Did you know a large number of commonly prescribed drugs can injure your liver cells? Sometimes liver damage is mild and only detected with a blood test. In other instances, the medication can cause severe symptoms of hepatitis.

If medication injures the liver and disrupts its normal functions, symptoms, signs, and abnormal blood tests can develop. The abnormalities seen in drug-induced liver diseases are similar to those in liver diseases caused by viruses or autoimmune diseases. For example, drug induced hepatitis (inflammation of liver cells) is similar to viral hepatitis. Both of them can cause elevations in blood levels of the liver enzymes  aspartate amino transferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT). They can also cause symptoms such as loss of appetite, fatigue and nausea. Drug-induced cholestasis (blockage in the flow of bile caused by injury to the bile ducts) can present in the same way as cholestasis of autoimmune liver disease (primary biliary cirrhosis) and cause elevations in blood levels of bilirubin (leading to jaundice), alkaline phosphatase (a liver enzyme), and itching.

Some medications are well known to be risky to the liver and caution should be used. In other instances, liver injury is an unexpected and uncommon reaction only experienced by a small percentage of patients. If you already suffer with a liver condition such as fatty liver or hepatitis, please be extra careful with the medication you take.

The following medications are associated with a higher risk of causing harm to the liver:

  • Antibiotics, particularly Augmentin and Nitrofurantoin
  • Amiodarone (Cordarone)
  • Methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall)
  • Anticonvulsants, such as drugs used to treat epilepsy
  • Oral anti-fungal medication
  • Cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Lithium
  • Isotretinoin (Accutane or Roaccutane) used to treat severe acne.

Taking one of these medications places you at increased risk of liver injury; however, taking two or more of these medications at the same time increases the risk substantially.

If you are taking one or more of these medications, it’s vital that your doctor monitors your liver health. In most cases, liver damage can be assessed with a simple blood test called a liver function test. This test measures levels of 4 different enzymes present in liver cells. These enzymes are:

  • AST (aspartate aminotransferase). The normal range is 5-45 U/L.
  • ALT (alanine aminotransferase). The normal range is 5-45 U/L.
  • AP (alkaline phosphatase). The normal range is 30-120 U/L.  AP is sometimes raised in non-liver related conditions.
  • GGT (gamma glutamyl transpeptidase). The normal range is 5-35 U/L.

These enzymes belong in your liver cells, where they carry out a range of important functions. If your liver cells become damaged, the enzymes leak into your bloodstream and give an elevated reading on a blood test.

How to protect and repair liver cells

  1. Take a good quality liver tonic
    Despite taking good care of your diet, all of us overindulge occasionally, and we do live in a polluted world. Milk thistle, also known as Silybum marianum, has been used for more than 2000 years and is a safe non-toxic herb. The active constituent, silymarin, protects the membranes of the liver cells with its powerful antioxidant properties and stimulates the production of new healthy liver cells. It also supports the liver filter which removes dangerous toxins. The clinically effective dose of the herb St Mary’s Thistle, is the dose that has been proven to help the liver in hundreds of clinical trials. At least 420 mg of pure silymarin is required daily. Livatone Plus contains Silybum marianum as well as all the B-group vitamins, which are essential for healthy liver function and detoxification. It also contains the sulphur-bearing amino acids, Glutamine, Glycine, Taurine & Cysteine, which are needed for efficient liver detoxification. Livatone Plus also contains an effective dose of the most important antioxidant vitamins, namely vitamin C, E and natural beta-carotene.
  2. Eat less sugar and high carbohydrate foods
    Sugar and high carbohydrate foods form the basis of most people’s diet. Bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, breakfast cereals, soda and any food that contains flour all fall into this category. Carbohydrate rich foods are convenient and they are fun foods to eat. The benefits end there. Sugar and carbohydrate rich foods promote abdominal weight gain and the development of fatty liver disease. In some cases, sugar can do just as much harm to your liver as alcohol.
  3. Eat more vegetables
    Vegetables contain the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants your liver cells need in order to carry out detoxification and fat burning. The pigments that give vegetables their colors are powerful antioxidants that help to protect your liver cells from damage. Vegetables are also high in fiber. This is good for preventing constipation, but the fiber in vegetables also acts as food for good bacteria in your bowel. We say that the fiber in vegetables acts as a prebiotic.
  4. Selenium is important
    Your liver requires a high level of selenium in order to produce the powerful antioxidant glutathione peroxidise. This antioxidant helps to mop up harmful free radicals in your body, and it is required for phase 2 detoxification in your liver. Selenium also helps your body to fight viruses, and several viruses are capable of causing harm to liver cells. Selenomune Designer Energy capsules contain 200 micrograms of selenium per capsule. They also contain a range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and amino acids. Selenomune contains kelp, which is a rich source of iodine. Iodine is required for an efficient metabolism.

The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.