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October 20, 2014

By David Broadhead, Ph.D.

Liver_1 has been released into the public domain by its author, Mikael Häggström

What Is the Function of the Liver?

Your liver is the largest organ in your body, and it performs about 500 essential functions. Here are a few of them:

  • It produces bile, a compound which helps to digest your food.

  • The liver also produces proteins, as well as many other important biochemicals used by your body.

  • It is responsible for the breakdown and removal of all wastes and toxins, including alcohol.

What Can Go Wrong With the Liver?

There are over 100 types of liver disease, but only a few can be helped by natural remedies:

  • In Fatty liver disease, triglyceride fat accumulates in the liver. This is usually the first stage in liver damage.

  • Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. It has several different types and causes, but most can be helped by natural remedies.

  • Cirrhosis of the liver is a gradual replacement of healthy liver tissues with scar tissue. This causes an obstruction in blood flow through the liver, and leads eventually to liver failure.

What Can Be Done To Ameliorate Liver Damage?

Cuminum cyminum by Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen (List of Koehler Images) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Fatty liver can be cured simply by changes in your diet and lifestyle.

Diet: Avoid bad fats – saturated and trans fats – and any foods that get converted into fat, such as sugar and refined flour. Cut down on salt, and use healthy spices. Garlic, cumin, and turmeric will help heal your liver.

Lifestyle: Losing excess weight and exercising regularly will help not only your liver, but will give you a new outlook on life. Ask any of your friends who belong to a gym, and they will be happy to tell you how it has affected their life.

If you are having more than one or two drinks a day, this is definitely one of the causes of your fatty liver. You need to stop altogether until your liver condition is cured.

Of course, Natural Remedies, although not necessary to cure fatty liver, can always help speed recovery, and will also help prevent its recurrence.

What Natural Remedies Are Effective in Curing Liver Disease?

Now I am going to get personal, since this is the reason why I am writing this article. About a year and a half ago, my doctor told me that my liver was damaged, and that I must give up alcohol entirely for at least a month.

I did so. At the end of that time I got re-tested, and was given a clean bill of health. The doctor said that I could resume drinking, but no more than one or two drinks a day.

During the following year, my alcohol consumption gradually increased until I was regularly consuming a bottle of wine every day. This went on until I began to experience some symptoms of liver damage: mild pain in the upper right abdominal area, lethargy, and heartburn.

Nature's Way Dandelion Root
$9.49 / 100caps
(paid link)

I was getting worried, so I searched a catalog from my vitamin company, and found that dandelion root was often taken for liver problems. For the next six months, I regularly took dandelion root, and my symptoms disappeared.

At my next physical checkup, the doctor informed me that my liver tested as healthy – I couldn’t believe it! But what else can I say? It’s working for me. So give dandelion root a chance, if you have a mild liver problem, and maybe it’ll work for you too!

How does it work?

I searched the internet, and found that there is some evidence that dandelion root stimulates the production of bile by the liver, thus helping it to remove toxins. But all I can say is, "If it works, don’t mess with it!"

Related Links

The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan
A Compelling Story of Healing With
Wisdom And Compassion – Elegant!
(paid link)

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October 4, 2008

Featured On Ezine Articles

Aloe Vera – A Case Study

By David Broadhead, Ph.D.


This article will take a look at aloe vera as an example of an herbal remedy that is rapidly coming into the mainstream of modern medicine. The herb has been used by representatives of all four points of view regarding herbal remedies.

History of Aloe Vera

The aloe plant most likely originated in the semi-arid regions of Africa. It was used by the ancient Sumerians, Egyptians, and Greeks in the healing of wounds. Alexander the Great purportedly conquered the Mediterranean island of Socotra so that his troops would have a reliable source of aloe to use in treating their wounds.

Aloe has been used throughout history in all cultures; in Ayrvedic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, and Native American medicine, to name a few. It was brought to the Americas by Spanish missionaries centuries ago, and its use eventually spread across both continents.

Aloe Vera plant, courtesy of the USGS

The first modern scientific paper on aloe in the United States was published in 1934. It describes the use of whole aloe leaf to successfully heal radiation injuries, burns, and dermatitis in 50 documented cases.

A chemical analysis undertaken in 1978 discovered a wide variety of amino acids, saccharides, sterols ( similar to cortisone ), salicylic acid ( aspirin-related ), and lupeol ( a painkiller and anti-microbial agent ).

A 1987 study concluded that aloe might be used to control or kill many viruses, including the common cold, measles, mumps, chicken pox, and flu. This led to the approval by the FDA in 1994 of the use of aloe for human testing in the treatment of HIV.

Uses of Aloe Vera

The first use of aloe was likely as an external agent in the treatment of wounds and burns. Sap from the leaves or the leaf as a whole can also be used to cure a wide variety of skin ailments: dermatitis, acne, skin allergies, fungus infections, ringworm, herpes, and shingles.

Since ancient times, aloe gel has also been used internally as a laxative. It was at one time regulated by the FDA as an ingredient in over-the-counter laxative preparations. Their approval was discontinued in 2002, due to the lack of safety data provided by the manufacturers.

Boiled juice from aloe sap and skin has been used to treat ulcers and indigestion, and to cut excess stomach acid. It has also been used orally to treat diabetes, asthma, epilepsy, and osteoarthritis. However, this use has not been supported by traditional medicine, or approved by governmental agencies.

Cosmetically, aloe vera gel is the most popular ingredient in skin lotions and sunblocks. It has been shown to balance pH levels in the skin. However it is doubtful that it has anything but a psychological effect, as it has been shown that a relatively high concentration of aloe is necessary for it to provide any benefit.

In Conclusion:

It has been found that in order for the ingredients in aloe to work properly, they must be used as found in the plant. The isolated chemicals do not have the same effect. This synergistic relationship between aloe’s various antiseptic and pain-killing ingredients tends to support the position of traditional herbalists. So far, at least, Mother Nature seems to be better at mixing chemicals than scientists.

Throw Away Your Toxic Drugs!
You Do Not Need Them,
If You Have Aloe – Nature’s Miracle.

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July 2, 2008

Featured On Ezine Articles

Four Differing Viewpoints

By David Broadhead, Ph.D.


This article continues the discussion of the philosophical background of herbal medicine by describing the four distinct points of view regarding the use of herbal remedies. A short bibliography is provided listing websites representative of each viewpoint.

The Herbalists [1]

Most herbalists would concede that pharmaceuticals are often necessary in treating emergencies. A patient might need to be immediately sedated if he is thrashing about violently, to prevent him from injuring himself and others. However, in longer term treatments, herbs can provide resistance to disease, nutritional support, and other benefits that pharmaceuticals cannot match. They also contain many minor ingredients that may interact with the main ingredient, to support and enhance its function.

Pharmaceutical Manufacturers [2]

In doing research for this article, I examined the websites of several pharmaceutical companies. They were very well-designed and provided a lot of information about their support for research into new medicines, but I could find no information at all indicating any interest in, or opinions on herbal medicine.

Pharmaceutical companies do, however, provide financial support for doctor’s organizations who, in turn, advise caution to those who would condsider using herbal products. Here are some examples of cautions published by the American Academy of Family Physicians [3].

Vitamin & Mineral Manufacturers

These companies actively promote herbal supplements. At times their products are even supported with articles written by herbalists. However, a disclaimer is always included for legal reasons:

“This statement has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.” [4]

Governmental Entities

Herbal supplements are regulated in the US by the Food & Drug Administration as foods, and consequently do not have the same rigorous review processes as new drugs. Recently, however, new regulations require more stringent safety practices in their manufacture to ensure that they are free of contaminants, and that they contain what their labels say they do.

Many countries, the US, UK, and Australia, for example, have governmental organizations who are charged with studying herbal medicines scientifically. These institutions are beginning to provide some insight into identifying the active ingredients in herbs, and are studying how they affect the body.

They also advise caution in the use of herbal products, but their warnings [5] are not as stringently worded as those propounded by physicians:

“Many people believe that products labeled ‘natural’ are always safe and good for them. This is not necessarily true. Herbal medicines do not have to go through the testing that drugs do.”

More to come…


This is not intended to be an exhaustive bibliography. I have tried to provide examples of websites espousing all points of view on herbal remedies.

[1] — Website of the Herb Research Foundation. “Founded in 1983 with a mission of herb research and public education, HRF remains committed to supporting the public’s right to truthful information about the health benefits of herbs.”

[2] — Example of a pharmaceutical company’s website. I picked this one since it had a prominent advertisement in the May/June 2008 issue of AARP magazine, to which I subscribe.

[3] — The website of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

[4] — Example of a vitamin/mineral company. I have been purchasing my vitamins & minerals from here for many years.

[5] — Website of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.

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June 5, 2008

Featured On Ezine Articles

Historical and Philosophical Background

By David Broadhead, Ph.D.


Herbal Remedies are traditional or folk remedies involving the use of herbs. And an herb is a plant, plant part, or plant extract used for its scent, flavor, or therapeutic properties. This article presents a brief overview of the history and philosophy of the use of herbal remedies for their therapeutic properties.


Herbal remedies have been around since before recorded history. Cave paintings in France, radiocarbon-dated to before 13,000 BC, show the use of plants as healing agents. Herbalism was intimately connected to religious practices, and was frequently the jealously-guarded preserve of shamans, or “witch doctors”. The use of herbs as medicine pervades all cultures.

The earliest written records date back over 5000 years in Western culture to the Sumerian civilization. In the East, the Siddha, Unani and Ayurvedic systems from India arose long before the Christian era, and are still practiced today. And traditional Chinese herbology is still thriving as well.

Africa has a long history of herbal remedies, strongly influenced by its links with trading partners from both East and West. Native Americans hold to the belief that illness is caused by a disturbance in one’s balance with nature, and can be cured by rituals that often include the use of herbal medicines.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 80% of the world’s population use herbal medicine for some aspect of primary health care. Many pharmaceuticals being used today by physicians were originally used as herbal remedies, including aspirin, digitalis, and quinine. In recent years, scientists have been searching all over the world for natural sources of phytochemicals that might be developed into treatments for various diseases. The WHO estimates that 25% of drugs presently in use in the U.S. were derived from plants.


Despite the fact that herbal remedies have a long history of use, the fact that in most cases their effectiveness has not been scientifically proven has led to a controversy between herbalists and mainstream medicine. In Western culture, the rise of modern medical practice brought with it a decline in the use of herbal medicines. This gave rise to the notion that such remedies were nothing more than “old wives tales.” In recent years, however, herbalism has come to be recognized by many as an alternative, or sometimes complementary method of treatment.

In my research for this article, I discovered that there are basically four groups, each espousing differing points of view regarding the use of herbal remedies: 1) herbalists, 2) pharaceutical manufacturers, sometimes aided by physicians, 3) vitamin and mineral supplement manufacturers, with some help from herbalists, and 4) governmental institutions.

I will try not to take sides here. There is no need for animosity between these factions. In all that I have read, there is a concern for the safety and well-being of those who would use herbal remedies. But each group has its own vested interest which slants its perspective to more or less of a degree.

To be continued…

In the next installment, I will describe the viewpoints of the four factions above. References will be given to websites which illustrate the ideas presented.

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