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Liver extract

Synonyms/Common Names/Related Substances:

  • Alkaline phosphatase isoenzymes, aqueous liver, bovine liver extract, crude liver extract, cyanocobalamin, hydrolyzed liver extract, hydroxocobalamin, iron, LEx, liquid liver extract, liver, liver concentrate, liver extract lysate, liver factors, liver fractions, liver glandular products, liver hydrolysate, liver substance, purified liver extract, raw liver, Solcohepsyl®, Solcohepsyl® extralysate, subcellular liver fractions, vitamin B12.
  • Selected combination products: Adelvin® 9 (liver extract and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD)), LEFAC (bovine liver extract containing folic acid and cyanocobalamin).
  • Note: Although liver extract contains many constituents, such as vitamin B12, this monograph focuses on liver extract research.

Clinical Bottom Line/Effectiveness

Brief Background:

  • Liver extract and desiccated liver have been marketed as iron supplements for over a century. The extract is processed cow or pig liver that may either be a freeze-dried brownish powder or a concentrated liquid that has had most of the fat and cholesterol removed. Medically, liver extract was initially used by doctors in the 1920s to treat pernicious anemia in patients who were either unable or unwilling to ingest liver. It was administered either orally or intramuscularly. After its success in treating pernicious anemia, liver extract was used for other forms of anemia, strengthening liver function, and even body building.
  • Preliminary clinical studies indicate that liver extract may be helpful in treating hepatic dysfunction. In addition, liver extract seems to work synergistically with interferon in treating hepatitis C and other viral infections. More research is needed in these areas.
  • Laboratory studies indicate that liver extract may have some effects that could be useful in treating certain forms of cancer, such as the ability to direct migration of metastasizing cells and the inhibition of DNA, RNA, and protein formation. More research is needed in these areas to quantify liver extract's properties.
  • Some concern has been raised about the safety of liver extract, as it is made of animal liver, which may be infected with parasites (1), bacteria (2), or prion diseases. Although there are currently no available reports of diseases such as bovine spongiform encephalitis (BSE, or "mad cow disease") being transmitted by liver extract, the United States Food and Drug Administration still cautions against use of any animal organ extract. It is not clear how the processing of liver extract affects the transmission of these organisms.

Dosing/Toxicology

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Precautions/Contraindications

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Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Mechanism of Action

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History

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Evidence Table

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Evidence Discussion

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Products Studied

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.