An after-work drink with friends may give you a light mood to help relieve stress, and it has been reported in some studies that light alcohol is associated with a lower risk of developing and dying from heart disease.
However, alcohol abuse can lead to many problems, and a typical hazard it brings is chronic alcohol-induced liver diseases. It is estimated that one in five alcoholics and heavy drinkers develop fatty liver or steatosis. Besides, alcohol-related cirrhosis is highly like to turn into liver cancer.
If you are a heavy drinker, you now could try some ginsenosides supplements to alleviate the liver damages caused by alcohol.
According to a study published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, ginsenoside Rk3, a kind of active ingredients in ginseng, could protect against alcohol-induced liver injury in mice.
The study, led by researchers at Northwest University, was designed to see whether ginsenoside Rk3 has liver protective effects against alcohol-related liver injury and its potential mechanisms.
Researchers gave mice 50% alcohol and meanwhile treated them with ginsenoside Rk3 (25 and 50 mg/kg) once a day for 6 weeks.
Liver blood tests are the most commonly used method to assess liver functions or liver injury. Once the liver is injured and damaged, the liver will split liver enzymes aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) into the blood. Therefore, AST and ALT markers in the blood are important indicators for liver disease.
In the study, researchers found that mice were free from getting fatty liver and the markers AST and ALT showed a decrease in the serum. This suggested that ginsenoside Rg3 protected alcohol-induced liver injury in mice.
Researchers further explored in which pathways ginsenoside Rk3 protects an alcohol-induced liver injury. They found that ginsenoside Rk3 reduced oxidative stress and inhibited the expression of inflammatory cytokines and apoptotic proteins in the liver.
This study indicated that ginsenoside Rk3 might be a promising candidate treatment agent against alcohol-induced liver disease.
Ginsenosides also showed a protective role in liver disease in previous studies.
A clinical study published in the Journal of Ginseng Research found the therapeutic effects of Korean red ginseng extract (containing ginsenosides Rg3, Rh2, Rg5, Rg2, Rh1, Rh4 etc.) in patients with chronic liver diseases.
The project recruited 30 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma and another 30 with liver cirrhosis. They were divided into two groups, the control group treated with medical therapy alone, and the treated group receiving medical therapy together with Korean red ginseng capsules
The study lasted 11 weeks. Researchers found that Korean red ginseng-given group saw a significantly improved liver function and reduced tumor marker AFP levels and viral titers in the hepatitis C virus.
Though these studies indicate the promising therapeutic effects of ginsenosides against liver disease, there is still a long way to go in further research and more large-cohort studies are needed to establish evidence.