Hepatitis C

© 1986 - excerpt from Natural Liver Therapy

Herbs for the Liver

An effective herbal formula is often made up of several components. Each part has a specific function, or action type. An herbal formula for people with hepatitis may contain herbs with a number of different action types, depending on the person's constitution and current health.

Here are some specific formula components that have proven effective through scientific studies and clinical experience

Antiviral herbs to help protect liver cells from viral infection

  • Lemon balm tea, 2 or 3 cups of strong tea per day.
  • St. John's wort, 1 teaspoon of tincture in a little water or tea two or three times daily; or three tablets of powdered extract per day.
  • Shiitake powdered extract in capsules or tablets; take at least 2 and up to 5 grams per day. Note: A 00-size capsule contains 1/2 a gram of powdered herb.
  • Garlic, taken fresh, cooked, or in capsules; any commercial garlic product should have some garlic smell for full antiviral effect.
  • Consult an herbalist before taking Baptisia or Lomatium isolate. These powerful herbs are available in most natural food stores, but they are very strong.

General protective and rebuilding herbs for the liver

  • Milk thistle is the major herb for hepatitis; take it as a tablet in concentrated, powdered extract form. An average therapeutic dose of the 75 or 80 percent standardized extract is one tablet three or four times daily. A 10% standardized extract is also available, often blended with other liver-protective and healing herbs such as turmeric, artichoke leaf, gentian, and ginger. Of this preparation, take 1 or 2 tablets, 3 times daily.
  • Use schisandra in teas, taking 4 to 12 grams daily depending on body weight, or as a powdered extract. Avoid alcohol tinctures of schisandra during the acute phase of hepatitis.

Herbs to prevent liver congestion (bile-moving herbs)

These herbs include artichoke leaf, yellow dock, burdock, and dandelion root. Herbs for cooling the liver should be added to these three basic formulas in the acute stages of hepatitis, when "pathogenic heat" (active inflammation) is affecting the liver. Cooling herbs include gentian, yellow dock, Oregon grape root, centaury, and coptis (a Chinese herb). To determine if your liver is inflamed, consult with a licensed acupuncturist or herbalist trained in an energetic-based system of natural medicine such as Traditional Chinese Medicine or Ayurveda.

Use cooling herbs in tea or as a powdered extract (dried tea) in capsule or tablet form. For tea, simmer 50 to 100 grams of cooling herbs in about 20 ounces of water for 45 minutes. Steep the herbs for 15 minutes, strain and drink 1 cup of the tea, 2 or 3 times daily. The herbs will be bitter, a property associated with the cooling effect. For sweetness, add 3 to 7 grams of licorice, which also has an antiviral and anti-inflammatory effect.

Capsules or tablets of the dried teas (powdered extracts) of cooling herbs are available in natural food stores and herb shops. These extracts are much more potent than dried herbs ground up and placed in capsules or tablets because they contain the active ingredients of the plants, minus the sugars and cellulose and other fibers that make up the bulk of most herbs. In other words, the extraction process concentrates the herb's activity many times.

Once the acute phase of hepatitis has passed, eliminate the cooling liver herbs from your regime. Keep taking the other herbs and supplements for another month or two, especially the basic supportive one. Bile-moving herbs are still appropriate in many cases.

If hepatitis becomes chronic, I recommend working with a qualified natural health-care practitioner or holistically minded physician to design an ongoing herbal formula that contains liver-building herbs, enzyme lowering-herbs, bile-movers, and appropriate dietary supplements. Such a person can order tests and provide nutritional and herbal guidance during the healing process.

Cool the Liver Tea

Dandelion root, raw or dried (not roasted) 1 part
Artichoke leaves 1 part
Oregon grape root 1 /2 part
Licorice 1 /4 part
Turmeric 1 /4 part
Ginger root, fresh 1 /8 part
Gentian root 1/8 part

Simmer the herbs in a covered pot 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep, covered, for 10 minutes. Drink one cup morning and evening and one more if desired. Persist as long as you experience benefits.


Carrot 45%
Celery 25%
Cabbage 15% Parsley 10%
Ginger 5%

Note that these percentages are approximate; blend the vegetable juices to taste. The ginger is optional. It makes the juice rather spicy and is a good liver protector.

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