Herbs for Liver Cirrhosis, Fibrosis and Hepatitis B
Cirrhosis of the liver can certainly be caused by alcohol consumption as well as pharmaceutical medications. But cirrhosis is also often the result of other liver damage – including that from hepatitis B and liver fibrosis.
The existence of cirrhosis – a condition where the liver is inflamed and enlarged – often follows these and other issues of the liver. And often it is cirrhosis that ends up causing the demise of the physical body.
Conventional medicine has very little to combat cirrhosis with. For this reason, it is important to consider natural medicines: Especially if they are proven to work.
In this article
Chinese herbal formula treats liver diseases
A number of recent research studies over the past decade have confirmed the efficacy and mechanisms for a certain Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) formulation on hepatitis B, liver cirrhosis and liver fibrosis. Well over a hundred studies have been conducted on this formula, in fact. The formula is called Fuzheng Huayu.
In a recent review of the research, a meta-study from China’s National Natural Science Foundation conducted an analysis of the human research. Out of 616 studies, twelve high quality human clinical studies of this TCM formula were reviewed and analyzed.
The analysis included the results of 1,392 patients, from which 714 were treated with the TCM formula with the rest being controls. The computational study found that all the major markers for liver health – and hepatitis, cirrhosis and fibrosis – were all improved following the treatment of the Fuzheng Huayu formula. These were measured against the control groups in each study.
These measures included the following liver diagnostic tests. Using standard mean deviation (SMD) values were:
• Alanine transaminase (ALT) was reduced by an average SMD of 0.87
• Aspartate transaminase (AST) levels were reduced by an average SMD of .22
• Total bilirubin (TBil) was reduced by an average SMD of 1.30
• Hyaluronic acid (HA) was reduced by an average SMD of 0.94
• Laminin (LN) was reduced by an average SMD of 0.80
• Type III procollagen (PC-III) was reduced by an average SMD of 1.27
• Type IV procollagen (IV-C) was reduced by an average SMD of 0.78
• Albumin levels increased by an average SMD of 1.10
With the exception of AST, all of these SMD values are considered either medium (above .50) or large (above .80). For AST, this marker was classified as having a small (above .20) effect. However, many of the individual studies showed SMD values that were above .50 and .80 – a medium to large effect of lowered liver enzymes.
In the same way, other markers’ SMD values were actually weighted down by a few poor results. For example, four of the studies showed ALT SMD levels reduced by close to double that of the average SMD – meaning the effectiveness of the TCM formula was very significant for these liver enzymes that indicate cirrhosis severity.
Significant Child-Pugh score improvements
The Fuzheng Huayu formula also significantly reduced the Child-Pugh scores for those who took the formula compared to the control groups from the studies. Child-Pugh scoring is a standardized analysis used for liver cirrhosis that gauges the severity of the disease.
Among the twelve studies, which ranged from 2005 to 2014 the TCM formula was given to the patients at doses from 3-4 tablets, given three times per day. Each tablet had between 300 and 400 milligrams of the TCM formula.
The study lengths ranged from three months to six months (12-24 weeks). Nine of the studies tested patients who had cirrhosis caused by hepatitis B. The rest were either schistosomiasis or fibrosis.
The number of patients included each study ranged from 32 to 110 patients. All of the studies were randomized. All had parallel controls – meaning matched controls. Four of the studies were blinded.
Most of the studies also found that the Fuzheng Huayu significantly improved qualify of life for the patients. And those studies that measured the effective rate found over 80 percent effective rates.
The bottom line is that this Chinese Medicine formula works. The formula of herbs not only has been used for thousands of years to clear blockages that relate to the liver meridian.
What are the herbs in the Fuzhend Huayu formula?
The Fuzheng Huayu formula contains six medicinal herbs. These are:
• Red Sage – AKA Salvia miltiorrhiza – Radix Salvia Miltiorrhizae – Danshen
• Cordyceps sinesis mushroom – AKA Chongcao
• Peach kernel – AKA Semen Persicae – Taoren
• Gynostemma pentaphyllum – AKA Jiaogulan – a vine in the cucumber family
• Pine pollen – AKA Pollen Pini – Songhuafen
• Schisandra fruit – AKA Schisandra chinensis – Fructus Schisandrae Chinensis – Wuweizi
Each of these medicinal herbs have their own medicinal effects. But as with many Chinese formulations, the combination of these herbs have a synergistic effect. Namely, upon the liver.
Included in the meta-analysis above is a Phase II clinical trial. These are advanced placebo-controlled studies that follow years of laboratory studies and pilot studies.
As a result of these successful studies, the Fuzheng Huayu formula has been approved as a drug by the SFDA – now known as the CFDA – the Chinese Food and Drug Administration.
The U.S. FDA has continued to ignore the efficacy of this liver drug despite its proven effectiveness for these liver diseases, along with its safety as a natural product.
Mechanisms of Fuzheng Huayu revealed
Another recent study on Fuzheng Huayu has determined some of its mechanisms. This is actually a complex question because natural herbs contain sometimes hundreds of active constituents. And a formula of six herbs will contain an exponential constituency because of the synergy that will result from the interaction of the herbs in the formula.
For this reason, medicinal herbs will often come with numerous positive effects, beyond their particular treatment aim.
Nevertheless, with respect to the liver effects of the Fuzheng Huayu formula, a recent study analyzed the mechanisms of the formula by studying the miRNA of liver cirrhosis patients while they took the herbal formula. The researchers found that the formula changed the metabolism of the p53 signaling pathway along with the TGF-β signaling pathway.
Another study found that the formula halted liver fibrosis by blocking alpha-SMA expression. In addition, liver cell death was reduced by blocking TNF-alpha – an immune system signaling cytokine.
These pathways and inhibitions combine to increase the ability of the immune system to remove diseased or damaged cells while allowing healthy liver cells to stay and expand.
While these mechanisms are complex, it is important for doctors and liver patients who have suffered from hepatitis or fibrosis to understand that this ancient medicine works: When it is applied in clinical and laboratory research, the formula promotes the body’s ability to heal the liver and thus treat an inflammatory condition that kills millions of people around the world every year – cirrhosis.
Shu Dong, Qi-Long Chen, and Shi-Bing Su, “Curative Effects of Fuzheng Huayu on Liver Fibrosis and Cirrhosis: A Meta-Analysis,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2015, Article ID 125659, 11 pages, 2015. doi:10.1155/2015/125659
Qi-Long Chen, Yi-Yu Lu, Jing-Hua Peng, et al., “Dynamical Regulation Analysis Identifies Molecular Mechanisms of Fuzheng-Huayu Formula against Hepatitis B-Caused Liver Cirrhosis,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2015, Article ID 238495, 9 pages, 2015. doi:10.1155/2015/238495
Lei X, Chen J, Liu CX, Lin J, Lou J, Shang HC. Status and thoughts of Chinese patent medicines seeking approval in the US market. Chin J Integr Med. 2014 Jun;20(6):403-8. doi: 10.1007/s11655-014-1936-0.