If you don’t have access to treatment right now, if you’ve gone through the treatment and weren’t able to clear the virus or if you’re infected with another virus such as HIV that can be harmful to the liver, there are several things you can do to help keep your liver healthier.
Get your Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B vaccinations:
You’ve got one viral infection your liver has to deal with. Prevent other viral infections that are known to harm the liver and are vaccine preventable.
Eliminate Harmful Chemicals From Your Body:
A. ALL alcohol, in any amount, is harmful to your liver. Eliminate all alcohols from your diet.
B. ALL illicit drugs are harmful to your liver. Studies have shown that the use of marijuana can cause the liver to progress to scarring sooner. It doesn’t make any difference on how the drug is used (injecting, smoking, eating, inhaling), they are all harmful to your liver. Eliminate all illegal drug use. Talk with your provider or a counselor to identify ways to help you stop the use of any illegal drugs.
C. Decrease polluted air that you breathe, such as:
1) Second-hand cigarette smoke
2) Car exhaust
3) Agricultural pesticides
Get a Prescription Review:
Have your doctor or pharmacist review all your prescribed medications to ensure that none of your medications are toxic for your liver. Ask your provider about alternatives to any medications that may harm your liver.
Use Over The Counter Medications Properly:
Always follow the directions on the package, unless told otherwise by your medical provider.
Be Careful With Vitamins, Herbs and Mineral Use:
A. Some of the “Fat Soluble” vitamins can build up in your system and be toxic to your liver. Check with your provider before taking more than the daily recommendations.
B. Before taking any herbal supplement, research it and make sure that it doesn’t have the potential to damage to your liver, such as Kava, Valerian Root and Sassafras. Check with your doctor before adding any herbal supplements to your diet.
C. The liver has to store all the excess iron that you take in during a day. It’s important not to eat more iron in a 24 hour day than what your body actually uses. Extra iron stored in the liver can cause your liver to begin scarring sooner. Talk with a dietician or your doctor to find out how much iron you should eat in a day.
Modify Your Diet:
A. Decrease the amount of fatty foods and cholesterol that you eat. Extra fat stored in the liver can cause a liver to begin scarring sooner.
B. Increase the amount of actual water that you drink during a 24 hour day. Water helps flush the chemicals and poisons out of your body. To find out how much water you should drink in a 24 hour period: take your body weight in pounds and divide it by 2. This equals how many ounces of water you should drink each day.
Light Daily Exercise:
Light daily exercise such as walking will help boost your immune system as well as help decrease excess fat stored in your liver. Talk to your provider about what the best form of exercise would be for you.
Symptoms That Need to be Reported to Your Provider:
A. “White” or “Gray” colored stools
B. “Coca-Cola” colored urine
C. Increased amount of time before a cut or wound stops bleeding
D. The white part of your eyes turning yellow.
Courtesy: Hepatitis Prevention Program, Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services.
Hepatic Damaging Herbs
|Name||Also Known As||Adverse Reaction|
|American Cranesbill||Alum Bloom, Alum Root, American Kino, Chocolate Flower, Crowfoot, Dove’s-Foot, Geranium Robertianum, Herb Robert, Old Maid’s Nightcap, Shameface, Spotted Cranesbill, Stinking Cranesbill, Storksbill, Wild Cranesbill, Wild Geranium||Hepatotoxicity with high tannin concentrations|
|Andrographis||Chuan Xin Lian, Creat, Green Chiretta, Indian Echinacea, Kalmegh, Kirata, Kiryat, Lanhelian, Vijianxi||Increased liver enzymes, decreased after discontinuation|
|Androstenedione||4-Androstene-3, 17-Dione||Elevated liver function test results with supplementation of some anabolic steroids|
|Arnica||Arnica Flowers, Arnica Root, Common Arnica, Leopard’s Bane, Mexican Arnica, Mountain Arnica, Mountain Daisy, Mountain Tobacco, Sneezewort, Wolf’s Bane||Hepatic Failure|
|Bayberry||Candleberry, Myrica, Southern Wax Myrtle, Spicebush, Sweet Oak, Tallow Schrub, Vegetable Tallow, Waxberry, Wax Myrtle Plant||Hepatic damage, may relate to tannin content|
|Betony||Bishopswort, Wood Betony||Hepatic Dysfunction|
|Bilberry||Bilberries, Bog Bilberries, European Blueberries, Huckleberry, Whortleberry||Hepatic Dysfunction caused by tannin content|
|Bistort||Adderwort, Common Bistort, Easter Ledges, Easter Mangiant, Knotweed, Oderwort, Osterick, Patience Dock, Snakeroot, Snakeweed, Twice Writhen||Hepatic Dysfunction|
|Blue Flag||Dagger Flower, Dragon Flower, Flag Lily, Fleur-De-Lis, Flower-De-Luce, Liver Lily, Poison Flag, Snake Lily, Water Flag, Wild Iris||Hepatotoxicity caused by tannin concentrations|
|Boneset||Agueweed, Crosswort, Eupatorium, Feverwort, Indian, Sage, Sweating Plant, Thoroughwort, Vegetable Antimony||Hepatotoxicity|
|Borage||Beebread, Boraginis Flos, Boraginis Herba, Boretsch, Common Borage, Common Bugloss, Cool Tankard, Ox’Tongue, Starflower||Hepatic Dysfunction|
|Buchu||Agathosma, Barosma Betulina, Betuline, Bocco, Diosma Betulina||Hepatotoxicity from volatile oil constituent (pulegone)|
|Buckthorn||Common Buckthorn, European Buckthorn, Hartshorn, Purging Buckthorn, Waythorn||Hepatotoxicity caused by tannin concentrations|
|Butterbur||European Pestroot, Sweet Coltsfoot, Western Coltsfoot||Hepatotoxicity|
|Capsicum||Bell Pepper, Capsaicin, Cayenne, Chili Pepper, Goat’s Pepper, Hot Pepper, Paprika, Pimiento, Pod Pepper, Red Pepper, Tabasco Pepper, Zanzibar Pepper||Hepatic dysfunction, when used orally on a regular basis|
|Celandine||Celandine Poppy, Common Celandine, Felonwort, Garden Celandine, Greater Celandine, Rock Poppy, Swallow Wort, Tetterwort, Wart Wort||Acute Cholestatic Hepatitis,
Elevated liver function test results
|Chaparral||Creosote Bush, Greasewood, Hediondilla||Hepatotoxicity (Cholestatic Hepatitis)|
|Chromium||Chromium Picolinate, Chromium Tripicolinate, CR||Hepatic Failure (1,000 mcg/day; Ceruli et al., 1998)|
|Cola Tree||Kola Nut, Kolanut||Hepatotoxicity caused by high tannin concentrations|
|Colostrum||Bovine Colostrum, Bovine Immunoglobulin Concentrate (BIC), Hyperimmune Bovine Concentrate (HBC), Immunized Bovine Colostrum (HBC)||Elevated liver enzyme levels|
|Colt’s Foot||Ass’s Foot, Bullsfoot, Coughwort, Farfara, Fieldhove, Filuis Ante Patrem, Foalswort, Hallfoot, Horsehoof, Kuandong Hua, Pas Diane||Potential Hepatic Veno-Occlusive disease caused by pyrrolizidine content|
|Comfrey||Ass Ear, Black Root, Blackwort, Boneset, Bruisewort, Consolida, Consoud Root, Gum Plant, Healing Herb, Knitback, Knitbone, Salsify, Slippery Root, Wallwort, Yalluc||Hepatotoxicity, specifically Veno-Occlusive disease from pyrrolizidine alkaloids|
|Condurango||Condor-Vine Bark, Condurango Bark, Condurango Blanco, Eagle Vine, Gonolobus Condurango Triana, Marsedenia Condurango||Hepatic Dysfunction|
|Corydalis||None Listed||Acute Hepatitis|
|Cowslip||American Cowslip, Artetyke, Arthritica, Buckles, Crewel, Drelip, Fairy Caps, Herb Peterpaigle, Keyflower, Key of Heaven, May Blob, Mayflower, Our Lady’s Keys, Paigle, Palsywort, Password, Peagles, Petty Mulleins, Plumrocks||Hepatotoxicity possibly caused by tannin concentrations|
|Damiana||Damiana Herb, Damiana Leaf, Herba De La Pastora, Mexican Damiana, Miziboc, Old Woman’s Broom, Rosemary||Hepatic dysfunction (large amounts) caused by tannin content|
|Fo-Ti||Chinese Cornbind, Elixir of Life, Fleeceflower, He Shou Wu, Kashuu (Japanese), Shou Wu Chih||Acute Hepatitis (Cholestatic Hepatitis)|
|Gossypol||American Upland Cotton, Common Cotton, Cotton, Upland Cotton, Wild Cotton||Hepatotoxicity|
|Gum Arabic||Acacia, Acacia Arabica Gum, Acacia Gum, Acacia Senegal, Acacia Ver, Egyptian Thorn, Gummae Mimosae, Senega||Hepatotoxicity with I.V. use|
|Horse Chesnut||Aescin, Chesnut, Escine||Hepatotoxicity|
|Iceland Moss||Cetraria, Consumption Moss, Iceland Lichen, Lichen Islandicus||Hepatotoxicity|
|Kava||Ava, Awa, Kava-Kava, Kawa, Kew, Sakau, Tonga, Yagona||Significant liver damage, including Hepatitis, Cirrhosis, and Liver Failure|
|Khat||Cat, Chat, Gad, Kat, Miraa, Qat, Tschut||Hepatotoxicity|
|Lady’s Mantle||Alchemilla, Bear’s Foot, Dewcup, Leontopodium, Lion’s Foot, Nine Hooks, Stellaria||Hepatic dysfunction, related to tannin component|
|Locust Bean||Carob, Carob Bean Gum, Carob Tree, St. John’s Bread||Liver damage, associate with plants high in tannin content|
|Mayapple||Devil’s-Apple, Hog Apple, Indian Apple, Mandrake, May Apple, Umbrella Plant, Wild Lemon||Hepatotoxicity|
|Mistletoe||All-Heal, Birdlime, Devil’s Fuge, European Mistletoe, Golden Bough, Viscum||Hepatitis|
|Oaks||British Oak, Brown Oak, Common Oak, Cortex Quercus, Escorce De Chene, Eichenlothe, Eicherinde, Encina, English Oak, Gravelier, Nutgall, Oak Apples, Oak Bark, Oak Galls, Pedunculate Oak, Stone Oak, Tanner’s Bark||Hepatic Necrosis with more than 1 g of tannins. Hepatotoxicity with tannic acid enemas & prolonged skin application|
|Parsley||Common Parsley, Garden Parsley||Hepatotoxicity associated with apiole and myristicin components|
|Pennyroyal||American Pennyroyal, European Pennyroyal, Mosquito Plant, Squawmint||Hepatic Failure|
|Pomegranate||Granatum, Punica Granatum||Hepatotoxicity related to high tannin component|
|Poplar||American Aspen, Black Poplar, Quaking Aspen, White Poplar||Hepatotoxicity related to high tannin|
|Ragwort||Cankerwort, Cocashweed, Coughweed, Dog Standard, False Valerian, Golden Ragwort,
Golden senecio, Lfroot, Ragweed, St. James Wort, Staggerwort, Stammerwort,
Stinking nanny Squaw Weed, Squawroot
|Rhatany||Krameria Root, Mapato, Peruvian Rhatany, Pumachchu, Raiz Para Los Dientes, Ratanshiaqutrezel, Red Rhatany, Rhatania||Acute Hepatotoxicity with tannic acid|
|Shark Cartilage||Squalus Acanthias, Sphyrna Lewini||Hepatitis|
|Scullcap||Helmet Flower, Hoodwort, Skullcap||Hepatotoxicity|
|Soapwort||Bouncing Bet, Bruisewort, Crow Soap, Fuller’s Herb, Latherwort, Soap Root, Sweet Betty, Wild Sweet William||Hepatotoxicity|
|Sorrel||Belgian-Red Sorrel, Cuckoo’s Meate, Cuckoo Sorrow, Dock, Garden Sorrel, Greensauce, Green Sorrel, Sheep Sorrel, Sour Dock, Sourgrass, Sour Sauce, Soursuds||Hepatic Dysfunction caused by soluble oxalate salts|
|Spirulina||Blue-Green Algae, Dihe, Tecuitlatl||Increased serum Alkaline Phosphatase level|
|Squaw Vine||Checkerberry, Deerberry, Mitchella Repens, Mitchella Undulata, One-Berry, Partridge Berry, Running Box, Squawberry, Twin Berry,
Two-Eyec Berry, Two-Eyed Checkerberry, Winter Clover
|Tonka Bean||Cumaku, Tonka Seed, Tonquin Bean, Torquin Bean||Hepatic Necrosis|
|Tormentil Root||Biscuits, Bloodroot, Earthbank, English Sarsaparilla, Ewe Daisy, Five-Fingers, Flesh and Blood, Septfoil, Seven Leaves, Shepherd’s Knapperty, Shepherd’s Knot, Thormantle||Hepatic Necrosis|
|Valerian||All-Heal, Amantilla, Baldrianwurzel, Great Wild Valerian, Herba Benedicta, Katzenwurzel, Phu Germanicum, Phu Parvum,Pinnis Dentatis, Setewale Capon’s tail, Setwall, Theriacaria,Valeriana, Valeriana Folis Pinnatis, Valeriana Radix||Hepatic Necrosis|
|Walnut||English Walnut, European Walnut, Juglone, Jupiter’s Nuts, Persian Walnut, Walnut Hull, Walnut Leaf||Hepatotoxicity caused by tannin component|
|Willow||Black Willow, White Willow||Hepatic Dysfunction|
Courtesy: Hepatitis Prevention Program, Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services.
All information compiled from The Professional’s Handbook of Complementary & Alternative Medicines, 3rd Edition,@ 2004, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, G.W. Fetrow Pharm D & Juan R. Avila Pharm D.