Are Lemon, Ginger and Honey Good for the Liver?

Lemon, ginger and honey offer complementary flavors that enhance tea and other beverages and provide characteristic flavor to some of your favorite baked goods. By themselves or in combination, these familiar foods also provide certain health benefits, some of which pertain to your liver. Always consult your doctor for guidance before using food or supplements to treat a medical condition.

Lemon and Alcohol Detoxification

Narirutin, a compound in lemon peel, might protect the liver from alcohol-induced damage, according to an animal study published in the February 2013 issue of "Food and Chemical Toxicology." In the study, high-alcohol diets supplemented with narirutin for eight weeks showed less depletion of antioxidant enzymes, decreased levels of oxidized lipids -- those damaged by accumulated toxins and waste products -- and lower levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the liver compared to a control group that did not receive the lemon extract. In addition, researchers observed less inflammation in the livers of narirutin-supplemented animals.

Ginger and High-sugar Diets

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Ginger demonstrated protective effects against liver damage induced by a high-sugar diet in an animal study published in the November 2012 issue of "Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine." High-fructose diets supplemented with 50 milligrams per kilogram body weight of ginger per day for five weeks lowered triglyceride levels and reduced fat production in the liver. In addition, liver cells of ginger-supplemented animals appeared healthier under the microscope compared to a control group that consumed a high-fructose diet but did not receive ginger.

Ginger and Cancer Prevention

An active compound in ginger, 6-Shogaol, induced apoptosis, or early cell death, by impairing protein production in liver cancer cells in a tissue culture study of human liver cancer published in the June 2012 issue of "PLoS One." The ginger extract also inhibited tumor growth in an animal portion of the study. When scientists combined 6-shogaol with a cancer chemotherapy drug, they observed a significant increase in apoptosis of liver cancer cells, indicating that ginger offers potential as a safe, adjunctive treatment for liver cancer.

Honey and Acetaminophen Toxicity

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Honey protected against acetaminophen-induced liver toxicity in an animal study published in the November 2012 "Archives of Iranian Medicine." In the study, honey significantly reduced elevated liver enzyme levels -- a sign of stress on the liver -- from high doses of acetaminophen. Antioxidant enzyme levels were maintained and levels of oxidized lipids, which can promote inflammation, decreased in honey-supplemented animals. Researchers also observed fewer acetaminophen-induced areas of damage in the livers of animals that consumed honey compared to a control group.