Don't Poison Your Liver
Alcohol is toxic to it. Some drugs and supplements
may contain chemicals harmful to it. Take care of
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
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
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.
SAFETY, REGULATIONS AND ENFORCEMENT
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
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
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