Negative effects of acetaminophen may be reduced with magnolia berry

Taking pharmaceutical drugs, such as acetaminophen, comes with health consequences. One of these is possible liver damage. Fortunately, a study found a natural remedy for this drug-induced liver damage. A study published in the Chinese Journal of Natural Medicines found that magnolia berry (Schisandra chinensis) has protective effects against liver damage caused by acetaminophen.

Acetaminophen, the generic name for the drug in Tylenol, is often taken to relieve mild or moderate pain. It is the most common drug ingredient in the U.S. In fact, more than 50 million Americans use the drug in some form whether they are aware or not because it is found in over 600 over-the-counter and prescription medications. These include pain relievers, fever reducers, and sleep aids, as well as drugs for coughing, colds, and allergies. (Related: Is acetaminophen the most dangerous OTC pain reliever of all?.)

In the study, researchers from Jilin Agricultural University and Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) in China assessed the effects of an ethanol extract of magnolia berry stems on acetaminophen-induced liver damage in an animal model. To do this, they pre-treated mice with an ethanol extract of magnolia berry stems for seven consecutive days. Then, they administered acetaminophen in mice to induce liver damage.

The team also evaluated the compounds in magnolia berry extract and found that it contains chisandrol A, schisandrol B, deoxyschisandrin, schisandrin B, and schisandrin C.

The results showed that the pretreatment with magnolia berry stem extract reduced liver dysfunction and oxidative stress in mice. This was manifested through the significant decreases in aspartate transaminase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), and malondialdehyde (MDA) contents and increases in reduced glutathione (GSH) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) levels.

The magnolia berry pretreatment also significantly reduced expression levels of 4-hydroxynonenal (4-HNE) and 3-nitrotyrosine (3-NT). Moreover, it significantly reduced the expression levels of Bax, mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), and cleaved caspase-3 caused by acetaminophen exposure. In addition, magnolia berry stem extract reduced inflammatory response by suppressing the expression levels of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2).

These results show that magnolia berry stem extract exhibited significant reductions in oxidative stress, inflammation, and apoptosis primarily by regulating MAPK and caspase-3 signaling pathways. Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that magnolia berry might help protect against liver damage caused by acetaminophen.

Liver damage symptoms

A person with liver damage may experience the following symptoms:

  • Dark or tea-colored urine
  • Dark, tarry stools
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pain in the upper right area of the abdomen
  • Pale skin
  • Sweating more than usual
  • Unusual bruising or bleeding
  • Yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes (jaundice)

Magnolia berry benefits

Also known as the five-flavor berry, magnolia berry has been used for many years in different cultures because of its medicinal properties. In addition to its ability to improve liver function, it offers the following potential health benefits:

  • It helps fight stress: Magnolia berry, which is considered as an adaptogen, is said to protect and support the body from mental or physical stress. It works by helping to control the release of stress hormones and helping the body adapt to stress. It also helps improve the function of the adrenal glands, helping to balance the production of cortisol, a stress hormone.
  • It reduces inflammation: Magnolia berry is rich in antioxidants, which means that it can help reduce inflammation and prevent damage caused by oxidative stress. Consuming antioxidants helps eliminate toxins from the body.
  • It improves brain function: Magnolia berry can boost energy and mental alertness as well as preventing mental fatigue.
  • It keeps the skin healthy: It is believed to protect the skin and help repair the damage. It can be used to treat and prevent skin conditions like dermatitis.

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