The liver is the organ that is at the highest risks of damage under any kind of drug treatment. Most of the medications offer side effects that primarily damage the liver activity. It is the center of purification of toxins in the blood and its damage is considered to be one of the most severe damages to the human body.
One such case is Isoniazid that is a commonly used drug for treating tuberculosis. Aside from its potential abilities to treat Mycobacterium tuberculosis, it also offers various hepatotoxic (toxic to the liver) side effects.
The researchers from Jahrom University of Medical Sciences and Isfahan University of Medical Sciences in Iran have suggested using orchid extract named “Salep” to protect the liver against the effects of Isoniazid. Salep is the starch that comes from the dried tubers of the orchid plant. The results of their study were published in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine.
Isoniazid was introduced into clinical practice in 1954. It has been credited with the sharp decline in morbidity and mortality of tuberculosis but it is also referred to as the most common cause of serious liver injury. In the U.S., the drug accounts for acute liver injury with jaundice. In fewer cases, it was also found to even cause death.
Alcohol consumption, old age, malnutrition, underlying hepatitis B or C, and the use of other anti-tuberculosis medications may also add to the damaging situation.
For the study and analysis, the team first collected salep plants and made flour using their dried roots which were then processed and filtered to make an aqueous extract. 56 Wistar or outbred albino rats were employed for the experiment, which was then randomly distributed into seven groups. Aside from the control and the placebo group, one group was given 50 mg/kg of Isoniazid. The other four groups received 40, 80, 160, and 320 mg/kg of orchid extract, respectively. Blood samples and liver tissues from the rats were analyzed after a month.
The results of the study showed that salep (Orchis maculate L.) possessed anti-hepatotoxic properties in general. In traditional medicine, salep is applied topically to relieve chest pain. It is also known to treat intestinal disorders, tuberculosis, diarrhea, Parkinson’s disease, and cancer.
The rats administered with salep showed significantly lower levels of the markers for liver damage i.e. liver enzymes, bilirubin, MDA, and total oxidant content. The salep group also exhibited a higher level of antioxidants and protein in comparison to the group with Isoniazid only. Moreover, no liver injury was revealed upon tissue analysis of the rats from the salep group.
The researchers deduced that salep might counter the destructive effects of Isoniazid on the liver. It was stated that the antioxidant content in the salep may stabilize the membranes of liver cells by following means,
- Reduction in the production of free radicals
- A decrement in the release of liver enzymes into the blood
- Improve liver protection indices in rats poisoned by Isoniazid
- Decreased chances of drug interruption
Salep is popular in the Middle East as a thickener in cooking. It is also well-known as a creamy drink that is especially popular in winter. It also helps people with a cough. A simple way to prepare the best remedial recipe out of salep is to mix one tablespoon of salep flour with two teaspoons of sugar and added two cups of milk. Mix and stir well over low heat for 10 minutes until the mixture thickens. Cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg can be used as a topping.
Salep drinks are readily available in the markets of Turkey. However, some varieties of orchids used in the production of salep are already endangered thus it is prohibited to export salep outside Turkey.