Natural Protection from Toxic Damage to the Liver

Liver damage and failure can occur from exposure to environmental and ingested toxins. Lab, animal, and clinical studies suggest turmeric's curcumin compounds may be able to protect the liver from some of these damaging compounds: (vii.282)

Table VII.38: Protective Antitoxin Effects of Turmeric Compounds
Substance What it Does to the Liver Turmeric/Turmeric Compound Effects

Aflatoxin B(1)

(A mycotoxin produced by fungi.) (vii.287)

Aflatoxin B(1) is toxic to the liver and is also a liver cancer(vii.287)

In an animal study, turmeric's curcumin compounds protected animals exposed daily to this potential food toxin for 90 days. Curcumin boosted natural antioxidant levels, reduced free radical damage, and significantly prevented liver damage compared to placebo. (vii.287)

Anti-Tuberculosis Treatment (ATT) Drugs

(Standard treatment protocol containing isoniazid, rifampicin, and pyrazinamide.) (vii.286)

Studies show that each TB drug by itself is toxic to the liver. The anti-tuberculosis treatment is even more likely to be toxic when the drugs are used in combination, which is recommended to increase success of treatment and avoid drug resistance. (vii.286)

Depending on the population, the percentage of TB patients who experience liver disease caused by anti-tuberculosis drugs runs as high as 4.3-11.5%. The risk is substantially higher if patients are elderly or malnourished, or have other conditions such as hepatitis, HIV, or alcoholism. (vii.286)

The drugs cause liver damage by: (vii.286)

A large multi-center study conducted with over 500 patients with tuberculosis. Of these 192 were treated with conventional anti-tuberculosis treatment alone and 316 were treated with a combination of anti-TB drugs and herbs: (vii.286)

  • 1 g/day of turmeric enriched to contain 25% curcuminoids
  • 1 g/day of concentrated Tinospora cordifolia extract

Those treated with the drug/herb combination had significantly fewer people with any signs of liver toxicity (as measured by blood tests for elevated liver enzymes) than the drug-only group. Severity of liver problems was lower as well. In fact, 63% of those who developed liver problems in the drug-only group were severe enough to be symptomatic while none of the herb/drug group had symptoms. Active TB was also resolved faster in those who used turmeric and cordifolia with the conventional drugs. (vii.286)

Chromium (VI)

(Carcinogenic compound used in chrome-plating, dye, and leather industries.) (vii.269)

Causes liver damage from: (vii.269)

In an animal study, 10 days of oral doses of 400 mg/kg of body weight of curcumin significantly reduced signs of poisoning and liver damage. The turmeric compound: (vii.269)

  • Prevented detrimental weight loss.
  • Blocked fibrotic increase in liver weight.
  • Suppressed abnormal liver enzyme levels.
  • Protected most liver cells and mitochondria from severe damage, loss of function, and cell death.
  • Help sustain and boost natural antioxidant levels in the liver.

Carbon Tetrachloride

(Carcinogenic compound used in pharmaceutical, petroleum, and rubber industries and to make solvents, pesticides, and cleaning chemicals.) (vii.288)

Ingestion or inhalation of this compound can cause both benign and malignant liver tumors. In the liver it triggers: (vii.282288)

Carbon tetrachloride destroys the structural cells in the liver, diminishes liver function, and causes cirrhosis. Long-term exposure in animal studies shows it also can reduce glycogen levels in the liver, which in turn can affect blood sugar levels. (vii.282)

Curcumin in various doses greater than 50 mg/kg body weight was able to help prevent liver damage from short-term (2 month) exposure to toxic carbon tetrachloride. Oral doses of curcumin (200 mg/kg) significantly reduced or prevented inflammatory cytokine production and abnormal liver enzyme levels. (vii.282)

In animal studies, 100 mg/kg of the turmeric compound was able to reverse cirrhosis of the liver caused by extended exposure to the toxin. Curcumin was administered after 3 months of toxin exposure and showed the following significant benefits: (vii.282)

  • Increased glutathione antioxidant levels.
  • Restored glycogen levels to normal.
  • Partially reversed fibrosis.


(An anti-malaria drug.) (vii.289)

Chloroquine phosphate is a drug used to treat malaria. Unfortunately, at normal and higher doses it can cause liver and kidney damage, mostly by: (vii.289)

14 days of high oral doses of turmeric's curcumin compounds before and after chloroquine treatment significantly: (vii.289)

  • Inhibited free radical damage to liver and kidney cells.
  • Restored natural antioxidant levels to near normal.
  • Prevented most signs of DNA damage.

Excess Copper

(Caused by toxic accumulation of copper due to the genetic disorder Wilson's disease.) (vii.290)

Wilson's disease is a genetic disorder where a mutant gene means cells fail to properly make proteins that transport copper out of cells so they can be excreted. Copper accumulates to toxic levels in the body. It can severely damage the liver and cause liver dysfunction and failure(vii.290)

Lab studies indicate that turmeric's curcumin compounds can help correct the misfolded transporter proteins. (vii.290)

Excess Iron

Iron is necessary to make red blood cells. However, researchers suggest that too much of this essential metal compound contributes to a number of diseases. These include: (vii.291)

Excess iron is difficult for the body to get rid of and accumulates to form damaging deposits in cells. One of the reasons iron deposits are so dangerous is because iron interacts with naturally formed, mildly harmful free radicals to generate especially dangerous free radicals. The cell damage these super-radicals inflict produces chronic inflammation. In the liver, excessive iron causes fibrosis and can lead to cirrhosis of the liver. (vii.282291)

Several compounds in turmeric are iron chelators that bind to and get rid of excess iron molecules in the body. Resveratrol is another turmeric compound that can counteract excess iron. Others include curcumin and quercetin.  (vii.282)

In addition to chelating iron, curcumin has other beneficial effects against toxic levels of iron. In an animal study, 10 days of oral doses of 30 mg/kg of body weight of curcumin significantly: (vii.282)

  • Reduced signs of free radical damage to liver cells caused by excess iron.
  • Helped normalize liver enzyme levels.


(Chemotherapy drug used to treat cancer, including leukemia and solid tumors.) (vii.292)

Although methotrexate works against cancer cells, it also has toxic effects on health cells. It accumulates in the liver and: (vii.292)

  • Natural antioxidants.
  • Folate levels.
  • Liver enzyme activity, indicating leaking and damaged liver cells.

In an animal study, pre- or post-treatment with curcumin (oral doses of 200 mg/kg of body weight) significantly protected liver cells from damage caused by chemotherapy. Pretreatment worked better than post-treatment with the turmeric compound. (vii.292)


(Carcinogenic compound used in textile industries and to make metal salt nanoparticles.) (vii.288)

Causes reversible liver damage from: (vii.282)

Can lead to acute liver failure and death if untreated. (vii.282)

2 days of 200-400 mg/kg doses of curcumin injections helped prevent liver damage and death. Both doses of the turmeric compound reduced inflammation and levels of free radicals(vii.282)

Whereas chromium III is the most common type in the environment and is a micronutrient. (vii.269)
The parasite that causes malaria uses iron to grow. (vii.291)
Hydroxyl radicals. (vii.291)

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