Knowing how commonly used drugs affect different systems in the body helps you make choices regarding your health. Liver enzymes are affected by most drugs, including Valium. This is not as negative as it sounds because if these enzymes were not affected, it would be impossible for your body to get rid of Valium.
Valium used to be a brand name for diazepam. Diazepam is used to treat anxiety, insomnia, restless leg syndrome and muscle disorders. Occasionally, doctors give this drug to patients to calm them before procedures such as endoscopy.
The liver is a large internal organ in the body. In addition to storing glycogen, the liver makes enzymes used in digestion. It produces bile, synthesizes proteins, produces factors that clot blood and helps break down drugs.
Diazepam is metabolized in the liver. The 1998 issue of "American Family Physician" says that the point of drug metabolism “is to make drugs more water soluble” so they can be excreted. Cytochrome P450 enzymes work together, making specific alternations to a drug. Although small amounts of these enzymes are found in the intestines, lungs and other organs, they are primarily found in the liver.
Cytochrome P450 enzymes in the liver break down diazepam by many chemical processes. The drug is demethylated and hydroxylated. Demethylation involves the removal of a methyl group, consisting of one carbon and three hydrogen atoms. Hydroxylation involves the addition of a hydroxyl group consisting of an oxygen atom bonded to a hydrogen atom. Glucuronidation, or the addition of glucuronic acid, also takes place.
Diazepam is not recommended for patients with liver disease who may be less able to metabolize the drug. These patients may suffer from additional liver disease or drug toxicity if they take drugs that their bodies cannot effectively excrete. If you have liver disease, take only those drugs that your doctor has recommended.
- International Program of Chemical Safety: Diazepam
- "Current Drug Metabolism"; Benzodiazepine Metabolism: An Analytical Perspective; Roberto Mandrioli, et al.
- Drugs.com; Diazepam; June 2011
- "American Family Practice"; Cytochrome P450: New Nomenclature and Clinical Implications; Melanie Johns Cupp et al.; January 1998