Disclaimer

*Results may vary. The information in this site is NOT to be construed as medical advice. Cirrhosis of the liver is a serious condition and if you have it, you should see a doctor. I am not a doctor and am not able to dispense medical advice. My husband saw a doctor (many of them) and they were able to do things for him that I could not. However, they were unable to recommend alternative treatments, and in MY OPINION they were VERY beneficial to my husband, so I am providing some of that information here. My husband and I tried all of these alternative therapies at our own risk, and if you try them you will be doing the same. At your own risk. No promises are made in this blog. I am not saying there is a cure for cirrhosis or any other condition. However, I believe most people can get well, like my husband did. My husband is alive, happy, productive, functional and has his energy back. He no longer worries about having to go on disability or getting a $577,000 liver transplant. Cirrhosis is a serious condition. He is currently in the fibrosis stage (Stage 2 liver disease), which is still serious. I cannot guarantee you will have the same results. I just want you to know about what worked well for my husband. I hope you will share what you learned with others, and share your story with us as well. This blog was made for YOU! Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, July 27, 2019

The Critical Importance of Vitamin D3 - Especially for someone with Cirrhosis!



I recently did some more research on Vitamin D3, and found a study that showed that supplementation in patients with NAFLD, using 20,000 IU per day for one week (then weekly, thereafter), brought the patients' levels to a normal range! I learned quite a bit about Vitamin D3 recently, and wanted to share it with you guys in case it might help, any.  
Of course, I am not a doctor, and cannot give medical advice, but I still thought this was worth sharing, and I encourage you to do your own research : ). 
 In my opinion, WAAAY too many people are just plain scared to take too much Vitamin D3, because somewhere along the way, we heard it's a fat soluble vitamin we have to "watch out for." But I think sooo many of us just don't get nearly enough. 

I was vitamin D3 deficient in my 20s and 30s, until I discovered how much a lack of D3 was contributing to depression and back pain. I decided to take 10,000  IU after reading that Dr. Andrew Weil said it's considered safe to take up to 10,000 IU. I can tell you I have a friend who was taking 25,000 to even 50,000 IU per day. She was getting her blood monitored, though, but it really seemed to be helping her. I've never had my blood monitored, and on occasion have taken up to 25,000 IU with ZERO side effects, but that doesn't mean it'd be safe for you also. You should be under a doctor's care. You know the drill. 
Please read what Dr. Weil says about Vitamin D3:

He says:

Are There Any Risks Associated With Too Much Vitamin D?

No adverse effects have been seen with supplemental vitamin D intakes up to 10,000 IU daily. Exposing the face and hands to roughly 10 minutes of direct sunlight daily is also quite safe and a good way to boost vitamin D; for some tips on general sun safety, read the DrWeil.com Q&A: “No Fun in the Sun.”
 

So what is a Normal Level of Vitamin D, anyway?

It's helpful to know what is considered a "normal" vitamin D range, in a blood test (I didn't know what a normal range was, myself, till I just looked it up):
What is the normal range for vitamin D in a blood test?
This guideline recommends a minimum vitamin D level of 20 ng/mL, but to guarantee sufficiency they recommend between 30 and 50 ng/mL for both children and adults.Jan 10, 2018
 
When a person has cirrhosis they become soooooo vitamin D3 deficient! I just get this feeling that Vitamin D3 is one of those supplements that gets sucked up like a sponge, by a person who has cirrhosis, because their bodies are crying out for more nutrition.

Check out this study of patients with NAFLD (non alcoholic fatty liver disease), which shows... participants in a study, who took 20,000 IU per day (then 20,000 IU per week, for 6 months) were able to bring their Vitamin D3 levels up to 34.7 ng/ml, which is considered an average range!  

Please note, I am not an expert on vitamin D3, but like I said, it can attest it worked like a miracle for my own back pain. Please be sure to do your own research, and make sure if you take more than 10,000 IU, you are getting your vitamin D3 levels checked.

Recent clinical trial discovers vitamin D supplementation may improve non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Posted on: July 11, 2016   by  Amber Tovey
A recent clinical trial found that vitamin D supplementation reduced liver fat infiltration among patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the accumulation of fat in the liver unrelated to excessive alcohol consumption. The cause of NALFD is multifactorial, resulting from both genetic and environmental factors.
NAFLD is common, with a prevalence of 25-45% in Western countries. The majority of individuals with NAFLD do not experience signs, symptoms or complications. However, in some, NAFLD can progress to liver cancer or liver failure.
Researchers became interested in the role that vitamin D plays in NAFLD due to the presence of vitamin D receptors in the liver. Furthermore, research shows that vitamin D deficiency is linked to greater severity of NAFLD.
Recently, researchers aimed to determine the effects of vitamin D supplementation in NAFLD patients who were considered vitamin D deficient (< 20 ng/ml). A total of 40 patients from an outpatient liver clinic fit the criteria, and thus, were included in the study. The researchers quantified the severity of NAFLD by measuring controlled attenuation parameter (CAP), a marker used to assess liver fat content. Higher values signify greater liver fat content.
The study lasted six months. During the first week, all patients were instructed to supplement with 20,000 IU vitamin D3 daily. This dosage was followed by 20,000 IU vitamin D taken on a weekly basis for the remainder of the six months. The researchers performed follow ups after four weeks, and at three and six months. Here is what they found:
  • Average vitamin D status at baseline was 11.8 ng/ml.
  • Following six months of supplementation, average vitamin D levels significantly increased to 34.7 ng/ml (p < 0.0001).
  • CAP decreased significantly from baseline (330 vs 307 dB/m) during supplementation (P = 0.007).
  • An average CAP reduction relative to baseline was observed at four weeks, three and six months.
The researchers concluded,
“The degree of hepatic steatosis significantly improved after only four weeks of vitamin D replacement therapy in the absence of concomitant weight loss in this six-month supplementation study. Hepatic steatosis, as assessed by CAP, is a dynamic process, which appears to be modulated by interventions such as vitamin D substitution.”
The study suggests that patients who are affected with NAFLD should supplement with vitamin D to reduce liver fat content. As a clinical trial, the study design was relatively strong. However, the study lacked a control group, leaving room for placebo effect to possibly skew the results. The researchers called for controlled trials to further assess the possibility of managing NAFLD with vitamin D.

 And there's this study:

 https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/vitamin-d-whats-right-level-2016121910893

Home » Harvard Health Blog » Vitamin D: What’s the “right” level? - Harvard Health Blog

Vitamin D: What’s the “right” level?

POSTED DECEMBER 19, 2016, 9:30 AM , UPDATED OCTOBER 26, 2018, 8:55 AM
Monique Tello, MD, MPH

Contributing Editor
Many of my patients who come into the office for their physical exams ask to have their vitamin D levels checked. They may have a family member with osteoporosis, or perhaps they have had bone thinning themselves. Mostly, they want to know that they’re doing everything they can to keep their bones strong. Vitamin D is critical for healthy bones. But when we check that blood level, how to act on the result is the subject of great controversy in medical-research land.

Pinpointing a “healthy” vitamin D level is tricky

So, what is the current cutoff value at which people are considered “low,” and thus at risk for developing bone thinning and having fractures? (We are talking about the blood level of 25-hydroxy-vitamin D, which is usually measured in nanograms per milliliter.) Ah. This is where there is a lot of argument.
In 2010, the venerable Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued a report based on lengthy examination of data by a group of experts. To sum up, they estimated that a vitamin D level of 20 ng/mL or higher was adequate for good bone health, and subsequently a level below 20 was considered a vitamin D deficiency.
In my practice, and in most, it is not uncommon to see a vitamin D level less than 20. When that happens, we tell the patient that they are deficient and recommend fairly aggressive replenishment, as well as ongoing supplementation. The majority of folks have a level between 20 and 40, in my experience, and this is corroborated by the IOM’s findings in that 2010 report.
But in 2011, the respected Endocrine Society issued a report urging a much, much higher minimum blood level of vitamin D. At that time, their experts concluded: “Based on all the evidence, at a minimum, we recommend vitamin D levels of 30 ng/mL, and because of the vagaries of some of the assays, to guarantee sufficiency, we recommend between 40 and 60 ng/mL for both children and adults.”

But wait, there’s more…

A more recent opinion on the right target level of vitamin D is presented in an article titled “Vitamin D Deficiency: Is There Really a Pandemic?” published in the New England Journal of Medicine. In this piece, several of the leading epidemiologists and endocrinologists who were on the original IOM committee argue for a lowering of the currently accepted cutoff level of 20, stating that the level they estimated as acceptable was never intended to be used to define vitamin D deficiency. They feel that we are over-screening for vitamin D deficiency, and unnecessarily treating individuals who are perfectly fine.
Based on their analysis, a more appropriate cutoff for vitamin D deficiency would be much lower, 12.5 ng/mL. They examined a massive amount of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for 2007 through 2010, and found that less than 6% of Americans had vitamin D levels less than 12.5. A cutoff of 12.5 ng/mL would most certainly eliminate the “pandemic” of vitamin D deficiency.
And the controversy boils on, with many articles and statements made to support one or the other guideline.

Some perspective on what is, and isn’t, vitamin D deficiency

I spoke with osteoporosis expert Dr. Joel Finkelstein, associate director of the Bone Density Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, whose research in this field spans over three decades. He agreed with the authors of the NEJM article that we are currently over-screening for vitamin D deficiency, and overtreating people who are getting enough vitamin D through diet and sun exposure. “Vitamin D has been hyped massively,” he states. “We do not need to be checking the vitamin D levels of most healthy individuals.”
He points out that from an evolutionary standpoint, it doesn’t make sense that higher vitamin D levels would be beneficial to humans. “Vitamin D is actually quite hard to find in naturally occurring food sources,” he points out. “Yes, we can get vitamin D from the sun, but our bodies evolved to create darker skin in the parts of the world that get the most sun. If vitamin D is so critical to humans, why would we evolve in this way, to require something that is hard to come by, and then evolve in such a way as to make it harder to absorb?”

So who should be screened for vitamin D deficiency?

Dr. Finkelstein and his colleagues published a study of over 2,000 perimenopausal women who had been followed for almost 10 years, and they found that vitamin D levels less than 20 were associated with a slightly increased risk of nontraumatic fractures. They concluded that because few foods contain vitamin D, vitamin D supplementation is warranted in women at midlife with levels less than 20 ng/mL. “For perimenopausal women or other groups of people with higher fracture risk, certainly a level of 20 or above is ideal,” and he adds: “For the vast majority of healthy individuals, levels much lower, 15, maybe 10, are probably perfectly fine, and so I would say I agree with what the authors of the New England Journal perspective article are saying.”
All that said, most experts, including Dr. Finkelstein, agree we should be checking vitamin D levels in high-risk people — those most at risk for a true deficiency. These include people with anorexia nervosa, people who have had gastric bypass surgeries, who suffer from other malabsorption syndromes like celiac sprue, or who have dark skin, or wear total skin covering (and thus absorb less sunlight). In addition, certain populations will require that vitamin D level of 20 ng/ml or higher. This can include perimenopausal women, people diagnosed with osteopenia (reduced bone density, but not osteoporosis) and osteoporosis or other skeletal disorders, as well as pregnant and lactating women. All of these groups should be screened and treated as appropriate.

Note how the article, above, suggests that people who suffer from a malabsorption syndrome may need more vitamin D3. You'd think they would have listed cirrhosis on that list, but... nope. But I cannot think of another disease where a person could have a greater "malabsorption problem" than someone with cirrhosis!!! (Except for, maybe a person who is LITERALLY starving because they have no food available).

There are sooo many reasons why a person doesn't absorb nutrients properly, if they have cirrhosis. Like the blurb below, states: "Mulnutrition, portal hypertension, lack of secretion of bile acids, pancreatic disease and mucosal changes of small intestine have been listed as possible causes for malabsorption in patients with cirrhosis."

I mean.... hello! How could cirrhosis not be classified as a malabsorption syndrome? 

Here's what you get, when you google:
"Is cirrhosis a malabsorption syndrome?"

by DCH Sun - ‎1967 - ‎Cited by 88 - ‎Related articles
The PRESENCE of a malabsorption syndrome in patients with cirrhosis has long been suspected. Mulnutrition,1,2 portal hypertension,3 lack of secretion of bile acids,4-6 pancreatic disease7-10 and mucosal changes of small intestine3 have been listed as possible causes for malabsorption in patients with cirrhosis.
   https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/573592
 I recently got a weird hunch that it could be good for lowering bilirubin levels, so I googled it, and it appears that it might. The study below is for newborns but I believe this could be just as applicable for adults. 

A recent case-control study published by the journal Science Direct found that low vitamin D levels were associated with jaundice among newborns. Newborns develop jaundice when excessive bilirubin is present in the blood. ... Another effective treatment for jaundice is phototherapy.Jan 20, 2017
It also appears that low vitamin D levels could cause liver enzymes to rise (not a good thing!).  Some people worry that D3 could cause elevated liver enzymes, but it appears to be the opposite... people with low vitamin D3 are the ones who are more likely to have elevated liver enzymes!
Can vitamin d3 cause elevated liver enzymes?
Vitamin D deficiency is common among patients with liver diseases. Both cholestatic and non-cholestatic liver diseases can cause vitamin D deficiency. ... The risk of having a high level of ALT, AST, or GGT tended to be higher for lower vitamin D levels, although not statistically significant.Nov 23, 2013
 
I just sent an email to my husband while he was at work a few days ago, after seeing the reviews for this brand of high-dose vitamin D3 (and other high-dose brands with VERY high average review ratings), and wanted to share it with you. I pasted my email to him, at the bottom of this page.

Many people are scared to take Vitamin D because they worry about taking too much (the medical industry seems to work very hard to warn people not to take too much), and yet, it seems like it's practically a miracle supplement (at least it was for me... seriously, it seemed to take away back pain I'd suffered with for years), and the people who take high quantities seem to get even more health benefits (provided they are monitoring themselves). 

Please note, I cannot say for sure what is safe for anyone else and encourage you to do your own research, but I had to share this with you!  


You can read a book about the miraculous effects that can be achieved by taking very high doses of Vitamin D, by CLICKING HERE. There is a kindle version of this also, that is not too expensive.


I do believe that it could be true that a person with cirrhosis might not be able to take a very high dose like a normal person, but for all I know maybe it could work incredibly well for them. My husband never took more than 10,000 IU.  I just wish there were more studies showing how much is safe for a person with cirrhosis.
 
Also, please read this post I wrote about Vitamin D3 in 2014. It seems to hold a lot of promise for fibrosis. As the study showed, it "deactivates the switch governing the fibrotic response in mouse liver cells"  Just click here to see the study:


What I wrote to my husband:
I was reading reviews for Vitamin D today, and it seems like the brands with solid 5-star ratings are the ones for high potency - 10,000 or 50,000 IU!  See screen shot at the bottom of this page, to see what I mean.  I have heard that it's better to take a large dose of vitamin D, like, once a week, vs. doing it every day? But I never did that myself cause I seemed to get so much benefit from taking it as I already did (10,000 IU daily), I just never switched. 
The one below is the one I would buy myself, if I had to pick one!  I highlighted in yellow, some of the benefits of this supplement. 

 


(this one below is like an 8 month supply of the same one below... probably not necessary)... 


About the product


  • THE SUNSHINE VITAMIN: Enjoy the benefits of the vitamin D, found in sunlight, without the harmful effects of the sun's UV rays. This is a safe and natural way to get this vital vitamin.
  • STRENGTHENS BONES & TEETHVitamin D3 helps decrease risk of bone fractures and maintains bone strength. It also plays a crucial role in promoting healthy teeth & reducing decay. Preferably, take it with a meal.
  • DAILY OR WEEKLY SUPPLEMENT: Vitamin D may help improve immune system function by helping the body produce bacteria fighting antimicrobial peptides and increases muscle protein synthesis which reduces body fat.
  • FOR BREASTFEEDING MOMS: This supplement is especially useful for anyone who is vitamin D deficient, and for nursing mothers to pass on to their babies. Pick from 5,000, 10,000 or 50,000 iu for a daily, bi-daily or weekly dosage.
  • ALL NATURAL: These veggie capsules are non GMO, soy free and free from dairy, gluten, eggs and nuts. They are tested for absorption, to ensure proper digestion.



 (note this is a screenshot below, not clickable links... I'm just posting it here so you can see how high the ratings are, for the brands that have a very high I.U.)



Hope this helps!
Ellie

Friday, July 12, 2019

Two books / audiobooks I highly recommend

Over the last few months, I've been listening to 2 really good audiobooks (shown below), about the liver / gastrointestinal system, while I do housework. I will admit, they're long, and I sometimes have to rewind or hit pause, to understand everything they're saying. Sometimes, this medical/educational stuff isn't as much fun to listen to, while doing housework, as, say... Madonna's Immaculate Collection!

But once in a while, I get a really good tidbit that makes me feel like, it was worth it to tune in. And I can't tell you how many times I've thought, while listening to these books: "Why weren't ALL OF US taught this stuff in school????" We'd all be so much healthier!

We are given SO LITTLE information about how to take care of our own bodies, especially our liver and the associated organs like the pancreas, gallbladder, etc.. The whole gastrointestinal system is like a giant mystery, to many of us... until something goes drastically wrong, and by that time, it can be too late (or extremely costly) to fix the problems.  

Sometimes it feels like we should be given an Operating Manual for the human body. Sadly, it also sometimes feels like, even if we had one, doctors would be perfectly happy to rip it up and keep us in the dark. It's like, the less we know about how our bodies truly operate, the more money there is to be made. The less we know, we more we have to spend on trying to fix our medical issues that have been gotten way out of hand. 

I'm sorry but that just seems wrong, to me. The best doctors in the world, are the ones who are happy if you DON'T have to see them. But sadly, people with cirrhosis have to keep seeing doctors over and over again!

Anyway, I had to share these books with you, because they're just about the closest thing I've read to having an "operating manual" for your gastrointestinal system. I have really been enjoying these audiobooks (via my Audible.com subscription), and what the author says in Medical Medium backed up my theory that the water I keep talking about really was a huge factor in helping my husband with his liver. 

In addition, what Dr. Shinya (inventor of the polypectomy) says in The Enzyme factor is pretty interesting. He also explains how dairy products can be VERY damaging for human health. Please check out these books if you get a chance. They may even be available at your local library.



I got this audiobook largely because the reviews were so impressive. There are nearly 1600 reviews, and the book currently has a 5 star average.

Medical Medium Liver Rescue: Answers to Eczema, Psoriasis, Diabetes, Strep, Acne, Gout, Bloating, Gallstones, Adrenal Stress, Fatigue, Fatty Liver, Weight Issues, SIBO & Autoimmune Disease


The Enzyme Factor also has very good reviews.

The Enzyme Factor


I cannot recommend this book enough! Dr. Shinya is a renowned gastoenterologist who invented the Polypectomy (the technique of removing polyps from the colon, using a snare). His wife, and his son, all suffered with health problems while consuming dairy products. His wife developed so many health issues, when she came to the US and adopted a standard American diet, that she actually passed away, which fueled Dr. Shinya's interest in human health, and how to turn things around before it became too late.

People with cirrhosis can struggle to process dairy products while their gastrointestinal systems are impaired. One of my husband's doctors that I like (an integrative medical practitioner) told us that dairy has a tendency to clog the liver, and if has any kind of impairment and is trying to heal, the dairy will make it harder to heal (because it's using energy to try to unclog itself, when really that energy should be used for healing itself).


About 10 years ago, I checked out this audiobook at the library, and it had some interesting tidbits about the human body, that I never knew (like the fact that urine is sterile, whereas, spit is FULL of bacteria, so therefore, spit is way more gross). I listened to this years before my husband was diagnosed with cirrhosis, so it would probably be even more interesting to listen to, now.



YOU: The Owner's Manual, Updated and Expanded Edition: An Insider's Guide to the Body that Will Make You Healthier and Younger










https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0060765321/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0060765321&linkCode=as2&tag=heallivecir0b-20&linkId=fef49f1282b1ef862e2d83b674b4a22f
YOU: The Owner's Manual: An Insider's Guide to the Body That Will Make You Healthier and Younger










And lastly, as long as I'm posting books about interesting medical books... this is the book that originally opened my eyes to the idea that alternative medicine could actually have a lot of real benefits to it. Someone took me to hear Dr. Weil speak at a conference, and it really changed my life - I used to be one of those people who truly believed that DRUGS were THE way to get better, and that alternate routes were a waste of time. No joke, there really was a time that I really used to think that! I don't necessarily agree with every single thing Dr. Weil says, but overall, I think his book is definitely worth checking out.

Spontaneous Healing : How to Discover and Embrace Your Body's Natural Ability to Maintain and Heal Itself 

For anyone who cares to read or listen to this. I can almost guarantee you could find a copy at your local library, of the book and/or the audiobook.

Enjoy!

Ellie