Gallstones, Chaparral and Effective Use of Herbs I
Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: Name not given
Posted on: March 25, 2002

Could you please tell me about chaparral? Is it a safe herb to use? I suffered from inflammation of the liver 6 years ago and recovered. Now I’m 37 and I have a gallstone of 2 cm. Will it help me or cause more damage? I’m taking these as encapsulated, a generic name.

I can’t recommend Chaparral as a safe herb, since there have been reports of this herb causing cancer and liver damage. Chaparral (Larrea tridentata) is an antibiotic, antioxidant and blood cleanser mainly used for skin lesions and arthritis. I don’t know of any traditional use of Chaparral for gallstones.

Michael Moore, in "Medicinal Plants of the Desert and Canyon West" (Museum of New Mexico Press, 1989), states that Chaparral has been shown to contain compounds that inhibit liver damage from free radicals. He also states that tests have shown that Chaparral can both inhibit and stimulate the growth of cancer cells.

A high fat diet is the cause of most gallstones. Other factors include: overweight, rapid weight loss, excess estrogens (for example, in pregnancy, hormone replacement or birth control pills), liver or bile duct problems, genetic predisposition.

Natural help for avoiding gallstones includes:

- avoid fats: use small amounts of fish, chicken, lean meats; Replace some meat meals with vegetable protein (tofu or legumes and grains); avoid fatty meats like bacon, avoid poor fats like margarine and shortening and avoid fried food; avoid high fat dairy products, especially butter and cheese. Use extra virgin olive oil to replace all cooking and salad oils

- avoid sugar and products containing sugar

- decrease the work load on the liver by avoiding food additives and unnecessary drugs. For example, if you use pain killers, look for natural alternatives

- improve digestion and elimination, and increase antioxidants in your diet by increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables eaten daily

Care must be taken when using herbs in bile duct problems. If a stone is occluding a bile duct, then you should seek medical help. If the stones are small and pass easily, then the dietary measures above may be used along with herbs that help the bile flow more freely to flush out the stones. You can look into the following herbs:

Milk Thistle is a safe herb for promoting liver health, which can improve the quality of the bile and support the liver in metabolizing hormones and fats

Chamomile tea, taken three times daily, supports liver and the digestion; antiinflammatory action relieves inflammation causes by stones

Barberry (Berberis vulgaris) increases bile flow, is anti-inflammatory and anti-convulsant to help relieve pain from passing stones.

Agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria) supports the liver, digestion, bile flow and helps to heal any ulceration

Echinacea may be used to avoid infection.

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