Liver Cleansing

There is a lot of talk around the internet regarding cleansing or flushing the horse’s liver.  It is suggested this is necessary on a regular basis to remove toxins from dewormings, drugs or environmental contamination.

LIVER

Would you worry about these chemicals being in your horse? (Activities appear below the chemical)

SCOPOLETIN ; DUKE1992A
Aldose-Reductase-Inhibitor IC50=6.2 ug/ml cow CPB43:1385 ; Allelochemic IC89=2 mM 438 ; Analgesic PM56(6):595 ; Anesthetic HDN ; Antiadrenergic HDN ; Antiaflatoxin 11.4 ppm X11714299 IC50=65 uM X11714299 ; Antiarrhythmic; Antiasthmatic DUKE1992B ; Antibacterial JBH ; Antibronchoconstrictor; Anticholinergic; Antiedemic DUKE1992B ; Antifeedant 382 ; Antihepatotoxic BIS ; Antiinflammatory ED 1-10 ug/ear PM56(6):504 ; Antileukotrienogenic PM56(6):595 ; Antimutagenic MAB ; Antioxidant PH2 ; Antiproliferant X11749777 ; Antiprostaglandin RWG27 ; Antiseptic FT1990:503 ; Antispasmodic; Antitumor 2.9 ug/ml DUKE1992B ; Apoptotic X11749777 ; Bronchorelaxant KCH ; Cancer-Preventive 525 ; Cholagogue WIC ; Choleretic KCH ; CNS-Depressant KCH ; CNS-Stimulant WBB ; Cytotoxic; Fungicide 2 mM BIOSIS’96 ; Hepatoprotective WIC ; Herbicide JBH ; Hypoglycemic EMP6:165 ; Hypotensive; MAO-Inhibitor X11575966 ; Musculotropic WIC ; Myorelaxant; Pesticide DUKE1992B ; Phytoalexin PC29(6):1789 ; Phytohormonal JBH ; Uterosedative 411
CAFFEIC-ACID : DUKE1992A
Aldose-Reductase-Inhibitor 4 ug/ml (weak activity) SKN43:99 ; Allergenic M&R317 ; Analgesic PMP23:51 ; Antiadenoviral EMP5:207 ; Antiaggregant JBH ; Antiaging PM69:1125 ; Antiatherogenic X15712986 ; Antibacterial; Anticancer JAF47:397 ; Anticarcinogenic EMP6:189 ; Antidepressant; Antiedemic EMP6:189 ; Antielastase IC50=86 ug/ml (475 uM) PM69:820 IC50=93 um/l X11199135 ; Antiescherichic PR14:561 ; Antiflu EMP5:207 ; Antigonadotropic JNM1:10 ; Antihemolytic 25 uM PC36:579 ; Antihepatoadenomic 200 ppm diet orl mus ACS661:230 ; Antihepatotoxic PM56:173 ; Antiherpetic 50 ug/ml EC50=>50 ug/ml POP:270 ; Antihistaminic DUKE1992B ; AntiHIV EC50=200 ug/ml; Antihypercholesterolemic EMP6:189 ; Antihyperthyroid; Antiinflammatory; AntiLegionella YAK122:487 ; Antileukemic AJC31:37 ; Antileukotriene DUKE1992B ; Antimelanogenic JAF50:3718 ; Antimutagenic PCF:18 ; Antinitrosaminic PCF:18 ; Antiophidic FT65(2):101 ; Antioxidant 1.3 x Vit. E BO2 1/2 BHA JAF50:889 1/3 quercetin JAF47:397 30 mM JAF48:235 50 uM PC27:973 IC57=30 ppm PCF:221 ; Antiperoxidant IC35=200 ug/ml JAF50:2993 IC50=44 uM PM57:A54 IC85=100 ug/ml X15796587 ; Antiproliferant AJC31:37 ; Antiprostaglandin PJB1(1):169 ; Antiradicular 1/3 quercetin JAF47:397 10 uM PC36:579 30 mM JAF48:235 IC50=32-35 uM JAF50:7022 ; Antiseptic JE26:76 ; Antispasmodic EC50=3.4-15 uM PR4:73 ; Antistaphylococcic PR14:561 ; Antistomatitic EMP5:207 ; Antisunburn PM61:510 ; Antithiamin PCF:69 ; Antithyroid JNM1:10 ; Antitumor 200 ppm diet orl mus; Antitumor (Skin) JAF50:3718 ; Antitumor-Promoter IC42=10 uM CR48:5941 ; Antiulcerogenic; Antivaccinia EMP5:207 ; Antiviral IC50=62.5 ug/ml; Anxiolytic X12802204 ; Calcium-Antagonist IC50=1.2 uM rbt K16299 ; Cancer-Preventive 525 ; Carcinogenic 2% (diet); Chemopreventive X15712986 ; Cholagogue WIC ; Choleretic 411 ; Clastogenic JBH ; CNS-Active WIC ; Co-carcinogenic PCF:44 ; Collagen-Sparing PM61:510 ; COX-2-Inhibitor IC32=100 uM JNP65:1517 ; Cytoprotective CAN ; Cytotoxic TC50=200 ug/ml POP:270 ; Diuretic WIC ; DNA-Active JBH ; DNA-Protective JAF50:7022 ; Fungicide MIC=0.4 mg/ml; Hepatocarcinogenic 400 ppm diet orl mus (in the absence of alcohol) ACS661:230 ; Hepatoprotective ACM:210 ; Hepatotropic DUKE1992B ; Histamine-Inhibitor DUKE1992B ; Immunostimulant PPL7:187 ; Insectifuge EB48:111 ; Leukotriene-Inhibitor DUKE1992B ; Lipoxygenase-Inhibitor IC27=5 mM JAF38:688 IC50=62-148 uM JAF44:2057 ; Lyase-Inhibitor IC50=94-164 uM JAF44:2057 ; Metal-Chelator PCF:25 ; Ornithine-Decarboxylase-Inhibitor PCF:19 ; Pesticide DUKE1992B ; Prooxidant JAFC45:632 ; Prostaglandigenic RWG27 ; Sedative 500 mg RWG17 ; Sunscreen IC50=2.5 mg/l FT64:134 IC91=5 mg/l FT64:134 IC98=25 mg/l FT64:134 ; Tumorigenic 505 ; Vulnerary JE26:76 ; Xanthine-Oxidase-Inhibitor IC50=39.21 uM MAB

How about formaldehyde?  These are just 3 of hundreds of chemicals naturally occurring in your horse’s food, in this case oats and grass. (Source: USDA Duke’s Phytochemical Database.)

From potentially harmful chemicals in nature’s plants to toxics like arsenic in water, your horse’s liver is working constantly to process these substances so they can be excreted in bile or urine.  It is more than up to performing this task and efficiently metabolizing drugs at the same time.  As for environmental contaminants, horses live and eat cleaner than we do.  None of this is to say that the liver could not be overwhelmed by a particularly toxic exposure (e.g. fungal toxins), but there is absolutely no need to “help” the liver by cleansing or flushing it.

Furthermore, the herbs that are claimed to do this detoxification of the liver don’t actually have that effect.  Many have high antioxidant activity which can help protect the liver cells but doesn’t really detoxify.  Even herbs that stimulate bile flow do so by themselves being irritants that need to be excreted.

Bottom line – skip it.

Eleanor Kellon, VMD

About Dr. Kellon

Graduate of University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School. Owner of Equine Nutritional Solutions, www.drkellon.com, industry and private nutritional consultations, online nutritional courses. Staff Veterinary Expert at Uckele Health and Nutrition.
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