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Safe herbs for hepatitis C

Herbs that may help protect the liver and ease symptoms

Herb

Use

How to take

Contraindications

Milk Thistle

One of the most important herbs for the liver

There are ongoing clinical studies specific to hepatitis C (www.clinicaltrials.gov). Other clinical studies have shown some positive effects on treating cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis, fatty liver, liver inflammation and gall bladder problems.

Enter -milk thistle hepatitis C - in the search box and you will get a list of trials using milk thistle.

Milk Thistle is thought to

* Aid the regeneration of damaged liver tissue protecting the liver from the effects of the virus
* Help restore liver function and inflammation of the liver and spleen
* Stimulate the production and flow of bile
* Support the immune system
* Help with fatigue and poor appetite
* Alleviate feelings of abdominal pressure
* Act as a mild antidepressant
* Help the liver make new liver cells
* Help repair liver cells
* Help stabilize cell membranes
* Help limit toxins entering the cells
* Increase bile flow
* Act as an antioxidant *Increase glutathione in the liver, which is thought to be responsible for detoxifying a wide range of hormones, drugs and chemicals.

As capsules or tincture (not very effective as a tea) Buy standardized good quality capsules containing the seeds and leaves too if possible (organic also if possible).

Take one 200mg tablet twice a day, important to take twice a day.

Tincture - use a low strength one e.g. with ratio of 1:5 (one part herbs to 5 of liquid). Start with only 5 drops at a time and build up to ½ teaspoon over a few weeks.

Avoid if you have breast, uterine or ovarian cancer, endometriosis or uterine fibroids. Avoid when pregnant

Can interact with certain drugs including:

Heart drugs

Antibiotics

Anti-seizure drugs

Antidepressants

Antihistamines

Antifungals

Sedatives/sleeping pills

Lipid lowering drugs

Hormones (oestrogen)

Transplant Drugs

Anti-parasite Drugs

Anti-psychotics

Methadone

If you are taking any of these, check with your doctor before taking milk thistle

Dandelion

Is thought to:

*Help improve symptoms of hepatitis C
*Trigger the contraction of the gallbladder and the flow of bile into the digestive tract.
*Help constipation.
*Improve liver congestion.
*Help prevent fluid retention as it is a diuretic.
*Is also very rich in potassium.

(Also see Herb Tea chart)

The root can be bought and made into coffee. Can also buy the leaves as T-bags (the leaves do not have as strong an action as the root)

Can also buy as tablets and tinctures often from a combination of leaves and root. Follow the recommended dose on the bottle

Dandelion & Burdock mixed together

This combination of herbs for helping the liver has been used by herbalists for hundreds of years because it is thought to have a gentle detoxifying action on the liver and can help with skin problems caused by the virus, e.g. itchy skin and dry skin.

Recommended to take as a tincture Dandelion: 3 parts, Burdock:1 part

You can find in health food shops or ask a herbalist to make it up for you preferably with organic herbs

You may also be able to find it sold as tablets also in health food shops

Do not take Burdock on its own

Avoid Burdock during pregnancy

Burdock may effect insulin levels if you are diabetic

Turmeric

Turmeric is a root with a very distinct bright orange colour inside, used extensively as a spice in Asian cooking, (known as ‘haldi’). It is a traditional remedy in both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, used for improving the function of the liver and for jaundice.

Is traditionally used for:

* inflammation

*as an anti-viral

*stimulating the production and flow of bile

*protecting against and assisting in reversing liver damage

*reducing cholesterol

assisting in removal of *excess accumulation of cholesterol in the liver

converting cholesterol into bile salts

*protecting against cancer

*stimulating the immune system

*acting as an antioxidant

*relieving arthritis

*alleviating skin conditions

It’s very good to include turmeric in your cooking as often as possible. (Beware; it can stain your fingers and clothes)

Another simple and easy way to take it is to blend a teaspoon of powder in water and drink it. If you can’t stomach this you could try making small paste balls to swallow:

Method
¼ cup of turmeric
½ cup water

Combine together in a small pan. Bring to a low boil and cook until it becomes a thick paste, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and let it cool. Store in the fridge and when needed, make into marble size balls. Swallow with water. Take up to 4 a day.

Do not use if you have a bile duct obstruction

Do not use if you have a stomach ulcer or excessive stomach acid

Astragalus Root

Thought to:

*stimulate immune system

*protect liver from damage

*act as an antiviral

*act as an antihepatatoxic

*help excessive sweating, including night sweats

*act as a diuretic

An easy way of using astragalus is to make a stock and use it for making soup or cooking rice. Used frequently in this way it is thought to enhance the immune system.

Method: Place 1oz sliced root and 1 pint of water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil then simmer for 1 or 2 hours. Remove the Astragalus and use the water to cook brown rice in, or use as a stock for making soups. It has a mild sweet taste.

May cause loose stool or diarrhoea.

Do not take if you have a fever

Siberian Ginseng(Eleutherococcus Senticosus)

The most gentle form of ginseng and viewed as a very useful herb for people with hepatitis C by herbalists. It is known as an ‘adaptogen’ which means it may assist the body physically and mentally adapt to stress without any harmful effects. This is seen to include all stress-induced reactions: physical, chemical, biological and psychological. In practice, its tonic effect has been seen to help after just one dose and continue working after stopping taking it

Is thought to:

*increase the body’s ability to resist infection
*be an immune tonic and potentiator (it is thought to stimulate B lymphocyte antibodies)
*act as an antioxidant
* improve brain function by helping neurological pathways to work better
*enhance liver protection and lessen liver cell degeneration
*as an anti-inflammatory
*aid mild depression
*balance blood sugar *help symptoms of chronic fatigue
*help with insomnia and difficulty in concentrating
*reduce the toxic effect of chemicals
*increase the absorption of vitamins and minerals from food
*strengthen both male & female fertility
*aid skin and hair problems such as dandruff, hair falling out, acne
*maintain cellular homeostasis

You can buy capsules or tablets; look for the ones with the least amount of other added ingredients (fillers).

Typical suggested dose: 1-2 capsules (325mg) twice a day

Do not take in pregnancy, or if you suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure).

Artichoke

Has been used for centuries for liver problems

Thought to be useful for:

*stimulating cell division in the liver
*mobilising energy reserves
*increasing blood circulation, especially to the legs and heart
*aiding digestion *detoxification of the liver, especially of pollutants
*lowering blood cholesterol
*increases the formation and flow of bile thus aiding digestion/ constipation
*may help irritable bowel
*may reduce blood cholesterol through stimulation of bile production

You can eat both globe and Jerusalem artichokes - as well as the properties good for hepatitis C they have high potassium content and high quality protein and fibre.

Capsules or tablets and tinctures are available in health food shops. Buy standardized capsules or tablets with as few added ingredients as possible and organic tinctures if possible.

You can also buy dried organic powdered artichoke and empty capsules and make up your own capsules

Do not use artichoke where there is any blockage caused by stones in the gallbladder.

Schisandra

Has been used in Asia and China for centuries as a liver tonic and restorative for immune system

Thought to:

*protect the liver
*have a general tonic effect
*nourish the immune system
*act as an antioxidant *detoxify the liver
*reduce liver enzymes *enhance glutathione production
*help with fatigue, insomnia, weakness, depression & forgetfulness

The red berries are made into a tea. I teaspoon of berries to a mug of boiling water

Can be toxic if taken in high amounts

Herbs Helpful For Digestion

Slippery Elm

Slippery elm is considered to be one of the most useful herbs for treating digestive problems due to its very soothing properties. In practice, it is found to be extremely helpful in giving relief to a variety of digestive problems that are common in hepatitis C including

*helps with over-acidity

*relieves diarrhoea

*relieves constipation

*soothes irritable bowel

*soothes any inflammation or irritation of the digestive tract

You can buy it in capsules or tablets of powdered bark or as a powder which you mix with water.

For the powder: mix 1 tablespoon with a glass of water and take before meals. A good way to mix this is to put in a jar with a lid and shake it until mixed, or use a blender. Alternatively mash the powder up with a banana and eat.

For the tablets or capsules: t ake 1 or 2 capsules 300mg strength 2-3 times a day

Psyllium

The mucilage-rich husks and seeds are considered useful for soothing the whole of the digestive tract. The seeds and husks have been found to contain high levels of fibre that expand and become highly gelatinous when soaked in water.

Psyllium can help:

*acid indigestion

*irritable bowel

*diarrhoea

*constipation – for which is most commonly known

You can use the seeds or the husks:

Using seeds: For constipation mix 20 gms of seeds in 200ml of water for 10 hours. Drink at night.

Using the husks, mix 2 teaspoons –1 tablespoon in a glass of water and drink immediately, followed immediately by another glass of water, or they could potentially have a blocking effect.

Drink lots of water throughout the day if you are using psyllium.

Do not use where there is oesophageal stenosis, abnormal intestinal narrowing or bowel obstruction, due to bulk forming effect which may cause or further complicate impaction.

In cases of insulin controlled diabetes dosage may require alteration with use of this herb.

There may be reduced absorption of all oral drugs when combined with this herb.

There have been rare cases of allergic reactions known with this herb.

Aloe Vera juice

Is thought to be good for

*enhancing the internal flora
*soothing and improving the digestive system *encouraging the flow of bile
*as an anti-inflammatory *enhancing the functioning of the immune system
*enhancing detoxification *enhancing the elimination systems of the body
*relieving joint pain and arthritis
*as an antioxidant

Buy organic cold pressed, whole leaf, aloe vera juice if possible that has not been heat treated (heating seems to kill some of its beneficial properties). Also make sure it has all the aloin taken out, as this is a laxative and can irritate the bowel.

Typical suggested dosage is 4oz twice a day, on an empty stomach, before meals.

Herb teas that are good for your liver or symptoms associated with hepatitis C

Herb Tea

What it can help with

If not available as T-bags, how to make it

Un-roasted Dandelion root tea

Buy loose dandelion root and simmer in a pan to make tea. You can also grind the root in a coffee grinder and make it in a cafetiere like coffee. Or you can buy the roasted root as an instant drink from health food shops but this is not as good for you as the unroasted root.

* very good for detoxifying the liver and kidneys

* helps in stimulating a sluggish live

* acts as a tonic and support for the liver helps to reduce inflammation in the bile ducts and liver

* acts as a mild laxative

* stimulates the gall bladder and enhances the flow of bile

* acts as a nutrient for the liver because it contains high amount of choline and also acts as a tonic for the spleen, pancreas and female reproductive organs

* is rich in potassium

1½oz (40g) fresh root, with 3 mugs (750ml) of water

Bring to the boil, cover and simmer on a low heat for about 10-15 minutes. The liquid should reduce by about 1/3. Strain and drink

Chamomile Tea

* very good for the digestive system:

* eases indigestion, colic, soothes irritable bowel, contain probiotics (which replenishes flora in the gut)

* gently stimulates the immune system

* helps nervous tension and irritability

* eases period pain and acts as an antispasmodic generally

Available as T-bags or loose flowers which you can make in a teapot

Green Tea

* has very high antioxidant properties

* helps to stimulate the immune system;

* helps to protect the liver from toxin damage

* is thought to inhibit cancer tumours in the body which includes the liver

* helps to stimulate the immune system

* comes from the same plant as black tea is picked when very young and steamed so it does not oxidize and turn black

Available as T-bags or loose tea.

Ginger Tea

* very helpful for the digestive system: relieves nausea, wind, indigestion and bloating or the tight heavy feeling across the diaphragm often experienced in hepatitis C. (You may find it causes belching which relieves the pain and heaviness in the diaphragm area)

* also acts as an anti-inflammatory

* helps stimulate the circulation.

Buy fresh ginger root and put a few slices in a cup or mug and add boiling water, let it seep for at least 5 minutes.

For a stronger tea, grate or slice a large finger sized piece of ginger into a pan and add 3 mugs of cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Strain and drink

Peppermint tea

* another herb that helps the digestive system: relieving wind, flatulence, nausea, bloating and colic

* can help to relax the gut muscles thus relieving a spastic colon and soothe an irritated bowel

* can relieve diarrhoea

* helps the flow of bile and digestive juices

* can ease headaches

Available as T-bags and loose leaves.

Fennel Tea

*also good for digestive problems: it acts as an antispasmodic helping spasms and cramps in the intestines, relieves wind, soothes irritable bowel.

* another use is for easing anxiety and mild depression

* acts as an anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal

Available as T-bags or you can buy the loose seeds and use 1 teaspoon of seeds for a mug of tea (just pour boiling water over them in a mug)

Olive leaf tea

* a strong anti-viral (some herbalists believe it can lower viral load, and can alleviate herpes outbreaks).

* acts as a very good detoxifier for the liver and helps stimulate the immune system.

* acts as a cleanser for the lungs.

* Is a good antioxidant.

Use either 2oz of leaves to 2 pints of water, 4oz leaves to ½ gallon water or 8oz leaves to 1 gallon water

First rinse the leaves in a large pan, add the water, bring to the boil, cover and slowly simmer for 10 hours. Then add enough water to bring it back up to the original amount of water you put in, as the liquid will have reduced, and simmer for a further 2 hours.

Turn off the heat and leave it to cool. Once it is cool, strain off the liquid and discard the leaves. Put the liquid in glass bottle in the fridge and heat it up in a pan when you want some.

Herbalists suggest drinking 3oz or half a cup three times a day between meals. The advice is also not to drink it after around 7pm, as it may keep you awake

Lemon Balm Tea

* helps nervousness, anxiety and depression

* good for digestive upsets and nausea,

soothing for irritable bowel

* good for chronic fatigue syndrome or M.E symptoms and insomnia

* thought to have a wide range of anti-viral activity (particularly in the case of the herpes family of viruses)

* has a balancing effect on the thyroid and a positive effect on memory function.

Available as T-bags or loose leaves

Nettle Leaf Tea

* has an anti-inflammatory action

* acts as a diuretic thus helps fluid retention and is a very rich source of trace minerals

* good for the circulation and acts as a detoxifier

Available as T-bags or loose leaves

Rosehip and Hibiscus

* provides essential vitamin C and antioxidants

* helps tiredness and boosts your immune system.

Available as T-bags or loose herbs