Chronic liver dysfunction or injury is a serious health problem worldwide. Chronic liver disease involves a wide range of liver pathologies that include fatty liver, hepatitis, fibrosis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. The efficiency of current synthetic agents in treating chronic liver disease is not satisfactory and they have undesirable side effects. Thereby, numerous medicinal herbs and phytochemicals have been investigated as complementary and alternative treatments for chronic liver diseases. Since some herbal products have already been used for the management of liver diseases in some countries or regions, a systematic review on these herbal medicines for chronic liver disease is urgently needed. Herein, we conducted a review describing the potential role, pharmacological studies and molecular mechanisms of several commonly used medicinal herbs and phytochemicals for chronic liver diseases treatment. Their potential toxicity and side effects were also discussed. Several herbal formulae and their biological effects in chronic liver disease treatment as well as the underlying molecular mechanisms are also summarized in this paper. This review article is a comprehensive and systematic analysis of our current knowledge of the conventional medicinal herbs and phytochemicals in treating chronic liver diseases and on the potential pitfalls which need to be addressed in future study.
Keywords: Chinese medicine herbal formulae; chronic liver disease; herbal medicines; molecular targets.