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Ask the Herbalist--Liver Problems

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ANSWERS FROM CARLOS:
QUESTION
: It is a great pleasure for me to get in touch with you. I pray that GOD makes you the right and final person to help me with my health conditions. In 2002 I was diagnosed with Hepatitis B, since then I've tried different treatments, till this day I'm still tested positive. Also I belong to a family that almost everyone has high blood pressure, two months ago I found myself inside of the Emergency room, because I voluntarily stopped taking my medicines, I decided to treat it naturally. Because I did not want to spend the rest of my life taking medications. At the emergency rooms my blood pressure was 190 over 90 and everyone panicked. While taking the exams they found out that I now had Liver Cysts through the CT test. Suddenly I panicked but the doctors told me it was maybe benign. I found out there are many ways you could treat this, but I went on with natural medicines. Ever since 20 years I have not smoked or drunk any alcohol. I am a Limo driver, I work 7 days a week which is not recommended for my health conditions. Whenever I lay down I feel pain on my right side, as soon as I get inside the car and put on a seatbelt I feel pain on my liver and backside. Whenever Iím constipated I feel severe pain on my liver, these past few weeks I have been constipated and I donít know what causes that. When I was diagnosed with Hepatitis B my doctor put me on Epsara and Epivir for one non-stop year and told me to not continue. The Ultrasound I took two weeks ago also confirmed I had liver cysts. Other than that they said everything is looking good inside my stomach. They Also Said "Impression: Limited study due to Bowel Gas." Dear Mr.Guerra, what combination of medicine can you prescribe me for the chronic Hepatitis B, Liver Cysts And High Blood Pressure.  

ANSWER: First things first. It is extremely important, I cannot emphasize this enough, that you have 2 bowel movements a day, every day. I speak from professional and family experience, you must rid yourself of toxins. Your liver needs all the help it can get, and not doing so will bring further illnesses, fatigue, insomnia, painful digestion, cramps and discomfort. It will also continue to weaken the immune system and will also affect the spleen. 

The first step is a 48 hour fast. Drinking only Green tea and adding 30 drops of extract of Dandelion root. Drink 4-5xs a day. During this time also drink plenty of fresh water. If hunger overtakes you,  may eat Yogurt or drink fresh fruit juices.  After your fast I suggest that you begin drinking Hawthorn tea and adding 15 drops of extract of Dandelion root. Sweeten only with a bit of honey. Drink 2xs day.  The Hawthorn will help regulate your blood pressure and the Dandelion will continue to help detoxify.

The very best natural laxative I have personally found and totally endorse is fresh carrot juice!  Forget Senna, Cascara Sagrada, Globe Artichoke.  Freshly made carrot juice tops them all. Plus, it contains all the vitamins and mineral which go directly into the blood stream and get to working quick. I would suggest drinking 300ml an hour before bedtime. An inexpensive juicer can be found for about $25-30.

Now to your diet. You must avoid all heavy red meats, pork, white sugar, all dairy and all fried foods. Avoid all foods containing preservatives, also avoid alcohol, colas, sodas and excessive caffeine.

Enhance your diet and health by eating plenty of fresh fish (salmon, mackerel), chicken, turkey, whole grains, beans (garbanzos and lentils in particular, they contain plenty of fiber), add fresh garlic and onions to all your dishes (they will help with the blood pressure and help supplement the immune system), eat brown rice, wheat bread, raw or steamed fresh locally grown vegetables and eat a serving of fresh fruits daily.

It is also very important that you rest well and 7 days a week of work is not going to allow you to do that. I strongly suggest that you find a way that you may work less.  Stress kills, and in your case you cannot afford that medically. 

I can go on and on, but what I suggest is that once you have completed your fast as indicated above, and your bowel movements have normalized themselves, you get back in touch and we will be able to guide you further and help more; but we must have a relatively clean body for success to be achieved. There are other remedies and treatments that may probably serve you well, and I will be more than glad to discuss them with you at that time, but for now let us go one step at a time.

QUESTION: I need some assistance. I have a fatty liver so it's not cleansing as well as it should. I did the Market America liverClean. 7 days of fiber drink and a pkg. in the am and another in the pm.  It worked so incredibly. I feel like skipping, I'm walking faster instead of dragging my lethargic self. It is amazing.  The Dr. has give me SO MANY medicines and I am convinced that some of these items will work better. Now that I am through with the cleanse and strict diet I probably won't eat meat any more.  I want to know what I can take to keep helping my liver. I saw your ornithine Asparte.  I also found Curcumin Extreme with BCM-95. Can you recommend what you think what would be the most effective for me.  I guess I can look up some products but really don't know what is best.

ANSWER: The principal things to maintaining a healthy liver are following the proper diet and proper bowel movements 2xs day. Gradual weight loss is very important in these cases. I would suggest eliminating foods that stagnate the system, such as: Red meats, white sugar, pork, all dairy and all fried foods. Milk thistle is still perhaps the most effective herb, but I suggest using the extract. Add 25 drops of the extract to an infusion of Ban Lan tea and drink 2-3xs day.  Sweeten only with a bit of honey. You will find Ban Lan tea at any Chinese herbal store or market. Here's a link so you view what it looks like:
http://www.asiachi.com/banlangencho.html

To supplement your immune system add a large piece of Astragalus root to all you broths, soups and stews. Or add 30 drops of the extract.  Extracts work better and faster. There are several companies that make the extract without using alcohol, here's a link to one:
https://www.goldenlotusherbs.com/

To encourage bowel movements we suggest extract of Globe Artichoke, extract of Cascara Sagrada or freshly juiced carrot juice an hour before bedtime.

ANSWERS FROM AMANDA:
QUESTION:
I take two medications for high blood pressure, hydrochlorothiazide 25 mg and benicar 20 mg, and a product called Blood Sugar Advantage to keep my blood sugar down.  Two capsules of this product contain: Vitamin D 50 IU, Chromium 100 mg, cinnamon powder 500 mg, alpha lipoic acid 300 mg, blueberry extract 225 mg, and gymnema extract 200 mg.  Will these meds interfere with Siliphos, which is a milk thistle phytosome?  1 capsule is 300 mg.  My liver readings are a little high and I wanted to get them down, however I want to make sure they are compatible with the other meds I am taking.

ANSWER: I understand your concern. The blood sugar and high blood pressure medications are not likely to present a problem with milk thistle. Milk thistle has an excellent safety record, and has been shown in one clinical trial to help type-2 diabetics with liver damage, though no clinical trials have been done on other types of healthy type-2 diabetics. I understand you may not be diagnosed with Type-2 diabetes, but simply have elevated blood sugar.  

However, milk thistle has been shown to be protective in many types of people, even including insulin-dependent diabetes, and in others with elevated liver enzymes. At 300mg, low-normal in the dosage range of 200-800mg standardized silymarin flavonoids, there is little reason to expect a problem with your medications and milk thistle. On the contrary, it could be a valuable addition to help your overall health as well as your liver enzymes. Just be sure to tell your doctor(s) when they monitor your liver, sugar, and blood pressure.

QUESTION: I have liver problems and I have looked into taking some liver herbs.  I started off with dandelion root tea but I wanted a more complex tea for my liver so I purchased 10 different herbs that I know are good for the liver. I will list the herbs here: white peony root, Gentian Root. Skullcap, Boldo Leaf, dandelion root, burdock root, rhubarb root,Yellow Dock root,  Sarsaparilla root, Astragalus Root, Bupleurum Root, Fo-Ti Root.  So my questions are: are these herbs just as safe mixed together as a tea like they are on their own?  If so what would be the best way to cook and make them into a tea since most of the herbs are roots so they are hard,  but then 2 of the herbs are crushed leaves (Boldo Leaf) and (scullcap). Can I have them into the tea mix even if they are not as hard as the roots?

ANSWER: I am glad you started with Dandelion root tea for your liver, as it is the best, safest, all-round herb for many types of liver problems or general detoxification and health. The herbs you also bought are other good choices. Two are leaf (Skullcap and Boldo). These can be added to a tea of roots and harder parts, in a two-part, one-pot process. Put the roots and harder herb pieces in one tea tin, glass jar with lid or other container; mix well. Measure an ounce of that into 2 1/2 cups cold water in a saucepan, bring to a low simmer, cover, and simmer 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and add one teaspoon Skullcap, and one teaspoon boldo leaf. Re-cover the herbs in the pot, and let steep together another 15 minutes. Strain the herbs out, and drink 1/2 cup of the tea three times a day. Tea lasts in the refrigerator up to three days and can be reheated as needed. But be forewarned, all of these don't taste good, so here's what I'd do if I were you. Make it as suggested above, and add enough water or white or red grape juice to taste.  

Grape hides a lot of the bitterness without diminishing the liver benefits, but choose juice that does not contain added white sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or artificial sweeteners such as Splenda. Honey won't cover the bitterness as well but local raw organic honey may also be good in small amounts for your immune system, while Stevia is an herb that does not contain sugar but tastes sweet, and can be used in tiny amounts. No amount of any sweetener will make this tea blend delicious... just palatable. Experiment and see what works for you. If blood sugar issues or active hepatitis are part of your liver problems, stick to plain water to dilute the 1/2 cup of herb tea until it tastes acceptable. Let me know what you think of the flavor! It may just grow on you, as many people who need liver herbs come to look forward to their bitter but beneficial liver tea.

QUESTION: I have liver problems and I have looked into taking some liver herbs and I started off with dandelion root tea but I wanted a more complex tea for my liver so I purchased 10 different herbs that i know is good for the liver.
         I will list the herbs here :white peony root, Gentian Root. Skullcap, Boldo Leaf, dandelion root, burdock root.,  rhubarb root, Yellow Dock root,  Sarsaparilla root, Astragalus Root, Bupleurum Root, Fo-Ti Root, 
      So my questions, are this herbs just as safe mixed together as a tea like they are on their own ?
              If so, what would be the best way to cook and make them into a tea?  Most of the herbs are roots so they are hard, 2 of the herbs are crushed leaves (Boldo Leaf) and (scullcap).  Can I put them into the tea mix even if they are not as hard as the roots?

ANSWER: I am glad you started with Dandelion root tea for your liver, as it is the best, safest, all-round herb for many types of liver problems or general detoxification and health. The herbs you also bought are other good choices. Two are leaf (Skullcap and Boldo). These can be added to a tea of roots and harder parts, in a two-part, one-pot process. Put the roots and harder herb pieces in one tea tin, glass jar with lid or other container; mix well. Measure an ounce of that into 2 1/2 cups cold water in a saucepan, bring to a low simmer, cover, and simmer 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and add one teaspoon Skullcap, and one teaspoon boldo leaf. Re-cover the herbs in the pot, and let steep together another 15 minutes. Strain the herbs out, and drink 1/2 cup of the tea three times a day. Tea lasts in the refrigerator up to three days and can be reheated as needed. But be forewarned, all of these don't taste good, so here's what I'd do if I were you. Make it as suggested above, and add enough water or white or red grape juice to taste.
               Grape hides a lot of the bitterness without diminishing the liver benefits, but choose juice that does not contain added white sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or artificial sweeteners such as Splenda. Honey won't cover the bitterness as well but local raw organic honey may also be good in small amounts for your immune system, while Stevia is an herb that does not contain sugar but tastes sweet, and can be used in tiny amounts. No amount of any sweetener will make this tea blend delicious... just palatable. Experiment and see what works for you. If blood sugar issues or active hepatitis are part of your liver problems, stick to plain water to dilute the 1/2 cup of herb tea until it tastes acceptable. Let me know what you think of the flavor! It may just grow on you, as many people who need liver herbs come to look forward to their bitter but beneficial liver tea.

QUESTION: Thanks for the information!  Could you mix any herbs with out to have to worry for side effects because they are combined?

ANSWER: No, absolutely not. Your previous question listed several liver herbs that may be combined -- though an herbalist would look at you as an individual and choose just the herbs that combine best for you, rather than mixing up so many "liver" herbs. As I said before, they all have their benefits but many don't taste great as teas. In combination, the herbs you bought may well require a little "doctoring" for flavor.
           Regarding other herbs in combination, most on the market are safe within the normal dosage ranges and used for the usual reasons, from soothing a digestive upset to preventing colds or reducing common fevers, aches, and pains. But some herbs are not meant to be taken together, and one can get simple safe guidelines without having to learn every herb under the sun. Start with the information guides on this website. Try keeping your tea blends (or combination of tablets, tinctures, syrups, and teas) to under five or six herbs at a time. If your information tells you an herb is used for insomnia, don't mix it with one that is used as a stimulant (so not Valerian root with Green tea, for instance). some advanced courses and texts describe in detail which herbs are combined to minimize side effects, but that is beyond the scope of this column.

QUESTION: Ok. Thanks. When these herbs are done I will use 5 or 6 herbs for my liver next time, The flavour is not great but Iím used to it and I have had way worse.  Iím interested in herbs and want to learn more about it how do you become a herbalist?  And what techniques does an herbalist use to diagnose a person and knowing how to best treat the person?  Do different herbalists use different techniques?  Where is the best place to study herbalism? Is it China? Do you have a good successful treatment rate? Are many herbalists acupuncturists as well?  Can you treat every disease or imbalance within the body mind and spirit with herbs?  Does an herbalist only use herbs to threat a patient or do they have other techniques/ways to threat as well?

ANSWER: I count close to 12 questions in that last email. I applaud your enthusiasm! Look at the website americanherbalistsguild.com and its links for answers to many of your questions. Not all herbalists practice acupuncture, and not all acupuncturists use herbs, but you might look at acupuncture schools in your area, state or region of the country. Learning herbs for healing by distance is not the easiest route since you need to see, taste, grow them to really know how to use them, and then diagnosis is another matter requiring hands-on education. 
        Start learning everything possible about the herbs you already take. The world needs good people on the side of natural healing.