Research Suggests Herbal Supplement May Shield Liver From Damage

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Research suggests herbal supplement may shield liver from damage Certain drugs, even if they are sold over-the-counter, may cause liver damage and lead to organ transplantation, but a new study suggests a common Eastern medicine may help patients avoid that outcome.

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine found that a molecule called S-methylmethionine (SMM), which is sold as an herbal medicine known as Vitamin U for treatment of the digestive system, can be converted into glutathione which deactivates harmful byproducts of acetaminophen and protects liver from damage.

The compound can be found in abundance in many plants, including cabbage and wheat.

"By administering SMM, which is found in every flowering plant and vegetable, we were able to prevent a lot of the drug’s toxic effect," says Dr. Gary Peltz, professor of anesthesiology at SUSM.

He added that acetaminophen overdose is a significant public health problem, especially for parents who often do not realize that it is present in a wide variety of pediatric medicines. Some studies have found severe damage can occur at even two to three times the recommended dose.

The study was published earlier this month in the online version of Genome Research.
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