Currently viewing the tag: "liver failure"


green tae pills for weight loss

The jig is up for on-line weight loss products, as British teen contracts hepatitis from drinking a green tea she purchased on the internet to “lose weight.” Here’s a wake up call for people purchasing any products that one ingests: it’s just not a good idea to do this sort of thing anonymously. And for you hawkers of weight loss products: herbal and pharmaceuticals carry the biggest risk, why not maintain the highest integrity with quality and support of your product? Oh might be because many, if not most, on-line companies which sell these products are overseas, and I doubt they are reading this post, but you the potential victim are. So here is the truth about many companies that sell supplements or drugs online: they do not care about your health!

The 16 year-old girl from London presented to her doctor with nausea, joint pain and nonspecific abdominal pain, as reported recently in the British Medical Journal Case Reports. Doctors gave the girl antibiotics to treat her for what they assumed was an infection, but she returned to the emergency room jaundiced with worsening symptoms. At that time, the girl told her doctors about drinking the green tea for weight loss.

“I had only lost a couple of pounds but then started having horrible pains in my joints, and felt very dizzy and sick,” she said in the study. “I was very scared when I was admitted to hospital and had lots of tests. I didn’t fully understand what was going on at the time.”

After doing multiple tests searching for viral causes to her illness, the teen’s doctors realized she had acute hepatitis, or an inflamed liver. Once the girl stopped drinking the tea and was given intravenous fluids and medication, she quickly recovered.

pesticides on cropsDoctors believe the liver damage was from a chemical mixed with the actual green tea, and not the tea leaves themselves, although the tea was not tested for contaminants. Green tea is non-toxic, but never put it past unscrupulous companies, or even unknowing ones, to boost product in either quantity or action. Contamination can occur at any stage from pesticides on crops, to mixing (compounding), to packaging. In this case, it was likely the “weight loss” compound added to the green tea, as green tea itself has no actual weight loss properties.

“We acknowledge that green tea is predominantly a very safe and healthy drink, with antioxidant properties,” the case study authors wrote, explaining secondary additives may cause harm. “This raises the possibility that it is the addition of other chemicals causing hepatotoxicity, (chemical-driven liver damage) particularly in preparations used for weight loss.”

It reminds me of a story that had an enormous impact on, not only my thinking on the subject of purchasing herbal supplements (or pharmaceuticals) on-line, but even merely taking herbal compounds. My longest-standing client (15 years – thank you MV), a director’s assistant at the time, roughly a decade ago, made her television directorial debut after the hired director had to pull out of the job at the last minute after being hospitalized for liver failure following the taking of herbs for “detoxing”, which incidentally she purchased online…from China! C’monnnnnnn… freakin’ duh!

That story stood out for me because I always remember one of my  teachers in chiropractic college, Dr. Assibi Abudu, one of the greatest doctors and men I have ever met, a medical doctor, told my class that liver failure from ingesting herbs is a common occurrence; and I believed him, because Dr. Abudu wore his experience like a seasoned veteran, and I knew he’d seen many wars. And this experience my client relayed to me was simply confirmation – I did not need any more convincing, and I have advised people consistently with this information ever since: Unless you get herbs from a licensed and competent (careful, don’t assume) practitioner, don’t take them! At all…

hepatitisListen, herbs are no different from pharmaceuticals in that they are foreign substances to your body. At low levels they may be perfectly therapeutic, but at larger doses, they can be lethal. And they can be stepped-on, just like street drugs, by people stupider than you and me. Your body – primarily your liver and kidneys – will need to detoxify (neutralize) the compound, and then excrete it. Further, any active compound in the substance will have its own effects and side-effects. Knowing this, wouldn’t you feel safer with products that have been tested? In this regard, only pharmaceuticals make the grade. Not even nutritional supplements can boast significant numbers of companies testing their products; in fact, this is the number one black cloud over the supplement industry’s head. And herbs…? Fuhgdat! I wouldn’t ever, no sorry…

Be smart and do not buy herbs online. If you want to lose weight, you’d better understand that you will never, ever find a magic bullet; and even in so trying you might damage your health, as this British case shows. I would go as far as saying that you need to practice utmost scrutiny when choosing to buy from any supplement company, as you never know what you might be getting (or not getting, as is the case sometimes). Only buy from companies that you can confirm are legit.

Here is the resource I use to know, with no uncertainty, the quality of the supplements I use or sell: Consumer Labs.

Supplement testingAnd I live by the principle that if I am going to put a foreign substance in my body, whether pharmaceutical, “nutritional,” or herbal, I must be severely discriminating, and weigh the benefit to risks of doing so. Safety lies in testing, and that’s why pharmaceuticals come out the best, just beneath taking nothing at all, but far better than taking any other foreign substance. By not having stringent testing regulations, herbs and supplements just fall to the bottom of the barrel for me. I know lots of supplement sellers and companies that are going to have their feathers ruffled over what I am saying here, but sorry, if you have not gone through the stringent third party (not your own company or its agents) testing, then you are just not legit in my book. If you would love to show your legitimacy, then submit your product to Consumer Labs for evaluation.

Safety when taking any ingestible should always be top priority, and this should be rule of thumb:

Herb testing

Taking nothing > doctor prescribed pharmaceuticals > practitioner recommended herbs* > herbs sold retail from verifiable source (Whole Foods for instance) > herbs from person in alleyway > on-line.

Seriously, folks.

*I would probably place homeopathic compounds here, although their dosages are so small that I doubt their toxicity, but I certainly wouldn’t take anything for granted.


NickstrodamusCall me the Nostradamus of health care, as I did warn of impending doom. I said one of the ramifications of socialized health care in the U.S. would be treatments which only the privileged could afford. I know you didn’t believe me then; you wanted to believe the politicians and pundits who were selling equality through entitlement…yeah right…and I’ve got a bridge for sale. So as I, Nostradamus, have predicted: medical innovation will continue to boom. Case in point: we now have our first serious hepatitis C cure, but reports have its price tag listed at $1,000 per pill. Egads…and a full treatment may cost along the lines of…ya ready?…gulp…$90,000! Yes and even better: it probably won’t be covered under Obamacare.

The new pill, called Sovaldi, apparently cures nine out of every ten patients treated for liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). An estimated 150–200 million people worldwide are infected with hepatitis C, a virus that infects the liver and which, when chronic, can lead to liver failure, liver cancer, or life-threatening esophageal and gastric varices. The virus is spread blood to blood, so from intravenous drug use (sharing needles), dirty tattoo parlors, and blood transfusions (see photo below). People who do develop cirrhosis or liver cancer may require a liver transplant.

Causes of hep CBecause the infection is often without symptoms, many of the 3 million Americans that carry the hep C virus don’t realize it. And even though no conclusive evidence shows HCV to be transmissible by sexual intercourse, multiple sex partners is in fact a risk factor. In 2007,  it surpassed AIDS as a cause of death, as an estimated 15,000 people died in the U.S. from complications associated with the infection.

While the discovery of Sovaldi is a godsend for anyone infected with HCV, the cost is something that brings to light the ugly realities of a new system intending to curb health care cost. Insurers, naturally, are balking at the price. Dr. Sharon Levine, a top official working on drug policy with insurer Kaiser Permanente, believes the price is out of line. She notes that countries where the government sets drug prices are paying much less. And while U.S. insurers aren’t interested in price controls, said Levine, “eventually the American public is going to start getting very uncomfortable” with high prices.

SovaldiThe California Technology Assessment Forum, a private group that reviews medical treatments, recently voted Sovaldi a “low value,” because it would be cost-prohibitive to treat the high number of potentially eligible patients. But after their own assessment, the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases issued clinical guidelines recommending that doctors use Sovaldi as a primary treatment.

See the conundrum? Remember my words from February 2012 when I said, medical innovations will continue to flourish provided we do not try to curb costs. The socialist in us all can cry equality til we’re blue in the face, but the cold, hard fact is that drug research and development (R&D) is costly. If pharmaceutical companies cannot turn a profit, then expect innovation to fall in the lap of…gulp…academia. And well…ya know…

haves-havenotsBut if medical technology is allowed to flourish on its own, well then it is going to cost, especially for a big gun like Sovaldi. Drug maker Gilead Sciences, Inc., reported Sovaldi sales of $2.3 billion worldwide in just the first three months of this year. Gilead will not disclose its pricing methods, but vice president Gregg Alton said the drug’s high cure rate makes it “a real huge value.” As it should be.

Listen folks, I’ll say it again, you can’t have it both ways. You want ground-breaking medical science—bionic eyes, magic penis pills, and cure-me-from-instant-death-NOW medicines? Those cost ducketts. But if what you want is everybody gets the same…it ain’t gonna be Sovaldi, sorry. Anyway, it’s a rhetorical question because we human beings will not stifle progress ever—we can’t; it’s hardwired in us. But we can create greater discrepancies between the haves and have-nots. Trying to lower health care costs to satisfy insurance industry interests will be the greatest driver of that discrepancy. So say I, Nostradamus.

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions;” ever hear that one? No? How ’bout: Don’t eat wild vegetation indiscriminately. And another oldie but goodie: If you are a caretaker of others, do not experiment with their health. Oh yeeeeeah, timeless wisdom all; and all appropriate to this story: A third person has now died in a California nursing home, apparently the victim of an accidental poisoning from wild mushrooms.

According to the California state Department of Social Services, a 90-year-old man died on Saturday at a senior care facility where a caretaker found the fungus in the backyard and used it to make soup. The Gold Age Villa in Loomis, California (near Sacramento) has reported three deaths (the others, women aged 86 and 73) from the homemade soup served on November 8, and it is being described as a terrible accident. The caretaker at the six-bed care facility did not know the mushrooms were poisonous, investigators said. The following day, those who ate the soup were ill.

The symptoms included vomiting and diarrhea–typical body responses in an attempt to expel toxic substances. Because symptoms related to mushroom toxicity can take up to 12 hours to surface, it can make it difficult to diagnose. Says Dr. Kent R. Olson, medical director of the San Francisco division of the California Poison Control System, ”People don’t necessarily make a connection right away,” unlike food poisoning, which comes on much more quickly.

Signs that a mushroom may be poisonous

The main problem with mushroom poisoning is that it attacks the liver, halting  normal protein production, and eventually shutting the organ down and causing death.

“Once that happens the liver can’t regenerate, so they go into a liver failure,” Olson said. “It’s quite dramatic.”

Treatment for mushroom poisoning is to give massive amounts of IV fluids to prevent kidney failure, and activated charcoal to absorb the poison. In the past, the mortality rate was as high as 90% worldwide. But with the supportive care, Olson said it has declined in recent years to about 15%. This depends on proper diagnosis, and, of course, time.

In Northern California, it’s the season for wild chanterelle mushrooms (a highly sought-after variety) and for the amanita species of mushrooms that include what are known as “death cap” and “death angel” varieties–probably something to know if one is going to prepare foraged food.* Young poisonous North American amanitas often look like an edible version of a wild mushroom popular in Asia. Olson said they grow in large numbers in the San Francisco Bay area around Sacramento and in the Sierra foothills.

Listen, this is a tragedy, and I am certain it is a common mistake. In fact, California recorded 1,700 cases of mushroom-related illnesses from 2009 to 2010, including two deaths. However, the state Department of Public Health periodically issues warnings about consumption of wild mushrooms, especially after someone eats a poisonous variety. But why not just keep things simple? Stick to foods you buy at the grocery store or farmers markets, or at the very least ones you grow yourself, but that you’ve, of course, researched and know well. Otherwise, stick to the domesticated variety.

Further, if you are going to experiment, then uh…you taste first…and then give it twenty-four hours. That way you won’t harm those entrusting you with their care. And finally, we all know that most of us want to do the right thing; but no need to reinvent the wheel. Just stick to the tried and true, and leave the wild mushrooms to foraging animals. Believe me, if they were edible, something would have probably gotten to it before you. Their presence alone should be warning enough.

*If you must forage, please educate yourself first: A simple Google search provided me with guide in 0.18 seconds http://www.wikihow.com/Pick-Wild-Chanterelle-Mushrooms

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