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General characteristics

General characteristics

Jaundice is the term used to describe the yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes.
The yellow colour comes from the presence of bilirubin, a waste product formed when red blood cells naturally die. When red blood cells die, the remaining components pass thorough the liver to be either re-used or packaged for disposal. Normally the bilirubin is bound up with bile produced in the liver and is secreted via the gallbladder into the small intestine. This then passes on and mixes with the faeces to be excreted from the bowel. When any part of this process is disrupted then bilirubin can build up in the bloodstream and quickly give rise to the yellow discolouration of the skin and eyes.
Causes of jaundice include an excessive breakdown of red blood cells such as in malaria, sickle cell anaemia, haemolytic anaemia or with certain prescription drugs; an impairment of the actual liver cells such as in hepatitis, glandular fever, cirrhosis, fatty liver or cancer, will lead to a decrease in bile (and other liver cell products) and therefore cause blood bilirubin levels to rise; blocked or damaged bile ducts such as from gallstones, tumours, swollen lymph glands in the surrounding area, certain drugs and advanced pregnancy can hinder the flow of bile into the intestines and cause a build up of waste products leading to jaundice; newborn babies sometimes develop jaundice (especially when premature or when induced) because their livers are not quite efficient enough at bile production and waste disposal and babies have a large amount of red blood cells at birth. Jaundice in babies usually goes after a few days unless a serious underlying condition is causing it.
The symptoms of jaundice can vary depending on the cause but often include a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes, generalised itching of the skin due to a build up of waste products, clay coloured stools due to lack of pigments in the  bowel, dark coloured urine, nausea and vomiting, lack of appetite, indigestion and slow pulse.
Healing objectives are to determine the underlying cause, such as gallstones or other problems with the gallbladder and liver, and treat it accordingly with diet, herbs and natural healing techniques.

Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Avoid all solid foods for a few days, instead drink freshly prepared vegetable and fruit juices (not from a carton) at meal times. Homemade watery soups could also be eaten but avoid adding meat and other fatty foods as these will burden the liver further. Juices will take some stress off the liver and allow it to recover somewhat and provide good nutrition.

Carrot juice is very cleansing and nourishing to the liver as are dark green leaves. Other beneficial foods to juice include broccoli, artichoke, cabbage, tomatoes, beetroots, sweet peppers, radishes, watercress and ginger.

Avoid all fatty foods such as meat, dairy, oils and processed foods containing hydrogenated fats (margarines, baked and fried foods, sauces etc). Eat legumes and other beans for their high protein content.

The exception to the above is olive oil which is helpful to the liver but only when raw, taken either on a teaspoon or stirred in to lemon juice.

Drink freshly squeezed lemon juice for breakfast, add some other citrus such as lime, grapefruit or orange to make up a full glass. Lemon juice aids the liver in detoxing and self cleansing.

Eat a bunch of organic grapes daily to stimulate liver secretions and bile production.

Add a teaspoon of turmeric powder to juices or herbal teas, up to 3 teaspoons daily.

Useful herbs

Useful herbs

A general formula aimed at cleansing and strengthening the liver could include dandelion root, barberry, centaury, yellow dock, holy thistle, gentian root, walnut husk, artichoke leaf, burdock root and wood betony. Use equal parts of 5 or so of the tinctures and use a teaspoon in water after each meal or add a teaspoon to each juice.

Add a few drops each of blue flag and cascara tincture to an individual dose of the above herbal mix for added benefits.

Sprinkle a teaspoonful of milk thistle seed powder in your juices each day.

Drink a tea of nettle, red raspberry leaf, boneset, plantain leaf, cleavers, agrimony and alfalfa. Use equal parts of each and drink 2 cups daily. This will provide valuable nutrients and help keep elimination channels open and cleanse the liver and gallbladder enabling proper functioning to return.

Natural healing

Natural healing

Use a castor oil pack over the area of the liver (just below the ribcage on the right side of the abdomen) to disperse toxins and aid the processes of the liver. Soak a cloth in castor oil, place on the skin and cover with a hot wet towel or hot water bottle. Leave on for half an hour and rinse the skin with mild soapy water.
Get plenty of rest.
Sunlight helps to break down bilirubin so get some sun on your skin (without sunscreen) for at least 10 minutes daily if possible. Sunlight will help infant jaundice too.
Add a pint of strong marigold tea to a bath and soak for half an hour. Use a large fistful of marigold flowers to a pint of boiling water and stand for 10 minutes to make the tea.

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