Don't Poison Your Liver   

Don't Poison Your Liver

Alcohol is toxic to it. Some drugs and supplements may contain chemicals harmful to it. Take care of your liver.

Last year, a number of people suffered liver failure after taking certain slimming supplements even as the Ministry of Health discovered that several slimming products contained banned substances.

It was also the year Andrea De Cruz underwent a highly publicized liver transplant. The Singaporean actress was reported to have been taking a slimming supplement. Her case focused public attention on the harmful effects of certain slimming supplements and the controversial issue of herbs.

Herbs are generally considered safe for consumption. But they become dangerous when they contain chemicals toxic to the liver or, when they are consumed with other medications, which may lead to negative interactions.
Doctors should ask their patients the right questions concentrating not just on drugs but also herbs. Quite often, patients who are on certain herbs do not reveal this information to their doctor, because they assume the herbs are harmless.

Some herbs that are good for the liver include silimarin (milk thistle) and licorice root extract.

The Drug Control Authority (DCA) is keeping tabs on the herbal supplements industry to ensure compliance with DCA requirements. However, even approved products, as the slimming supplement issue has shown, may not necessarily be free from banned substances.

Both herbs and drugs must be registered with the DCA. Upon submission for registration, herbal products are checked to ensure that they are free from heavy metals and microbial contamination. They must contain only herbs, with no chemical entities.

We also test for quality and toxicity before releasing them to the public.

Problems may arise after the release of these products, when unethical manufacturers adulterate them with unreported substances. We suspect this is the case because when we tested some of these products again, we found them contaminated with new elements.

The DCA plans to carry out more post-marketing surveillance. Approved products will be randomly picked off from the shelves and tested for banned substances. This may be more effective than going through registration.

Happy reading,

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