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Herbal and Homeopathic Detox in the Scientific Literature

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There is much anecdotal evidence on the effectiveness of herbal and homeopathic detox as an ancillary treatment to classical homeopathy. This comes most often in the form of case studies, client testimonials and personal recommendations.

But what about scientific evidence in the form of actual published studies? Is there any evidence that the body’s natural detox mechanisms can be helped by herbal and homeopathic organ support remedies?

Below are several studies to show that detox supported by herbs and homeopathy not only exists, but can have remarkable effects.

First A Word About Testing Detox Support Remedies: HUMAN v. ANIMAL STUDIES

Normally, when it comes to scientific evidence for health interventions, human studies are preferred to animal and in vitro (test tube) studies. However, in the case of detox remedies, that’s not so easy to set up. In order to show evidence of detox taking place, the test subjects have to be exposed to a toxin to the extent that its toxic effects can be measured. The difficulty in running human studies is that you can’t deliberately poison people in order to test your hypothesis that you can cure them. Ethical approval would be one obstacle and sufficient volunteers would surely be another!

That is why the great majority of toxicological studies are animal studies or test tube studies.

I did however find some interesting human studies and case reports in the scientific literature, so I’ll mention those first, before moving on to animal studies to show the effectiveness of homeopathy as a detox mechanism support.

Human Studies using Liver and Kidney Detox Support Remedies

Article 1

The first article is about 2 case reports which describe the effectiveness of homeopathic detox in extreme circumstances:

2 cases of Fulminant Liver Failure caused by Poisonous Mushroom successfully treated with Homeopathic Remedies with Affinity for the Liver

A fulminant condition is one that is severe and sudden in onset. In both of these cases of accidental poisonous mushroom ingestion, the patients were treated medically in hospital as you would expect. Despite all appropriate medical treatment, their conditions remained grave with both patients exhibiting severe hepatic (relating to the liver) failure; 1 patient suffered additionally from multiorgan failure, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, and brain.

In each case, the homeopathic remedy given was one with long standing reputation as supportive of the liver. “A review of the literature indicates that arsenicum album has also been used with benefit in cases of chronic hepatic disorders. Phosphorus is well accepted as a therapeutic treatment for many pathological states involving the liver. These 2 homeopathic remedies have a wide application in the treatment of acute and chronic hepatic disorders.” They also mention that “Arsenicum album is one of the major homeopathic remedies used in several types of intoxication.”

Author’s Conclusion: “Our case reports suggest that homeopathic therapy can be beneficial to patients suffering from acute Amanita phalloides–induced toxicity following mushroom poisoning. Both patients exhibited severe hepatic failure; one patient was suffering in addition from multiorgan failure that involved the heart, the lungs, the kidneys, and the brain. In this patient, arsenicum album was used initially. When liver failure was diagnosed, phosphorus was administered to both patients. Both patients survived without any residual pathological sequelae. We suggest that a beneficial effect of homeopathic treatment might be considered and further observations and studies might help support these case report findings. When clinically advisable, combining homeopathic medicine with conventional treatment is beneficial, and these case reports represent successful management utilizing both types of medical treatment simultaneously”.

Two Cases of Fulminant Hepatic Failure from Amanita phalloides Poisoning Treated Additively by Homeopathy.

Frass M, Zagorchev P, Yurukova V, Wulkersdorfer B, Thieves K, Zedtwitz-Liebenstein K, Bursch W, Kaye AD.

Ochsner J. 2014 Summer;14(2):252-8.

PMID: 24940137

Full Text Available Here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4052594/

Article 2

Human Study: Evidence of Detox Support with Depurative Agent Homeopathic Berberis

Depurative medicines are defined as medicines which are considered to have purifying and detoxifying effects. These are usually herbs long associated with traditional use and / or their homeopathic equivalents. Examples are Berberis, Goldenseal, Milk Thistle, Dandelion and other herbal and homeopathic depuratives, such as suit the symptoms of each individual case.

In this Brazillian study, 80 adults with chronic periodontitis and type 2 diabetes were divided into 2 groups. Both groups were given appropriate non-surgical periodontal care i.e. deep cleaning with removal of plaque and calculus. The primary goal of nonsurgical periodontal therapy is to control microbial periodontal infection by removing bacterial biofilm, calculus, and toxins from periodontally involved root surfaces.

In addition to scaling and cleaning of the teeth, the test group received homeopathic depurative remedies (Homeopathic Berberis and Other Indicated Homeopathic Depuratives), while the control group received placebo.

Results: The test group presented significative gain of CAL at 1 and 12 months compared to the control group. Mean glucose and glycated hemoglobin significantly decreased in both groups after 6 and 12 months. However, there was a significantly further reduction of these parameters in the test group, as compared to the control group.

Conclusion: Homeopathy as supplement of non-surgical periodontal treatment may further improve health condition, including glycemic control, in Diabetes Type 2 patients with Chronic Periodontis.

Mourão, Leila, Carillo Jr, Romeu, Linares, Sabrina Martins, Canabarro, Antonio, & Fischer, Ricardo Guimarães. (2019). Homeopathy and Periodontal Treatment in Type II Diabetic Patients: a 1-Year Randomized Clinical Trial. Brazilian Dental Journal30(2), 139-145. Epub April 04, 2019.https://dx.doi.org/10.1590/0103-6440201902124

Full Text Available Here: http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0103-64402019000200139&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en

Article 3

Human Study of Herbal Berberis: Protection against Natural or Chemical Toxicities

Berberis Vulgaris has long been used in traditional medicine where it has a reputation for anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibacterial effects. This study examines the antidotal effects of B. vulgaris and its main constituent berberine against natural and chemical toxins and concludes that it has protective properties in brain, heart, lung, liver and kidney.

Berberis vulgaris and its constituent berberine as antidotes and protective agents against natural or chemical toxicities.

Mohammadzadeh N, Mehri S, Hosseinzadeh H.

Iran J Basic Med Sci. 2017 May;20(5):538-551. doi: 10.22038/IJBMS.2017.8678. Review.

PMID: 28656089

Full text available here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5478782/

Article 4

Human Study: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials of Milk Thistle Herbal Extract as a Prophylactic Therapy on Antituberculosis Drug-Induced Liver Injury

CONCLUSION: Prophylactic therapy of silymarin is contributed to a noticeably reduced risk of development of anti-TB Drug Induced Liver Injury (DILI) four weeks after the initiation. In addition, silymarin significantly improved the liver function in patients who are receiving anti-TB drugs.

Prophylactic Therapy of Silymarin (Milk Thistle) on Antituberculosis Drug-Induced Liver Injury: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.

Tao L, Qu X, Zhang Y, Song Y, Zhang SX.

Can J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2019 Jan 10;2019:3192351. doi: 10.1155/2019/3192351. eCollection 2019. Review.  PMID: 30733935

Link to Full Text Available here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6348824/

Article 5

Human Case Report of Liver Detox Support Using Homeopathy in Chronic Viral Hepatitis

Viral Hepatitis successfully treated with traditional liver support remedies, Cheledonium, in homeopathic potency and Carduus Mar in herbal tincture as well as  a well known antiviral remedy, Thuja, also in homeopathic potency.

Sarter B, Banerji P, Banerji P. Successful Treatment of Chronic Viral Hepatitis With High-dilution Medicine. 

Glob Adv Health Med. 2012 Mar;1(1):26-9. doi: 10.7453/gahmj.2012.1.1.007. 

PubMed PMID: 24278798; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3833483.

Full Text Available Here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3833483/

Article 6

Human Study: Antibacterial and Antifungal effect of Herbal Berberis in 80 women with Bacterial Vaginosis

Results: Findings of the study showed a statistically significant difference with regard to treatment response between the study groups (p<0.001), and the Berberis vulgaris group had a better response than the metronidazole gel group. The patients in groups of Berberis vulgaris in a metronidazole gel base did not experience any relapse, but, in the metronidazole group, 30% of patients experienced relapse during three weeks’ follow-up.

Conclusion: Berberis vulgaris plus metronidazole vaginal gel was more effective than metronidazole gel alone in the treatment of patients with bacterial vaginosis as well as reduction of complaints and improvement of Amsel criteria and can be used as an appropriate treatment option in cases of drug resistance as well as in people interested in treatment with herbal medicines. The plant has antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties; thus, it can be used in the treatment of diseases such as bacterial and nonbacterial vaginitis with further studies.

Comparison between the efficacy of metronidazole vaginal gel and Berberis vulgaris (Berberis vulgaris) combined with metronidazole gel alone in the treatment of bacterial vaginosis

Mansoure Masoudi, Mahmoud Rafieian Kopaei, Sepideh Miraj

Electron Physician. 2016 Aug; 8(8): 2818–2827. Published online 2016 Aug 25. doi: 10.19082/2818

PMCID: PMC5053466

Link to Study here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5053466/ 

Animal Studies using Liver and Kidney Detox Support Remedies

Article 7

Artificially induced Liver Toxicity in Rats responds to Homeopathic Chelidonium

Authors’ Conclusion: Both the potencies of Chel exhibited anti-tumor and anti-oxidative stress potential against artificially induced hepatic tumors and hepato-toxicity in rats. More studies are warranted.

Chelidonium majus 30C and 200C in induced hepato-toxicity in rats.

Banerjee A, Pathak S, Biswas SJ, Roy-Karmakar S, Boujedaini N, Belon P, Khuda-Bukhsh AR.

Homeopathy. 2010 Jul;99(3):167-76. doi: 10.1016/j.homp.2010.05.008.

PMID: 20674840

Text Link Here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20674840

Article 8

Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease induced in Rats and Treated with Herbal Berberis

Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is an advanced form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). NAFLD is caused by buildup of fat in the liver. When this buildup causes inflammation and damage, it is known as NASH, which can lead to scarring of the liver.

This Egyptian animal study examined the mechanism by which NASH induces neurotoxicity and the protective effect of berberine against both NASH and its associated neurotoxicity.

Conclusions: Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis with its health complications including dyslipidemia, cholesterol impairments, oxidative stress, and upregulation of AChE with amyloid precursor protein (APP) are considered potential dangerous risk factors for neurotoxicity. Our study showed that the marked hyperlipidemia associated with NASH induction plays a crucial role in the development of inflammation and oxidative stress. Furthermore, our study showed that the dyslipidemia contributes to the development of other complications such as insulin resistance. All these complications, in particular, the decrease in insulin sensitivity and elevated TNFα, play a major role in the development of Alzheimer-like pathology which was manifested in our study by high AChE activity and expression, increased Aβ42, decreased Aβ40, increased NO, decreased IDE, and high MAO activity. Our promising results of alkaloid berberine treatment showed its potential therapeutic activity against NASH and its associated diseases such as insulin resistance and Alzheimer-like pathology via its effect as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, an AChE inhibitor and HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor. Finally, our study enhances the recommendation of berberine as a potential natural therapeutic agent for treatment of hepatic diseases, insulin resistance, and Alzheimer-like disease pathogenesis.

Doaa A. Ghareeb, Sofia Khalil, Hani S. Hafez, et al., “Berberine Reduces Neurotoxicity Related to Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis in Rats,” 

Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2015, Article ID 361847, 13 pages, 2015. 

https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/361847.

Full Text Available Here: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2015/361847/cta/

Article 9

Hepatitis induced by Paracetamol in Mice and Treated with Homeopathic Lycopodium

Authors’ Conclusion: Lyc 30c exerted a moderate hepatoprotective effect on acute Pct-induced hepatitis, mainly shown by a histological decrease in necrosis and inflammatory foci, preserved glycogen and other 1,2-glycols in zone 3 and reduced serum levels of ALT and AST.

Hepatoprotective effect of Lycopodium clavatum 30CH on experimental model of paracetamol-induced liver damage in rats. 

Henrique da Silva G, Barros PP, Silva Gonçalves GM, Landi MA. Homeopathy. 2015 Jan;104(1):29-35. doi: 10.1016/j.homp.2014.05.005. 

Epub 2014 Jun 27. PMID: 25576269

Text Available Here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25576269

Article 10

Milk Thistle Extract protects against kidney damage after Xray contrast dye causes oxidative stress: Animal Study

Results: The study showed that silymarin preserved renal function and decreased systemic and renal oxidative damage (antigenotoxic and antiapoptotic properties, respectively) in a dose-dependent manner and was superior to conventional treatment with N-acetylcysteine. Histologically, silymarin treatment also had beneficial effects on renal glomerular and tubular injuries. Therefore, silymarin prophylaxis may be an interesting strategy for the prevention of Contrast Induced Nephropathy.

Silymarin protects against radiocontrast-induced nephropathy in mice.

de Souza Santos V, Peters B, Côco LZ, Alves GM, de Assis ALEM, Nogueira BV, Meyrelles SS, Porto ML, Vasquez EC, Campagnaro BP, Pereira TMC.

Life Sci. 2019 Jul 1;228:305-315. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2019.04.061. Epub 2019 Apr 29.

PMID: 31047898

Link to Study Here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31047898

Article 11

Homeopathic Berberis Reverses Kidney Stone Formation Constituents in Rats

Kidney stones were artificially induced in rats. The urine was tested for stone forming constituents and kidney tissues were analysed for markers of damage. The rats were then given homeopathic Berberis in the 200c potency.

Results: Stone forming constituent levels were normalized by B. vulgaris treatment. The decrease in the urolithiasis inhibitor magnesium in urine was prevented by treatment with B. vulgaris. Serum creatinine levels were largely normalized by B. vulgaris treatment. Hyperoxaluria induced renal damage was evident from the decreased activities of tissue marker enzymes and an apparent escalation in their activity in the urine in control animals; this was prevented by B. vulgaris treatment.

Conclusion: Homeopathic Berberis vulgaris root has strong anti-urolithiasis potential at ultra-diluted dose.

Beneficial antioxidative effect of the homeopathic preparation of Berberis vulgaris in alleviating oxidative stress in experimental urolithiasis.

Jyothilakshmi V, Thellamudhu G, Chinta R, Alok K, Anil K, Debadatta N, Kalaiselvi P.

Forsch Komplementmed. 2014;21(1):7-12. doi: 10.1159/000360240. Epub 2014 Feb 21.

PMID: 24603624

Link to Text Here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23870376

Article 12

Effectiveness of Homeopathic Berberis as a Renoprotective Agent and Antioxidant

Kidney stones were artificially induced in rats who were subsequently treated with homeopathic Berberis.

RESULTS: HPBV brought about an augmentation in the activities of enzymatic antioxidants such as superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase, glutathione reductase, and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase and improved the nonenzymatic antioxidants, e.g., tocopherol, ascorbic acid, and glutathione. HPBV ameliorated the malondialdehyde and protein carbonyl levels and restored renal thiols almost completely.

CONCLUSION: Thus, it is shown that HPBV acts as a renoprotective remedy in alleviating the renal calculi-associated oxidative damage by upregulating the antioxidant status.

Beneficial antioxidative effect of the homeopathic preparation of Berberis vulgaris in alleviating oxidative stress in experimental urolithiasis.

Jyothilakshmi V, Thellamudhu G, Chinta R, Alok K, Anil K, Debadatta N, Kalaiselvi P.

Forsch Komplementmed. 2014;21(1):7-12. doi: 10.1159/000360240. Epub 2014 Feb 21.

PMID: 24603624

Link to study here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24603624

Article 13

Animal Study of Herbal Berberis showing a Neuroprotective effect in Mercury-Induced Neurotoxicity in Rats

In this Egyptian study, the neuroprotective effect of berberine on mercuric chloride induced neurotoxicity and oxidative stress was examined in rats.

Conclusion: Berberine augments antioxidant defense with anti-inflammatory and anti-apoptotic activities against HgCl2-induced neurotoxicity and provides evidence that it has a therapeutic potential as neuroprotective agent.

The neuroprotective effect of berberine in mercury-induced neurotoxicity in rats.

Abdel Moneim AE.

Metab Brain Dis. 2015 Aug;30(4):935-42. doi: 10.1007/s11011-015-9652-6. Epub 2015 Jan 21.

PMID: 25600690

Study Available Here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25600690

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Classical Homeopath and CEASE Therapist

Carmel O'Keeffe is an experienced Classical Homeopath with specialist training in homeopathic detox. She offers homeopathy for all the family through 1:1 consultations, in person and online.

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