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Hepatoprotective effect of Schisandra and Astragalus.

Yan F, Zhang Q, Jiao L, Han T, Zhang H, Qin L, Khalid R. 2009. Synergistic hepatoprotective effect of Schisandrae lignans with Astragalus polysaccharides on chronic liver injury in rats. Phytomed Epub ahead of print.

Schisandra chinensis and Astragalus membranaceous are Eastern herbs which have recently come into favour with Western herbalists. While Astragalus has been investigated more for its immunomodulating abilities than its liver benefits, Radix Astragali and Fructus Schisandrae are the herbs most commonly employed as hepatoprotectives by traditional Chinese herbalists.

Emerging evidence suggests that liver injury is induced by multiple factors and pathways and is nearly always accompanied by conditions of low immunity or biological attack. Thus it would make sense to implement a treatment strategy which affects multiple biochemical pathways and parameters and encompasses both immunomodulary and antioxidative activity.

This trial set out to investigate the effects of Schisandra lignans (LFS) and Astragalus polysaccharides (APS) in a rat model of chronic liver injury, both as separate extracts and in combination. Liver injury was induced in 70 male rats via subcutaneous injections of CCl4 twice a week over three months. Ten rats were kept as normal controls. Of the 70 rats with liver injury, seven equal groups then received one of the following treatments once a day over three months:

* Vehicle (deionised water)

* Bifendate pills (100 mg/kg)

* APS (450 mg/kg once daily)

* LFS (135 mg/ kg once daily)

* LFS (15 mg/kg) + APS (50 mg/kg)

* LFS (45 mg/kg) + APS (150 mg/kg)

* LFS (135 mg/kg) + APS (450 mg/kg)

Researchers measured the effects these had on liver enzymes ALT, AST and ALP, the antioxidant enzymes of liver tissue and liver histopathological changes. Both the LFS and the combination of LFS and APS were protective against induced liver damage. The combination treatment regimes exhibited stronger activity than the single formulations.

The combinations tended to act in a dose dependent manner and rats treated with them exhibited decreased incidence and severity of histopathological hepatic lesions, increased hepatic glutathione and raised activity of antioxidants in the liver (compared with controls). The combination was much more effective than either LFS or APS alone in decreasing serum ALT, AST and ALP.

This suggests that synergistic formulae including both immunomodulary herbs and traditional hepatoprotectives (in particular Schisandra and Astragalus) may be more effective in treating liver injury than hepatics alone.
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Article Details
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Author:Finney-Brown, Tessa
Publication:Australian Journal of Medical Herbalism
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Jun 22, 2009
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