What Is Liver Extract?

Liver extract from animals was once a go-to treatment for a variety of health problems. What is liver extract and what is it used for?

Liver extract is a solution made from the livers of animals. The extract is high in many vitamins, especially B12, the vitamin responsible for healthy nerves and blood cells and making DNA. It’s also a rich source of iron and folic acid.

Learn about this once-trendy treatment and why it isn’t used as much today.

What Are the Risks of Liver Extract?

The liver is the organ of the body that filters out toxins. There is some concern that liver extract can carry traces of toxic, unwanted substances found in the animals it’s extracted from. A recent study also found that the extract might provoke cancerous cells to spread.

Did You Know?
  • Liver extract comes in powder, liquid, capsule, and tablet form.
  • Most liver extract products are made from the livers of pigs and cows.

How Has Liver Extract Been Used?

1. To Improve Energy

A low red blood count, referred to as anemia, causes your body to feel very, very tired. So a common use of the liver extract is to treat anemia or chronic fatigue syndrome.

Traditional treatment was done by injecting liver extract from cows into humans in hopes of boosting red blood cell production. But one study found that liver extract was no more effective than a placebo, so fewer doctors have been using liver extract for this purpose.

2. To Fight Cancer

Many treatments have been tried in the quest to cure cancer. Liver extract is no exception. The extract was recommended in Gerson therapy, one of the oldest alternative cancer treatment programs. It relies on natural treatment, like dieting and supplements, to detoxify the body and keep organs as strong as possible.

Gerson therapy used to prescribe drinking liver extracts from raw calves in order to revitalize the liver. However, raw extract has been deemed unsafe due to possible toxins and its very high levels of vitamin A.

For a while, Gerson therapy promoted a solution of liver extract via injections in place of the raw extract. Today, this treatment is not used to prevent or treat cancer.

3. To Resist Illness

Even though liver extract has not proven very helpful in fighting cancer, a study conducted on rats found the extract to have antiviral properties. These properties were helpful in fighting certain types of the flu virus. The liver extract solution that was used actually significantly increased the rat’s life. This study supports the belief that liver extract may be beneficial, though it has not been replicated in humans.

4. To Treat Hepatitis C

Researchers wanted to know if liver extract was as efficient as other treatments for chronic hepatitis C. They found a slight improvement, but no major changes due to the extract.

The Takeaway

Though it’s a rich source of many vitamins and minerals, liver extract has not been well supported in studies to date. As with all supplements, be sure to talk to your doctor before taking liver extract.