Fire and Ice, Livermore.

Question submitted by Edwin,:

,Asking for suggestions for liver cancer.

The liver is the largest solid organ of the human body and a powerful organ that performs numerous functions for our body. It is the principal blood filtering organ and a powerhouse for the conversion nutrients, production of bile for digestion, storage of glucose, management of blood clotting, clearance of metabolic biproducts and toxins. As such, the liver is exposed to the best and the worst compounds and must sort them out to maintain good vitality. The very redundancy of the organ makes it resilient to repeated cellular damage until it reaches a tipping point. Only approximately 2% of liver cancer originates in the liver. In most cases the liver cancer it has started somewhere else in the body and has taken hold in its secondary location through metastasis. This is generally an indication of an aggressive cancer.

Liver cancer is a serious and life-threatening disease. You have to take take appropriate measures in strict consultation with your doctor, be it conventional therapy or herbal remedies. Taking any herbal supplements should be vetted through your medical team to be sure not to cause adverse herb-drug interactions. Great care must be taken to not potentiate medical therapies by use of herbs that have similar mechanism of action as pharmaceutical drugs (conventional therapies).

Ideally, herbs should only be taken after peak levels of drugs have passed; this information can be provided by your medical team. It helps to have the support of family and friends. Get the prognosis of your case from your doctor and plan for all eventualities.

As the liver is the main organ of filtration and digestion, many strong hepatic herbs are contraindicated in the case of liver cancer as the bile duct may be compromised. That means avoid strong bitter herbs. ,Presented here are a list of single herbs that could be used in an herbal protocol.

· Mild hepatic support herbs: Burdock root, dandelion root, turmeric, diet rich in brassica family (cabbage, broccoli, Brussel sprouts), caraway seeds.

· Hepato-protective herb: Milk Thistle (,Silybum marianum,), Artichoke leaf (,Cynara)

· Hepato-detox support herb: Buplurem, Danshen (,salvia miltiorrhiza,) Baikal skullcap, schizandra berry, globe artichoke, diet rich in vitamin B3, B1 & C, citrus fruits, rosemary, St. John’s wort.

Generally speaking, follow these recommendations:

· Collaborate & communicate with your physician(s).

· Introduce dietary changes: increased brassicas, increase citrus and legumes.

· Herbal supplements may need to change during treatment to address therapeutic side-effects. Starting at low dosage. Take milk thistle capsules at off peak times. Changes include dietary changes, reduce animal protein, increase legumes.

· Only introduce herbs at off peak of drug therapies.

· Hot or warm water infusions may be best way to take herbs.

In addition, a review of 876 journal publications on herbal supplements and treatment for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) found 100 articles worth including in a therapeutic summary. Briefly, the most successful phytochemicals used in the treatment or in vitro studies against HCC include: Curcumin (derived from turmeric), Resveratrol (derived from grape peel), Silibinin (derived from milk thistle) and Tanshinone (derived from ,salvia miltiorrhiza,). See reference 4 below from Yi and Martin.


1. Hoffmann; Medical Herbalism, Healing Arts Press, 2003

2. Mills & Bone; Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy, Churchhill Livingston, 2000

3. The Complete Natural Medicine Gude to Breast Cancer, Robert Rose, 2003

4. Li & Martin; Herbal Medicine and Hepatocellular Carcinoma: Applications and Challenges; Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011; 2011: 541209. Published online 2011 Feb 20. doi: 10.1093/ecam/neq044

,Judith Fox Smith, MS, is the founder of Foxsmyth Herbal, in Stoneham, MA. Judy is a biological research scientist and clinical herbalist. She is the founder and past president of the Eastern PA chapter of American Herbalist Guild, the Herb Gatherers of Lansdale, PA and past Vice President of San Antonio Herb Society. She combines her knowledge of biology and botany with her passion to provide practical herbal and lifestyle recommendations for a holistic balance in today’s techno-driven world.

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