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Iran Red Crescent Med J. 2014 Jan;16(1):e12313. doi: 10.5812/ircmj.12313. Epub 2014 Jan 5.

Hepatoprotective herbs, avicenna viewpoint.

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School of Traditional Medicine, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, IR Iran.
Basic and Molecular Epidemiology of Gastrointestinal Disorders Research Center, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, IR Iran.
Traditional Medicine and Materia Medica Research Center, School of Traditional Medicine, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, IR Iran.
Department of Traditional Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, IR Iran.



Liver injury or dysfunction is considered as a serious health problem. The available synthetic drugs to treat liver disorders are expensive and cause further damage. Hence, hepatoprotective effects of some herbal drugs have been investigated, and one of the methods to choose herbs in order to study their biological effects is to search in ancient medical texts. Avicenna who is known as the prince of physicians had collected and classified Greek, Persian and Islamic medicine in the best possible way in the book of Canon in Arabic.


Avicenna's book of The Canon of Medicine was reviewed to find the hepatoprotective herbs.


Three different versions of the Canon were prepared and utilized. To find scientific names of plants we took advantage of three botany references. All of the herbs were investigated on the basis of scientific data from hepatoprotective effects point of view. The searched term was "hepatoprotective" without narrowing and limiting. The searched databases included Cochrane library, Web of science, SID, Irandoc and IranMedex.


18 plants were found. 85% of the presented species, genus or families of plants were reported to have hepatoprotective properties and in the remaining 15% there were no reports of hepatoprotective effect. Flowers and fruits were the most used part of the plants. Most of the plants had simultaneous protective effects on multiple organs but the protective effect on the liver was mostly accompanied by protective effect on the stomach (83%). The average temperament of these herbs is "hot" in the 2nd phase of the 2nd grade, and "dry" in the 3rd phase of the 2nd grade. Hepatoprotective herbs mostly prescribed as a part of hepatoprotective compound drugs formula or other formula for liver diseases are Crocus sativus, Pistacia lentiscus, and Cinnamomum spp.


Maybe there is common mechanism for protecting both liver and stomach. Aquilaria agallocha, Aquilaria malaccensis, and Ruscus aculeatus whose hepatoprotective effects have not yet been reported are considered as good candidates for future investigations. Given that Crocus sativus, and Cinnamomum spp are used as flavors in most countries, they will be introduced for more investigation in order to produce hepatoprotective drugs.


Avicenna; Complementary Therapies; Liver; Medicine, Traditional; Plants, Hepatoprotective

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