Natural medicine has been used for many years to help with common health issues and problems.
Mankind have been using herbs and plants to cure their aches and pains much longer than we have been using the more recently developed drugs that we are all accustomed to. With the invention of synthetic drugs, everything changed.
We turn to the easily produced and super effective drugs in a heartbeat. However, some recognize that these synthetic products aren’t good for us and continue to use the natural alternatives to modern drugs, which they consider to be healthier. But just because the remedies you use are “natural” doesn’t mean they can’t hurt you.
Synthetic drugs are known to do a number on your liver. The drugs that change your body chemistry can do enormous amounts of damage to your liver, the organ that has to process all these drugs.
Unfortunately, the same could be said about a few different herbal supplements that some of us have turned to in order to keep our body’s health at its peak. In fact, some herbs have been banned in numerous countries due to their harmful effects on the liver.
The problem is that it’s very difficult to determine if the cause of the harm. Is it the herb itself or other elements which are presented alongside the herbs in their supplemental form?
Many naturopathic physicians state that the problem isn’t within the drugs themselves or the herbs used for making these supplements. Instead, the issue lies in using said supplement improperly.
Proper use of specific supplements isn’t just tied into the right dosage but also into whether that supplement is exactly what your body needs, along with how long you need to continue taking that specific supplement. If you think about it, this makes perfect sense.
With traditional over the counter medication, do you continue to take the well-known headache relief drugs without stopping even though your headache is cured? Of course not! The same idea needs to be applied to herbal supplements.
Once your body is at the physical health that you desire, you should stop taking the supplements which you were taking advantage of previously.
Although, this idea can’t be applied to all supplements, some need to be taken to continuously replenish your body with the nutrients and minerals that it’s lacking.
Can Supplements Cause Liver Damage?
Yes. But how do we know that there are specific herbal supplement that cause significant damage to our liver? Well, that question can be answered through statistics and numbers.
Data which has been compiled from countless amounts of research about liver damage from dietary and herbal supplements shows that over the last ten years the percentage of liver injuries related to herbal supplements has went up from seven percent to a whopping twenty percent.
So, what does all of this research mean to you as a consumer? To put it simply, it means you should be careful with the types of supplements you put into your body. We know that saying this sounds kind of silly, but nonetheless it must be taken seriously.
We understand that everyone pays attention to the drugs and medicine they put into their body, but when it comes to herbal and dietary supplements we seem to become a bit more relaxed and a bit more careless.
The reason for this negligence is because of the notion that natural supplements are healthier and thus can’t possibly do damage to your body, which is a common misconception. Any drug, no matter its origin, can be harmful and in some cases even fatal if used incorrectly!
Another issue that surrounds the herbal supplement world is the amount of information which is out there, specifically on the internet, about all this type of medicine.
While there is a ton of good and useful knowledge that can be derived from all the articles, studies, and research published online, there is also quite a bit of “fuzz.” What we mean by “fuzz” is information that isn’t exactly true or can be easily misunderstood.
Recognizing and separating the truth from fiction can be very difficult. However, we are here to help! We took the data from the previously mentioned liver damage research and used it to isolate some of the true harmful herbs out there.
We also gathered some of the herbs out there which have gotten some bad rep for one reason or another and shed some light on these specific herbs so that you know exactly which of these herbs are dangerous, which are not, and which need to be used with caution.
Which Supplements Can Cause Liver Damage?
This herbal supplement is banned or restricted in many countries, including the United Kingdom, Poland, and France. However, in the United States the FDA has not sanctioned any bans or restrictions on kava.
The FDA does state that kava contains properties within it that make it very suitable for managing anxiety, but they also warn that kava can be linked to serious liver damage.
Kava, also referred to as kava-kava, is extracted from the root of Piper methysticum, a plant native to the western Pacific islands.
It often comes in a form of beverage and is quite often consumed in social settings throughout the South Pacific in a similar manner as alcohol would be consumed in Western societies.
In most cases, kava is used to help with anxiety, stress, and insomnia. Some people have been known to take kava to treat ADHD. Severe migraines and other forms of headaches have also been known to be treated by kava.
It can also be applied to skin directly to treat skin diseases such as leprosy, to promote healing, and as a pain killer. Some even use it as a mouthwash to help with canker sores and toothaches.
It’s easy to see why this herb is so popular and is being used by so many people across the world. However, the potential for the occurrence of liver damage due to taking kava is making many people question the healing benefits that kava offers.
The main argument as to why kava causes such serious liver damage goes back to the methods of its extraction.
When supplement companies discovered the numerous benefits that kava has to offer, they started stripping the chemical from the plant and selling it commercially in a pill form. This is exactly what causes it to become dangerous to our livers.
The traditional extraction method uses the entire plant during the extraction process which brings other beneficial parts of the plant into the kava mixture.
These additional elements help with proper absorption and act in a check-and-balance way to ensure the herb doesn’t damage your body. It is only when those additional elements are stripped away from the main chemical that kava can become dangerous to your liver.
Green Tea Extract
Chances are you have already encountered green tea extract at your local pharmacy or even your local super market. Known for its ability to help you lose weight, green tea extract has made its way onto many of our home shelves.
The problem is that green tea extract has many different antioxidant compounds in it and if it’s used for weight loss during fasting, your liver becomes overwhelmed by all of these components.
Normally, your body and your liver can handle any antioxidants you throw at them. However, when you fast, your body isn’t getting the necessary minerals and vitamins for proper functionality and the first body organ to suffer is your liver.
Without the right minerals and vitamins your liver can’t process heave compounds efficiently and becomes easily overwhelmed by any complex compound.
If you are planning on taking green tea extract between meals then go ahead, this is perfectly safe because your body is being properly nourished. So never take green tea extract as a part of a fasting or cleansing regimen.
Teucrium chamaedrys is actually a species of about 200 different plants in the mint family that are native to the Mediterranean region of Europe and North Africa.
Throughout the years, this plant has been made into medicine which was used to treat gout, high blood pressure, fever, stomachaches, and a few other conditions. The plant is known for being potentially dangerous to the liver.
Germander is banned for sale in France and is not allowed to be included in products that are taken by mouth in Canada, but is allowed to be used in small quantities as a flavoring agent in alcohol in the US.
There have been multiple cases reported of hepatitis and even death due to the use of germander.
This is one of those herbs you have to be extremely careful with.
First and foremost, you should only use a germander supplement if you are under strict supervision by your naturopathic doctor or any other medical professional who can monitor the impact that this herb has on your liver.
Second, you need to be very careful when shopping for weight loss supplements.
Germander has been known to find its way into some weight loss supplements and sometimes even been used as a substitute for other compounds that the supplement is supposed to have in it.
This usually happens due to unethical behavior of some companies which are difficult to monitor.
Also called asafetida, skullcap is one of the herbs commonly substituted for germander by some weight loss supplement companies. Skullcap on its own is usually used to treat headaches, infections, allergies, and inflammations.
Certain studies have shown that skullcap can cause hepatitis, but there isn’t enough evidence to support this claim and it is more often suggested that other elements which are often used to substitute skullcap are to blame, namely germander.
Because there are so many companies out there that unethically choose to substitute skullcap with other herbs like germander, it’s difficult to state that skullcap is a perfectly safe supplement to use.
It isn’t hard to say that skullcap herb contains many benefits inside of it, but the manufactured supplements that rely on those benefits need to be examined carefully.
You have to pay very close attention to the labels on all your supplement bottles and even then anticipate that the brand you are using might simply lie about the contents of their bottle.
Only trust reliable companies that are well known without any attached speculations or accusations.
Referred to as Creosote bush, chaparral is a dessert shrub with waxy green leaves which is commonly found in the American Southwest and northern Mexico.
The sticky compound found on top of the leaves of chaparral shrubs is reminiscent of creosote, giving it the unforgettable scent which is especially prominent after rainfall.
Chaparral is associated with a variety of different curative properties. One of the most common uses for chaparral is as a topical ointment on your skin to help it heal and recover from many different skin related ailments.
Rashes, bites, wounds, and burns have all known to be treated with the chaparral plant.
The problem with chaparral is that it’s known to cause blockage in your bile ducts a few weeks after use.
And even though the problems associated with using chaparral often clear up quickly after stopping its use, it has been associated with the ability to cause severe and quick liver damage including cirrhosis.
This severe liver damage is associated with the high amounts of antioxidants which are found in chaparral, similarly to green tea extract but a lot more potent. These compounds cause a huge liver overload to occur which leads to quick and severe damage.
We strongly recommend that you only use chaparral if you are under close supervision by your doctor or medical professional.
Final Words On Liver Damage Caused By Supplements
Herbs and natural medicine plants have been used for centuries as a way to cure a variety of different diseases and ailments. However, the methods in which we have used these herbs have evolved.
We no longer have to use primitive ways to extract the healing elements from each plant, now we have a purified scientific method to get the chemical we need and take them as a supplement. But this isn’t necessarily a good thing.
We forgot that our ancient methods also delivered other compounds into these healing mixtures that are part of the healing formula. There is no one specific chemical that cures whatever we seek the remedy for, it is the combination of different chemical that come along when we use the primitive extraction methods that are the answer to our problems.
Always take this into account whenever you choose to take a new supplement for your needs so you avoid detrimental liver organ damage.