25th August 2023

What Supplements Are Bad for the Liver? 5 To Look Out For

Dr. Devan Patel, PharmD
What Supplements Are Bad for the Liver? 5 To Look Out For

Taking supplements can be an easy way to improve your health, but have you ever thought about the potential harm they could cause? While some supplements are beneficial for your body, others can have negative effects, particularly on your liver.

The liver plays an essential role in filtering toxins from your body, including those from dietary supplements. Unfortunately, some supplements can cause liver damage, which can be severe and even life-threatening. With the supplement industry growing every year, it’s important to understand which ones to avoid.

If you are someone who takes dietary supplements, you should know which ones can negatively affect your liver. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the supplements to watch out for.


What Is Toxic Liver Disease?

Toxic liver disease (toxication) is a condition that occurs when the liver is damaged by substances that it has been exposed to. The most common cause of this type of damage is exposure to certain medications, alcohol, or other toxins.

These substances can accumulate in the liver and cause inflammation and cell death, leading to organ failure. Symptoms of toxication may include jaundice, dark-colored urine, fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain, and cirrhosis. 


Herb-Induced Liver Injury

Though rare, herb-induced liver damage is becoming more common, especially among younger people. Herb-induced liver damage occurs when too much of an ingredient is consumed and processed by the liver. 

Certain ingredients can be harmful to the liver in high doses, especially when consumed over a long period of time. If you aren't careful, taking daily supplements can do you more harm than good. 

One reason herb-induced liver injury can occur is because of a lack of regulation in the supplement industry. Because the FDA doesn't regulate supplements, it's difficult to know what you are really getting when you purchase a supplement. 

There are many disreputable companies that falsely advertise the ingredients and dosages of their products. It's very possible to buy a supplement that contains hidden ingredients or ingredients that aren't pure.

This only increases your risk of developing herb-induced liver damage as some of these ingredients may be harmful to your liver. 


5 Supplements To Look Out For

When it comes to supplements, there are a few specific ingredients that experts recommend avoiding due to their potential for causing liver damage. These include green tea extract, comfrey, ephedra, and kava.


Green Tea Extract

Green tea extract is a popular ingredient in many dietary supplements. Green tea is known for its numerous health benefits.

The popular plant supplement contains powerful antioxidants which have been linked to reducing the risk of cancer. Studies have also shown that green tea may aid in weight loss, protect brain function, help prevent diabetes, and even lower your risk of heart disease.

Green tea extract is a more concentrated form of the dried green tea leaves most people are used to. It's found in many herbal supplements. While regular consumption of green tea may be safe, even beneficial to your health, green tea extract is not. 

The concentrated form of green tea taken in high doses can cause liver toxicity, which may result in death. 

It’s important to use caution if you decide to take green tea extract and ensure that you are not taking too much.



Comfrey is an herb often used topically for skin care. Comfrey plant roots and leaves contain compounds that help skin cells grow and reduce inflammation. In the past, comfrey was used to treat stomach aches. 

However, when taken in high doses, comfrey can be toxic. The powerful plant can cause liver damage and has even been linked to cases of death.

As such, it’s important to avoid taking comfrey supplements or using products containing this herb.



Ephedra is an evergreen plant that's been used in China and India for medicinal purposes. The supplement used to be found in many energy drinks and weight loss products.

Ephedra acts as a stimulant that can increase energy and may aid in weight loss. However, the use of ephedra has been linked to heart attack, seizure, and liver damage and should be avoided.



Kava is a plant that grows in the South Pacific. Traditionally, the root of the kava plant was ground up and mixed with water or coconut milk to be consumed as a drink.

Kava contains compounds and chemicals that act as natural anxiety relief. However, recent studies have shown that it can cause liver damage in some people.

In Europe, more than 100 cases of liver toxicity have been attributed to Kava. Though kava may be helpful in reducing anxiety, it's damaging effect on your liver isn't worth it. 



Cascara Sagrada is the name of a shrub. The dried bark of the cascara plant is commonly used in supplements to help relieve constipation and other gut-related ailments. 

When taken in correct doses, cascara is generally safe. However, studies have shown that cascara may be toxic to the liver when taken in high doses or for longer than advised. 


Should You Take Supplements for Liver Health?

Taking supplements for your liver health can be risky if you don't know what to look for. There have been numerous studies on the positive benefits of taking supplements for your liver. 

However, as a consumer, you need to be careful of where you buy your supplements from. Only buy from companies and brands that are reputable. Read labels carefully to ensure your supplement doesn't contain ingredients that may be harmful to your liver. Also, never take more than the recommended daily dose. 


The Everyday Liver Vitamin from Zen Nutrients

The Everyday Liver Vitamin is an all-in-one supplement formulated to support liver health.* It's made by Zen Nutrients, a reputable nutraceutical company known for its quality natural ingredients. 

The Everyday Liver Vitamin contains specific ingredients researched for their safety and effectiveness in possibly slowing down and reversing signs of liver damage.*


The Bottom Line

Taking supplements for your health can be beneficial, but it may also be harmful. The key is to do your research on which ingredients are harmful to your liver and avoid them at all costs. 

Never buy supplement products from a company or brand with a bad reputation. Also, be sure to check with your doctor before consuming supplements as part of your health regimen. 


*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.