The organic benefits of healing the Liver and Gallbladder

By Jon Barron, Baseline of Health Foundation

What can go wrong with the Liver

The liver is amazingly resilient and, at the macroscopic level, not much goes wrong with it. Because it is so well protected, it is rarely affected by trauma, but when it is (automobile accidents, war, etc.), it is often fatal because of the large blood supply that serves it. Likewise, although primary liver cell cancer is common in Africa and Asia (related to a very specific combination of “insults” to the liver’s cells), it is very rare in the United States and the rest of the developed world where those insults tend not to exist. Although hepatitis (particularly hepatitis B) and cirrhosis can be contributing factors, the primary cause of hepatocellular carcinoma is aflatoxin B1.

Liver Cancer

Aflatoxin B1 is the most potent liver cancer-forming chemical known. It is a product of a mold called Aspergillus flavus, which is found in food that has been stored in a hot and humid environment (common storage conditions in much of the third world, especially Southern China and Sub-Saharan Africa). This mold is found in such foods as peanuts, rice, soybeans, corn, and wheat (all staples in the third world). It is thought to cause cancer by producing changes (mutations) in the p53 gene. These mutations work by interfering with the gene’s important tumor suppressing (inhibiting) functions. Generally, both hepatitis B and aflatoxin B1 are required for hepatocellular cancer.

For more detailed info, go to Jon’s website

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a viral disease that affects the liver. Transmission can occur through:

  • Direct person-to-person contact
  • Exposure to contaminated water or ice
  • Contaminated shellfish (think oysters on the half shell)
  • Fruits, vegetables, or other foods that are eaten uncooked and that were contaminated during harvesting or subsequent handling.

The symptoms of hepatitis A are fever, lack of appetite, nausea, and fatigue, and then jaundice. Jaundice is a yellow or orange tint to the skin or whites of the eyes. Some persons with hepatitis A will have no symptoms at all — especially children. The symptoms of hepatitis A, if you have them, usually last about one or two weeks, and, in most cases, no specific treatment is required in order to get better. Infected persons shed the virus in their stools from a week or two before symptoms begin until a few days after jaundice begins. Because of this, persons who are ill with hepatitis A should not work in restaurants, child care centers, or nursing homes until their symptoms have resolved.

The hepatitis A IgM test is used to screen for early detection of infection and is used to diagnose the disease in patients with evidence of acute hepatitis. Hepatitis A IgM is the first antibody produced by the body when it is exposed to hepatitis A. On the other hand, hepatitis A IgG antibodies develop later and remain present for many years, usually for life, and protect you against further infection by the same virus. There is no test specifically for hepatitis A IgG antibodies, although a total antibody test (which detects both IgM and IgG antibodies) detects both current and former infection with hepatitis A and will remain positive even after receiving the hepatitis A vaccine.

For more detailed info, go to Jon’s website

Hepatitis B

The hepatitis B virus results from exposure to infectious blood or body fluids containing infected blood. Possible forms of transmission include (but are not limited to) unprotected sexual contact, blood transfusions, re-use of contaminated needles & syringes (which explains why the incidence of hepatitis B among drug users is so high), and transmission from mother to child during childbirth. It should also be noted that if you are into the latest fashion trends centered around body piercing and tattooing, you have to be extremely careful with the equipment that is used on you. Make sure the equipment is totally sterile. Using non-sterile equipment can transfer the hepatitis B virus or other blood born diseases to your body.

Also, be careful when eating out. Eating uncooked, raw food or eating from outside vendors can infect you with hepatitis B. This is of particular note when visiting third world countries, but can still be a problem in any developed country.

Symptoms of hepatitis B include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Itching all over the body
  • Pain over the liver (on the right side of the abdomen, under the lower rib cage)
  • Jaundice
  • Urine becomes dark in color — not yellow, but dark like tea
  • Stools are pale in color (grayish or clay colored)

The danger of hepatitis B is that it can become acute, and then chronic — ultimately leading to severe liver damage. Unfortunately, there is no treatment that can prevent acute HBV infection from becoming chronic once you get it. The degree of liver damage is related to the amount of active, replicating (multiplying) virus in the blood and liver. Antiviral agents, the medical treatment of choice for chronic hepatitis B, do not work in all individuals with the disease, and may not even be required as in many cases the infection may resolve itself over time.

Although, it’s difficult to prevent hepatitis B from progressing if you get it, it is possible to protect yourself from getting it in the first place through immunization. The primary test for hepatitis B is for HBsAg (the hepatitis B surface antigen). Its presence indicates either acute or chronic hepatitis B infection.

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C (HCV) is the most dangerous of the hepatitis viral infections, and it is the most common cause of chronic liver disease in North America. It is difficult for the human immune system to eliminate the virus from the body once infected, and infection with HCV usually becomes chronic. Over time (often decades), hepatitis C damages the liver and can lead to liver failure. As mentioned, it is difficult for the immune system to clear the virus — with up to 85% of newly infected people failing to clear it — and thus most people become chronically infected. It is estimated that in the U.S. alone more than three million people are chronically infected with hepatitis C, with between 8,000 to 10,000 people dying each year. In the U.S., hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver transplant surgery.

Treatment usually involves a combination of an antiviral (most often ribavirin) and alpha interferon. Alpha interferon is an antiviral protein normally made in the body in response to viral infections. The alpha interferon used in treating hepatitis C, however, is not natural. It is a recombinant form that usually involves the addition of a large molecule of polyethylene glycol to “improve” uptake, distribution, and excretion of the interferon, not to mention prolonging shelf life — and of course, increasing profits for the companies holding patents.

Peginterferon (owned by Roche), the current  alpha interferon of choice, can be given once weekly and provides a constant level of interferon in the blood, whereas standard interferon must be given several times weekly and provides intermittent and fluctuating levels. In addition, peginterferon is more active than standard interferon in inhibiting HCV and yields higher sustained response rates with similar side effects. Because of its ease of administration and better efficacy, peginterferon has replaced standard interferon both when used alone and as part of a combination therapy for hepatitis C.

Combination therapy can indeed lead to rapid improvements in up to 70 percent of patients, but it often doesn’t last. Long-term improvement only occurs in 35-55 percent of patients. And unfortunately, there are side effects, which frequently include profound fatigue, headache, fever, muscle pain and chills. In fact, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Fortunately, there are natural alternatives. Ten years ago, I was introduced to someone who had hepatitis C and who reacted badly (extremely so) to his interferon treatments. By the time I met him, he had reached the point that he had stopped his interferon treatments, as death was preferable to the side effects associated with his treatment. As I said, those side effects can be profound. Fortunately, using a different approach, which we’ll talk more about at the end of this report, he was able to drop his numbers to undetectable levels — and maintain those for years. When I last spoke to him about two years ago, he was still symptom free after eight years — and that’s despite never giving up many bad habits including heavy, daily cigarette smoking. Since then, I have personally seen that experience duplicated several more times with other HCV patients.

Testing for hepatitis C, usually involves a series of five tests — each filling in a piece of the puzzle.

  • Anti-HCV tests detect the presence of antibodies to the virus, indicating exposure to HCV. These tests cannot tell if you still have an active viral infection, only that you were exposed to the virus at some point in the past.
  • HCV RIBA testing confirms the presence of antibodies to the virus. It is used to verify the results of the Anti-HCV test.
  • HCV-RNA testing identifies whether your infection is active.
  • Viral Load or Quantitative HCV tests determine the level of infection and are used to determine if treatment is working.
  • Viral genotyping is used to determine exactly which type of hepatitis C is present. As it turns out, there are 6 major types of HCV, and they all respond differently to treatment. This test is often ordered before treatment to give your doctor an idea of the likelihood of success and how long treatment may be needed.

For more detailed info, go to Jon’s website

Cirrhosis of the Liver

Cirrhosis is a degenerative disease of the liver that is often caused by alcoholism, but also may result from hepatitis and even parasites. It is characterized by formation of fibrous tissue, nodules, and scarring, which interfere with liver cell function and blood circulation and can often lead to blood backflow. Symptoms include weakness, weight loss, fatigue, abdominal swelling due to fluid accumulation, clotting defects, jaundice, and tenderness and enlargement of the liver. Tests for cirrhosis include prolonged prothrombin time and decreased albumin.

Cirrhosis is untreatable and when advanced ends in portal hypertension, liver failure, hepatic coma, and death. As already mentioned, the primary tests for cirrhosis include prothrombin time (a test that measures how long it takes blood to clot) and decreased albumin. As discussed, the liver makes all prothrombin and fibrinogen (clotting factors) for the blood, as well as albumin, the major blood protein. Thus, tests indicating low levels of these proteins would be indicative of liver problems.

For more detailed info, go to Jon’s website

Liver Enzyme Test Info

A simple liver blood enzyme test is often your doctor’s first step in determining liver problems. The test is simple. Under normal circumstances, liver enzymes reside exclusively within the cells of the liver, but if the liver is injured for any reason, these enzymes spill out into the blood stream. Thus, if tests reveal them in the bloodstream, it’s an “indication” of problems. Specifically, your doctor is looking for the two aminotransferase enzymes: aspartate aminotransferase (AST or SGOT) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT or SGPT). Again, if these enzymes are found in the bloodstream, they are indicative of liver problems. They are not, however, conclusive.

Here is a simple image of what a blood work report looks like. We suggest that you ask your healthcare provider what the numbers and letters mean and how they apply to your specific health situation.

Here is a simple image of what a blood work report looks like. We suggest that you ask your healthcare provider what the numbers and letters mean and how they apply to your specific health situation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher-than-normal levels of these liver enzymes do not automatically mean that you have liver problems. For example, high levels of these enzymes can be caused by muscle damage — such as that produced by intense exercise. Moderate alcohol intake can also raise levels as can aspirin. Also, even if the levels are raised as a result of real liver problems, the actual levels are not indicative of the extent of liver damage. For example, patients with hepatitis A may demonstrate very high levels for one to weeks before the condition, as mentioned earlier, totally resolves itself and goes away. On the other hand, patients with chronic hepatitis C infection typically show very little elevation. Again, liver enzyme tests merely indicate a potential problem.

For more info check out Jon’s website at: Baseline of Health

 

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