Can Green Tea and Other Herbs Hurt Your Liver?

  • Composition with containers of dietary supplements and capsules
    Beware of certain supplements.
    If you have liver disease, you may be looking for ways to improve your health. There's a lot you can do to feel better, like eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. While taking vitamins, herbs and minerals may sound healthy, did you know that some can actually hurt your liver? Take a look at a few supplements you may want to avoid.

  • Green tea
    Sip green tea wisely.
    Green tea is known for its healthy antioxidants. And it's easy to find: Concentrated levels of green tea extract are available in more than 100 over-the-counter products. But green tea extract is linked to serious liver damage in some people. As a result, those with liver disease should stay away from the supplements. Enjoying a cup of green tea now and again is fine.

  • kava
    Cut out the kava.
    The kava plant is a member of the pepper family. Kava supplements are sold in the U.S. to treat everything from insomnia to anxiety. However, kava has been linked to liver toxicity. Although known cases of the severe side effect are rare, people with liver disease should not take these supplements.

  • ginseng
    Proceed gingerly with ginseng.
    Ginseng is a widely used herb to treat everything from concentration problems to diabetes. And by itself, it's not known to cause liver damage. However, ginseng can negatively interact with other drugs, like imatinib (Gleevec), causing liver injury. Make sure you are not at risk.

  • man in drug store
    Skip colloidal silver.
    Colloidal silver consists of small silver particles suspended in liquid. It's been suggested as a treatment for hepatitis C, among other ailments. However, there's no evidence it has any positive benefit. In fact, colloidal silver is known to cause serious side effects, including leaving a permanent bluish discoloration of the skin. Don't fall for false claims; stick to your prescribed treatment plan.

  • capsule-pills
    Keep an eye on vitamins A and D.
    Vitamins are great for the body, but too much of certain kinds of vitamins may act as an additional stress to the liver. Some can even be toxic. Avoid megavitamin supplements, especially those that contain vitamins A and D.

  • chaparral
    Chuck the chaparral.
    This botanical extract has antioxidant properties and has been used to strengthen immunity, treat skin disorders, and even boost liver health. Unfortunately, the extract, which is brewed into tea or taken in pill form, has not been proven to improve health. Plus, it's linked to liver damage, including acute liver failure. Bottom line? Avoid taking chaparral.

  • Portrait of doctor working at nurses station
    Check with your doctor.
    If you have liver disease, talk with your doctor before taking any vitamins or supplements to be sure they're safe and beneficial for you. And focus on other ways to boost your health. Eat a balanced diet, maintain a healthy weight, don't drink alcohol, and exercise regularly.

Can Green Tea and Other Herbs Hurt Your Liver?
  1. Certain herbs associated with liver damage, American Liver Foundation (
  2. Managing your health while on treatment, American Liver Foundation (
  3. Chaparral (larrea tridentate), National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (
  4. Ginseng (panax ginseng), National Library of Medicine (
  5. Green tea (camellia sinesis), National Library of Medicine (
  6. Green tea, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (
  7. Hepatitis C: a focus on dietary supplements, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (
  8. Colloidal silver, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (
  9. Kava linked to liver damage, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (
  10. Caution! Herbs and nutritional supplements, Hepatitis Foundation International (
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Last Review Date: 2018 Oct 4
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