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10 Of The Worst Common Toxins That Damage Your Liver

By Andrew Alpin, 23 June 2018

Your liver is a remarkable organ. It is the only one that can regenerate itself. However, if you abide by a lifestyle and diet that restricts its ability to remain healthy, then the liver damage is bound to happen faster than the organ can regenerate. This becomes a dangerous and life-threatening situation. While Alcohol is one of the most dangerous of ingredients that cause permanent liver damage, there are others which also should never be taken lightly. There are ingredients such as medications, foods, and supplements which should either be avoided or taken in moderation and with caution. As they say, too much of a good thing is bad, so here are the 12 of those common ingredients that make their way into many a household in the guise of medication and supplements that are slowly damaging your liver.

1 Large doses of iron

While iron supplements may be prescribed by a doctor in the case of deficiencies and anemic conditions, too much can seriously damage your liver. The main reason for this is that your body can’t eliminate excess iron and it ends up in various organs, tissues and mostly your liver. Excess iron can scar your liver and even cause liver cirrhosis that is a more severe form of liver damage leading to deterioration and malfunction. This can ultimately lead to liver cancer.

According to the The National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia, the standard recommendation is a maximum of 45 mg of iron for those above 14. In the case of excess iron, or the condition of hemochromatosis when detected early can be treated but if not, it can lead to dangerous complications like liver cancer.

Large doses of iron

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A variety of food in a good healthy diet will provide you with all the vitamins and minerals you need daily. In the event of deficiencies, you may be prescribed supplements but avoid high dose supplements without a doctor’s recommendation as these could have potent side effects. They could also have interactions with other medications that could be truly damaging to your liver. What you should do is make a note of the various supplements you take including herbal teas, herbal remedies, vitamins and nutritional supplements and discuss them with your doctor to see what should be avoided.


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It takes no rocket science to understand that smoking kills and besides damaging the lungs, it also damages the liver. It can also increase the risk of liver cancer and reduce the ability of the liver to flush out toxins from your body which is the liver’s main job. This leaves you vulnerable to the dangerous side effects of medications on liver.


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If you are a frequent user of cannabis, then you are also at high risk of liver damage. According to research, cannabis suppresses the immune system and increases the chances of disease. Those with hepatitis C using cannabis increase their risk of severe fibrosis that leads to liver cirrhosis. You may have heard how much cannabis is good to some extent as a treatment and side effects of hepatitis but you need to understand that this may harm you more than doing good. Given the fact that there are several articles, research, and websites that advocate the use of cannabis for disease without effects on the liver, there is also research that says the opposite. The focus here is patients with hepatitis C who should be careful while using cannabis. The results and verdicts regardless, always consult your doctor first to weigh the pros and cons of taking something new.


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5Illicit drugs

Almost all illicit drugs are always harsh on the liver. While morphine and heroin have not been observed as toxic to the liver, they can be when mixed with other substances. The biggest culprit of drug-induced liver disease is the frequent use of intravenous drug use that promotes infection and disease like hepatitis B and C. Magic mushrooms or hallucinogenic mushrooms also contain chemicals that can’t be tolerated by the liver. Amphetamines, cocaine, and ecstasy are all extremely toxic for the liver that can even cause liver failure.

Illicit drugs

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6Herbal remedies

Be careful when you see the promotions of various herbal supplements. Not always are such things beneficial for health entirely. While they could be good for one particular condition, they could be dangerous for your liver. Below is the list of common herbal supplements toxic for liver.

  • Barberry, Black Cohosh
  • Chaparral, Comfrey
  • Creosote Bush, Germander
  • Gordoloba Yerba Tea, Greasewood
  • Greater Celandine, False Pennyroyal
  • Jamaican Bush Tea, Jin Bu Huan
  • Kombucha Tea, Mistletoe
  • Sho-Saiko-To, Pennyroyal Oil (Squawmint Oil)
  • Sassafras, Senna, Skullcap
  • Valerian combined with chameleon

Herbal remedies

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7A word about Chinese ginseng

This may come as a surprise to many who may feel that Ginseng the super herb is good for almost everything. Well, it is no doubt where ginseng is used in herbal supplements to promote vitality, loss of libido, increase testosterone and over general health. Derived from Panax Ginseng, it is found mostly in Korea, Siberia and China. It may not have been implicated in liver injury but t does have the potential to cause significant interactions from drug-herb combinations that cause liver injury.

A word about Chinese ginseng

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How Ginseng causes liver injury

Studies have shown how Ginseng can create a condition leading to liver problems. Various degrees of drug-herb interaction from Ginseng could develop into liver injury 3 months after consumption in patients where no previous intolerance was seen. Once medication was restarted without ginseng, the tolerance with no issues was resumed.


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8Large doses of vitamin A

50% to 80% of the body’s vitamin A is stored in the liver. Thus if you consume too much, it can damage your liver. The maximum daily intake always depends on age and sex where the safe limit is 3000mcg for adults. This should be lower for those with issues of cholesterol, existing liver disease, protein malnutrition and excess alcohol consumption.

Large doses of vitamin A

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9Prescription medicines

Most medication is metabolized in the liver because the organ plays a major role in processing such medication with high levels of toxins. Those which are more potent in toxicity level than others are corticosteroids-steroid medication, codeine, tetracycline, Benzodiazepines like valium (diazepam) and Restoril (Temazapam) which should all be taken cautiously. Medications should always be taken on a doctor’s recommendation only. Most of the prescribed doses of these medications are safe for those without advanced liver problems.

Prescription medicines

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Paracetamol in its prescribed in the recommended dose is relatively safe for those also suffering liver problems. But! Taking too much at once or high doses for long periods of time can damage the liver. Always abide by the dose prescribed by your doctor.


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Why drinking and consuming paracetamol is bad

Those with liver problems should never exceed 2000mg of paracetamol in a day. Those habituated in taking paracetamol and drink alcohol regularly are at an increased risk of liver disease. When you consume alcohol while on paracetamol, the medication is broken down differently where a toxic by-product accumulates in the liver that destroys liver cells. If you are habituated in drinking, always consult a doctor when needing paracetamol.

Why drinking and consuming paracetamol is bad

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11Various over-the-counter medications

OTC medication should always be taken cautiously and never exceed the dosage. Medication like paracetamol and NSAIDs (non-steroid anti-inflammatory) medication like Advil and diclofenac are all dangerous for those with liver disease.

Various over-the-counter medications

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12Consuming too much salt

Consuming too much salt can increase blood pressure but it could also cause fatty liver. Your salt intake should be limited to 2300 mg per day which is roughly about one teaspoon. Moreover, you should always read the salt content on labels of processed and packaged foods like bacon, meats and sausages.

Consuming too much salt

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13Other factors that damage your liver

Besides all of the items mentioned here, there are other factors that also damage your liver such as obesity and weight gain. Fatty foods and saturated foods are also culprits that cause liver damage when consumed in excess. Abide by a healthy diet and exercise to protect your liver.

factors that damage your liver

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