The liver plays a central role in transforming and clearing chemicals and is susceptible to the toxicity from these agents. Certain medicinal agents, when taken in overdoses and sometimes even when introduced within therapeutic ranges, may injure the organ.
In the Western world, drug‒induced liver injury is a major health care problem and accounts for the majority of acute liver failure cases. The pathophysiological mechanisms of chemical-driven liver damage are mostly associated with the metabolic conversion of xenobiotics into reactive oxygen species (ROS), which induce oxidative stress and damage the cellular macromolecules. Oxidative stress has recently been recognized as a key factor in the pathophysiological changes observed in a wide range of liver diseases, such as subclinical hepatitis without jaundice, inflammatory necrotic hepatitis, liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Better understanding the role of oxidative stress in these liver disorders may lead to the appropriate use of antioxidants as a therapeutic approach for liver diseases. Natural antioxidant products, especially phytochemicals, have gained popularity worldwide due to their efficacy and safety. They are increasingly being used to treat various pathological liver conditions and nearly half of the agents used in liver therapy today are either natural products or their derivatives.