"The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails." ~John Maxwell

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Elevated Liver Enzymes

Recently I rewrote a life insurance policy on myself.  Since I have always received the highest/best rating on my policies, it was quite a shock to have not gotten the best rate on this last one.  So, I called my underwriter to see why and he disclosed that I have elevated liver enzymes.  What?!?!!? I immediately searched for the causes of this and try to diagnose myself.........yes, I plan to see a doctor about this because I still have no definite answer. 

A wide range of health problems can lead to elevated liver enzymes.

Some common causes include:

  • Adrenal insufficiency (inadequate levels of hormones released by the adrenal gland)
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency (a disorder caused by defective production of the glycoprotein alpha-1-antitrypsin)
  • Autoimmune disorders of the liver and bile ducts, such as autoimmune hepatitis
  • Celiac disease
  • Diabetes
  • Elevated triglycerides (fat tissues)
  • Excessive use of certain herbal supplements, such as comfrey, kava, pennyroyal, and skullcap
  • Hepatic steatosis and steatohepatitis, and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)
  • Infections such as viral hepatitis and mononucleosis
  • Medications including certain nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, cholesterol-lowering medications, antibiotics, anti-seizure medications, and acetaminophen
  • Metabolic liver disease such as hemochromatosis and Wilson's disease
  • Muscle disorders
  • Obesity
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Tumors of the liver or bile ducts

Here are some things I noted to talk to my Dr about:
  • I have noticed an acidic taste in my mouth lately.
  • I have seen quite a bit more bruising than normal on my body.
  • I have always been slightly anemic, so I take an iron pill twice a week.
  • I do consume about 180 grams of protein daily.
  • I do take a complex B vitamin 6 days/week
  • I do occasionally drink fresh lemon juice in my water.
  • My sugar intake is limited to about 10-20 grams per day.
  • I have recently started to drink more coffee, which as of today is OUT, but the symptoms were there before the coffee.
  • I recently was on Tylenol 3 with codeine when I broke my hand.  Can not remember if the symptoms were there before or not.

I can not say for sure if these things (below) are in anything I take, but I intend to look, hopefully not.  I had been taking CycloRim to help me sleep, but have been off of it for about a week or so.  I am hoping that is the culprit, but I do not know.  I intend to ask my Dr about the DIM too.

But for the rest of you take a look at these and check what you take:

Kava Kava:
The main active components in kava root are called kavalactones. Specific types of kavalactones include dihydrokavain, methysticin, kavain, dihydromethysticin, dihydrokawain, yangonin and desmethoxyyangonin.
Although rare, case reports have linked kava use with liver toxicity, including hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver failure.
As a result, the FDA issued a warning about kava in 2002. Several countries have banned or restricted the sale of kava.
Kava is a diuretic, so it may have an additive effect if combined with drugs or herbs that have diuretic properties.

Although I have limited my personal use to topical application on wounds and abraded skin, many herbalists and physicians prize comfrey for the treatment of broken bones, torn cartilage, tendon damage, lung congestion and ulceration in the gastrointestinal tract.    These applications have not been tested in clinical trials although there is research supporting anti-inflammatory[3-8], analgesic[9-10], would healing[9,11], and immune modulating effects[15-17].    The major barrier to testing this plant's therapeutic effects is the naturally occurring pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) in comfrey.   Due to the presence of PAs many countries have laws restricting the distribution, sale, and/or use of comfrey.    This includes the United States, Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
Despite the concerns regarding PAs in comfrey and the risk of liver damage many alternative medicine practitioners and the lay public continue to eat or use comfrey as medicine (much as people demanded the continued availability of diet products containing saccharine even after it was shown to cause disease in laboratory animals). 

Pennyroyal is a plant. The oil and leaves are used to make medicine. Throughout history, both American pennyroyal and European pennyroyal have been used interchangeably as a source of oil.

Despite serious safety concerns, pennyroyal is used for colds, pneumonia, and other breathing problems. It is also used for stomach pains, gas, intestinal disorders, and liver and gallbladder problems.

Women use it to start or regulate their menstrual periods, or to cause an abortion.

Pennyroyal is also used to control muscle spasms, cause sweating, and increase urine production.

Some people use it as a stimulant and to counteract weakness.

Pennyroyal is applied to the skin to kill germs, keep insects away, and treat skin diseases. It is also used topically for gout, venomous bites, and mouth sores; and as a flea-killing bath.

In foods, pennyroyal is used for flavoring.

In manufacturing, pennyroyal oil is used as a dog and cat flea repellent; and as a fragrance for detergents, perfumes, and soaps.

How effective is it?

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for PENNYROYAL are as follows:

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...

  • Causing abortion. The large doses needed to cause an abortion can kill the mother or cause her irreversible kidney and liver damage.
  • Reducing spasms.
  • Intestinal gas.
  • Pneumonia.
  • Stomach pains.
  • Weakness.
  • Fluid retention.
  • Killing germs.
  • Skin diseases.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of pennyroyal for these uses.

How does it work?

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There isn't enough information available to know how pennyroyal might work.

Traditionally, skullcap is known to be an effective stimulant for the nervous organization, as the herb contains high value ingredients for a sound nervous system. The herb is particularly effective in helping as well as escalating the nervous system when a person undergoes mental and physical stress and strain. In fact, skullcap is a time tested medicine for all kinds of disturbed mental state, be it tension, anxiety, insomnia, neurasthenia, panic, headaches, fatigue, depression as well as melancholy. Skullcap’s ability to heal physical irregularities like convulsions, jerking muscles, epilepsy, wobbliness as well as heart trembles has been tested over the ages. Many experts have advocated the use of skullcap instead of applying the normal allopathic tranquillizers and medicines to cure depression. However, skullcap yields the best results when it is blended with other hormone stability thymes like chaste tree or false unicorn root to heal PMS.
These days, skullcap is predominantly consumed as a stimulant for the nervous system and its ability to heal the system. As mentioned earlier, skullcap is a herb that is extremely effective in the treatment of the nervous system as it is beneficial in soothing anxiety, stress and worries. In fact, the ability of skullcap to control and rectify nervous irregularities makes it one of the most effective remedies for tension and anxiety that leads to muscular contractions. Physicians often recommend usage of skullcap individually or in combination with other tranquilizing herbal medicines to cure sleeplessness as well as for respite from menstrual pains. Scientists as well as physicians are of the opinion that there is need for more studies into skullcap as this may bring to the fore other still unknown uses of the herb.
Although gulping standard measures of skullcap does not lead to any serious adverse effects in the body, when a person is administered an injection containing ingredients of S. baicalensis it may cause aches in the muscles and also raise the body temperature. While it may also lead to reduced count of leukocyte in the body, many people have even complained of liver damage after being administered the injection. Since, skullcap is known to damage the liver, it is advised that people should not intake the herb casually.

I will let you know more when I find out.


  1. Hey there, I'm not sure if you're aware but your font comes up really light coloured in google reader - like a pale blue which I can hardly read. Can you fix this? I'd love to read your posts but can't at the moment! Nic

  2. Thank you for letting me know. I have been thinking to change the design of my page again and will try to use a darker font. Thanks for your interest.

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