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Cytotoxic, caspase-3 induction and in vivo hepatoprotective effects of phyllanthin, a major constituent of Phyllanthus niruri

Liver diseases are commonly caused by viral infections, drug overdose, reactions to prescribed drugs and medications, prolonged or excessive exposure to environmental toxins, and long term effects of alcohol consumption. Chronic liver diseases may also lead to the development of cancers. Although extensive studies have been conducted to understand the pathogenesis of these diseases, their effective therapies are still lacking. Thus, these diseases should be prevented by avoiding the risk factors, maintaining a healthy balanced diet (that includes foods to strengthen the liver and improve its functions), and considering functional food supplements with hepatoprotective activity.

The decoction of Phyllanthus niruri L. was clinically proven as a functional food to protect the liver. It is also consumed to cleanse and detoxify the liver, and to treat liver disorders such as hepatitis and hepatocarcinoma. All these bioactivities have been proven scientifically. The hepatoprotective activity was found to be associated with the major content of phyllanthin that may act synergistically with other compounds in the decoction.