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Acupuncture + Curcumin = Potent Duo for Liver Health

Nicole Cutler L.Ac. April 4, 2016

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Discover how liver fibrosis is reduced with a combo of approaches that lie outside of conventional medicine.

Affecting at least 30 million Americans, chronic liver disease impacts people from all walks of life. There are many possible causes of chronic liver disease, but infection with the Hepatitis C virus is one of the most prevalent and hazardous. In addition to eliminating the source of illness, reducing liver fibrosis is the therapeutic goal for all of those burdened with chronic liver disease. Although there is currently no FDA-approved pharmaceutical agent that can reduce liver fibrosis, a combination of complementary medical methods holds promise.

What Is Liver Fibrosis?

Chronic liver disease causes damage to liver cells. Common causes of chronic liver disease include:

  • the Hepatitis B virus
  • the Hepatitis C virus
  • chemical toxicity
  • alcoholism
  • autoimmune disease
  • fatty liver
  • cancer

Normally, damaged liver cells have the ability to regenerate and repair. However, chronic liver disease repeatedly injures liver cells, and the damage outpaces the cells’ regenerative ability. This leads to scarring in the liver, otherwise known as liver fibrosis. On a cellular level, liver fibrosis is the excessive accumulation of extracellular matrix proteins including collagen.

If the fibrosis flourishes and becomes severe, cirrhosis can result. Cirrhosis is the permanent hardening and shrinking of the liver and is indicative of advanced chronic liver disease. Those with cirrhosis have a much bleaker outlook than those who are able to reduce or even reverse liver fibrosis. Cirrhosis can lead to liver failure, liver cancer and portal hypertension and may require liver transplantation for survival.

The Fibrosis-Fighting Duo

Chinese researchers have found that combining acupuncture with curcumin supplementation protects the liver from fibrosis.

  1. Acupuncture – A form of Chinese medicine that has been practiced for centuries, acupuncture is based on the theory that energy flows through and around your body along specific channels. Acupuncture involves inserting extremely thin needles into the skin along these channels to unblock or balance a person’s energy.
  2. Curcumin – Curcumin is the active constituent in turmeric, and is responsible for the spice’s bright yellow color. Turmeric is the principle spice in curry, contributing to this dish’s health-promoting properties. Curcumin is a principle polyphenol in Jiang Huang, a member of the ginger family of herbs used for enhancing blood circulation in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

The Research Promoting this Duo

Published in the journal Acupuncture in Medicine in 2012, Chinese researchers performed an investigation on laboratory rats with liver fibrosis comparing curcumin, true acupuncture, true acupuncture plus curcumin, and sham acupuncture. (Sham acupuncture is the insertion of acupuncture needles at locations that are not located on an acupuncture channel, and not considered therapeutic.) Besides finding significant protective effects of acupuncture on the liver, the researchers discovered a synergistic effect of curcumin plus acupuncture – with this duo demonstrating an even greater level of liver protection. In the researchers’ words, “acupuncture plus curcumin ‘potently protected the liver’ from injury and fibrogenesis.”

  • Western – From the Western medical perspective, acupuncture and curcumin were effective because of reductions in laboratory measurements of liver fibrosis markers (serum aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase, hyaluronic acid, laminin and procollagen-3, alpha smooth muscle actin, extracellular matrix, fibronection, and alpha-1 collagen). In addition, histologic findings showed changes in collagen, fibronectin proteins, TIMP-1, serum hyaluronic acid and laminin that points to liver fibrosis reduction.
  • Chinese – From the Chinese medical perspective, these two are synergistic because the acupuncture protocol used in the study (Acupoints Liver 14, Liver 3, Stomach 36 and Bladder 18) directs energy movement towards the liver while the curcumin stimulates blood circulation. Thus, the increase in blood and energy circulation that is directed at the liver encourages liver cell regeneration while stimulating movement of congested toxins (or viruses or excessive fat) out of the liver.

Luckily, an expensive prescription is not necessary to protect your liver from advancing fibrosis. By shifting out of the Western medical paradigm, you can open up to options that are both logical and effective. Especially for those with Hepatitis C, combining acupuncture treatments with curcumin supplementation will provide some additional insurance against the development of cirrhosis.

Editor’s Note: Turmeric 95, Milk Thistle with Artichoke & Turmeric, LiverSupport & Detox and Clinical LiverSupport all contain turmeric standardized to 95 percent curcumin, the highest curcumin content available., Acupuncture Plus Curcumin Protects The Liver, Retrieved April 3, 2016, Healthcare Medicine Institute, 2016., Treatment and Prevention of Liver Fibrosis, Subhuti Dharmananda, PhD, Retrieved April 3, 2016, Institute for Traditional Medicine, 2016., Liver Disease: The Big Picture, Retrieved April 3, 2016, American Liver Foundation, 2016., Acupuncture combined with curcumin attenuates carbon tetrachloride-induced hepatic fibrosis in rats, Zhang F, et al, Retrieved April 3, 2016, Acupuncture in Medicine, June 2012., Acupuncture – Topic Overview, Retrieved April 3, 2016, WebMD, LLC, 2016.



Key Outcome of HCV Trial: BIT225 Was Safe and Well-Tolerated

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First Ultrasound Contrast Agent Approved by FDA for Liver Imaging

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Comments provides information regarding hepatitis and liver disease. Comments are available to the community in order to discuss these topics and obtain answers to questions through community members. The Editors at will not be responding to questions or comments posed in article comments.

  • Chris

    What is the best way to take tumeric? I live near an indian supermarket which sell fresh white and yellow tumeric; but that is pretty hard to take. They also sell powdered tumeric. I am confused as to the best method of taking is.

    • t.w.

      Mix 1 teaspoon (powdered turmeric/8 ounce glass fruit juice) drink 3 times daily.

  • Inc.

    Please don’t believe everything you read. How about you read these research studies first and you will see how many holes you can poke in them. There is no such thing as “energy flowing through the body”.

  • trotter

    PLEASE NOTE: This may help symptoms. But, there is no other effective treatment for Hepatitis C besides the ones approved by the FDA for Hep C.
    Anything else, could help you feel better, but, there’s so many things people advertise that you may just waste your money on. Also, any herb/spice, anything you ingest you need to check with you doctor to make sure it doesn’t hurt your liver more. Watch out, ok?

    • John H

      I beg to differ on the no other hep c treatment acept fda approved. I start ed acupuncture and herb tea for 90 days it reduced viral load from 5 mil down to 600,000 and we are just getting started I will get my next test in 3 months . Remember the wright brothers. We will see hep c as a thing of the past in the near future

      • trotter

        Again, there is no other proven treatment to put Hepatitis C in remission besides the ones approved by the FDA. What you use may work on you right now, but it helps yours symptoms, but has not been proven in a doctor-monitored clinical trial.
        And the problem is using other things may hurt our livers. Anything like acupuncture that relaxes you, yoga, etc. is good and may lower some of your tests for a short time. Nothing is proven to put Hep C in remission except the ones on the market.
        Everything we ingest is filtered through our liver or our kidneys. Our kidneys are working doubletime if it doesn’t go though our liver,, so we’ve got to watch out for expensive, even dangerous meds that people are lining up to sell us.

  • trotter

    And to show this site especially we need to view with a grain of salt, they are a drug/herbal outlet. To show this, I regularly catch them in mistakes. Look at the first words of the article. 30 million Americans? There’s only 3-5 million Americans w/Hep C. Sometimes good info, but also read it elsewhere to know for sure.

    • Molly

      It says 30 million americans with chronic liver disease, not hepatitis.