Herbal Medicines That Could Damage Your Liver

Kava. Image via Wikimedia Commons
  • Health experts have warned consumers about relying too much on the so-called natural or herbal products
  • Not all of the supposed medicinal herbs are safe to use
  • Some of these herbs can cause liver damage

Many people turn to herbs as alternative treatment for a range of health conditions. Unfortunately, not all of the supposed medicinal herbs are safe to use. Some herbs people use to treat ailments are known to cause liver damage.

Comfrey. Image via Wikimedia Commons

Comfrey

Comfrey contains toxic substances known as pyrrolizidine alkaloids that can seriously damage the liver. Eating or taking comfrey is no longer recommended these days but it was historically used to treat diarrhea and other stomach ailments.

The Europeans have also used it to treat inflammatory conditions. Today, comfrey is available for sale in the United States only in creams or ointments. Even when used externally, however, the toxic alkaloids in comfrey can still build up in the body.

Kava

Kava is sold as a treatment for anxiety and insomnia, but it has been associated with liver damage in as many as 100 people. Its use is now restricted and even banned in Germany, France, Switzerland, Canada and Britain,

Pennyroyal

Pennyroyal’s edible leaves produce an essential oil used in soap making. Its strong mint smell is also used in flavoring for teas. Pennyroyal has been used as a digestive tonic to relieve flatulence, but this plant is very toxic and can damage not just the liver but also the nervous system.

Wall Germander

Wall germander is used to treat gout. It is also diuretic, so it has also been taken to help with weight loss. Use of the herb, however, has been documented for causing liver damage.

Pennyroyal. Image via Wikimedia Commons

Chaparral

Chaparral is traditionally used to treat bacterial and viral infections. It is also a popular folk remedy for HIV, but severe cases of liver disease have been documented from people who used this plant as medicine.

Health experts have warned consumers about relying too much on the so-called natural or herbal products under the mistaken belief that they are safer compared with prescription drugs. Make sure to be cautious when using and consuming products that use these herbs as ingredients.

Just remember; forewarned is forearmed!