Case Studies: Herbal Hepatitis Treatment

| July/August 2003

  • Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) promotes regeneration of liver cells.
    Christopher Hobbs
  • Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) promotes regeneration of liver cells.
  • Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) promotes regeneration of liver cells.

Recipe: Liver Tea 

You probably know that the heart pumps blood through the body, the lungs breathe in air and the stomach receives and begins to digest food. But what would you say about the liver? You might be surprised to know what a wide range of jobs this organ performs, from detoxification to making immune substances and helping regulate sexual hormones such as estrogen. The liver is the body’s great chemist, an overseer of its internal health, our own personal version of the Environmental Protection Agency. It’s a major organ of digestion and much more.

Because the liver performs so many vital functions and its workings are extremely complex, you might think you’d notice when it’s not functioning properly. However, this isn’t always so — the liver is also an extremely durable organ that can compensate and adapt to a wide range of conditions. That’s why it sometimes takes a practitioner with extensive training in natural medicine to determine the nature of a liver imbalance and then apply an effective herbal and natural program.

During my years of clinical practice, I’ve specialized in liver ailments because of personal experience: I had infectious hepatitis (hepatitis A) twice in my 20s. I’ve seen many hepatitis patients and know from experience that the symptoms are not enjoyable — the loss of appetite, low energy and lack of well-being can be profound, leaving one devoid of enthusiasm to even face the day.

Other symptoms include severe headaches, fever, muscle aches and pain in the liver area. These symptoms continue for several weeks and then start to subside, but the recovery period can last up to two or three months. And though the liver is durable, the infection can weaken it, sometimes considerably.

Ron’s Case

Ron was a typical patient in many ways. He came to see me because he was unsure whether he wanted to continue the medical treatments his doctor had prescribed. He had visited the doctor because his energy had been low for several weeks and he was experiencing intermittent headaches. After his doctor told him his antibody tests were positive for the hepatitis C virus and that his viral load was more than 1 million (see explanation at left), Ron read widely on the ailment. He knew the success rate with drug therapy for hepatitis C was not particularly good. Ron’s liver enzymes (measures of liver stress and inflammation) were also elevated beyond the normal range.

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