Review of natural products with hepatoprotective effects

World J Gastroenterol. 2014 Oct 28;20(40):14787-804. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v20.i40.14787.


The liver is one of the most important organs in the body, performing a fundamental role in the regulation of diverse processes, among which the metabolism, secretion, storage, and detoxification of endogenous and exogenous substances are prominent. Due to these functions, hepatic diseases continue to be among the main threats to public health, and they remain problems throughout the world. Despite enormous advances in modern medicine, there are no completely effective drugs that stimulate hepatic function, that offer complete protection of the organ, or that help to regenerate hepatic cells. Thus, it is necessary to identify pharmaceutical alternatives for the treatment of liver diseases, with the aim of these alternatives being more effective and less toxic. The use of some plants and the consumption of different fruits have played basic roles in human health care, and diverse scientific investigations have indicated that, in those plants and fruits so identified, their beneficial effects can be attributed to the presence of chemical compounds that are called phytochemicals. The present review had as its objective the collecting of data based on research conducted into some fruits (grapefruit, cranberries, and grapes) and plants [cactus pear (nopal) and cactus pear fruit, chamomile, silymarin, and spirulina], which are consumed frequently by humans and which have demonstrated hepatoprotective capacity, as well as an analysis of a resin (propolis) and some phytochemicals extracted from fruits, plants, yeasts, and algae, which have been evaluated in different models of hepatotoxicity.

Keywords: Alcoholic liver disease; Glucans; Grapefruit; Hepatoprotection; Opuntia ficus-indica; Propolis; Spirulina; Vaccinium spp; Vitis vinifera L.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / diagnosis
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / prevention & control*
  • Cytoprotection
  • Diet*
  • Fruit
  • Humans
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Liver / pathology
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Plants, Medicinal


  • Antioxidants
  • Plant Extracts