A study revealed that the seeds from the orchid tree contain antioxidant properties that protect the liver from damage. Iron is important for the body because of its redox properties. However, too much of it can lead to toxicity. Tight systemic and cellular controls are essential to sustain physiological levels of iron in the body, which appears to be primarily located in the liver. The reason is that the liver is a primary body organ responsible for about 500 body functions, such as immune defense, digestion, carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, and energy production.
A group of scientists from the University of Limpopo in South Africa investigated on the antioxidant and liver-protective effects of acetone and methanol defatted seed extracts of Bauhinia variegata Linn, more commonly known as orchid tree, against ferric chloride-induced chicken liver.
For the study, the research team analyzed the antioxidant and protective properties of orchid tree seeds from South Africa in in vitro models. They compared the antioxidant effects of defatted orchid tree seeds to non-defatted seeds of milk thistle, which is known to be used in treating liver diseases. Defatting the seeds of Bauhinia variegata removes lipids that interrupt the reaction and mechanism of extract reacting with ferric chloride in the liver. In addition, they used ascorbic acid, and acetone and methanol seed extracts as antioxidant and hepaprotective controls.
The researchers found that seed extracts of the two plants contain phenolic and flavonoids compounds, both of which are known to possess antioxidant properties. The protective and antioxidative effects of acetone and methanol extracts of the orchid tree seeds were comparable to those of ascorbic acid and non-defatted seed extracts of milk thistle. Moreover, the research team discovered that 80 percent of acetone and methanol seed extracts of orchid tree contain antioxidant and free radical scavenging capacity. These properties provided protection against liver damage. It was confirmed in the study that ferric chloride stimulates lipid peroxidation in chicken liver.
The results of the study indicate that acetone and methanol extracts produced by the seeds from orchid trees may be used as good sources of natural antioxidant and liver protection agents. The findings of the study were published in the African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines.
Bauhinia variegata Linn belongs to the family of Leguminosae. It is an evergreen tree with purple flowers and round leaves. They also bear legume fruits which are green when fresh and turn dark brown when they dry up. They are native to Asia and are an invasive plant species in South Africa. They spread through the dispersal of seeds. Traditionally, they are used to treat bronchitis, leprosy, and tumor. Their bark works as an astringent, tonic, and anthelmintic, while its leaves are used as laxative. Moreover, its dried buds are used to treat worm infestations, tumors, diarrhea, and piles.
Food items that are good for the liver
Aside from the seeds of the orchid tree, there are other natural remedies for liver protection. One of these is coffee, which has been shown to protect the liver from diseases because of its antioxidant properties. Black and green tea may also benefit the liver by improving enzyme and fat levels in the liver. Moreover, grapefruits contain antioxidants that protect the liver by decreasing inflammation and enhancing its protective mechanisms. Blueberries and cranberries are also rich in antioxidants, thus they can be consumed to support liver health. Grapes and its seed extract may also protect the liver, increase antioxidant levels, and prevent inflammation based on animal and some human studies. Other foods that support liver health are prickly pear, beetroot juice, cruciferous vegetables, nuts, fatty fish, and olive oil.