Lemon juice could prevent and treat liver damage from excessive alcohol consumption, according to a recent Chinese study.
The study, which used 30 male mice randomly divided into five groups of six, found that lemon juice “exerted hepatoprotective effects on alcohol-induced liver injury”.
The mice were split into one model group (treated with ethanol and distilled water), one control group (treated with isometric distilled water) and three treatment groups (each treated with ethanol and different concentrations of lemon juice), all receiving their respective liquids daily via intragastric administration.
Liver impairment caused by excessive ethanol consumption was shown in the model group through higher levels of alanine transaminase (ALT) and aspartame transaminase (AST). Treatment with lemon juice reduced the levels of ALT and AST in serum to normal and “remarkably improved the liver histopathological changes”.
Other negative effects of excessive alcohol consumption on the liver, such as heightened lipid peroxidation and hepatic triacylglycerol (TG) levels — observed in the model group but not the control group — were reversed in the high dosage treatment group.
The mice in the model group also developed ethanol-induced necrosis and substantial small fat droplets changes in their livers, while the mice in all the treatment groups showed considerable recovery from ethanol-induced liver damage, with fewer changes in small fat droplets and hepatocytes necrosis features.
The positive effects of lemon juice on alcohol-related liver injury were attributed to lemon’s “numerous beneficial bioactive compositions”, such as essential oils, pectin, phenolic compounds (mainly flavonoids), and vitamins. Vitamin C in particular can prevent “oxidative damage, including lipid peroxidation”.
Lemon’s pectin and essential oils, on the other hand, were shown to have “protective effects on stomach and intestine barrier function”. This could indirectly protect against alcohol-induced liver damage resulting from weakened defensive intestinal barrier function and the small intestine being permeated by bacterial endotoxin leakage.
Despite having established the multiple beneficial effects of lemon juice on the liver (especially against alcohol-induced damage), the study stated that lemon juice’s “hepatoprotective effect might be the result of (the) joint action of multiple mechanisms, and it is difficult to clarify the specific mechanism”.
As such, it suggested that in future, the “active components in lemon juice should be separated and identified, and the mechanism of the action of the purified compound should be explored”.
Source: BioMed Research International