Tag Archives: Milk Thistle



Source: Wikipedia
The liver is a large organ that sits above the stomach on the right side of the belly. Its main job is to filter the blood coming from the GI tract and then pass it on to the rest of the body. During this filtering, it detoxifies chemicals and metabolizes drugs. It also makes proteins important for blood clotting and other functions. (Hoffman, 2019)
Since I have a history of having unpleasant reactions to even small doses of many Western medicines, I want to be sure to detoxify my liver after any surgical procedure that requires anesthesia, sedatives and other pharmaceuticals. This is what I worked out with the help of Dr Gabrielle Francis, my naturopath, acupuncturist, herbalist, chiropractor, and licensed massage therapist, to do after my two recent cataract surgeries:



Acupuncture has helped me heal after these surgeries and also helped detox my body from whatever drugs I was given during the surgeries and the eye drops I had to use for many weeks post-op. Dr Francis, has geared each post-op acupuncture session to healing my eyes and clearing my body of toxins.

As New York City acupuncturist and herbalist Dr Christopher Peacock, DACM, MS, says, acupuncture and Chinese medicine offer “the perfect supplemental treatment to assist in surgical healing where even the tiniest of vasculature is often compromised at the incision site.” Here are a few ways that acupuncture helps us recover from surgery:
“1. Acupuncture is well known for inhibiting the inflammatory process. Inflammation, while sometimes necessary, can be quite painful and stagnating. If fresh blood isn’t permitted to move into an inflamed area, pain is often the result.
“2. Acupuncture promotes microcirculation in tiny vasculature that makes up the capillary bed. Acupuncture can stimulate your own bodies ability to reconnect the tiny blood vessels that have been compromised with your procedure.
“3. Acupuncture can alter the perception of pain. Because of its ability to encourage endorphin release and disarm the nervous system, acupuncture can inhibit pain signals.”
– (Peacock, 2019)
Lest you think acupuncture isn’t real, effective medicine, here are three examples:
1. While I was seeing Dr Yan Wu, LAC, for acupuncture here in New York, his wife needed a hysterectomy. She told her New York University Hospital doc she’d only agree to the surgery if it could be done with acupuncture given by her husband in lieu of pharmaceutical anesthesia and if she could also receive acupuncture from him for post-op pain relief and to promote healing.
Dr Wu was sufficiently well regarded that the hospital agreed – though I’m sure they were also required to have an anesthesiologist on hand in the OR. Many MDs and other medical personal came to observe the surgery. Mrs Wu said she felt no pain during the operation or post-op.
Dr Wu is the author of Practical Therapeutics of Traditional Chinese Medicine, an original Chinese text written specifically for translation to English. Dr Wu is a linguist and physician, a visiting professor at the Pacific Institute of Chinese Medicine in New York, and a tenured faculty member at Beijing Peili Acupuncture College. His book describes traditional Chinese Medicine as practiced in the medical centers of the People’s Republic of China.
2. When I was in grad school, a young assistant professor in my department went to China with a group of psychologists. While they were in a remote area, her appendix ruptured and she needed immediate surgery. She was taken to a country clinic, helped up onto an operating table, draped to block her view of the surgical area and given acupuncture during the surgery. She said she felt some tugging sensations but never any pain.
After the operation was over, she was helped to stand and walk to her room where she was given more acupuncture for pain. When she got back home, she said though she never in a million years would have volunteered for any of that, if she ever needed surgery again, she’d want it done with acupuncture so she wouldn’t have to recover from both the surgery and the anesthetic.
Below is video of an open heart surgery being done in Shanghai in 2019 with acupuncture needles instead of pharmaceutical anesthesia. Only watch it if you’re not squeamish about seeing blood.

3. Some years ago I had two very sick cats and had veterinarian Dr Jeffrey Levy, DVM, CVA, of House Call Vet NYC come to my home to give them acupuncture treatments. The younger cat with serious IBD loved these treatments so much she’d present herself at his feet for him to put in the needles and then would purr happily. The older cat, with IBD and in end stage kidney failure, would sit happily in my arms while he put in the needles. Both cats lived considerably longer and in much better shape than their traditional vets thought they would.
Here’s a video of Dr Levy at work:



I wanted extra support from nutritional supplements to help detox my liver from the negative effects of whatever sedative/anesthesia I was given IV during the surgeries and also from ophthalmic prednisolone, the steroid eye drops I had to use for 5 1/2 weeks after each eye surgery.  These are the supplements I decided upon.
Milk Thistle
Milk thistle improves liver function by raising protective glutathione levels, helps reduce and reverse damage caused by toxins and free radicals and assists with maintaining a healthy weight.
The brand I like is Jarrow Formulas Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) 30:1 Extract. I’m taking 2 capsules in the AM and 1 capsule in the PM during the weeks post-op while I need to use Prednisolone, steroid drops to keep my operated on eye from swelling.
– (Jarrow Formulas, 2019)


Zinc supports immune health. It’s essential for growth and physical development, the immune system and most aspects of reproduction in both males and females. (Amazon, 2019). It helps protect the liver from damage, by reducing lipid (fatty) buildup.  (Smarter Reviews, 2019)
The zinc supplement I like is Designs for Health’s Zinc Supreme – 30 Milligrams Zinc Bisglycinate Chelate with B2, B6 + Taurine. I take 1 capsule after breakfast every morning regularly and find it protects me from catching whatever viral thing is going around.

BioInflaMax, made by Nutra BioGenesis, features a blend of herbs, enzymes and other select ingredients designed to help support gastrointestinal and whole-body cytokine balance, soothe local tissues, and promote body comfort.
CYTOKINE BALANCING: BioInflaMax contains a number of compounds that may have beneficial properties to help soothe and balance tissues. Ingredients include Bromelain‚ Curcumin‚ Boswellia, N-Acetyl L-Cysteine‚ Papain and Ginger.
TURMERIC: Curcumin is a bioactive compound that comes from the Indian curry spice turmeric‚ which has strong antioxidant properties. It has been the subject of scientific research for its reputed benefits on the body’s natural response to inflammation. BioInflaMax also features Black Pepper extract, which has been demonstrated to support curcumin bioavailability.
BOSWELLIA & L-GLUTAMINE: Boswellia-derived AKBA has been studied for its reputed effects in supporting joint motility, cellular immunity and gastrointestinal integrity. L-Glutamine is a preferred fuel source for enteric cells lining the intestinal tract and plays a role in cellular repair and mucosal immunity.
   – (Amazon, 2019B)

I’m taking 2 capsules of BioInflaMax AM & PM.



I needed to use an antibiotic eye drop called oxfloxacin 4X day for several days before each cataract surgery and then in lessening doses over the following 5 1/2 weeks. When I looked it up, I discovered it’s a fluoroquinolone, like Cipro.
Fluoroquinolones are antibiotics  commonly used to treat a variety of illnesses such as respiratory and urinary tract infections. These medicines include ciprofloxacin (Cipro), gemifloxacin (Factive), levofloxacin (Levaquin), moxifloxacin (Avelox), norfloxacin (Noroxin), and ofloxacin (Floxin). They’re so dangerous, the FDA requires a black box warning on them and recommends prescribing them only as a drug of last resort.
Source: Regenexx
See Cipro & Levaquin can cause tendinitis & tendon ruptures (Hardin, 2018) for more information on the fluoroquinolones.
Even though I didn’t need to take this drug systemically, I was still concerned about protecting my tendons and the rest of my body while on it so I asked Dr Francis what I could do to stay safe while using it. She recommended Integrative Therapeutics’ Glucosamine Sulfate-750: 1 capsule in the AM/ 1 capsule in the PM while on the antibiotic – to start post op since this supplement is also a blood thinner.
Glucosamine helps build and support joint cartilage,  lubricates and strengthens tendons. It’s a compound naturally found with joint cartilage that has powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties.
The body needs glucosamine for synthesizing proteins and fats that form cartilage as well as playing an important role in building the joints, tendons and ligaments plus forming the synovial fluid that lubricates the joints.
Glucosamine also helps  improve gut health and digestion, mobility, range of motion and general joint health. (Axe, 2019)



OcuForce, made by Designs for Health, supports eye health and healing:
  • LIMITS EYE DAMAGE – Exposure to toxins, ultraviolet light from the sun, and free radicals can all do significant damage to the eye. The simple act of letting light pass through the eye and hitting the retina increases the exposure of eye tissue to a range of different light generated free radicals. For this reason, it makes sense to optimize intake of eye nourishing nutrients, especially as we age.*
  • PROVIDES COMPREHENSIVE EYE SUPPORT – OcuForce is a comprehensive formulation containing a vast array of eye-supportive nutrients, including lutein, zeaxanthin, bilberry, Ginkgo biloba, curcumin, green tea, taurine, lipoic acid, vitamin A, and mixed carotenoids including beta carotene. This product does not contain synthetic carotenoids, as research shows that natural carotenoids offer a superior spectrum of benefits.*
  • IT PROVIDES CAROTENOID – Out of all the natural carotenoids in OcuForce, Lutein is the most important for the protection of the retina. Lutein, a yellow carotenoid found in foods such as corn, egg yolks, kale, spinach, and broccoli, protects the retina from the free radical damage it undergoes regularly. The lutein used in OcuForce is naturally derived from marigolds.
               – (Amazon, 2019B)


When I discovered that the ophthalmic prednisolone drops were interfering with my ability to fall and stay asleep, Dr Francis recommended the stress hormone stabilizer Cortisol Manager made by Integrative Therapeutics. Taking one at bedtime has helped but not fully solved the problem.

  • SLEEP AND STRESS SUPPORT – Contains non-habit forming, stress-reducing ingredients such as ashwagandha, L-theanine, magnolia, and epimedium.
  • STRESS HORMONE STABILIZER – Cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone,” is naturally at its highest levels in the morning, and declines throughout the day. Too much stimulus (i.e. stress), can knock these levels out of their natural rhythm. Cortisol Manager helps support the body’s natural rise and fall of cortisol, resulting in feelings of relaxation and a more restful night’s sleep.
  • ALLEVITATE FATIGUE – with no morning drowsiness and without diminishing daytime alertness.
  • ADRENAL HEALTH SUPPORT – The adrenal glands play a large role in regulating stress levels. Cortisol Manager helps support adrenal health.
     – (Amazon, 2019D)



GI Revive

To maintain the integrity of the mucosal lining of my gut (home to the friendly bacteria living in my gut), I continued taking G I Revive as usual: 2 capsules before each meal. This high quality nutritional supplement made by Designs for Health provides:
  • OPTIMAL GASTROINTESTINAL SUPPORT – GI-Revive combines L-glutamine, N-acetyl-glucosamine, MSM, DGL, slippery elm, marshmallow, chamomile, okra extract, cat’s claw (TOA-free), quercetin, and mucin for comprehensive support.
  • PROMOTE REGULARITY – Prune powder and citrus pectin are also included to aid occasional irregularity and promote healthy bowel function.
  • SUPPORT THE GUT LINING – This comprehensive formula contains ingredients designed to promote proper intestinal function and the mucosal lining.
     – (Amazon, 2019C)


Since the steroid drops are constipating, I also added some additional probiotic supplements to the ones I usually take to help with that:
Usual probiotics:
  • Dr Mercola’s Complete Probiotics (1 capsule before breakfast)
  • Dr Mercola’s Complete Spore Restore (1 capsule before breakfast)
Additional probiotics:
  • Align (1 capsule before breakfast)
  • Redwood Hill Farm Goat Milk Kefir
And I’ve continued to take my usual digestive enzymes supplement:
  • Enzyme Science’s Complete Digestion (1 capsule before each meal)


Tocotrienols are a  potent form of vitamin E. Studies have found that tocotrienols taken at the clinically recommended dosage can help cleanse the liver of excess fat buildup. (Smarter Reviews, 2019)
Selenium is a powerful mineral that’s vital for healing and detoxing the liver from harmful buildups. It stimulates production of the antioxidant glutathione, which heals damaged liver tissue cells and promotes elasticity. (Smarter Reviews, 2019) & (WebMD, 2019)
Source: Dr. Jockers



Eating foods that the liver thrives on goes a long way to recovering from the stresses and pharmaceuticals involved in modern surgery.
Nutritionist Charles Passler, DC, points out the importance of keeping our livers working at high efficiency. “When the liver is working optimally, it can take toxins stored throughout your body, convert them into their water soluble form, and efficiently excrete them from your body.” Eating the right foods  greatly helps the liver flush out foreign chemicals. (Sarway, 2019)
Look for organic versions of all of these so you’re not consuming toxic pesticides as you’re trying to detoxify your liver:
GARLIC: Garlic activates the liver’s detoxifying enzymes. These enzymes help break down toxins and eliminate them from the body. Fresh garlic contains allicin, a compound that kills unfriendly, toxin-producing organisms in the GI tract.  Garlic contains a whopping 39 different antibacterial agents that protect our bodies against illnesses.
BEETS: “Beets activate liver enzymes and [affect] bile, which helps break down and absorb healthy fats and fat-soluble nutrients like vitamin E,” says Dr. Passler. “When your liver transforms fat and soluble toxins into their water-soluble form for excretion, it binds many of those toxins to bile so they can be escorted out of your body in bowel movements.”
APPLES: Apples are rich in fiber, helping to clean out the bowels and introduce friendly bacteria. Be sure to choose organic since non-organic apples are one of the most heavily pesticide sprayed crops.
BROCCOLI SPROUTS: Dr Passler points out that broccoli sprouts are high in antioxidants and boost the liver’s production of glutathione even better than broccoli, supporting both phases of liver detoxification. Glutathione has antioxidant properties and also stimulates the immune system. It’s made up of three amino acids: L-cysteine, L-glutamate and glycine. You may remember from earlier posts that L-glutamate is the main building block in the mucosal lining of the intestines, where our probiotics live.
WATERMELON: A two-cup serving of watermelon provides the amount of daily fiber recommended by the American Liver Foundation. It also contains lycopene, an antioxidant that increases glutathione levels in the body.
FERMENTED FOODS: Tangy fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and real pickles fermented in brine (not the kind made with vinegar) are rich in gut-friendly probiotic bacteria that make our gut microbiomes happy.
WALNUTS: Walnuts increase circulation and blood flow in the body, assisting delivery of toxins to the liver where they’re broken down and eliminated. They also boost brain power.
AVOCADOS: Avocados provide fiber and healthy fats. They’re also a beautiful color and very tasty.
     -(Sarway, 2019)
Source: American Liver Foundation
The American Liver Foundation’s guideline for a diet to preserve the health of your liver:
“Avoid high calorie-meals, saturated fat, refined carbohydrates (such as white bread, white rice and regular pasta) and sugars. Don’t eat raw or undercooked shellfish. For a well-adjusted diet, eat fiber, which you can obtain from fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads, rice and cereals. Also eat meat (but limit the amount of red meat), dairy (low-fat milk and small amounts of cheese) and fats (the “good” fats that are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated such as vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, and fish). Hydration is essential, so drink a lot of water.” (American Liver Foundation, 2013)


COFFEE:  Coffee has the ability to prevent buildup of fat and collagen in the liver, increases antioxidant levels while decreasing inflammation and lowering the risk of developing liver disease, cancer and fatty liver.
TEA: Green and black teas are generally considered to beneficial, particularly for the liver. They have been shown to improve liver enzyme levels, reduce oxidative stress and fat deposits in the liver. However, taking green tea extract has sometimes been found to cause liver damage.
GRAPEFRUIT: Naringenin and naringin, the two main antioxidants in grapefruit, help protect the liver from damage by reducing inflammation and protecting liver cells.
BLUEBERRIES & CRANBERRIES: Antioxidants called anthocyanins give these berries their distinctive colors and protect the liver from damage.
GRAPES:  A variety of beneficial plant compounds – including resveratrol – in red and purple grapes protect the liver from damage, increase antioxidant levels and protect against inflammation.
BEETROOT JUICE:  The nitrates and antioxidants called betalains in beetroot juice protect heart health, reduce oxidative damage and inflammation of the liver, and increase natural detoxifying liver enzymes.
CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES:  Cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts, broccoli and mustard greens are high in both fiber content and beneficial plant compounds. They increase levels of detoxification enzymes and protect against liver damage.
NUTS: Nuts contain high fat levels – including the antioxidant vitamin E – plus beneficial plant compounds that improve heart health and liver enzyme levels.
FATTY FISH:  The high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish reduce inflammation, are associated with a lower risk of heart disease, and prevent fat from building up in the liver, normalizing enzyme level and improving insulin resistance.
OLIVE OIL:  Olive oil improves liver enzymes, fat levels and insulin sensitivity.
     – (HealthLine, 2017)
Source: eehealth.org



Amazon.com. (2019A). BioInflaMax. See: https://www.amazon.com/Nutra-BioGenesis-BioInflaMax-Capsules-Inflammatory/dp/B01IDT2TRQ/ref=sr_1_4?keywords=bioinflamax&qid=1567383774&s=gateway&sr=8-4

Amazon.com. (2019B). OcuForce. See: https://www.amazon.com/Designs-Health-OcuForce-Therapeutic-Zeaxanthin/dp/B000FH11TC/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?keywords=ocuforce&qid=1567383271&s=gateway&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUExWVkwWkhDN0I2TVFPJmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwOTMzODQ2MzFJNDRYUU45Q0JGMiZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwNzY1NjM0MjNKNjlOR1BXMjZZSiZ3aWRnZXROYW1lPXNwX2F0ZiZhY3Rpb249Y2xpY2tSZWRpcmVjdCZkb05vdExvZ0NsaWNrPXRydWU=

Amazon.com. (2019C). GI Revive. See: https://www.amazon.com/Designs-Health-Revive-Regularity-Marshmallow/dp/B00290AXJW/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIz-r-7oiy5AIVgp6fCh3jHAl6EAAYASAAEgJN1PD_BwE&hvadid=241903196859&hvdev=c&hvlocphy=9067609&hvnetw=g&hvpos=1t1&hvqmt=e&hvrand=12630529196145025650&hvtargid=kwd-27363802891&hydadcr=24665_10401007&keywords=gi+revive&qid=1567424928&s=gateway&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUExS0tCVkhOUDZBNkY2JmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwMzM4MjE5MUpaN1NZNkRDWlpXVCZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwOTExOTQ4MzVONlNDUTNPSlo4NCZ3aWRnZXROYW1lPXNwX2F0ZiZhY3Rpb249Y2xpY2tSZWRpcmVjdCZkb05vdExvZ0NsaWNrPXRydWU=

Amazon.com. (2019D). Cortisol Manager. See: https://www.amazon.com/Cortisol-Manager-Integrative-Therapeutics-Ashwagandha/dp/B0031TRUOG?th=1&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI1Yaj0e605AIVBYbICh0YXASbEAAYASAAEgJYEvD_BwE

American Liver Foundation. (2013). 13 Ways to a Healthy Liver. See: https://liverfoundation.org/13-ways-to-a-healthy-liver/

Axe, J. (2019). Glucosamine Benefits for Joint Pain, Osteoarthritis and More. See: https://draxe.com/nutrition/supplements/glucosamine/

Hardin, J.R. (2018). Cipro and Levaquin Can Cause Tendinitis and Tendon Rupture. See: https://allergiesandyourgut.com/2018/08/24/cipro-levaquin-can-cause-tendinitis-tendon-ruptures/

Healthline. (2017). 11 Foods That Are Good for Your Liver. See: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-foods-for-your-liver

Hoffman, M. (2019). Picture of the Liver. WebMD. See: https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/picture-of-the-liver#1

Peacock, C. (2019). Post Surgical Recovery Using Acupuncture. See: https://www.yinovacenter.com/blog/post-surgical-recovery-using-acupuncture/?matchtype=b&network=g&device=c&keyword=&campaign=730415643&adgroup=38277310956&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIroLkqZWu5AIVgrHtCh0jQwGVEAAYASAAEgJoEvD_BwE

Sarway, S. (2019). 8 Foods for Liver Health That Nutritionists Want You to Eat Every Day. See: https://www.wellandgood.com/good-food/liver-and-gut-cleansing-foods/

Smarter Reviews. (2019). The Best Liver Health Supplements Of 2019: Learn what to look for and avoid when choosing a quality supplement for improved liver health. See: https://smarter-reviews.com/lp/liver-health-supplements?tr=p4K9O6n&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI6LmCiNeJ4wIVD4_ICh08OQ-VEAAYASAAEgJlOvD_BwE

WebMD. (2019). Selenium. See: https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/supplement-guide-selenium#1


© Copyright 2019. Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Updated 7/25/2016.


I inherited a genetic predisposition for Type 2 diabetes from both my maternal grandfather and paternal grandmother and developed mild gestational diabetes toward the end of my pregnancy in 1976 which resolved after the birth of my son.  My fasting and non-fasting glucose levels were within normal range since then but then my A1C became slightly high about a year ago – so David Miller, MD (the nutritional supplements guru at LifeThyme Market on 6th Avenue in Greenwich Village) suggested I take two phytonutrients, milk thistle and goldenseal, both of which have been found to be as effective for preventing and controlling  diabetes as any of the pharmaceuticals typically prescribed.
As with the colon and breast cancer history in my family, I have no intention of allowing that inherited tendency for diabetes to express itself. I always prefer nutritional supplements over pharmaceuticals (which my body generally has a hard time with) so was very interested in Dr Miller’s suggestions.
(In case you’re interested, at the bottom of this post I’ve included the brands and dosages I’m taking.)



A reminder that inheriting a predisposition for Type 2 diabetes – or any other condition or disease – does NOT mean you will necessarily develop the disease. You have a choice in whether you allow your DNA to become your destiny.
“Chronic diseases, especially autoimmune ones, are only 25% determined by genetic inheritance. The other 75% is affected by other factors. It’s a matter of genetics vs epigenetics. You may have a genetic predisposition for diabetes but also have a large say in whether your DNA expresses that predisposition in your body.
“If we know that both the composition and abundance of micro-organisms living in our guts  change over the course of a lifetime, shouldn’t it be possible to learn how to make deliberate changes to our gut microbiome – changes that prevent diabetes from developing even if we have a genetic predisposition for it?” (Hardin, 2015B)



(Source: www.vicepigenetics.org.au)
(Source: www.vicepigenetics.org.au)


 “We know from twin studies, from identical twin studies, that 25% of autoimmunity is your genetics, and 75% is from the environment. … So that’s an enormous amount that we have control over and can influence.”

Amy Myers, MD. (Sanfilippo, 2015)





(Source: pilladvised.com)
(Source: pilladvised.com)


Native to North American, GOLDENSEAL has a long history as a medicinal plant among Native Americans, who used it as an herbal antibiotic and immune system enhancer to treat inflammatory conditions such as respiratory, digestive and genitourinary tract inflammation induced by allergy or infection. The Cherokee used it to treat cancer, general debility, and dyspepsia; to stimulate a poor appetite; and as a tonic and wash for local inflammations. The Iroquois made a decoction of its roots to treat whooping cough, diarrhea, liver disease, fever, sour stomach, flatulence, pneumonia, nausea, heart trouble, and as an emetic. They also prepared it as an infusion with other roots for use as drops to treat ear ache and as a wash for sore eyes.  They mixed it with bear’s grease for use as an insect repellent. Native people also used goldenseal’s yellow roots as a stain and dye. (Morgenstern, undated) & (HerbWisdom, 2016)
Among the numerous health benefits offered by goldenseal is reducing blood glucose levels in people with Type 2 diabetes. Berberine (an active compound in goldenseal) is responsible for this beneficial effect. “In a preliminary trial, supplementation with 1 gram per day of berberine … for two months significantly lowered blood glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes.” (University of Michigan Health System, 2015)
Goldenseal’s other health benefits include its antimicrobial, antibacterial, antifungal, immune enhancing, digestive stimulating actions. See this 2015 article on Goldenseal by the University of Michigan Health System for more information.


(Source: draxe.com)
(Source: draxe.com)


See the Herbal Encyclopedia’s article on goldenseal for a full list of it’s key actions and key components.



(Source: www.slideshare.net)
(Source: www.slideshare.net)


For the MDs reading this post and others of you who are interested in understanding the mechanism by which the berberine in goldseal helps control diabetes, I recommend taking a look at Frank Shallenberger’s article Can This Herb Completely Replace Drugs for Type-2 Diabetics?
Dr Shallenberger is Editor-in-Chief of Second Opinion Newsletter and Second Opinion Health Alert. He is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Medicine and received his post graduate training at Mt Zion Hospital in San Francisco. He has been practicing medicine for over 43 years and is board certified by the American Board of Anti-Aging Medicine.
This is an excerpt from his article:

“So from now on, in my diabetic patients with low insulin levels, you can bet that I will be starting them right away on berberine.

“My guess from (my diabetic patient’s) experience and also from articles like the one I mentioned here is that many patients who are taking insulin or drugs designed to increase insulin may be able to either stop them or reduce them after starting berberine.

Better than metformin for diabetes

“Now I’d like to tell you about another study that proves this. In fact, this study shows that berberine might just be the best medication there is, natural or otherwise, for diabetes.

“This study looked at the effect of berberine on 36 patients. All of them were newly diagnosed cases of type-2 diabetes.

“Half of the patients took 500 mg, three times daily of the drug metformin (also known as Glucophage). The other half took berberine (berberine hydrochloride) in the same dose – 500 mg, three times a day. Then the researchers measured the participants’ blood sugar levels for the next three months. Here’s what happened: In terms of blood sugar control, both treatments worked equally as well. The fasting blood sugars went down 30%. And the sugar levels after eating (called the post prandial levels) went down even more – 45%.

“But here’s the really astounding thing about berberine. All of this happened within the first two to four weeks of taking the treatment. And unlike metformin, there were no side effects at all in any of the patients taking berberine. In addition to the sugar levels, the A1c levels went down as well – a full 20%. That may not sound like a lot. But it’s a very significant improvement.

“In addition to the remarkable effects it had on blood sugar control, berberine had another important effect that metformin did not have.

“Triglycerides are the fats found in the bloodstream that the cells metabolize for energy. Since type-2 diabetics do not effectively burn fat (that’s why they get fat), their triglyceride levels are always elevated.

“In this study, those patients taking berberine had a reduction in their triglyceride levels of 21%. Those taking metformin had no reduction at all. This indicates that berberine not only improves sugar metabolism, it also improves fat metabolism. This might make berberine the most effective overall medication for diabetes that exists today, including pharmaceuticals. In fact, the authors of the study stated that berberine ‘can serve as a new class of anti-diabetic medication.'”







(Source: www.buyextracts.com)
(Source: www.buyextracts.com)
Research has demonstrated that another phytonutrient, MILK THISTLE, improves insulin resistance, a main characteristic of Type 2 diabetes. Silymarin, an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant, (the principal active constituent in milk thistle),  is responsible for this beneficial effect.
The milk thistle plant is native to Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and parts of the Mediterranean. It has been used medicinally for thousands of years  – as a remedy for snakebites; liver ailments; depression; irregular menstruation; varicose veins; kidney, liver, and spleen problems. In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is used for clearing heat and removing toxicity. (Milk Thistle Resource, 2014)
Human and animal studies confirm that milk thistle protects against metabolic syndrome – cluster of conditions (including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels) that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Milk thistle also protects against against fatty liver disease and neutralizes the hepatitis C virus.
And, unlike most pharmaceuticals, milk thistle extracts “benefit liver function by multiple mechanisms of action. In this way, milk thistle extracts provide broad-spectrum benefits for supporting overall health.
“Milk thistle’s components help the liver cleanse the blood of toxins and shield liver cells from the barrage of free radicals, fats, sugars, and other compounds that lead to common liver ailments.” (Nevis, 2016)
For more detailed information on milk thistle and how it works, see this excellent article in Life Extension Magazine Mediterranean Herb Guards Vital Liver Functions  and also  Milk Thistle Extract Could Help Diabetes Control.



(Source: draxe.com)
(Source: draxe.com)




There is also evidence that milk thistle protects against a variety of common cancers. “Laboratory studies demonstrate that silymarin stabilizes cellular membranes, stimulates detoxification pathways, stimulates regeneration of liver tissue, inhibits the growth of certain cancer cell lines, exerts direct cytotoxic activity toward certain cancer cell lines, and possibly increases the efficacy of certain chemotherapy agents.” (National Cancer Institute, 2016)
For more information on the use of milk thistle in the prevention of cancer and as a treatment and adjunct agent for people who have cancer, see Read About the Numerous Anti-Cancer and Protective Effects of Milk Thistle Extract (Silymarin) and Milk Thistle (PDQ®)–Health Professional Version.



(Source: www.youtube.com)
(Source: www.youtube.com)






In researching this post, I came across a variety of cautionary advice regarding goldenseal and milk thistle supplements:


“Large doses should be avoided. Goldenseal stimulates contraction of the uterus and thus should be avoided during pregnancy. It may also raise the blood pressure and should not be used by people who suffer any kind of cardiac problems.” (Morgenstern, undated)
“If taken over an extended period of time, it can cause digestive disorders, mucous member irritation, constipation, excitatory states, hallucinations, and occasionally deliria. Goldenseal is habitually overused, much like conventional antibiotics, and similarly, for inappropriate reasons. Most herbalists recommend that it be used for no more than three weeks at a time without a break of at least two weeks in between.
It may cause a decreased vitamin B absorption rate with higher doses of the herb.” (Cloverleaf Farm, 2016)



“Usually, milk thistle causes few, if any, serious side effects. Studies show that it’s safe when taken for up to 41 months.
“Milk thistle may cause diarrhea. More rarely, it may cause nausea, bloating, gas, and upset stomach.” (WebMD, 2005-2016)
Side Effects & Precautions (Lewanda, 2013):
  • Milk thistle is well-tolerated with few, if any, serious side effects.
  • May cause: diarrhea, nausea, bloating, gas, upset stomach.
  • Drug interactions are possible with milk thistle extracts. As with all polyphenol flavanoid compounds, silymarin is metabolized by the liver enzyme “Cytochrome P-450” which also is responsible for metabolizing many pharmacologic drugs. Taking silymarin along with any of those drugs may increase the toxicity of those drugs. Studies show, however, that the dose of milk thistle extract that inhibits Cytochrome P-450 is high and not likely able to be achieved with oral intake. One exception was recently identified with a potential interaction with the blood thinner, warfarin (milk thistle extract slowed the metabolism of warfarin, increasing the risk of bleeding.)
  • If you have an allergy to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, or daisies, you should avoid milk thistle. Milk thistle may cause a rash or lead to severe allergic reaction.
  • Since milk thistle may mimic the effects of estrogen, some women should avoid this herb. This includes women who have fibroid tumors or endometriosis. Additionally, women with breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers should not take milk thistle. (per WebMD)






(Source: www.opther.eu)
(Source: www.opther.eu)


Of course, preventing diabetes is preferable to trying to control it after it has developed. See Prediabetics Have Fewer Gut Bacteria (Hardin, 2015B) for more information.






These are the brands and dosages I take:
Goldenseal (Natures’s Way)           — 1 after breakfast/1 after dinner
Milk Thistle Plus (Enzymatic)         — 1 after breakfast/1 after dinner
My body has been doing well on these phytonutrient supplements in the months I’ve been taking them. A recent retest of my blood glucose and A1C  levels found both are stable and good, results  for generalized inflammation in the body [C-Reactive Protein and Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR)] are negative, and my liver and kidney functions are good – even though I’ve added grains (organic as much as possible) back into my diet, returned to eating chocolate (organic) pretty much every day, and gained some weight.
I like that both goldenseal and milk thistle provide health benefits beyond keeping my body from becoming diabetic.










(Source: www.pinterest.com)
(Source: www.pinterest.com)





Cloverleaf Farm. (2016). Goldenseal. Herbal Encyclopedia. See: http://www.cloverleaffarmherbs.com/goldenseal/

Daniells, S. (10/30/2006). Milk thistle extract could help diabetes control. See: http://www.nutraingredients.com/Research/Milk-thistle-extract-could-help-diabetes-control

Hardin, J.R. (2014). Is It Necessary To Express an Inherited Trait? See: http://allergiesandyourgut.com/necessary-express-inherited-train/

Hardin, J.R. (2015A). Dark Circles Under Your Eyes? Improve Your Gut Bacteria. http://allergiesandyourgut.com/2015/07/12/dark-circles-under-your-eyes-improve-your-gut-bacteria/

Hardin, J.R. (2015B). Prediabetics Have Fewer Gut Bacteria. See: http://allergiesandyourgut.com/2015/08/28/prediabetics-have-fewer-gut-bacteria/

HerbWisdom. (2016). Goldenseal (Hydrastis Canadensis). See:  http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-goldenseal.html

Lawenda, B.D. (2013). Read About the Numerous Anti-Cancer and Protective Effects of Milk Thistle Extract (Silymarin). Integrative Oncology Essentials. See: https://integrativeoncology-essentials.com/2013/01/read-about-the-numerous-anti-cancer-and-protective-effects-of-milk-thistle-extract-silymarin/

Milk Thistle Resource. (2014). Milk Thistle History. See: http://www.milkthistleresource.com/milk-thistle-history/

Morgenstern, K. (undated). Goldenseal in Profile. Sacred Earth. See: http://www.sacredearth.com/ethnobotany/plantprofiles/goldenseal.php

National Cancer Institute. (2016). Milk Thistle (PDQ®)–Health Professional Version: Overview. See: http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/hp/milk-thistle-pdq

Nevis, L. (2016). Mediterranean Herb Guards Vital Liver Functions. LifeExtension.com. See: http://www.lifeextension.com/Magazine/2016/5/Mediterranean-Herb-Guards-Vital-Liver-Functions/Page-01

Sanfilippo, D. (2015). Podcast Episode #178: The Autoimmune Solution with Dr. Amy Myers. See: http://balancedbites.com/2015/02/podcast-episode-178-autoimmune-solution-dr-amy-myers.html

Shallenberger, F. (2014). Can This Herb Completely Replace Drugs for Type-2 Diabetics? http://www.faim.org/diabetes/can-this-herb-completely-replace-drugs-type2-diabetics.html

University of Michigan Health System. (2015). Goldenseal. See: http://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hn-2099007

WebMD. (2005-2016). Milk Thistle: Benefits and Side Effects. See: http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/milk-thistle-benefits-and-side-effects




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