There are only a few natural products that have demonstrated the wide range of protective properties as curcumin. Turmeric has three main bioactive components which are curcumin, desmethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin. These curcuminoids have many biological effects including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antitumor, antibacterial, and antiviral properties.

These properties have led to numerous clinical studies regards to its benefits on various conditions including obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, depression and dementia.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has become an increasing epidemic. It is the most common cause of elevated liver enzymes and is associated with diabetes and obesity with advanced liver disease.

There are few guidelines for diagnostic and follow up methods and limited proven treatment options. Previous research of pharmacological agents to treat nonalcoholic fatty liver disease were performed with poor results.

According to a recent review published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine, researchers investigated the effect of turmeric/curcumin supplementation on liver function.

Since inflammation plays a significant role in pathophysiology of chronic hepatic diseases and there have been mixed results regarding the impact of curcumin/turmeric on liver enzymes, the research team conducted a meta-analysis in the format of randomized controlled trials (RCT).

This meta-analysis consisted of 31 randomized controlled trials. Laboratory assessments included aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), and gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT). The curcumin doses ranged from 80 mg to 2400 mg and turmeric doses ranged from 1200 mg to 3000 mg. These studies were conducted over a duration between 4 to 24 weeks.

As a result, turmeric/curcumin supplementation significantly reduced blood levels of ALT and AST but not GGT. Curcumin impacts several anti-inflammatory pathways and has antioxidant properties providing a hepatoprotective effect.

The oral delivery of turmeric/curcumin is challenged by its poor bioavailability. It is necessary to improve the bioavailability so it can be used in many applications. Many supplement manufacturers use different strategies to enhance bioavailability with piperine, nanoparticles, or emulsions. I would recommend using a curcumin formula demonstrating enhanced bioavailability.

These individuals are in a chronic disease state and have increased demands then what could be obtained from the diet alone and therefore, dietary supplements should be considered to help prevent the progression as well as improve liver function. Other nutrients to consider include delta and gamma tocotrienols, L-carnitine, phosphatidylcholine, fiber or resistant starch, n-acetylcysteine, fish oil, and probiotics.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: Mohammad Jafar Dehzad, Hamid Ghalandari. Effects of curcumin/turmeric supplementation on liver function in adults: A GRADE-assessed systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Complement Ther Med. 2023 Jun;74:102952.

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