The Liver is a vital organ of paramount importance involved in the maintenance of metabolic functions and detoxification of the exogenous and endogenous challenges like xenobiotic, drugs, viral infections and chronic alcoholism. Liver diseases are a major worldwide health problem, with high endemicity in developing countries. They are mainly caused by chemicals and some drugs when taken in very high doses. Despite advances in modern medicine, there is no effective drug available that stimulates liver function, offer protection to the liver from damage or help to regenerate hepatic cells. There is urgent need, therefore, for effective drugs to replace supplement those in current use. The plant kingdom is undoubtedly valuable as a source of new medicinal agents. Herbal remedies are focused in the pharmaceutical industry to evolve a safe route for liver disorders. There is no plant in this Universe which is non-medicinal and which cannot be made of use for many purposes and by many modes. This definition rightly suggests that in principle all plants have a potential medicinal value. Medicinal plants have been considered as important therapeutic aid for alleviating ailment of humankind. Search for eternal health and longevity and to seek remedy to relieve pain and discomfort prompted the early man to explore his immediate natural surroundings to develop a variety of therapeutic agents using natural resources.
Liver cell injury caused by various toxic chemicals (certain anti-biotic, chemotherapeutic agents, carbon tetrachloride (CCL4), thioacetamide (TAA) etc., excessive alcohol consumption and microbes is well-studied. Herbal medicines have been used in the treatment of liver diseases for a long time. A number of herbal preparations are available in the market.
The focus of this review is to elucidate the importance of liver and aimed at compiling data based on reported works on medicinal plants that have been tested in hepato-toxicity models and proved as hepato-protective.