5 Everyday Herbs That May Cause Liver Damage

26 Apr

Green Tea

I recently read an interesting article on the Today Show’s website about 5 herbs that may be causing liver damage. I was a little taken back by this because a couple of them have been touted over and over for their healing or healthy properties. It shouldn’t surprise me though because how many times do we hear a product being pushed as the next great thing only to hear a year later that the same product is now found to cause this health problem or that one? Really, how do we even know what is safe or isn’t safe? I am sharing this information, not as an expert in nutrition or medicine or to scare anyone away from these herbs, it is for informational purposes only and you decide if it is relevant for you or not. I just want my readers to be informed. You can find the entire article on The Today Show website. remember there is one culprit that is above most others that is harmful to your liver and that is Tylenol. More than 3000mg a day is toxic levels for your liver and you have to be careful when taking multiple products as they could all contain doses of acetaminophen and you might not realize it. Prescription pain meds can contain acetaminophen and some doctors will prescribe those and Tylenol for breakthrough pain but you have to be very careful in this scenario. People who try to commit suicide by overdosing on Tylenol, do not die, they severely and sometimes fatally harm their liver instead.

1. Green Tea: Green tea is widely used and has been for years. For the average tea drinker it really does not pose any threat. A couple of cups a day seems to be safe. If you are using more than that or drinking it and consuming green tea supplements then there might be a problem. The active ingredient in green tea is a compound called catechins. They can deplete the protective molecules that are there to protect us from injury. A high dose of green tea in someone who is already susceptible can lead to severe or even fatal liver damage.

2. Comfrey: No longer sold in the US except in some creams or lotions, it contains a toxic substance called pyrrolizidine alkaloids that damage the liver. Even used in creams and lotions the toxicity can build up over time and be devastating to the liver.

3. Kava:  Kava Kava is made from the roots of the Piper methysticum plant and is best known for a ceremonial drink in other countries.  It is also sold to relieve stress and is documented to have caused liver damage in over 100 people ( undocumented could be many many more) and is banned or restricted in several countries.

4.Skullcap:  Traditionally used by Native Americans it was used to treat anxiety, stress and insomnia. The Chinese have a version of Skullcap and even though it is a different species, both are suspected of causing liver damage. Skullcap is often used in products containing multiple herbs so it’s not entirely positive that skullcap is the only one to blame but experts say they will keep an eye on this one.

5. Chaparral: This is an extract from a shrub, creosote bush and is used by people who believe it can benefits conditions as benign as skin conditions all the way to life-threatening conditions such as cancer. The suspected harmful compound is NGDA and some think those that have liver damage from it have had an allergic reaction to it.


The signs of liver damage:  It is sometimes hard to diagnose liver damage and they symptoms can mimic other medical issues so it is best to get checked out by a medical professional if you suspect liver damage or any health issue. The symptoms can include feeling tired, low appetite, food tasting different, dark-colored urine and  pain in the upper right part of the abdomen. Seek help immediately if you feel any of these symptoms pertain to you.

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Posted by on April 26, 2015 in family, health and Wellness


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