Copyright ©The Author(s) 2017. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Gastroenterol. May 21, 2017; 23(19): 3388-3395
Published online May 21, 2017. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v23.i19.3388
Cautiously using natural medicine to treat liver problems
Fei Xiong, Yong-Song Guan
Fei Xiong, Yong-Song Guan, Department of Oncology, West China Hospital of Sichuan University, Chengdu 610041, Sichuan Province, China
Author contributions: Xiong F and Guan YS equally contributed to this paper.
Conflict-of-interest statement: No potential conflicts of interest.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article which was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
Correspondence to: Yong-Song Guan, MD, Professor, Department of Oncology, West China Hospital of Sichuan University, 37 Guoxuexiang Street, Chengdu 610041, Sichuan Province, China. yongsongguan@126.com
Telephone: +86-28-85423278 Fax: +86-28-85423278
Received: January 14, 2017
Peer-review started: January 16, 2017
First decision: February 23, 2017
Revised: March 12, 2017
Accepted: March 20, 2017
Article in press: March 20, 2017
Published online: May 21, 2017

Natural medicine is a system of therapy that administrates natural agents and their derivatives to treat human diseases. This medicine has been used to treat many kinds of human diseases for thousands of years. The treatment protocols of natural medicine are integrative in nature, and are required to utilize the most appropriate therapies to address the needs of the individual patient. Because of the relative convenience, safety and efficacy, natural medicine is now increasing worldwide. Naturopathic doctors are licensed in many areas of the world and regulated partly by law in these areas, which is quite different from various other forms of complementary and alternative medicine. Liver diseases, such as hepatitis, liver cirrhosis and liver carcinoma, are serious health problems worldwide. Nearly half of the natural agents used in treatment of liver diseases today are natural products and their derivatives. Although natural medicine is beneficial and safe, physicians should pay close attention to the potential side-effects of the naturopathic agents, which lead to liver injury, interstitial pneumonia and acute respiratory failure. Therefore, when administrating naturopathic protocols to patients for the treatment of liver diseases, we should try our best to prevent and avoid as much as possible the negative impact of these medicines. This article highlights the current practice and recommended improvement of natural medicines in the treatment of liver diseases and gives some specific examples to emphasize the prevention and management of adverse reactions of the natural agents and suggests that natural medicine should be cautiously used to treat liver problems.

Keywords: Caution, Natural medicine, Herb, Natural nutraceutical, Liver disease, Adverse reactions

Core tip: We discuss recent experiences in administrating natural medicines to treat liver problems, and the adverse reactions of some natural medicines. Natural medicines provide benefits to patients with liver diseases, such as hepatitis, liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. Close attention should be paid to the prevention of side effects of the natural medicines, however, when liver diseases are treated to avoid as far as possible the negative impact of these medicines.