Causative Factors And Background Information
Hepatitis is an extremely common inflammatory disease of the liver. The most frequently associated pathogen, or disease-causing agent, is one or more of a number of viruses, including hepatitis A, B, C, and D. Less common viral agents of hepatitis include those associated with Epstein-Barr syndrome and yellow fever. Occasionally, herpes viruses such as varicella zoster or cytomegalovims are implicated, as are coxsackievirus and measles virus. Bacterial hepatitis can be associated with tuberculosis, syphilis, and other systemic infections. Other pathogens, such as the protozoa that cause malaria and toxoplasmosis and parasites that cause schistosomiasis and ascariasis, can cause liver damage but not true hepatitis.
Signs and symptoms of hepatitis vary and may include extreme fatigue, headaches, facial flushing, red and inflamed gums, tenderness in the liver area, diarrhea or loose, watery stools, and yellow coating on the back of the tongue. Hypertension and migraines are also potential symptoms.
Jaundice indicates that the liver is failing to properly break down bilirubin, a bile product. Bilirubin is a yellow-brown pigment that gives blood its characteristic color. If not broken down by the liver, it can accumulate in the tissues, turning the urine dark yellow, even orange. When a person is jaundiced, the whites of the eyes and even the skin are often colored yellow. Because the degraded bilirubin is no longer excreted from the bowels, the stools lose their normal brown look and turn pale to chalk-white-a startling occurrence for many people. I remember feeling shocked by this symptom after contracting hepatitis many years ago.
If you experience any of these symptoms or signs, it is important that you work with a qualified primary health-care provider who can help you diagnose the ailment, define contributing factors, and develop a complete program for liver health. The liver is one of the most important body organs. By consciously caring for our livers, we celebrate life and demonstrate gratitude for the precious gift of health.
By far the most important cause of hepatitis is infection from one or more of the hepatitis viruses, often accompanied by an unhealthy lifestyle and other factors that encourage virus overgrowth.
Of the hepatitis viruses, hepatitis C is emerging in many industrialized countries as a slowly developing liver infection that leads to chronic, active hepatitis. The primary source of hepatitis C infection is needle-sharing among drug addicts, and the secondary source is blood transfusion. Although it is unknown how many people are infected, it is likely to be in the millions in the United States alone. Hepatitis C is especially insidious because it often takes years for infected people to demonstrate symptoms. By the time the infection is diagnosed, extensive liver damage can already have occurred.
Many people are concerned that hepatitis C may be transmitted to spouses or sexual partners. Several studies conclude that unprotected sex, even with partners who are antibody-positive to the hepatitis C virus, does not increase the risk of contracting the disease, or that such contraction is rare (Scully et al, 1993; Gordon et al, 1992). The authors of one study conclude that
While these results cannot exclude a role for the sexual transmission of HCV, they do suggest that, in this sexually active population, the sexual transmission of HCV occurs infrequently and that HCV is largely associated with intravenous drug use (Weinstock et al, 1993).
Two other studies suggest that sexual transmission of HCV is possible, but probably not a major cause of infection. In the first study, researchers found only a slightly increased risk among 340 patient volunteers (Osmond et al, 1993). In the second study, partners of HCV-positive subjects were four times more likely to be HCV-positive than those with sexual partners who were not HCV-positive. To rule out other risk factors contributing to these results, the researchers checked the identity of the RNA from virus samples of each person and found only a 12% higher match between the samples from sexual partners as for random samples (Thomas et al, 1995). HCV genetic material has been detected in saliva, semen, and vaginal discharges by one group of researchers, but not by others (Zhao et al, 1995). There is a suggestion here that the longer sexual partners are together, the greater the risk of the disease being transmitted.
As a clinical herbalist and acupuncturist, I have specialized in this form of hepatitis and have worked with many patients suffering from it. Over the years I have observed that many people with hepatitis C can heal their livers and enjoy long, healthy lives when they utilize the total program for health described in this book.
Classification Of Viral Hepatitis And Associated Viruses
HEPATITIS TYPE MAIN METHODS OF TRANSMISSION COMMON OUTCOME A (HAV, infectious hepatitis) Contamination of food, etc. with fecal matter from infected person Often resolves completely after 4 to 8 weeks; usually does not become chronic B (HBV, serum hepatitis) Contaminated blood transfusions; shared needles associated with intravenous drug use Often less favorable than type A; can be fatal in 10 to 10% of cases in the elderly and after blood transfusions; can become chronic in 10 to 15% of cases C (HCV, hepatitis C) Shared needles or contaminated blood transfusion; sexual transmission rate low but possible Irregular course; patient is often asymptomatic for years; can lead to chronic hepatitis D (delta agent) This virus is closely associated with HBV Exists only concurrent with hepatitis B; causes extremely severe symptoms; may be an important cause of hepatitis worldwide
What A Doctor Will Do For Hepatitis
If you have symptoms associated with liver disease, it is wise to seek the help of a physician who can diagnose and evaluate your condition. The doctor will order tests that can help determine if you have hepatitis or another type of liver disease. The test most commonly requested is a liver panel, which can be ordered as part of a complete blood test (CBC) or separately. A physical examination in which the practitioner palpates the liver area to find tenderness or swelling is also useful.
If the blood test shows that certain enzymes, called GGT, AST, and ALT, are higher than the normal range, then it is likely that the liver is under stress, either from exposure to drugs or toxic chemicals (i.e., pesticides) or from an infection, viral or otherwise. For these enzymes, the following chart gives normal, moderately increased, and dangerously high levels.
ENZYME NORMAL RANGE * MODERATELY ELEVATED HIGHLY ELEVATED GGT, a biliary enzyme that is used to monitor progression of liver disease 7 to 64 IU/L** 80 TO 120 IU/L 120 IU/L AST (SGOT), an enzyme that increases in the blood when there is liver stress and/or damage to liver cells 10 TO 42 IU/L 80 TO 150 IU/L 150 IU/L (with severe liver damage, over 1.000 or 2,000) ALT (SCPT), an enzyme that increases in the blood with serious damage to cells in the liver, heart and muscles. 10 TO 60 IU/L 80 TO 150 IU/L 150 IU/L (with severe liver damage, over 1,000 or 2,000)
* These values can vary, depending on the system and units of measure used.
** International units per liter
When the SGPT goes above 2,000, the chances of developing cirrhosis are greatly increased.
In the event your liver enzymes are higher than the normal range, and you have symptoms associated with liver stress or hepatitis, then it is likely that a test will be ordered to see if you have developed antibodies to one of the hepatitis pathogens. Tests are also available to see how much viral RNA is in your blood. If the test is positive for a hepatitis virus and the viral load is fairly high, a liver biopsy is often recommended. This procedure can provide information about the health of your liver and what type of disease process is present.
Liver Biopsy: Is it Worth the Risk?
According to the findings of major medical studies involving thousands of patients,
- Liver biopsies provide more useful and definitive information about the health and present condition of the liver than any other test
- Needle biopsy with prior sonographic examination is the safest procedure.
Some of the cases of hepatitis are caused by an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s own immune system attacks the liver. This is especially true in people with a very strong, aggressive immune system, such as those who rarely get sick with a cold or flu. The body’s overactive immune response to the virus may cause more damage to the liver than the virus itself. I have seen this happen in some of my patients. If this is a possiblilty in your case, try a regimen of 24 percent ginko-leaf extract, two to three 40 mg tablets per day, plus a few months of milk thistle and a strong antioxidant regime (see dietary sources on page 22).
Please note that it is difficult to differentiate between autoimmune hepatitis and the other types. For this reason, if you are taking immune strengthening herbs and receive no benefit after one month to six weeks of use, discontinue them. Again, with a serious disease such as hepatitis, it is important to work directly with a qualified health practioner for a program of total health.
The liver biopsy is an important diagnostic tool for physicians to determine the severity and aggressiveness of hepatitis and other liver diseases. The information gained from this procedure cannot be obtained from other, less invasive tests, including ultrasound (Lindor et al, 1996), and it promotes accuracy in the prediction of the probable outcome of the disease.
A doctor will often order a liver biopsy when a blood test shows that the liver enzymes are elevated, especially for longer than several weeks. Liver biopsies are also used to determine if a specific treatment for liver disease has been effective, for instance a-interferon therapy, or if the liver has been adversely affected by other drug therapies that are known to be toxic to the liver.
Needle biopsy of the liver is performed after a small incision is made between the ribs over the liver area. A needle is inserted to a depth of less than 2 millimeters, and a small sample of tissue is withdrawn. Afterward the patient is required to lie still for up to three hours to reduce the possibility of internal bleeding (hemorrhage). Needle liver biopsy seems to be safer than laparoscopic liver biopsy, which calls for insertion of an optical instrument into the abdomen (Glaser & Pausch, 1995).
As far as the patient’s perspective goes, there are problems with liver biopsy. The technique is invasive and usually painful. Complications severe enough to require hospitalization can occur in approximately 4% of patients (Lindor et al, 1996). In a review of over 68,000 patients recovering from liver biopsy, 96% experienced adverse symptoms during the first 24 hours of recovery. Hemorrhage was the most common symptom, but infections also occurred. Side effects of the biopsies included pain, tenderness, internal bleeding, pneumothorax, and rarely, death (Tobkes & Nord, 1995).
Sonography used before liver biopsy significantly reduces complications by helping to guide the biopsy needle to an exact location in the liver. In clinical studies, ultrasound was fast (required less than one minute) and definitely demonstrated the ability to reduce complications and hospitalizations after biopsy, as well as increase the reliability of the results [definitive diagnosis made in 99.4% of patients (Caturelli, 1996; Lindor et al, 1996)].
While modern medicine maintains that liver biopsy has its benefits, few if any studies have assessed the procedure’s long-term effects. Because the liver is cut and bleeds during biopsy, there will be some subsequent scarring. Can this area act as a focal point for future pathology or in any way interfere with any of the subtle functions of the liver? In any event, biopsy is obviously traumatic and should be used only when absolutely necessary. In a holistic sense, its main benefits may lie in its shock value. If a doctor observes that your liver is 80% destroyed, as one patient recently reported in my clinic, then you will become surprisingly motivated to turn your health around.
In considering whether to have a biopsy done, one should remember that modern medicine often does not allow for the healing potential inherent in each individual. A program for liver health includes a diet appropriate for liver stress or disease, plus an effective herbal formula and other dietary supplements such as antioxidants and essential fatty acids. Optimally, this program will cause the liver enzymes to return to a normal range, accompanied by a decreased or low viral load. The liver will get better, and a long healthy life can be anticipated. Alternately, the liver may get worse and the quality and length of life be reduced. But will a liver biopsy really change the outcome?
Interferon Therapy for Chronic Hepatitis
The major drug therapy for chronic hepatitis C is alpha-2a-interferon (Intron A). This drug slows the progression of the virus in 40% of the individuals who take it by protecting the healthy cells of the liver from being infected by the hepatitis virus and retarding viral replication.
When interferon works, depending on the severity of the disease and the health of the patient, it often takes six months to a year to return liver function to normal. And once the enzymes and viral load are reduced and the interferon is discontinued, they sometimes return to the high levels present before therapy was started. Here are a few other things to know about interferon before deciding to start treatment:
- Side effects may include achy joints, fatigue, headaches, flu-like symptoms, and the possibility of increased anger and irritability because the emotions are often strongly affected by the drug.
- Interferon must be injected daily, or at least three times a week, for sixteen weeks.
- Frequent blood work must accompany the therapy.
It may be that interferon therapy is best for getting people with very high enzymes (200 to 2,000) “over the hump.” However if interferon is used, it should always be coupled with a natural program.
Although many doctors maintain that interferon is the only way to reduce the amount of virus in the liver and blood and lessen inflammation, my clinical and personal experience with a number of cases is quite to the contrary. One case involved a 45-year-old man who contracted hepatitis C ten years ago from a blood infusion and was told by his doctor that the virus had destroyed 80% of his liver. He began interferon therapy eighteen months before he came in to see me, even using a double dose for six months, all to no avail. His liver enzymes did not go down, and his viral load was not reduced. The main side effect of the interferon was an out-of-control temper, which had troubled him as a young man but not in recent years. Finally, when it seemed the interferon was not working, the doctor told him to stop taking it.
About six months later, this man happened to read some of my writings on milk thistle and natural liver therapy. After consulting with me, he began a daily regimen of 600 mg of milk thistle (80% standardized product). Later he started to change his diet, adding more fresh fruits and vegetables. He was obviously quite encouraged when, after a few months, his liver enzymes came down to a level lower than they’d been in years. Although this was not a controlled study and thus inconclusive, it does point out that the natural program is worth a try in every case-if not as the sole method of therapy, then at least in a supportive role to liver biopsy and interferon. With the natural program, all you have to lose are symptoms and, in some cases, the disease.
Hepatitis, Cirrhosis, and Fibrosis
When hepatitis becomes chronic over a number of years, cirrhosis can result. Cirrhosis is a degenerative process of the liver that is often fatal. It involves the disruption of the normal cell structure and functions of the liver by scar tissue and the formation of small to large nodules. Cirrhosis most often develops as a result of chronic active hepatitis, chronic alcohol and drug abuse, or exposure to liver toxins. In the United States, cirrhosis is the third leading cause of death among people aged 45 to 65, after heart disease and cancer.
The path to changes in the liver that lead to cirrhosis is usually a long one, perhaps covering decades. Today even children are exposed to toxic chemicals, aspirin, and other liver stressors that can start the process. Cirrhosis, ironically, has a lot to do with the natural response of the body to toxins or pathogens, and with the liver’s ability to heal itself. When the liver is stressed, inflammation (called “pathogenic heat” in Traditional Chinese Medicine) often results. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to many potentially harmful agents. However, when inflammation
continues over a period of time, the body is obviously unsuccessful in eliminating the offending agents. For instance, when the liver is chronically irritated by alcohol, the body often tries to heal or protect itself by telling specialized cells, called fibroblasts, to produce a tough fiber known as collagen. This process is called fibrosis, and it is common throughout the body as a response to chronic irritation or injury and subsequent inflammation. The scars that form after a wound and the subsequent repair process are related to fibrosis.
Imagine the liver working constantly to process alcohol, spices, drugs, and rich fatty foods, while at the same time attempting to keep up with its many other important functions, including the manufacturing of immune proteins, the processing of natural body steroids and other chemicals, the storing of energy in the form of glycogen, and the storing of fat-soluble vitamins. When it’s trying to handle all these duties, constantly responding to the toxic compounds with which it is bombarded, the liver becomes overheated, and inflammation occurs.
Sometimes these processes lead to abnormal fibrosis, in which fibrous tissue spreads over and replaces healthy tissue. If fibrosis continues for years, the collagen fibers begin to condense and thicken. The condition becomes so extensive that bands of fibrous tissue occur. A particular characteristic of cirrhosis is the formation of small (less than one-third of an inch) to large (two-inch) nodules that may contain vessels and liver cells. When nodules begin to form, the liver’s natural internal structure becomes disrupted, and it loses the ability to perform its normal and vital duties. The sad fact is that this process is often irreversible and can lead to death. Unfortunately, many people remain largely free of symptoms for years, often until the process is highly advanced. Some may experience only fatigue and headaches, symptoms common to many other imbalances that don’t necessarily indicate that something is wrong with the liver.
The list of liver stressors associated with cirrhosis is extensive, and most people choose one or more items from it daily, even if they are not aware of it. Alcohol abuse tops the list and is implicated in most cases of cirrhosis. It is important to note here that if you have a history of symptoms associated with the liver, or if you have indulged in alcohol, drugs, poor nutrition, or other liver stressors for more than ten years, a total program for liver health is for you! Other factors in the etiology of liver disease include the frequent use of aspirin, acetaminophen, and other pain-relieving drugs, antibiotics, steroids, and exposure to toxic chemicals of any kind.
The healing of cirrhosis is difficult to predict, as it obviously depends on many factors. These include a willingness to develop an excellent and consistent program for total health, a specific program for liver health as detailed in this book, and the ability to permanently eliminate any possible liver stressors, especially alcohol and drugs. The individual’s constitution, innate vital energy, attitude, support group, and healthy relationships are also extremely important. With cirrhosis, it is usually impossible to eliminate the scarring and nodules, but the disease process can at least be stopped, allowing the liver to regenerate some of its vital function. My experience strongly suggests that the people who follow the most stringent program-those who walk the straight and narrow with an excellent diet and health habits-do the best; sometimes they can accomplish near miracles.
Dietary and herbal treatments for cirrhosis are virtually the same as for hepatitis, and the patient must be correspondingly faithful to a total health program. Attention to detail is often important for optimum results.
Dietary Recommendations for a Healthy Liver
First, remove the dietary stress factors that contribute to liver inflammation: excessive alcohol, drugs, or fried, spicy, and heavy foods such as large quantities of red meat or frequent fatty meals. These factors make it more likely that the liver will become actively infected by the hepatitis virus.
Foods and Food Supplements
A light diet built on greens, grains, and legumes is best. Don’t eat too many raw foods; instead, steam them lightly The best way to get a good supply of the enzymes, vitamins, and other factors that may be destroyed during cooking is to juice vegetables. About eight ounces of mixed vegetable juices is optimum for most people. Start with about 30 to 50 percent carrot juice and add some cooling, detoxifying, and mineral-rich vegetables like cucumber, celery, and parsley. Beet juice is a good blood-builder but contains oxalic acid, which can irritate the throat; add no more than 10%. Try the recipe for Liver-Support Juice on p.65 for starters.
“Superfoods” rich in micronutrients and high-quality proteins are essential. These include steamed nettles, spirulina or other blue-green algae, and whole almonds (soaked in water overnight if your digestion is weak). Walnuts also contain valuable proteins and omega-3 fatty acids that can help decrease inflammation in the body. Keep the eliminative channels open by drinking plenty of pure water. Avoid spicy, warming foods such as garlic, cayenne, hot peppers, and curries. If you feel like you can’t live without tangy foods, use ginger as a substitute. Let food cool to almost room temperature before eating. Also avoid cooking foods in fat or oil for a while-steam or boil them instead. Although red meat can be excessively heating, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the liver still needs protein for regeneration, as do all the cells of the body. I recommend eliminating red meat from the diet during an acute phase of hepatitis; afterward, if desired, it can be taken in moderate amounts once or twice a week. Fish is an excellent protein source because it is easy to assimilate and is neutral or cooling to the liver. Chicken and turkey in moderate amounts can also be beneficial.
Herbs for the Liver
An effective herbal formula is often made up of several components. Each part has a specific function, or action type. An herbal formula for people with hepatitis may contain herbs with a number of different action types, depending on the person’s constitution and current health.
Here are some specific formula components that have proven effective through scientific studies and clinical experience
Antiviral herbs to help protect liver cells from viral infection
- Lemon balm tea, 2 or 3 cups of strong tea per day.
- St. John’s wort, 1 teaspoon of tincture in a little water or tea two or three times daily; or three tablets of powdered extract per day.
- Shiitake powdered extract in capsules or tablets; take at least 2 and up to 5 grams per day. Note: A 00-size capsule contains 1/2 a gram of powdered herb.
- Garlic, taken fresh, cooked, or in capsules; any commercial garlic product should have some garlic smell for full antiviral effect.
- Consult an herbalist before taking Baptisia or Lomatium isolate. These powerful herbs are available in most natural food stores, but they are very strong.
General protective and rebuilding herbs for the liver
- Milk thistle is the major herb for hepatitis; take it as a tablet in concentrated, powdered extract form. An average therapeutic dose of the 75 or 80 percent standardized extract is one tablet three or four times daily. A 10% standardized extract is also available, often blended with other liver-protective and healing herbs such as turmeric, artichoke leaf, gentian, and ginger. Of this preparation, take 1 or 2 tablets, 3 times daily.
- Use schisandra in teas, taking 4 to 12 grams daily depending on body weight, or as a powdered extract. Avoid alcohol tinctures of schisandra during the acute phase of hepatitis.
Herbs to prevent liver congestion (bile-moving herbs)
These herbs include artichoke leaf, yellow dock, burdock, and dandelion root. Herbs for cooling the liver should be added to these three basic formulas in the acute stages of hepatitis, when “pathogenic heat” (active inflammation) is affecting the liver. Cooling herbs include gentian, yellow dock, Oregon grape root, centaury, and coptis (a Chinese herb). To determine if your liver is inflamed, consult with a licensed acupuncturist or herbalist trained in an energetic-based system of natural medicine such as Traditional Chinese Medicine or Ayurveda.
Use cooling herbs in tea or as a powdered extract (dried tea) in capsule or tablet form. For tea, simmer 50 to 100 grams of cooling herbs in about 20 ounces of water for 45 minutes. Steep the herbs for 15 minutes, strain and drink 1 cup of the tea, 2 or 3 times daily. The herbs will be bitter, a property associated with the cooling effect. For sweetness, add 3 to 7 grams of licorice, which also has an antiviral and anti-inflammatory effect.
Capsules or tablets of the dried teas (powdered extracts) of cooling herbs are available in natural food stores and herb shops. These extracts are much more potent than dried herbs ground up and placed in capsules or tablets because they contain the active ingredients of the plants, minus the sugars and cellulose and other fibers that make up the bulk of most herbs. In other words, the extraction process concentrates the herb’s activity many times.
Once the acute phase of hepatitis has passed, eliminate the cooling liver herbs from your regime. Keep taking the other herbs and supplements for another month or two, especially the basic supportive one. Bile-moving herbs are still appropriate in many cases.
If hepatitis becomes chronic, I recommend working with a qualified natural health-care practitioner or holistically minded physician to design an ongoing herbal formula that contains liver-building herbs, enzyme lowering-herbs, bile-movers, and appropriate dietary supplements. Such a person can order tests and provide nutritional and herbal guidance during the healing process.
Cool the Liver Tea
- Dandelion root, raw or dried (not roasted) 1 part
- Artichoke leaves 1 part
- Oregon grape root 1 /2 part
- Licorice 1 /4 part
- Turmeric 1 /4 part
- Ginger root, fresh 1 /8 part
- Gentian root 1/8 part
Simmer the herbs in a covered pot 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep, covered, for 10 minutes. Drink one cup morning and evening and one more if desired. Persist as long as you experience benefits.
- Carrot 45%
- Celery 25%
- Cabbage 15% Parsley 10%
- Ginger 5%
Note that these percentages are approximate; blend the vegetable juices to taste. The ginger is optional. It makes the juice rather spicy and is a good liver protector.
Foods to Use and Avoid for Those With Hepatitis or Cirrhosis
Foods To Use
- Steamed green vegetables
- Fresh vegetable juices
- Whole grains
- Legumes, including tofu, tempeh, and soups with aduki and mung beans
- Fish, organic chicken, and turkey
- Plenty of fresh water; add juice of half a lemon to a quart of distilled water
- Fresh fruit in season, one to three pieces a day, depending on season and climate
Foods To Avoid
- Alcoholic beverages of any kind
- Hot foods such as chili peppers and onion; use only moderate amounts of garlic. Ginger is the preferred spice because it has a protective effect on the liver.
- Pain-relieving drugs such as asprin and products containing acetaminophen. Many are toxic to the liver.
- Most pharmaceutical drugs, especially anti-inflammatories and antibiotics. Check the Physician’s Desk Reference, available in a home edition and at most libraries, if you are uncertain about the potential toxicity to the liver
- Fried greasy foods; they are often difficult for the liver to handle
- Stimulants like coffee, black tea, or ephedra (ma huang) products; they increase body metabolism and act as a central nervous-system stimulants, increasing body heat
- Refined sugar products such as cakes, cookies, candy, and ice cream; or foods with white sugar, honey, and maple syrup. Refined sugar suppresses the immune system, stimulates metabolism, and increases heat in the body. Depend on fresh fruit in season for natural sweets.
Nutritional Supplements to Add
- Antioxidants such as milk thistle, vitamin E (400 to 800 lU/day), vitamin C (1 to 3 grams per day), grape-seed extract (150 to 200 mg/day)
- Essential fatty acids. Be sure there are enough in your diet. Use one or two teaspoons of organic flax seed oil a day on salads or steamed vegetables, or take capsules.
- B vitamins are important for liver health. Take a B-vitamin complex supplement that contains thiamine, choline, riboflavin, and niacin.
The Ideal Diet
For the liver, keep it simple. An example of what not to have for dinner would be rich casseroles with meat and oil, lots of different vegetables and chopped nuts, topped off with a sweet dessert like cake. Optimum for the liver is a simple meal of steamed vegetables and rice – even white rice can be used because it is simple to digest and cooling for the liver. Whole grains, such as millet, buckwheat, rice, quinoa, and amaranth are also beneficial. Bread is okay, preferably whole grain.
Eat according to the seasons. When the weather is cold, eat warmer, cooked foods. Alaskans, for example, need meat and fat in their diets while South Americans need cooling fruits and vegetables. It is also important to tailor the diet to the type of work you do. Doing hard physical labor requires stronger, heavier foods than does sitting at a computer. People generally grow up eating the diet they get from their parents. Sometimes, this diet is influenced by advertising, such as “Milk does a body good.” Milk is not good for everybody. Its benefits depend on genetic heritage, digestive capacity, and the type of work done. Sometimes people just follow their parents’ diet without really examining it until they get older, start feeling aches and pains, and realize that their diet may not necessarily be right for them. The ensuing years are a time of self-discovery and figuring out one’s optimum diet, based on individual needs, climate, and type of work done.
Hepatitis B And C – Is There a Cure?
One must be careful with the word “cure.” When someone is cured of pneumonia, no trace of disease is left in the body. If someone has hepatitis C and all the symptoms go away, and an antibody test proves negative, and there are no signs of other viral activity in the body, and the liver enzymes are normal, then modern medicine might say the disease is cured. Yet it is likely that the hepatitis pathogen remains in the body. Millions worldwide carry the hepatitis C virus and are not aware of it. Some will go on to have symptoms, even develop serious disease, and some may remain free from symptoms into their old age. We simply don’t know the percentages yet.
One can focus on disease, or one can focus on health. If the concept of disease consumes our minds and takes a lot of attention, we are giving power to the disease. When we focus on health and its whole process, we are considering how to create greater health instead of becoming fearful.
This tea can be used long-term for chronic hepatitis or once an acute phase of hepatitis has passed. Dried extracts of the individual herbs or entire formulas containing many or all of the herbs in capsules or tablets are available in most health food stores and herb shops.
- Milk thistle – 35%
- Artichoke leaf – 15%
- Turmeric -15%
- Schisandra – 15%
- Shiitake -15%
- Licorice – 5%
Simmer the herbs in a covered pot 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep, covered, for 10 minutes. Drink one cup morning and evening and one more if desired. Persist as long as you experience benefits.
Postscript: A Prescription For Liver Health
Congratulations! If you’ve read this far, you’ve learned a lot about the liver and natural liver therapy. Here’s a final summary of the most important points you should remember about regaining or maintaining liver health.
Nine Important Points for Optimum Liver Health
- Lower your fat intake. Eat less refined, cooked oils and fats. Obtain essential oils from whole nuts and seeds.
- Rest the digestive system whenever possible. Don’t eat too late at night or too early in the morning. Don’t eat when not hungry, and especially never overeat.
- Be aware of proper food combining. Sweet fruit and cooked protein are the worst combination, causing fermentation.
- Liver flushes and drinking lemon-water keep the liver moisturized and free-flowing.
- Keep the eliminative channels open and free. Exercise to eliminate toxins via the lungs and skin. Have at least one bowel movement a day.
- Massage the liver area at least once a day to help remove congestion.
- Worry or anger can get stuck in the liver. Release these emotions in a constructive way.
- Antioxidants such as vitamins E and C, beta-carotene, zinc, and selenium protect against toxins. Herbal antioxidants are superior to synthetic vitamins, though both can be used together.
- Herbal formulas to cleanse, protect, and stimulate the liver are highly recommended. Teas for long-term use include a blend of roasted dandelion, chicory, and ginger; Puri-Tea; Polari-Tea; or any of the other teas in this book. Milk thistle is a must for rebuilding the liver when it has been compromised or weakened in any way.
When we’re afraid we have a disease that can’t be cured, we are likely to grope for anything-drugs, surgery, even herbs-in hope of a panacea. But disease and health are processes inside of us, not outside. By looking deeply we may come to understand our processes and help to heal ourselves.
It is always important to remember that modern medicine is limited in its ability to consider the human spirit and the vital energy that people are able to direct to their healing. Practitioners of modern medicine, as well as other kinds of practitioners, often can’t foresee whether people can heal themselves or not. I feel, however, that there is no limit to what is possible with the healing process and the human spirit, so why place limits? Why close ourselves off from reaching for the health that, by making the reach, we may well attain?
Healthy restaurant food: an oxymoron?
Over the years I have often heard from people who travel frequently that it is difficult to maintain a healthy diet when eating in restaurants. My experience is quite the contrary. Most restaurants offer some healthy choices and flexibility in preparation and are happy to oblige their customers. Ask for vegetables with no butter or salt, perhaps steamed or stir-fried in olive oil. Fish and other main dishes can be cooked without sauces; dressings for salads can be ordered on the side and sprinkled on for flavor instead of ladled into the bowl.>
Larger cities usually offer a variety of natural food restaurants. A close friend of mine had hepatitis C for a number of years and became very sick. She had to quit her job and focus on healing her liver. She was very good at monitoring her diet and could fluster any waiter with specific instructions on how the meal should be prepared: no spices, not even pepper; very little oil; only the freshest ingredients. We made quite a pair when we were eating out together. I like some spice but wanted fresh organic vegetables whenever possible, no meat except fish, no eggs or butter. To make up for the aggravation we caused, we tipped generously!
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References for Western Herbalism
- Bradley, P.R. 1992. British Herbal Compendium, vol. 1. Dorset, England: British Herbal Medical Association.
- Felter, H.W. &J.U. Lloyd. 1898. King’s American Dispensatory. Cincinnati: The Ohio Valley Co.
- Leung, A.Y. 1980. Encyclopedia of Natural Ingredients. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
- Tierra, M. 1988. Planetary Herbology. Santa Fe: Lotus Press.
- American Medical Association. 1986. Drug Evaluations. Chicago: American Medical Association.
- Bragg, P. 1976. The Miracle of Fasting. Santa Barbara: Health Science.
- Cheung, C.S. 1983. The Liver and Gall Bladder JAm Col Trad Cb Med 2:30.
- Davis, B., et al. 1985. Conceptual Human Physiology. Columbus:Charles E. Merrill Publishing Company.
- Farnsworth, N.R. 1980. Botanical Sources of Fertility Regulating Agents: Chemistry and Pharmacology. Progress in Hormone Biochemistry and Pharmacology, vol. 1. Lancaster, England: Eden Press.
- Hikino, H. 1986. Antihepatotoxic Actions of Allium sativum Bulbs. Planta Medico: 163.
- Hobbs, C. 1992. Foundations of Health. Capitola, CA: Botanica Press.
- —— 1992. Milk Thistle: The Liver Herb. Capitola, CA: Botanica Press.
- Kaptchuk, T.J. 1983. The Web That Has no Weaver. New York: Congdon & Weed.
- Kimura, Y., et al. 1984. Studies on Scutellariae Radix, IX-New Component Inhibiting Lipid Peroxidation in Rat Liver. Planta Medico 50:290.
- —— 1985. Effects of Extracts of Leaves of Artemisia
- Species… on Lipid Metabolic Injury in Rats Fed Peroxidized Oil. Chem Pbarm Bull 33:2028-2034.
- Kiso, Y., et al. 1985. Mechanism of Antihepatoxic Activity of Wuweisisu C and Gomisin A, Planta Medico: 331-334.
- —— 1984. Antihepatotoxic Principles of Artemisia capillaris Buds. Planta Medico: 81.
- Maeda, S., et al. 1985. Effects of Gomisin A on Liver Functions in Hepatotoxic Chemicals-Treated Rats. Japan J Pbarmacol 38:347-353.
- Maiwald, L. 1987. Bitterstoffe. Zeitschrift fur Pbytotheropie 8:186-88. Raloff, J. 1993. EcoCancers. Science News 143:10-13.
- Reynolds, E.S. 1980. Liver and Biliary Tree. Systemic Reactions to Injury by Environmental Agents: 248.
- Lindor et al. 1996. The role of ultrasonography and automatic-needle biopsy in outpatient percutaneous liver biopsy. Hepatology 23:1079-1083.
- Little et al. 1996. Image-guided percutaneous hepatic biopsy: Effect of Ascites on the complication rate. Radiology. 199:79-83.
- Murphey, F. B. et al. 1988. CT- or sonography-guided biopsy of the liver in the presence of Ascites: Frequency of complications. American Journal of Roentgenology 151:485-486.
- Osmond, D. H. et al. 1993. Risk factors for hepatitis C virus seropositivity in heterosexual couples. Journal of the American Medical Association. 269:361-365.
- Soyer, P. et al. 1993. Ultrasound-guided biopsy in focal lesions of the liver. Report on an automated biopsy system. Journal of Radiology 74:215-219.
- Stone, M. A. and J. F. Mayberry. 1996. An audit of ultrasound-guided liver biopsies: A need for evidence-based practice. Hepatogastroenterology. 43:432-443.
- Thomas, D. L. 1995. Sexual transmission of hepatitis C virus among patients attending sexually transmitted diseases clinics in Baltimore: An analysis of 309 sex partnerships. Journal of Infectious Diseases 171:768-775.
- Tobkes, A. and H. J. Nord. Liver biopsy: Review of methodology and complications. Digestive Disorders 13:267-274.
- Weinstock, H. S. et al, 1996. Hepatitis C virus infection among patients attending a clinic for sexually transmitted diseases. Journal of the American Medical Association 269:392-394.
- Zhao, X. P, et al. 1995. Infectivity and risk factors of hepatitis C virus transmission through sexual contact. Journal of Tongfi Medical University 15:147-150.
References for Traditional Chinese Medicine
- Bensky, D. & A. Gamble. 1986. Chinese Herbal Medicine, Materia Medico. Seattle: Eastland Press.
- Bensky, D. & R. Barolet. 1990. Chinese Herbal Medicine-Formulas and Strategies. Seattle: Eastland Press.
- Chang, H.M. 1986. Pharmacology and Applications of Chinese Materia Medico. Philadelphia: World Scientific.
- Chang H.M. et al. 1985. Advances in Chinese Medicinal Materials Research. Philadelphia: World Press.
- Fratkin, J. 1986. Chinese Herbal Patent Formulas-A Practical Guide. Santa Fe: Shya Publications.
- Hsu, H.-Y. et al. 1986. Oriental Materia Medico, A Concise Guide. Long Beach, CA: Oriental Healing Arts Institute.
- Yeung, H.-C. 1985. Handbook of Chinese Herbs and Formulas, 2 vols. Los Angeles: Institute of Chinese Medicine.
References for Hepatitis C
- Berkow, R. et al. 1992. The Merck Manual (l6th edition). Rahway, NJ: Merck and Co., Inc.
- Caturelli, E., et al. 1996. Percutaneous biopsy in diffuse liver disease: Increasing diagnostic yield and decreasing complication rate by routine ultrasound assessment of puncture site. American Journal of Gastroenterology 91:1318-1321.
- Chuah, S. Y. 1996. Liver biopsy-past, present, and future. Singapore Medical Journal 37:86-90.
- Churchill, D. R. et al. 1996. Fatal hemorrhage following liver biopsy in patients with HP/ infection. Genitourinary Medicine 72:62-64.
- Esteban, R. 1993. Epidemiology of hepatitis C virus infection. Journal of Hepotology. 17:S67-S71.
- Gordon, S. C., et al. 1992. Lack of evidence for the heterosexual transmission of hepatitis C. American Journal of Gastroenterology 87:1849-1851.
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