Hemlock is a Natural Too: Caution With Herbals

 It’s natural so it can’t hurt me, right? Wrong! In people with healthy livers, the rate of liver damage rose from 7% of drug-induced (including naturals) liver injuries (DILI) to 20% from 2004 to 2014 and livers process almost all medicines and supplements (which the liver sees as medicine). DILI occurs in greater numbers with women but the reason isn’t known. Two of the big environmental factors are Viral Hepatitis and alcohol consumption. Liver transplant registries show that 5% of liver transplants are as a result of herbal-induced idiosyncratic DILI. Idiosyncratic means it is unique to a person and not related to higher doses. J Hepatology 2015

The CDC recommends that persons diagnosed with Hepatitis C refrain from supplements or herbals until consulting a doctor.

Supplements and vitamins do not have to show safety and efficacy. I’m not here to argue for FDA approval. Perhaps another time. I am here to help you protect your liver. Body building and weight-loss supplements account for about half, but also supplements for depression, sexual performance and digestive upset.


Green Tea Extract                                                                                        

Because of concern about liver damage, both France and Spain have removed green tea extract (not brewed tea) from body building and other supplements.

Vitamin A

Higher doses of vitamin A are dangerous because they are fat soluble and not efficiently excreted from the body. Many supplements have Vitamin A, so read the labels to prevent added intake.


Some women take an herb called kava kava for menopause symptoms or to help them relax. But studies show that it can interfere with liver function and that can lead to hepatitis and liver failure. Some countries have banned or restricted the herb, but it’s still available in the U.S. Since 1999 several cases of liver toxicity (including liver failure) in both Europe and the US after taking kava have prompted the FDA to mandate a warning label on kava products. Safety is under continuing surveillance.


Red Yeast Rice

Red yeast rice is used for lowering cholesterol. Annals of Medicine research showed that “Red yeast rice, like any HMG-CoA inhibitor (lipid-lowering drug), can cause hepatitis.” This is with healthy livers, so imagine the damage in a liver with hepatitis C. According to Mayoclinic.com, “Red yeast rice can also increase bleeding in patients taking blood thinning agents including newer agents.” Patients with Hepatitis C may already have issues with clotting since the liver is the source for coagulation.


Yohimbe is used for “fat-burning” and penile erection. But side effects are increased manifestations of mental illnesses such as bi-polar and anxiety conditions. Effects of yohimbe may be increased by the liver because of slower removal from the body.

Now about those natural supplements “made just for you.”

Here are two examples of supplements available on line for those with liver problems.

Liv.DS from Himalaya Herbals

This drug (from India) never reveals the ingredients yet promises the moon for your diseased liver.The Claims are “Hepatoprotective action: The natural ingredients in Liv.52 exhibit potent hepatoprotective properties against chemically-induced hepatotoxicity. It restores the functional efficiency of the liver by protecting the hepatic parenchyma and promoting hepatocellular regeneration. The antiperoxidative activity of Liv.52 prevents the loss of functional integrity of the cell membrane, maintains cytochrome P-450 (a large and diverse group of enzymes, which catalyze the oxidation of organic substances), hastens the recovery period and ensures early restoration of hepatic functions in infective hepatitis. It facilitates the rapid elimination of acetaldehyde (produced by the oxidation of ethanol that is popularly believed to cause hangovers) and ensures protection from alcohol-induced hepatic damage. Liv.52 also diminishes the lipotropic (compounds that help catalyze the breakdown of fat) effect in chronic alcoholism and prevents fatty infiltration of the liver. In pre-cirrhotic conditions, Liv.52 arrests the progress of cirrhosis and prevents further liver damage.” Yes it was tested, but not for safety or efficacy. It was tested for strength and purity. Reminds me of Carter’s little liver pills. The FDA made them remove the word liver.


LIVER RENEW with MILK THISTLE from Islands Miracle

“SUPPORTS HEALTHY LIVER FUNCTION – May support increase energy to get the quality of life you deserve! BEST MILK THISTLE EXTRACT – the most widely researched & clinically proven herb, vital for any liver cleanse or detox. PREMIUM FORMULA WITH NO JUNK FILLERS – No additional non-active ingredients (fillers). It is vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO. Simply the highest quality liver cleanse supplement around! COMPREHENSIVE LIVER RESCUE – 200 mg of Milk Thistle Seed Extract per serving pills include Zinc, Beet Root, Artichoke Extract, Chanca Piedra Extract, Dandelion, Chicory Root, Yarrow, Jujube Seed, Celery Seed, Alfalfa, Burdock Root, Yellow Dock, Methionine, Grape Seed Extract, L Cysteine, N-Acetyl Cysteine, Choline, Fever Few, Turmeric, Red Raspberry, Berberine, Ginger. Maximum Formula Liver Renew May Help with Hangover Recovery and Milk Thistle Has Been Used to help with Weight Loss HIGHEST QUALITY MILK THISTLE LIVER CLEANSER PILLS – Made in the USA in CGMP Facility & Independently Tested for Strength and Purity.”

Others have been touted as sold by doctors, made in America, ten day results…None of that is relevant to your liver. Always, always check with your healthcare provider or pharmacist.

This article is also found at http://www.hepatitisc.net Please visit this site for more articles about hepatitis c



Mayoclinic.com Recommendations and Reports / Vol. 61 / No. 4 August 17, 2012 Recommendations for the Identification of Chronic Hepatitis C Virus Infection Among Persons Born During 1945–1965

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report