Herbs for Liver Cysts

Liver cysts are fluid-filled sacs that do not require treatment unless symptoms develop, such as abdominal bloating or pain. Even though liver cysts are benign and do not cause liver failure, they can signal the presence of an underlying disorder, such as polycystic liver disease or a parasitic infection. In addition to surgical removal, traditional herbal medicines may help to prevent reoccurrence. Discuss all of your treatment options with your doctor before attempting self-treatment with complementary therapies.

Milk Thistle

Blooming Milk thistle (Silybum marianum)
Blooming milk thistle. (Image: SergeyChayko/iStock/Getty Images)

This herb contains active compounds called silymarin and silybin that the “Physicians’ Desk Reference for Herbal Medicines” describes as hepatoprotective, meaning they protect the liver by blocking toxin-binding receptor sites in the cells of the organ’s outer membrane. A review published in the "World Journal of Gastroenterology" in May 2011 finds that both silymarin and silybin demonstrate antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic properties. Also, a study published in the July 2011 issue of "Cardiovascular Diabetology” reports that silibinin depletes a protein metabolite that damages the lining of blood cells, or endothelium in diabetic rats. Consult your physician before taking milk thistle if you take other medicines because this herb may interfere with their metabolism in the liver.

Dandelion

Dandelion head against clear sky, close-up
A dandelion grows in a field. (Image: Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

According to a study published in the "Journal of Ethnopharmacology” in August 2010, dandelion demonstrates anti-fibrotic properties and promotes the regeneration of liver cells in mice. In the May 2010 issue of "Food and Chemical Toxicology,” scientists discuss the effects of two polysaccharides from dandelion that significantly decrease the activity of certain enzymes responsible for producing inflammation and liver lesions. Do not take dandelion preparations without talking to your doctor if you have diabetes, use antacids, or take antibiotics or medications for bipolar disorder because of possible herb-drug interactions.

Artichoke

Fresh green artichokes
Artichokes for sale at a market. (Image: Bepsimage/iStock/Getty Images)

Artichoke leaves and roots contain compounds that stimulate bile flow and reduce fat concentration. A study published in "Phytotherapy Research" in May 2010 states that artichoke extract positively affects cellular respiration in the livers of rats. Another study published in the same journal in 2008 shows that artichoke protects endothelium cells by suppressing the formation of reactive toxins that occur as byproducts of normal metabolism. Do not take artichoke extract without medical supervision if you have a history of gallstones or a bile duct blockage.

Green Tea

Glass of green tea on coaster, close-up
A cup of green tea. (Image: ULTRA F/Photodisc/Getty Images)

In the July 2007 issue of "American Journal of Physiology, Cell Physiology,” scientists propose that the key to reducing liver cysts is to prevent the abnormal growth of epithelial cells by suppressing vascular endothelial growth factor. Agents that suppress VEGF are called angiogenesis inhibitors and, according to a study published in the April 2006 issue of the “International Journal of Cancer,” green tea is one of them. The scientists further note that green tea compounds block other factors that allow the growth of rogue blood vessels from existing capillaries, such as interleukin-8. Consult your physician before using green tea if you take other medications to avoid interactions.

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