WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE TRYING HERBS

This is important information for anyone with a liver disorder. Herbal remedies may benefit some liver disorders, BUT, you must be careful! Many herbs and medications have a toxic effect on the liver. I'm sure you're well aware of the dangers of taking acetaminophen (commonly known as Tylenol), if you have a liver disorder, but there are other things that are just as toxic. The liver is a great big "factory" that metabolizes many of the medications and herbs that we ingest.

Herbs are not regulated by the FDA, and are therefore exempt from investigation and restrictions. What does that mean? Proof of safety and possible side effects are not required to be placed on the labels; exact ingredients and the amount and potency are not required; presence of other herbs or substances are not required on labels; and last but not least, other substances such as atropine, steroids, caffeine, and lead can and have been found to be added.

What should you do? Carefully evaluate and investigate each product prior to using. Read confirmed research reports, and not just someones advertisement for the product. ASK YOUR DOCTOR! Don't take any herbs that your doctor isn't aware of your taking. I can give you a prime recent example, me: In addition to hepatitis B, I have hypertension and Chronic depression. My antidepressant costs a fortune, so I decided to try St. John's Wort for the depression. WRONG THING TO DO! This particular herb has a counter effect on the medicine for my hypertension! Valuable lesson learned. Thank God I took it only once before finding additional information, here on the internet, regarding its interaction with my medicine.

When herbs are used, it is best to introduce them a little at a time, and be aware of the potential reactions. If an ingested herb is either liver toxic or causing a hypersensitivity reaction, damage can be avoided if the ingestion of the offending herb is stopped when adverse symptoms first appear.

HERBS THAT CAN ALTER LIVER METABOLlSM OF DRUGS
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
ARISTOLOCHIA SERPENTARIA (Virginia Snakeroot, Serpentaria) ARISTOLOCHIA WATSONll (Indian Root, Raiz del Indio) ARTEMISIA TRIDENTATA (Sagebrush) BERBERIS VULGARIS (Common Barberry) CEPHALANTHUS (Button Bush) CHELIDONIUM (Greater Celandine) CHELONE (Balmony,. Turtlehead) CHIONANTHUS (Fringetree) EUONYMUS (Wahoo, Burning Bush) HYDRASTIS (Golden Seal) IRIS VERSICOLOR, I. MISSOURIENSIS (Blue Flag) LEPTANDRA (Veronicastrum, Culver's Root) MAHONIA (Oregon Grape, Algerita) PODOPHYLLUM. (American Mandrake)

HERBS THAT CAN ALTER SGOT/SGPT READINGS
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
ANAGALLIS (Scarlet Pimpernel) EUONYMUS (Wahoo, Burning Bush) LINARIA (Toad Flax. Butter-and-Eggs) MAHONIA (Oregon Grape, Algerita) SILYBUM MARIANUM (Milk Thistle)

Milk Thistle- There are HUNDREDS of reliable biologic and medical studies that support this plant's seeds' value for Amanita mushroom poisoning, lessening the toxicity of heavy metals (if taken soon enough) and quickening CNS and hepatic regeneration in solvent or alcohol detox. Like Ginkgo, however, you NEED a problem to get benefit. Without an ongoing stress, using Silybum or it's extracted silymarins on general principle can actually depress normal liver function.Info from: SOUTHWEST SCHOOL OF BOTANICAL MEDICINE 122 Tulane SE, Albuquerque, NM 87106 (505) 255-9215

As for those of us with a liver disorder, the following herbs should never be taken:

1. COMFREY (Bush Tea)-Available as a tea, tablet, capsule, or tincture, this leafy plant has been linked to obstruction of blood flow from the liver, with potential liver scarring (cirrhosis).
2. GERMANDER -mixed with other herbs in products to treat obesity. In France, at least 27 cases of acute nonviral hepatitis have been associated with germander products.
3. CHAPARRAL-chaparral has been associated with acute nonviral hepatitis (rapidly developing liver damage), sometimes irreversible.
4. JIN BU HUAN-in the U.S. there were several reports of liver damage due to ingestion of Jin Bu Huan
5. NUTMEG-contains Safrole-toxic/carcinogenic
6. PENNYROYAL OIL-species of Mint-Pennyroyal Tea, is an old-fashioned remedy for colds and menstrual derangements. Its action is carminative, diaphoretic, stimulant and emmenagogic
7. MISTLETOE-potentially fatal. It could cause death or other serious Vasoconstrictor consequences.
8. TANSY RAGWORT-potentially fatal. It could cause death or other serious consequences
9. SENNA-powerful purgative(laxative)Can cause severe abdominal bloating.Found in many over-the-counter laxatives, including Fletcher's Castoria, Senokot, Perdiem and Innerclean Herbal Laxative.
10. SASSAFRAS-toxic effects. contains Safrole - it is deemed to be toxic/carcinogenic
11. VALERIAN-interacts with alcohol, some antihistamines, muscle relaxants, psychotropic drugs and narcotics. people with impaired kidney or liver functions should not take valerian except under a physician's supervision. Per Dr. Andrew Weil. Smooth muscle relaxation affects intestinal peristalsis.

These substances have been known to cause liver related complications ranging from acute hepatitis and jaundice to cirrhosis and death from liver failure! The bottom line is, be careful rather than sorry. Always check it out with your doctor before trying any new herbal remedy.

FDA Investigates Kava-Liver Disease Link
Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD
On Dec. 19, 2001, the FDA announced it was investigating a link between the food supplement kava and liver disease. Federal health regulators said that there have been about 25 cases of serious liver toxicity in Germany and Switzerland, but the agency was not certain if similar problems have occurred in the U.S. Switzerland has already banned the sale of the kava products that have caused the liver problems, and similar measures are being taken to ban all kava products in Germany. Liver problems such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver failure have been reported. In a letter recently sent to doctors, the FDA asked for help in determining if any recent cases of liver problems in this country could be traced to use of kava, which is also known as kava kava or Piper methysticum. Read the FDA letter. The FDA noted it had received several reports of alleged ties between kava and liver problems. There was at least one case of liver failure requiring a liver transplant in an otherwise healthy young woman. Kava is marketed as a food supplement to help with many ailments including stress, anxiety, tension, sleep problems, and PMS.

What to Do
If you use products containing kava extracts, discuss your risks of liver problems with your doctor and whether your liver function should be tested. It also is a very good idea to let your doctor know about any food supplements you use.
2001 WebMD Corporation. All rights reserved.

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