Doctors Fear Detoxing | Natural Health Newsletter

Detoxing Hypocrisy

Doctors Against Detoxing

Article Summary:

This newsletter is going to deal with two of my biggest pet peeves:

  • The medical community’s hypocrisy when comes to detoxing
  • The medical community’s hypocrisy when they keep dismissing alternative health concepts, claiming the studies supporting them are insufficient

Medical Community Against Detoxing

The medical community mocks all forms of detoxing practiced within the alternative health community. They mock colon cleansing. They mock blood cleansing. They mock heavy metal detoxing. And they especially mock liver detoxing. But make no mistake. The medical community absolutely understands the principles behind detoxing and encourage people to practice their recommended versions of it. Excuse me. Let me rephrase that. What they don’t buy into is that you can do anything to detox yourself without the guidance of a physician and the aid of pharmaceutical drugs.

Let’s use liver detoxing as an example. Here is the opening page from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs page on Viral Hepatitis and Liver Disease.1 “Viral Hepatitis and Liver Disease.” U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. (Accessed 30 July 2019.) https://www.hepatitis.va.gov/basics/reversing-liver-damage.asp

“The liver is one of the only organs in the body that is able to replace damaged tissue with new cells rather than scar tissue. For example, an overdose of acetaminophen (Tylenol) can destroy half of a person’s liver cells in less than a week. Barring complications, the liver can repair itself completely and, within a month, the patient will show no signs of damage.

“However, sometimes the liver gets overwhelmed and can’t repair itself completely, especially if it’s still under attack from a virus, drug, or alcohol. Scar tissue develops, which becomes difficult [they did not say impossible] to reverse and can lead to cirrhosis.”

This is as clean a statement of the principles behind a holistic liver detox as you’re likely to find.

  • The liver has a remarkable ability to repair itself—literally able to repair 50% destruction in 30 days
  • Provided you can eliminate those things that prevent it from doing so

There it is: the fundamental premise of the alternative health liver detox: the liver can repair itself if you clean out the things that are stopping it from doing so.

All we are doing is enhancing the process in three ways

  1. We understand that more than viruses (primarily hepatitis A, B, and C), drugs, and alcohol can harm the liver and inhibit the process. We’re talking about things such as diet (too much protein and too many simple carbohydrates stored as triglycerides in the liver), overeating, toxins, heavy metals, and pesticides to name a few. All these cause harm to the liver in their own right. And all of them inhibit the ability of the liver to regenerate itself unless they are purged from the liver.
    1. And speaking of diet, as the VA states, “When excess fat builds up in the liver of a person who doesn’t drink much alcohol, it’s called non-alcoholic fatty liver (NAFL). Most often, NAFL occurs in people with high blood sugar, obesity, or high cholesterol. It is the most common chronic liver disease in the United States.”
  2. We understand there are detoxing protocols that can kill viruses and parasites in the liver and accelerate the purging of drug residues, toxins, and accumulated cholesterol, triglycerides, and excess fat from the liver (i.e., NAFL)  so that it can once again do what it was designed to do: regenerate itself.
  3. And finally, we understand that there are herbal extracts and nutraceuticals that have been proven over centuries of use, and, at least to some degree in medical studies, to both protect liver tissue and accelerate its ability to repair itself.

The Medical Community Actually Employs Detoxing Protocols

Charcoal

Let’s talk about the use of charcoal for detoxing. It’s standard treatment in emergency rooms worldwide for intoxication (i.e., poisoning and drug overdoses). In fact, the administration of activated charcoal is indicated to treat moderately severe to life-threatening intoxication. For example, according to the German Federal Statistic Office, activated charcoal was used in some 11,700 cases of poisoning in Germany in 2016.2 Zellner, Tobias et al. “The Use of Activated Charcoal to Treat Intoxications.” Deutsches Arzteblatt international vol. 116,18 (2019): 311-317. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6620762/ Or, in 2018, the emergency room at the Eskisehir Osmangazi University Hospital in Turkey used charcoal to treat 40.2% of their poisoning cases.3 S Sungur, U Bilge, N Acar, I Unluoglu, “Retrospective evaluation of adult poisoning cases admitted to emergency department of a University Hospital in Turkey.” Nigerian Journal of Clinical Practice. Year : 2018  |  Volume : 21  |  Issue : 8  |  Page : 1023-1028. http://www.njcponline.com/article.asp?issn=1119-3077;year=2018;volume=21;issue=8;spage=1023;epage=1028;aulast=Sungur

So, where does the use of charcoal for detoxing come from? Is this a great “medical” discovery? As it turns out, no. In fact, the first recorded use of charcoal for medicinal purposes comes from Egyptian papyri around 1500 B.C.4 “Brief History of Activated Charcoal 3750B.C. to 21st century.” Buy Activated Charcoal.com. (Accessed 4 Aug 2019.) https://www.buyactivatedcharcoal.com/activated_charcoal_history And in 50 A.D., Pliny wrote in his Natural History (Vol. 36), “It is only when ignited and quenched that charcoal itself acquires its characteristic powers, and only when it seems to have perished that it becomes endowed with greater virtue.” What Pliny observed and noted so long ago is what emergency rooms are exploiting today.

In fact, it wasn’t until the 1800s that charcoal was first used as a detoxifying agent in “medical” treatments. So, did the medical community, even though it came to the game some 3300 years after the fact, give even a tip of the hat to the alternative health community for first discovering the detoxification abilities of charcoal? Of course, not. And as we know, not only did they not acknowledge its history, they now disparage and try to discredit its use in the alternative health community. That level of hypocrisy takes some brass.

Incidentally, although the terms activated charcoal and charcoal are often used interchangeably, activated charcoal is technically charcoal that has been extra purified using a process developed in the late 1800s to increase its absorbency.

In any case, the medical community now claims to be the only ones who know how to use charcoal for detoxing purposes and claims that its use as a holistic detoxing agent is both useless and dangerous. Yeah, as if.

Heavy Metal Chelation

Toxic metals such as arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury are ubiquitous, have no beneficial role in human homeostasis, and contribute to noncommunicable chronic diseases. And when it comes to heavy metal poisoning, hospital emergency rooms immediately turn to chelating agents to remove the excess heavy metals from their patients’ bodies.5 Kim JJ, Kim YS, Kumar V. “Heavy metal toxicity: An update of chelating therapeutic strategies.” J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2019 Jul;54:226-231. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31109617   But, and here’s a major point of distinction between the medical community and the alternative health community. For the most part, doctors only recognize illness that presents immediate and measurable signs in the human body. Thus, chelation is medically accepted for cases where heavy metals levels are high enough to present immediate signs of poisoning. Holistic healers, on the other hand, often look for much lower levels of toxicity. We’re talking about levels so low that they present no immediate signs of illness but may indeed bring on illness years down the road–or, for that matter even present low-grade illnesses today that medical doctors simply do not connect to the underlying toxicity at hand.

Chelation therapy is the preferred medical treatment for reducing the toxic effects of metals. Chelating agents are capable of binding to toxic metal ions to form complex structures which are easily excreted from the body, removing them from intracellular or extracellular spaces. 2,3-Dimercaprol has long been the mainstay of chelation therapy for lead or arsenic poisoning in emergency rooms; however, its serious side effects have led researchers to develop less-toxic analogues. Common side effects associated with Dimercaprol include high blood pressure, vomiting, and fever. Hydrophilic chelators like meso-2,3-dimercaptosuccinic acid effectively promote renal metal excretion, but their ability to access intracellular metals is weak.6 Swaran J.S. Flora and Vidhu Pachauri. Chelation in Metal Intoxication.” Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2010 Jul; 7(7): 2745–2788. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2922724/ Common side effects associated with Dimercaptosuccinic acid include vomiting, diarrhea, rash, and low blood neutrophil levels.

Obviously, with their associated side effects, Dimercaprol and Dimercaptosuccinic acid are only applicable for highly toxic situations, and only for short-term use—which makes them perfect fits for the medical narrative that, when it comes to heavy metals, low-level toxicity and long-term effects are merely part of alternative mythology—despite centuries of observation showing otherwise.

Which brings us to cilantro and chlorella, two mainstays of the alternative heavy metal detox arsenal.

Cilantro (Coriander)

Studies have shown that levels of mercury, lead, and aluminum in the urine increase significantly after consuming large amounts of cilantro.7 Omura Y, Beckman SL “Role of mercury (Hg) in resistant infections & effective treatment of Chlamydia trachomatis and Herpes family viral infections (and potential treatment for cancer) by removing localized Hg deposits with Chinese parsley and delivering effective antibiotics using various drug uptake enhancement methods.” Acupunct Electrother Res. 1995;20(3-4): 195-229. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8686573 , 8 Omura Y, Shimotsuura Y, Fukuoka A, Fukuoka H, Nomoto T. “Significant mercury deposits in internal organs following the removal of dental amalgam, & development of pre-cancer on the gingiva and the sides of the tongue and their represented organs as a result of inadvertent exposure to strong curing light (used to solidify synthetic dental filling material) & effective treatment: a clinical case report, along with organ representation areas for each tooth.” Acupunct Electrother Res. 1996 ;21(2): 133-160. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8914687  It seems that cilantro changes the electric charge on intracellular deposits of heavy metals to a neutral state, which relaxes their tight bond to body tissue, freeing them up to be flushed from the body — exactly the results seen in the clinical studies.

Chlorella

Once free, the next step is to facilitate the removal of the metals from the body. And here’s where chlorella comes in. Chlorella possesses the capacity to absorb heavy metals. This property has been exploited as a means for treating industrial effluent that contains heavy metals before it is discharged, and to recover the bio-available fraction of the metal in the process. The same effect works inside the human body. In studies undertaken in Germany, high doses of chlorella have been found to be very effective in eliminating heavy metals from the body – from the brain, intestinal wall, muscles, ligaments, connective tissue, and bone.9 Klinghardt, D. “Amalgam/Mercury Detox as a Treatment for Chronic Viral, Bacterial, and Fungal Illnesses.” Explore. Volume 1997;8, No 3.

Together, cilantro and chlorella create the foundation of a powerful oral chelation formula.

In truth, doctors understand this. They just don’t like it because it doesn’t involve pharmaceutical drugs and medical procedures—in other words, those things within their comfort zone. So, they resort to their standard line: “There is no reliable clinical data to support the efficacy of these cleanses.”

But what they don’t tell you, is that there is one simple reason for that lack of data, which by the way has nothing to do with the efficacy of the herbs or detoxes themselves.

Why There Are No Good Studies Validating Herbs and Nutraceuticals for Detoxing

In 2013, it was estimated that it cost about $350 million to produce the clinical data required to bring a single drug to market.10 Matthew Herper. “The Cost Of Creating A New Drug Now $5 Billion, Pushing Big Pharma To Change.” Forbes Aug 11, 2013. (Accessed 4 Aug 2019.) https://www.forbes.com/sites/matthewherper/2013/08/11/how-the-staggering-cost-of-inventing-new-drugs-is-shaping-the-future-of-medicine/#50eed94b13c3 Since then, that figure has risen to over $400 million. But that’s not the frightening number. Because 95% of experimental drugs that are studied in humans fail to be both effective and safe, pharmaceutical companies need to work on dozens of projects at once (with each one costing up to $400 million) just to be able to bring one to market. In other words, because so many drugs fail, large pharmaceutical companies end up spending an astonishing $5 billion per new medicine that is ultimately approved for human use.

Now, keep in mind that you can’t patent natural substances. This means that if a company were to spend $5 billion (or even just $400 million) proving (sufficient for making medical claims) that milk thistle helped detoxify the liver, they couldn’t patent it. That means that any other company could now market the same milk thistle, using those same claims, without having spent $400 million in the process—thereby putting the original company out of business since they wouldn’t have $400 million in sunk costs to recover.

In other words, you will never have “sufficient data” to prove medical claims for detox herbs and nutraceuticals because the financial realities dictate that no one will ever spend the money to do the required studies. And that’s why all you ever see is small studies on mice or a study on a handful of people that merely suggests the possibilities for these natural treatments—a suggestion that doctors dismiss as inadequate.

Now, given this background, let’s look at one detox formula—my version of a liver tincture—to see what it does for detoxing and what studies support its use, even if not at a level sufficient for medical claims.

Liver Tincture

My liver tincture formula contains:

Milk Thistle Seed, Picroliv® (Picrorhiza Kurroa Root Extract), Garlic Bulb, Fresh Black Walnut Hulls, Chicory Root, Dandelion Root, Ginger Root, Oregon Grape Root, Artichoke Leaf, Gentian Root, Wormwood Herb

Again, understanding that we’re never going to see drug level studies for the reasons just discussed, let’s look at the science behind just two of the ingredients in the formula to get a sense of how powerful it is. Then we’ll look at the different ways you can use it.

Milk Thistle Seed

Milk thistle, aka St. Mary’s thistle, is probably the world’s best-known liver herb. Its two key compounds are silymarin and silibinin (aka silybin). Dozens of studies have shown that both silymarin and silibinin can prevent or counteract damage to the liver caused by toxins such as alcohol, acetaminophen (Tylenol), and other drugs, as well as environmental (heavy metals) and bacterial toxins, and even poison mushrooms. Silymarin combats lipid peroxidation in the liver of rats and has been shown to hasten the restoration of liver cells in damaged liver tissue. Sometimes the mechanism of liver damage is the depletion of glutathione (often from heavy consumption of alcohol). In studies, silymarin and silibinin actually elevated glutathione levels in rats given alcohol. Human subjects with liver damage caused by chronic alcoholism, cirrhosis, hepatitis, or other toxicities were likewise significantly benefited by treatment with silymarin.

As a 2003 report in the Journal de Pharmacie de Belgique pointed out that the liver benefitting properties of milk thistle are rather difficult to evaluate objectively.11 Laekeman G, De Coster S, De Meyer K. “St. Mary’s Thistle: an overview.”  J Pharm Belg. 2003;58(1):28-31. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12722542  Mortality rate in the case of life-threatening liver diseases is the most objective parameter. And as it turns out, silymarin has been tested in living animals deliberately intoxicated with mushroom toxins, medicines, heavy metals, or toxic organic solvents. (You can probably understand why they’re probably not doing this kind of testing with human subjects.) Preventive as well as curative activity has been confirmed. Silymarin accumulates in the liver, which is, of course, the target organ in therapy. Silymarin even improves the prognosis after accidental ingestion of toxic death cap mushrooms. And silymarin given to patients with liver damage by alcohol lowers the death toll. Side effects are comparable to placebo.

Studies have shown that silibinin can block hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and inhibit T cell proliferation. Even more impressive, a 2012 study has shown that intravenous silibinin inhibits replication of HIV-1.12 McClure J, Lovelace ES, Elahi S, Maurice NJ, et al. “Silibinin inhibits HIV-1 infection by reducing cellular activation and proliferation.” PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e41832. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3404953/  As the study concluded, silymarin-derived compounds provide cytoprotection by suppressing virus infection, immune activation, and inflammation, and as such may be relevant for both HIV mono-infected and HIV/HCV co-infected subjects.

Studies have also shown that milk thistle is effective in lowering both blood glucose levels and LDL cholesterol. One double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial found that milk thistle supplementation was able to help bring glucose levels back into the normal range, and the patients taking milk thistle had lower levels of LDL, triglycerides, and total cholesterol levels over the four-month trial period.13 Huseini HF, Larijani B, Heshmat R, Fakhrzadeh H, et al. “The efficacy of Silybum marianum (L.) Gaertn. (silymarin) in the treatment of type II diabetes: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical trial.” Phytother Res. 2006 Dec;20(12):1036-9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17072885

And milk thistle is quite safe as a supplement. Neither toxicity nor drug interactions have been reported following high doses of milk thistle or its components.  The bottom line is that milk thistle has hepatoprotective properties and is safe enough to be used even in cases of chronic liver disease. It is valuable in post-operative liver repair and in the treatment of alcoholic cirrhosis, and, as a bonus, it is cancer protective.

But it is only the second most important herb in this formula.

Picrorhiza Kurroa Root & Rhizomes Extract

Although less well known than milk thistle, I believe that Picrorhiza kurroa, also known as Kutki, is the single most important liver herb in the alternative practitioner’s arsenal. There are certainly some studies to support the contention, but mostly it is based on my over 45 years of observations in alternative health. When I first started using it in liver formulas in the early 90’s, it was almost unknown outside of India. Now it has become popular enough to make its way onto the endangered species list–with one important exception. The exception is that it carries an Appendix II listing. That means that although the fresh herb is illegal to import and export, it is perfectly legal to import and export processed extracts of the herb made from sustainable sources. With that in mind, I use a processed Picrorhiza extract called picroliv in my liver tincture formulation—the same picroliv used in the studies cited below.

The root contains several very bitter glucosides including kutkin, the primary active ingredient. Kutkin itself is comprised of kutkoside and iridoid glycoside picroside I, II and II. Other identified active components include picrorhizin, nine cucurbitacin glycosides, D-mannitol, benetic acid, kutkisterol, vanillic acid, steroids, and apocynin. Apocynin is a catechol that has been shown to inhibit neutrophil oxidative burst (good for the overall integrity of the immune system) in addition to being a powerful anti-inflammatory agent and reducer of platelet aggregation,14 Simons JM, Hart BA, Ip Vai Ching TR, Van Dijk H, Labadie RP. “Metabolic activation of natural phenols into selective oxidative burst agonists by activated human neutrophils.” Free Radic Biol Med 1990;8:251-258. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2160411  while the cucurbitacins have been shown to be highly cytotoxic to cancer cells and possess antitumor effects.15 Stuppner H, Wagner H. “New cucurbitacin glycosides from Picrorhiza kurroa.” Planta Medica 1989;55:559.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2616673

Traditionally, Kutki is a well-known herb in both Indian Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine. It has been used to treat disorders of the liver and upper respiratory tract (including bronchial asthma), reduce fevers, and to treat dyspepsia, chronic diarrhea, and scorpion stings and snake bites. But primarily, it is known as a liver herb that not only protects and heals the liver, but also prevents liver toxicity, neutralizes harmful biochemical changes in the liver caused by many toxic agents, and even improves the flow of bile. Let’s look at some of these benefits in a little more detail.

Liver Protection

Numerous animal studies have demonstrated that the active biochemicals of Picrorhiza kurroa are effective at preventing liver toxicity–in fact, showing significant curative activity–vis-à-vis numerous toxic agents such as galactosamine, thiocetamide, and carbon tetrachloride.16 Visen PK, Saraswat B, Dhawan BN. “Curative effect of picroliv on primary cultured rat hepatocytes against different hepatotoxins: an in vitro study.” J Pharmacol Toxicol Methods 1998;40:173-179.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10334634  When administered, the toxic agents produced a 40-62% inhibition of cell viability. On removal of the toxic agents and the addition of the Picrorhiza extract, a concentration dependent reversal of these negative effects was seen in as little as 48 hours. A similar effect was seen when oral Picrorhiza extract was administered to rats poisoned by aflatoxin B1 exposure. Picrorhiza kurroa “significantly prevented the biochemical changes induced by aflatoxin B1.”17 Rastogi R, Srivastava AK, Rastogi AK. “Biochemical changes induced in liver and serum aflatoxin B1-treated male wistar rats: preventive effect of picroliv.” Pharmacol Toxicol 2001;88:53-58.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11169162

Cell death following ischemia-reperfusion injury is a major concern in clinical issues such as organ transplantation and trauma when blood supply to an organ is severely reduced. In a study to determine Picrorhiza’s potential for preventing such damage, rats were fed an extract for seven days prior to the inducement of hepatic ischemia (i.e., the blood supply to their livers was stopped for a controlled period). The Picrorhiza fed rats demonstrated improved hepatocyte glycogen preservation and reduced cell death compared to control animals.18 Singh AK, Mani H, Seth P. “Picroliv preconditioning protects the rat liver against ischemia-reperfusion injury.” Eur J Pharmacol 2000;395:229-239. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10812054  Picrorhiza extracts have also shown to be effective in treating poisoning by the highly toxic death cap mushroom, Amanita phalloides.19 Dwivedi Y, Rastogi R, Garg NK, et al. “Effects of picroliv, the active principle of Picrorhiza kurroa, on biochemical changes in rat liver poisoned by Amanita phalloides.” Zhongguo Yao Li Xue Bao 1992;13:197-200.  http://www.chinaphar.com/1671-4083/13/197.pdf Picrorhiza provided significant restorations of all the biochemical changes poisoned/compromised by A phalloides except cytochrome P-450 and glycogen.

Now, while it is true that most of us are not too worried by things like hepatitis, cirrhosis, or ingesting carbon tetrachloride, we still subject our livers to constant stressors that ultimately damage and destroy liver cells—and, remember, that damage is cumulative over time. We’re talking about things like:

  • T oo much protein in the diet. Protein metabolism is especially taxing on the liver since it is the liver which must metabolize complex proteins into simple compounds. The greater the consumption of protein, the greater the stress on the liver.
  • Too many simple carbohydrates in the diet. The body converts excess simple carbohydrates into triglycerides, which are then stored in the liver as fat. The more fat stored in the liver, the harder it is for the liver to perform its full range of normal functions.
  • Overeating. Too much enzyme-deficient food stresses the liver.
  • Drug residues. Virtually all the drugs that we take (medicinal and recreational) are processed, purified, and refined in the liver—in preparation for elimination from the body.
  • Vitamin isolates. Many vitamins in their isolated form are toxic to the body and must be conjugated by the liver to render them harmless and make them available to the cells. Every time you supplement with such vitamins, you stress the liver.
  • Cirrhosis aside, any consumption of alcohol causes inflammation of the liver’s tissue. Once the liver is inflamed, it can no longer filter, which causes it to plug up with fat and become even more inflamed. If we consume enough alcohol, we overwhelm the liver’s ability to regenerate itself, and the net result is cirrhosis (or hardening) of the liver.
  • Toxins, heavy metals, and pesticides. Everything we breathe, eat, and absorb through our skin is purified and refined in the liver.
  • Lack of exercise forces the liver to do the elimination work that should be done by the lungs and the skin.

Thus, any herbs that are hepaprotective and that promote liver regeneration are an essential component of any health regimen.

Liver Regeneration

Like milk thistle, Picrorhiza has been shown to stimulate liver regeneration in rats.20 Singh V, Kapoor NK, Dhawan BN. “Effect of picroliv on protein and nucleic acid synthesis.” Indian J Exp Biol 1992;30:68-69. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1506022 Specifically, studies have shown that oral administration of picroliv, a standardized fraction of roots and rhizomes of Picrorhiza kurroa, showed stimulation of nucleic acid and protein synthesis in rat livers. Results are comparable to those seen when silymarin is administered. Even better. Picrorhiza extract was also shown to be effective in reversing alcohol-induced liver damage in rats. Treatment restored the damage in a dose-dependent manner (36-100%) over 45 days.21 Saraswat B, Visen PK, Patnaik GK, Dhawan BN. “Ex vivo and in vivo investigations of picroliv from Picrorhiza kurroa in an alcohol intoxication model in rats.” J Ethnopharmacol 1999;66:263-269.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10473171  This is significant for anyone suffering from early-stage cirrhosis.

Viral Hepatitis

Studies indicate that Picrorhiza extracts appear to be of therapeutic value in treating viral hepatitis. An in vitro study investigated anti-hepatitis B-like activity of Picrorhiza and found it to have promising anti-hepatitis B surface antigen activity.22 Mehrotra R, Rawat S, Kulshreshtha DK, et al. “In vitro studies on the effect of certain natural products against hepatitis B virus.” Indian J Med Res 1990;92:133-138.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2370093  In addition, in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 33 patients diagnosed with acute viral hepatitis, 375 mg of Picrorhiza root powder was given three times daily for two weeks to 15 of the patients, while the remaining 18 patients acted as controls and received a placebo. Bilirubin, SGOT, and SGPT values were significantly lower in the treatment group (that’s a good thing), and the time required for bilirubin values to drop to 2.5 mg % was 27.4 days in the treatment group versus 75.9 days for the placebo group.23 Vaidya AB, Antarkar DS, Doshi JC, et al. “Picrorhiza kurroa (Kutaki) Royle ex Benth as a hepatoprotective agent–experimental and clinical studies.” J Postgrad Med 1996;42:105-108.  http://www.jpgmonline.com/article.asp?issn=0022-3859;year=1996;volume=42;issue=4;spage=105;epage=8;aulast=Vaidya

Cancer

As mentioned earlier, Picrorhiza has also demonstrated cancer protective properties. When tested against human breast cancer cells and human prostate cancer cells, Picrorhiza extracts exhibited promising antioxidant potentials and were also observed to be cytotoxic at the tested dosage and were able to target the cancer cells and kill them.24 Rajkumar V, Guha G, Kumar RA. “Antioxidant and anti-neoplastic activities of Picrorhiza kurroa extracts.” Food Chem Toxicol. 2011 Feb;49(2):363-9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21081148  In yet another study, Picrorhiza extracts demonstrated chemoprotective potential against chemically-induced liver tumors25 Rajeshkumar NV, Kuttan R. “Inhibition of N-nitrosodiethylamine-induced hepatocarcinogenesis by Picroliv.” J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2000 Dec;19(4):459-65.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11277323  and induced sarcoma tumors and chemically-initiated papilloma formations.26 Rajeshkumar NV, Kuttan R. “Protective effect of Picroliv, the active constituent of Picrorhiza kurroa, against chemical carcinogenesis in mice.” Teratog Carcinog Mutagen. 2001;21(4):303-13.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11406836

And More Recently

A 2018 study published in Clinical and Molecular Hepatology found that picroside II, a phytoactive found in Picrorhiza kurroa, effectively attenuates fatty acid accumulation in the liver by decreasing both free fatty acid uptake and lipogenesis (fat generation) in the liver.27 Dhami-Shah H, Vaidya R, Udipi S, et al. “Picroside II attenuates fatty acid accumulation in HepG2 cells via modulation of fatty acid uptake and synthesis.” Clin Mol Hepatol. 2018 Mar;24(1):77-87. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5875197/ This is a really big deal since, apart from life-style modifications, current pharmacological therapies used for non-alcohol fatty liver disease have not proved to be very effective.28 Tolman KG, Dalpiaz AS. “Treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.” Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2007;3:1153–1163. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2387293/ In addition, the study found that picroside II also decreased the expression of gluconeogenic genes. This too is a big deal because the glucogenic genes control the metabolic pathway that results in the generation of glucose from non-sugar precursors. Decreasing their expression decreases the amount of glycogen stored in the liver, which is important because too much glycogen and fat stored in the liver can be toxic and lead to glycogen storage disease.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that the combination of milk thistle and Picrorhiza kurroa extract has incredible liver protective and regenerative capabilities. In this case, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. And again, most of us are not dealing with the extreme circumstances covered in the studies, but what those studies tell us is that milk thistle and Picrorhiza are mandatory for protecting our livers against the cumulative assaults of daily life. Then, factor in the other ingredients in the formula which do things such as purge excess fat from the liver, expel parasites found in the liver, and promote the regeneration of liver tissue, and you have a powerful tool, albeit outside the medical arsenal, that can help protect, detoxify, and stimulate the rebuilding of the liver.

For most people, one bottle of this formula used as part of a semiannual liver detox is all that’s required. But it can also be used between detoxes as a “liver tune-up” and for special situations. You can use up to three bottles back to back to back. But the key is you need to then take at least two weeks off before using again. This formula can also be used as part of an ongoing maintenance program in which you consume one bottle a month for as long as needed. Again, the liver tincture as described above is “medicinal” in nature and is one of the most powerful formulas I work with. As such, it requires breaks in use so as not to exhaust the body.

The VA site I mentioned at the top of this article has one warning of interest. They say:

“Be careful about herbal remedies. Some patients ask to take the herb “milk thistle,” believing it can reduce swelling in the liver. Whether milk thistle works or not is unknown. However, be cautious when taking any herb. U.S. regulations do not require that these products be tested for quality.”

I would suggest they have this warning backwards. Most of the herbs identified as being beneficial to the liver have centuries of use behind them, with no evidence of any harm from their use in all that time. The pharmaceutical drugs they would have you take instead all have clearly identified serious side effects. It is those drugs you should be cautious about taking.

References   [ + ]

1. “Viral Hepatitis and Liver Disease.” U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. (Accessed 30 July 2019.) https://www.hepatitis.va.gov/basics/reversing-liver-damage.asp
2. Zellner, Tobias et al. “The Use of Activated Charcoal to Treat Intoxications.” Deutsches Arzteblatt international vol. 116,18 (2019): 311-317. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6620762/
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