Ask the Doctor – June 2008

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Dear Dr. Rona:

My brother who is 62 years old has liver cirrhosis. Currently he is under medical care in Singapore Mount Elizabeth Hospital. For less than a year he had a cancerous tumor in his liver, recurring four times with an interval of 2-3 months. Each time the doctors gave him radio-ablation therapy. He and the doctors are not having much hope about the cure. I am interested to know if there is any hope if we try herbal remedies. I will highly appreciate if would kindly direct me to the right people.

Thank you in advance.

With best regards,

Tito Khandaker


Dear Tito:

The first thing I would advise you to do is seek the services of a medical doctor who practices complementary or integrative medicine. Such a physician could do a thorough biochemical assessment and prescribe the appropriate diet, nutritional supplements and herbal remedies based on that assessment. The natural treatment program should be compatible with conventional medical and surgical strategies.

When your brother sees this doctor, there is some basic liver disease reversing recommendations concerning diet and food supplements that should be discussed. The following paragraphs will give you a good idea of what can be done naturally for virtually any liver condition, including liver cancer.


Diet Changes

While there are dozens of different liver cleansing programs, they all boil down to basic diet changes and some health enhancing supplements. It isn’t necessary to go to extremes like daily coffee enemas to get good results.
Anyone with liver disease should drink lots of water (6–12 cups per day) because it helps the kidneys flush out toxins. This advice may have to be tempered somewhat if kidney disease is also present. Avoid multiple vitamins containing iron, high doses of pre-formed vitamin A and niacin as these too can stress an unhealthy liver.

While vegetable juice fasting with beets, celery and carrots is ideal, not everyone will find this convenient. At least avoid animal products and eat mainly high fiber fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and legumes.  Avoid saturated fats, refined sugar, drugs and alcohol.

Eat more foods that support liver detoxification pathways. These include asparagus, artichokes, garlic, onions, brown rice, carrots, oat bran, walnuts, apples, cabbage, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, artichokes, beets, caraway seeds, dandelion and herbs and spices like turmeric, cinnamon, and licorice.


Far Infrared Sauna

Your fat and muscle cells store at least five grams of toxic environmental chemicals (PCBs, dioxins, etc.), pesticides, prescription drugs, mercury, lead, aluminum and thousands of other poisons. Collectively, these have been termed “xenobiotics”. Some of these are toxic to the liver, the immune system, the nervous system or the kidneys. Some xenobiotics mimic hormones like estrogen and some cause cancer.

No diet, coffee enema, colonic irrigation, chelation therapy or nutritional supplement will ever clear these out of your system. These toxins eventually damage all your organs, including and especially the liver. To date, the only proven way of ridding your body of these stored xenobiotics is by use of the sauna, the most effective of which is the far infrared type (see  Those that do not tolerate the conventional steam or dry sauna due to heart or circulatory problems can usually do very well with the infrared sauna, which does not stress the cardiovascular system nearly as much.

The sauna heat mobilizes the toxins out of the fat and muscle cells into the skin, which basically sweats them out of the body. To do a good body cleanse, at least two weeks of a combination of exercise and sauna (at least half an hour daily) is needed. Ideally, this should be done under the supervision of a health care provider familiar with detoxification.


Antioxidants that Prevent Liver Damage

While following a very healthy diet, eating only organic foods and drinking spring water is ideal, in the real world most of us are still exposed to thousands of chemicals and drugs in our daily lives. Our only reasonable defense is antioxidant vitamins, minerals and herbs, the best known of which are:

Beta carotene – 10,000 IU daily
B complex – 50 mg. or more daily (must contain folic acid and vitamin B12)
Vitamin C – 1000 mg. or more daily
Vitamin E complex – 400 IU daily
Bioflavonoids – 1000 mg. or more daily
Zinc – 25 mg. daily
Selenium – 200 mcg. daily


Lipotrophic Agents That Remove Fats and Improve Bile Flow

Those suffering from weight control difficulties, digestive problems and high blood fat levels would especially benefit from the following natural supplements:

Choline (from lecithin) -1200 mg. or more daily
Betaine – 100 mg. or more daily
Methionine – 500 mg. or more daily
Inositol hexaphosphate (IP-6) – 3000 mg or more daily.  This nutrient is especially valuable in ridding the body of toxic heavy metals and cancers of almost any type.  See,%20IP6
Hempseed oil (or flax seed) – 1 tbsp. or more daily (helps replace the bad fat with essential omega-3, 6 and 9 fats)


Reverse Liver Damage and Enhance Liver Regeneration with Other Nutrients

One or more of the following nutrients can be used in any detoxification program to both protect as well as regenerate an unhealthy liver:

Silymarin (milk thistle extract) – 500 mg. or more daily
N-Acetyl-Cysteine – 500 mg. 3 times daily
Alpha Lipoic Acid – 300 mg. 3 times daily
Coenzyme Q10 – 100 mg. 3 times daily or more (for liver cancer, the dose should be a minimum of 400 mg daily)
Curcumin – 10,000 mg (10 grams or more) daily.  This high dose would be especially useful for liver cancer.
L-taurine – 500 mg. 3 times daily (prevents or breaks down gallstones)
S-adenosyl-methionine (SAMe) – 400 mg. 3 times daily (boosts Phase 2 liver detoxification pathways)
Ginger root herb tea – 2 or more cups daily (N.B. may interact with anti-coagulants)
Dandelion tea – 2 or more cups daily
Burdock tea – 2 or more cups daily
Licorice root herb tea – 2 or more cups daily ( N.B. may elevate blood pressure in susceptible individuals)
Schisandra tea – 2 or more cups daily (especially effective for hepatitis)

All of these remedies would have to be modified depending on your brother’s current status, the results of lab tests and the prescription drugs being taken at the time.


Alive Research Group; Gursche, Siegfried, Publisher; Rona, Zoltan P., Medical Editor.  Encyclopedia of Natural Healing.  Vancouver: Alive Books, 1998.

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Sarasota, Florida 34242 USA

Gard, Z.R. and E.J. Brown. History of Sauna/Hyperthermia Past and Present Efficacy in Detoxification. Townsend Letter for Doctors, June 1992 470-478, July 1992 650-660, Oct 1992 846-854, Aug/Sept 1999 76-86. References 201-334.

Krop, J. Chemical sensitivity after intoxication at work with solvents: response to sauna therapy. J. Altern. Complement. Med. 1998; 4(1): 77-86.

Boari C, et al.: Occupational toxic liver diseases. Therapeutic effects of silymarin. Min Med 72:2679-88, 1985.

Ferenci P, et al.: Randomized controlled trial of silymarin treatment in patients with cirrhosis of the liver. J Hepatol 9:105-13, 1989.

Biewenga, G.P., Haenen, G.R., Bast, A. The pharmacology of the antioxidant lipoic acid. Gen. Pharmacol. 1997 Sep; 29(3): 315-31.

Khanna, S., Atalay, M., Laaksonen, D.E. et al. Alpha-lipoic acid supplementation: tissue glutathione homeostasis at rest and after exercise. J. Appl. Physiol. 1999 Apr; 86(4): 1191-6.

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