05 Herbs You Didn’t Know Could Damage Your Liver | Healthy Mind - Think Big

Herbs tend to be relaxing for your body as well as your mind. But not all herbs are the same. Relying too much on“Herbal or Natural Products” can be dangerous in the long run. It’s often prescription drugs that turn out not to be safe. But did you know there may be over 1000 toxic compounds in natural herbs? In today's post, we’re going to look at 05 herbs that can damage your liver. What is Comfrey? How about kava? Wait for a second, are you telling me green tea can be bad for you? We’re talking about all that AND more...

Photo by Katherine Hanlon on Unsplash

#1. Green Tea

Yup, we’re kicking things off with the most shocking entry! Have you been enjoying this beverage like the millions of other health freaks worldwide? Well, there’s something you need to know. There are side effects to green tea. This is pretty crazy, considering how we always hear that green tea is good for us. Sure, green tea has some great antioxidants and is awesome for the brain and heart. Drinking a cup or two days will not have any negative reaction on your body. You just need to make sure you’re not going overboard. Drinking more than that can put your liver a lot of damage. Let’s get into the details. But first... How many cups of green tea do you have a day? Have you tried green tea extracts? Sound off in the comments below, and start a conversation with our ever-growing Healthy Mind - Think Big community. 

The reason green tea was an instant hit on the global health market was because of its incredible weight loss properties. But here is where it gets a bit tricky… A few weight loss companies went to the extreme and came up with products that had concentrated forms of green tea. These are green tea extracts. Studies have shown that this extract can hurt people who drink it over time. They showed symptoms like liver and gallbladder inflammation, as well as complete cell death of the liver. Some people may have no symptoms, while others may have liver damage as a permanent side effect. Therefore being extra vigilant is the only choice you have. This mainly happens because of the active ingredients called catechins that are in green tea. Your body has protective molecules that are always present to safeguard you from any injury. One of them is glutathione. Catechins can reduce the number of these protective molecules and make you more susceptible to internal injury. But green tea alone is not the sole culprit. Its ability to damage your liver will also depend on things like genetics, diet, and alcohol use. So don’t be too discouraged if you happen to have three or four cups one afternoon. It’s an incredibly relaxing drink to have. 

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#2. Comfrey

Have you ever heard of this herb? Well, you have now! Your liver is roughly the size of a football. A fully formed adult liver weighs between 3 to 5 pounds. Because the liver essentially controls metabolism, putting it in danger can be fatal in the long run. It’s involved in more than 30 different functions of the body, so you will want to keep it in the best possible shape. The bottom line remains you cannot survive without a healthy functioning liver. Where most detox drinks and diet plans focus on the liver, several herbs can act as slow poison for it. Who would have thought that natural herbs can be such villains, with comfrey being one of them? This herb contains Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids. I know it's another complicated term, but it’s important you know about them. These are some seriously poisonous chemicals. Traditionally a few believers in herbal medicine have used them to treat stomach and skin ulcers, respiratory problems, wounds, muscle soreness, and even fractures. The medicine is made out of the leaf, root, and stem of the herb. It is also sold as herbal tea. Research has found that it’s very unsafe when consumed through your mouth. It not only affects your liver but can also make you fall prey to deadly cancers and lung disorders. This is the reason why comfrey is no longer sold in the U.S.A. However, you can still see it as an active ingredient in a few creams and ointments. This is seen as safe, but it’s debatable. If you are going to use it, make sure you never apply it to broken skin. Avoid using it over an extended amount of time, as it can cause a build-up of poisonous chemicals in your skin, which slowly but surely can damage your liver.

#3. Kava

Kava is a traditional drink made from a plant called Piper methysticum. It’s native to the islands of the Pacific. The people of this region made a paste out of this plant's root and mixed it with water or coconut milk to make a drink. They used this drink at various religious ceremonies for creating a state of altered consciousness. Kava has euphoric and relaxing effects, similar to that of alcohol. But luckily, the consumption of kava is much more limited than alcohol. So if you’re thinking of switching to kava in your next party, think twice. Kava is considered a recreational drug or medicine. It was also sold to treat insomnia. Despite some people claiming this herb to have medicinal properties, kava has been reported to be causing damage to the liver cells in more than a hundred cases. As a result, places like Canada, Great Britain, Germany, Switzerland, and France have banned it. Excessive use of kava can cause inflammation of the liver, leading to liver failure along with mild symptoms like jaundice. Abnormalenzyme levels, rashes, fever, fatigue, and nausea are other common side effects found in people who’ve consumed kava. You can also experience dry scaly skin, heart problems, and eye issues if you don’t get immediate treatment. Kava is available in the form of edible powders, drinks, tablets, and capsules. We’re well aware of the dangerous effects kava and alcohol have on the liver. Just imagine how much damage they can potentially cause when consumed together.

#4. Skullcap

It’s a bit of a weird name, right? This flowering plant is native to America. You will find the dried leaves and stems of this herbal medication in a few medicines used to treat anxiety, stress, and insomnia. Traditionally, Americans used it for treating nervous disorders including hysteria, tension, and epilepsy. They believed that this herb has sleep-inducing and anti-muscle cramping properties. Skullcap is always available over the counter, along with a blend of other herbs. It can be available in the form of powders to prepare teas, or as a liquid solution and also capsules. The Chinese skullcap is different from the North American variety. However, both are equally dangerous. Several cases have shown that liver failure can occur after about 12 weeks. 

#5. Chaparral

Have you ever tried chaparral? Chances are you haven’t. It’s been outlawed in most countries. This desert shrub is native to the Southern United States and Northern Mexican region. It has been used as a herbal medicine for years. This green-leafed plant blooms into yellow flowers. But don't fall for its beauty, its side effects are gruesome. Fans of homeopathy medicine claim that this herb can treat over 50 illnesses including colds, arthritis, tuberculosis, skin disease, and even cancer. It’s usually consumed in the form of oral supplements, essential oils, teas, and medicines. As I said a second ago, this drug is banned in most countries, but is still available in parts of the United States. It can cause liver toxicity and affect the liver's natural process of removing toxins from the body. This increases the internal build-up of toxins, causing liver toxicity and sometimes liver failure. This drug comes with a public warning about its safety, specifically the risks of organ failure. It doesn’t matter if you consume it just once, or on a regular. Chaparral overdosing is very easy. Just the smallest amount can be very powerful. 

If your liver is already delicate, you're probably on the constant lookout for liver-friendly foods. Check out 05 High Thermic Foods That Will Boost Your Metabolism. Or Top 10 High Vegetarian Protein Sources to Include in Your Diet Go ahead, click one. Or better yet, read both, and learn more about how to make your liver healthier.

Do you know of any other herbs that are toxic to the liver? Let us know in the comments below!  

The information I provided in this blog is for educational purposes only and does not substitute for professional medical advice. You should never use content in my writing as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or another qualified clinician. Please consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if indicated for medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. I am not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information in this blog. Thank you.