Desmodium Liver Detox – Hepatoprotective supplement – Liver detox
Desmodium Liver Detox is a dietary supplement containing desmodium (Desmodium adscendens), a medicinal plant which, with its hepatoprotective and detoxifying properties, has long been used in West Africa for supporting liver health.
It is part of our Liver and Detoxification category.
Desmodium adscendens: an invaluable remedy from the African pharmacopoeia
Desmodium adscendens is a herbaceous creeping or climbing plant from the Fabaceae family, native to West Africa. Growing wild in tropical African and South American forests, it likes to wrap itself around cacao and oil palm trunks. Its thin, hairy stems bear trifoliate, clover-like leaves, though the central pinnule is larger than the other two. It is these aerial parts - the stems and leaves - which are used in phytotherapy (infusions, capsules, powders, drinkable solutions in vials ...)
Cameroonian healers were quick to identify its therapeutic properties, making abundant use of them to treat jaundice and viral hepatitis. In Ghana, it was particularly valued as an antispasmodic, for controlling muscle contractions in the lungs during asthma attacks (1). It was also used for treating sudden allergies (such as digestion-related reactions) (2).
It was only in the 1970s that desmodium became popular in France, under the initiative of Dr Pierre Tubéry and his wife. Their experience working in a Cameroonian clinic had enabled them to witness first-hand its impressive effects on liver problems.
What are desmodium’s benefits for liver health?
Desmodium adscendens benefits from a combination of several bioactive compounds: saponosides (soyasaponins I and III, dehydrosoyasaponin I...), flavonoids (vitexin, isovitexin, rutin...), cyclitols (including D-pinitol), isoquinoline alkaloids, anthocyanosides and tryptamine derivatives (3). With this exceptional synergy, desmodium exerts targeted action on the hepatic system via various mechanisms:
- Shielding against hepatotoxicity. A number of studies have confirmed desmodium’s effects in protecting liver cells (hepatocytes) from infection- or toxin-induced attack. One trial on rats noted better prevention of ethanol-induced liver damage following administration of desmodium decoctions, a benefit attributed to its content of D-pinitol (4).
- Supporting liver cell regeneration. Several of desmodium’s active ingredients appear to stimulate hepatocyte regeneration and promote regrowth of damaged liver tissue.
- Cleansing the liver. Desmodium is a plant favoured by naturopaths for helping the liver to fulfil its emunctory, or elimination, function. It is therefore recommended when the seasons change and as part of detox programmes for naturally ‘unclogging’ hepatic cells.
- Defending against ROS. Desmodium’s polyphenolic compounds are attracting keen interest from the scientific community, with studies focusing on their ability to trap unstable molecules called ROS (reactive oxygen species), excess numbers of which precipitate cellular ageing (5).
What is the liver’s role in the body?
The liver plays a crucial role in ensuring the body functions properly. Filtering around 1.4kg of blood per minute in the adult body, this highly vascular emunctory organ operates like an water purification plant.
Involved in processing and storing nutrients, it is also responsible for metabolising xenobiotic substances (alcohol, medicines...) by neutralising their toxic by-products so that they can be eliminated via stools or urine (6).
Liver cells thus come under significant strain when, for example, we eat an unhealthy diet(high in sugar and/or fat), we drink large amounts of alcohol or we’re onlong-term drug therapy (7-9).
Unfortunately, there are rarely any signs at an early stage that the liver is suffering. Symptoms may be subtle or entirely absent. However, potential clues which should serve as a warning include persistent fatigue with or without a temperature, pain in the right side of the abdomen, digestive problems, an increase in the size of the abdomen or yellowing of the skin (jaundice) (10).
Desmodium supplements: how long should you take them?
For detox purposes, a course of 2-4 weeks is generally advisable. This can be extended to several months, under medical supervision, in the case of liver problems.
In terms of dose, we recommend taking 3 capsules of Desmodium Liver Detox a day with a large glass of water, before meals, which equates to a daily dose of 1200mg of desmodium extract.
Desmodium supplementation: are there any risks?
Studies confirm that desmodium supplementation is non-toxic, and is not associated with any contraindications or major side-effects. Only minor digestive symptoms have been reported.
However, according to the scientific literature, there is a risk of it interacting with certain marginal molecules such as thiopental, a general anaesthetic. Desmodium may trigger the production of cytochrome P450, a liver enzyme involved in eliminating drugs from the body, which could potentially reduce their efficacy (11). In reality, however, no specific drug interactions have been documented to date.
As a precaution, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, as well as anyone being monitored for liver disease, should check with their doctor or pharmacist before starting to supplement.
Synergistic supplements to take alongside Desmodium Liver Detox
In addition to desmodium, there are several other plants associated with providing effect liver support. One such plant is milk thistle, which helps protect and regenerate liver cells as a result of its silymarin content (12). The ground-breaking supplement Silyplus benefits from a patented form of silymarin which is 10 times more bioavailable than standard supplements.
For a broad-spectrum detox, a good option is Triphala, a legendary Ayurvedic medicine remedy based on a combination of three plants: amla, behada and most importantly, harada (Terminalia chebula) which supports liver health (13).