New evidence suggests that an asparagus extract made from the shoots and leaves of the plant may increase enzymatic activity in the liver and improve the break down of alcohol.
Researchers from Korea set out to evaluate the compounds of young shoots and the leaves of asparagus and to compare their biochemical properties. They found that the leaves contained more nutritional elements, particularly amino acids and inorganic minerals, than the shoots.
The extracts were then tested to determine if they reduced liver toxicity in human liver cells that were exposed to hydrogen peroxide. The authors found that the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are free radicals that cause cell damage, was reduced by 70 percent. The extracts also significantly minimized cellular toxicities from ethanol (alcohol) and tetrachloride carbon.
Additionally, exposure to the extracts was linked to the upregulation of two liver enzymes, alcohol dehydrogenase and aldehyde dehydrogenase, by more than two-fold.
The authors concluded that “taken together, these results provide biochemical evidence of the method by which A. officinalis exerts its biological functions, including the alleviation of alcohol hangover and the protection of liver cells against toxic insults. Moreover, the results of this study indicate that portions of asparagus that are typically discarded, such as the leaves, have therapeutic use.”
However, additional research is needed to fully understand how asparagus affects liver function.
For more information about asparagus, please visit Natural Standard’s Foods, Herbs & Supplements database.