and spleen.
- Terminalia arjuna: Protective action against gastric ulcers; used to treat hepatic diseases.
- Cassia occidentalis: Protective effect against induced liver damage.
- Achillea millefolium: Has an effect on digestive system and can be used as digestive tonic to encourage bile flow. Useful for gall bladder problems (“stimulates gall bladder’s release of bile, which improves digestion and eases gastric complaints”), gastritis, lack of appetite, liver disease.
However, much of the information appears to be based on folklore or traditional information. At least on the surface, there does not appear to be much modern day study on the mode of action of these herbs.
Readers are welcome (indeed, invited) to share their personal experience with Liv52.