What is primary biliary cirrhosis?
Q. Dear Terry, “What is primary biliary cirrhosis? I am interested in using natural products to do my best to take care of my liver. What can you recommend?” — Ruth F., Cedar Rapids, IA
A. Dear Ruth, Primary biliary cirrhosis is a condition that is created by ongoing inflammation in the bile duct walls, which can then cause narrowing and scarring of the walls. If you are under a doctor’s care and taking prescription drugs, please make sure you discuss natural product use to make sure it agrees with your plan of treatment. My advice should not replace your health care practitioner’s oversight.
I think one of the most important steps to take a look at your diet. I’d recommend that you greatly limit grains and focus on moderate amounts of healthy protein, like grass-fed beef, organic chicken, or salmon (to name just a few), and lots of fruits and vegetables. Sometimes called the Paleolithic Diet, I refer to this way of eating as a “traditional diet”. To read more about my recommendations for nutrition, click on my healthy diet plan. In addition to modifying your diet, there are some natural ingredients that you may want to consider adding to your daily regimen.
One herb that always comes to mind with liver health is milk thistle. There is a compound in milk thistle called silymarin that has been shown to reduce fibrosis in the liver. I recommend you use 600 mgs of milk thistle daily, along with 600 mgs of alpha lipoic acid and 225 mcgs of the trace mineral selenium for optimal benefit. Make sure to choose a milk thistle formula that is standardized to 80% silymarin content.
The next herb I would recommend is curcumin, which is extracted from the spice turmeric. Curcumin is a potent antioxidant, and very powerful at protecting the liver. I strongly believe we have barely scratched the surface of curcumin’s capabilities when dealing with any chronic liver disease. I recommend taking 750 mg of curcumin twice daily. Keep in mind that standard curcumin is very poorly absorbed, so make sure the product you choose features a curcumin with excellent absorption that has been proven in published human studies. The best form I have ever found uses micronized curcumin blended with turmeric essential oils in a patented process. This curcumin has been shown in published human studies to be up to 10 times better absorbed than standard curcumin.
Terry . . . Naturally