A number of you (including TallBlonde, Rocker and others) have suggested that Rooibos (Red Bush) Tea is good for the liver. From the little research I've done -- Rooibos is a natural non-caffinated tea, native to South Africa with a very low tannic acid content. Many accalades on the net, but mostly from either alternative health sites or those selling the product. Only found one medical study which did demonstrate that Roobios had a protective effect in rat's livers.
The claims for Rooibios are numerous, including applying it in the form of wet soaks for various skin problems.
Very interested in anything anyone here can add from personal experience. How much they drink? Which product? Any noticeable effect on liver or enzymes? What did their doctor say about the product?
Forseegood, if my memory serves me (and it doesn't a lot lately :))you commented recently that you found Rooibos too strong for you? Could you please clarify and elaborate? I'd like to get both sides of the story.
March 31st (2-weeks after last rib, 3-weeks post last injection)
March 7th (week 52/54)
I would have assumed ALT would have remained the same or declined slightly after being off treatment drugs a few weeks.
Any comments or experience with your own labs? Of course, I'd be in denial if "relapse" didn't enter my mind, although I understand only a viral load test can determine that.
GGT is now in the abnormal range (normal 3-80. This is the first time I've had an abnormal GGT in many years. I understand this is a highly sensitive marker and not as liver-specific as ALT, but odd that it should go up right after I stop the tx drugs. Only difference since tx is a bit more exercise, and I guess a couple cups of Rooibos tea.
Lastly, I would have thought my hgb would have gone up more than half a point since tx. I certainly felt like it had. For those who finished, how long did it take for you to regain pre-tx hgb levels?
Thanks for any insight/experience. Probably should have followed my instinct and not tested for a couple more weeks. But like a good trooper I did as my doc suggested.
On a personal note, I tend to stay away from herbal products based on some questionable bad experiences in the past. The other day, I visited a Starbucks looking for a decaffinated Green Tea, only to find they no longer carry it. The counter guy suggested something called "Red Bush". Later, I found that Starbuck's Red Bush tea (made by Tazo) is basically Rooibos blended with with hibiscus, lemon myrtle, lemon verbena, orange peel, rosemary, and lemon balm.
For the record, I've had it twice -- with and without milk -- it tastes very good.
My interest in Roobios at the moment is more for my GERD (reflux), prostate and skin issues. Of course it would be great if it helped my liver, but my main concern is that it won't hurt the liver.
Looking back I probably should have waited a while to test -- Maybe like a couple of years, following Willing's example. LOL. But in the end, it is what it is -- and knowing my personality it's better to know than not. For now, I think I'll blame the slight blips on some extra exercise and/or the Rooibios tea or post-tx stress. Future PCR's will tell the definitive story. Thanks for your insight and reassurances.
Sorry you're stressing. I guess it comes with the teritory.
I asked about using frequent liver panels as a barometer for relapse and my Doc scoffed. Said alt/ast could go up, down, or sideways and it would mean nothing relative to viral load. "That said", the rising numbers would bother me too, that's just a normal reaction.
Being Mr Good trouper, I'm assuming you did a VL test along with the other labs?
Yesterday I started getting mild abdominal discomfort just below the bottom of the right rib cage. Still there today. Needless to say what I'm thinking :)
Sometimes I think they should switch us to a placebo rather than stopping the meds. Tell us the truth a couple months later.
Mike, I haven't followed those two markers much as they have been normal throughout tx and still appear to be. Don't know if the slight rise in Alk Phosphate is significant. Pre-tx Alk Phosphate was 53. Hope this finds you well.
March 31st (2-weeks after last rib, 3-weeks post last injection)
Billi total: .3 (.2-1.5)
Billi Direct: .06 (0-.3)
Alk Phost: 70 (20-125)
March 7th (week 52/54)
Billi total: .79 (.2-1.5)
Billi Direct: .16 (0-.3)
Alk Phost: 63 (20-125)
I might also add that my Amaylase Serum is very slightly up a few ticks at 109 as it has been from time to time lately. Although this can be associated with pancreititis, my docs told me not to sweat it because the elevation was so mild.
At 14.5, I felt like I could do anything I wanted with the rise in energy level. My only problem in that department is I lost my muscle tone, sad to say. I try to go outside everyday and do house and yard chores.
How is your energy level doing?
BTW, I also have 2 vials of Procrit in the fridge just in case.
Thanks again. Seeing your ALT progression in light of repeated non-detectible tests is very helpful. Curious, did your ALT fluctuate that much during treatment as well?
About the GGT and the tea. Maybe or maybe not but better err on the safe side for now and go back to H20. A pity because I liked what I read about it, it goes down easier than water , and had high hopes for it helping my GERD and prostate.
Maybe once everything gets resolved, I'll revisit the rooibos with follow-up weekly enzyme tests as a monitor. Too many variables going on now.
I covet your bilirubin Jim - it's beautiful. I would think that your nice looking alkaline phosphatase and bilirubin rules out liver injury as a cause of the elevation in GGT. The stuff I've read, and I stress that I'm not up to date on this subject anymore, suggest that an elevation in GGT without corresponding elevations in the other markers (ALK & Bili) can be caused by many factors ...medications, alcohol intake, and I can't remember what else. I don't think that the slight elevation in ALT is worth even thinking about. I get labs so frequently that I see fluctuations greater than yours all the time. I am now getting labs at least every 2 weeks and if they decrease my rejection meds as I expect I will be getting weekly labs so I see values all the damned time. I get worked up but my transplant center hadly ever does and they're always right. For now Jim I wouldn't worry about a thing. Of course, I would worry but I'm totally insane and highly obsessive compulsive but hopefully you're closer to normal than I am and you'll be able to shut it all off till your PCR results. I would have either not gotten any labs or gotten every lab including the PCR but, like I said, I'm insane. I am wishing you the very best outcome Jim and I'm believing that you're clear. Mike
Goof said: I asked about using frequent liver panels as a barometer for relapse and my Doc scoffed. Said alt/ast could go up, down, or sideways and it would mean nothing relative to viral load.
Thanks. That's VERY reassuring, but like you said, it's very hard to fight tne normal reaction at this particular moment in the twilight zone-- r * e * l * a * P * s * e. Of course, my doc is out of town now. Curious, I think you did some post-tx bloodwork? How did your enzymes fair?
The abnormal GGT is another thing. However, since my GGT was normal not only during tx but *before* tx, I'm thinking maybe there's a good chance the two are not connected. I'm gonna blame it on the d*mn Bush tea. LOL.
Still don't know what I was thinking getting the tests done now as I'm not planning on re-treating soon. Ignorance may not be bliss but it's better than elevated enzymes.
I asked my docs about continuing Procrit after treatment but they said just stop everything at once. Maybe it was because I was at hgb 11.4 at EOT and not below 10. Not that I always listen to them, but frankly I was sick of the drugs -- all of them LOL -- and it was a relief to stop. Hopefully my hgb will start to climb up more rapidly, but if not, then I'll have to be content with what appears now to be half-a-point a month rise, but still have some Procrit in the fridge, just in case :)
BTW you're hgb climb is quite remarkable and hopefully it's translated into how you feel.
I hear you about that first post-tx PCR. I thought I was doing real well not thinking about it but I guess that's not how it works. I'll leave the ritual sacrifices and sprinkled entrails to Goofy, but all the best luck and prayers for your -- and all of our -- SVR's.
If I recall correctly you use Quest but in any event I think all the labs are pretty close with their ranges. My Quest normal ranges for liver enzymes are:
Just to give you a picture of some of the fluctuations I've had since stopping TX and rmemeber that throughout I have tested undetectable at least 10 times.
ALT (monthly or more freqently) 16, 57, 56, 43, 39, 29, 28, 27, 26, 25, 35, 51, 11, 14, 16, 32, 17,
The 57 number was less than 2 months after I stopped TX and I just knew I'd relapsed. My surgeon wasn't worried and he was right. So Jim, you can see that these values can and do fluctuate with no basis in hepatitis activity. I see your ALT rise as nothing at all - really nothing as it's just so very slight. And I would suspect the tea as the culprit resposible for your GGT if that's the only new thing in your life. Your bilirubin absolutely excludes bile duct involvement as a cause of the GGT elevation as does the alkaline phosphatase. I just want you to be able to relax a little. You've worked your ass off and you've done everything right Jim. It's gonna be good. Mike
<i>I'll leave the ritual sacrifices and sprinkled entrails to Goofy</i>
Fine with me as I just bought one of those leaf/branch grinders off ebay. I'm gonna tow it down to the graveyard during the fullmoon and start slinging in goat innards at mid-night. I'll feed in a couple extras for both of yous.
Just spoke with my RN. She assures me that the liver discomfort I'm feeling has nothing to do with viral activity - just a common symptom of liver disease. Also, we reviewed ultrasound report from 2 weeks ago and the there is no derogatory comment about consistency or texture as there was previously. Either the radiologist read it differently this time or......there may have been improvement to liver architecture on tx.
I'll do a VL at 4 weeks following last INF injection -- April 7th. Here Billie-Billie....
I have all my labs since 2000 in a huge stack and once my enzymes got normal while on TX they stayed pretty close. I see a 36 as the highest and a 13 as the lowest but the overwhelming majority of my ALTs are in the high teens and low 20s until I stopped TX. Then I see a lot of fluctuations. But Jim, I swear I still get uptight when the Heptimax starts rolling off my fax machine even though I stopped TX in June 2004. I know there is an almost infinitesimal risk of relapse but I can't stop worrying just a tad. So I can relate easily to your discomfort over any value that isn't absolutely perfect. But I still think you're clear and I still say "don't worry"!. Mike
The way you may feel, although not necessarily born out by hgb, could be as much mental as physical. Having successfully completed a long and rigorus treatment course I think bodies and minds celebrate the lack of that junk that's been going in for 6 months, a year or more. For me, completing was an achieved goal which put a little extra air under the wings. I've purposely stayed away from cbc and other lab work to get a feel for the way I feel. But today I went for labs in advance of an appt with the endocrine doc next week. It's another reason that my first pcr since tx end will be at 6 months.
Thanks, my hepo is also in the camp with more riba for geno1 with me being stage 4. He thinks that since i was handleing the 1200 per day pretty good and my hgb at begin of tx was 17 but has held study at around 12.5 He told me if i felt like it was to much to back off to 1400, plus thats why he wants me to have labs twice a week. Never posted my 12 week pcr. My viral load to start was 11 millon and change. Just did have a 2 log drop but with my stage we were hopeing for much better. Sunday will be week 15 so were gonna do another pcr at week 20 if im able to keep at this dose, if we lower it he thinks maybe doing one at 18 and see where we stand. Plus my work is being great and told me to cut back on hours and use the phone and email more to keep in touch with my clients. So i can keep my vacation and sick and personal days for later which looks like will be sooner. LOL
I think I missed your 12 week results. Maybe you can repost? I take it it wasn't great since you are ready to up dose. Best wishes to you my friend. We'll all be hoping for improved results for you.
I dropped Riba dose from 1,200 to 1,000 for a couple weeks, and as promissed, I started feeling better in one week. Sorry to say this, but assuming the inverse will hold, I think you can expect to feel a pretty big whack going 400 mg the other way. On the other hand, I guess it depends on where your hgb is. Mine was pretty low at the time.
Was there any talk of upping the INF? Did you notice the study posted by BOBBYULLC on twice wwekly INF? Looks like they did about a 3/4 dose twice weekly and got great results.
That's one reason I'm back in the gym. Stength went WAY south during treatment as I wasted away 30lbs of mostly muscle at one point.
Now off the treatment drugs, I'm starting to gain weight and don't want it to all come back as fat. I think weight training is the key here, combined with at least a minium amount (20-30 minutes a day) of aerobics.
My post-tx energy level has improved a lot and that's why I was surprised to find my hgb only at 12 (up from 11.5) Perhaps I've adapted to less hgb, or more likely the xtra energy is more of a function of clearing the Interferon.
Very jealous of your 14.5. Damn! I'm tempted to open the fridge now and visit my neglected filly MS Procrit. But I think I've had enough of drugs for now.
Good luck again with your PCR and next hgb test. Please let us know as soon as you hear.
Your ALTs during treatment conform to mine, thankfully :)
I've always understood that enzymes fluctuate pre-tx, but for some reason got it in my head that once I stopped treating they'd stay in the teens. Don't know why. Guess I've got to relax until PCR time.
Curious, why do your docs ask for monthly PCRs since you've been clear for over a year? My treating doc asks for monthly PCRs during treatment, but my understanding is that after my 3 and 6 month, I'll probably just do them every year, if that.
I almost put off testing to the six-month mark, but have some
business/financial planning to do in the next few months that will be affected by whether I SVR or not. Or, let's say, whether I will have to treat in the future or not, keeping in mind that I was too sick this time around to work. Good luck with your doctor's appointment next week.
I told the tech at Quest not to do the Heptimax every lab which would be a Heptimax every two weeks if everything was done as the order is written. Monthly seems a bit too much but bimonthly or semimonthly, or whatever 2 times per month is called, is way over the top. I really don't know why transplant wants them so often. I know that I am one of the few type 1s (and maybe the only one) at my clinic to clear so maybe they can't believe it and need to be reminded monthly that I really am undetectable. My insurance company never objects to anything that transplant orders so I go ahead and get the test done monthly. I think my insurance dreads the thought of me back on the table for another TP so they don't argue about anything. But I just couldn't have the fax machine rolling every two weeks - I'd have a breakdown or something. Mike
As you might know, I upped my riba from 1200 to 2000 mg/day and ended up in the ER because of weakness and shortness of breath. Keep in mind this was at the very beginning of treatment (week 2) and my body didn't have much time to adjust to either the drugs or 3-point deline in hgb I experienced over a 2-3 week period.
But the experience taught me a few things if I were ever to do it again. Some may or may not pertain to you -- all of us react quite differently both in terms of hgb drop and how well our bodies react to it. A lot has to do with genetics, age, etc.
BTW what was your pre-tx hgb and what is it now? Are you on Procrit? How do you feel?
Some or all of the following might prove helpful when increasing riba dosage.
1. If you're not on Procrit, now might be the time to start, again depending on how well you appear to be tolerating ribavirin currently. It takes approx 2-weeks for you to feel your new riba dose and approx the same time for the Procrit to start working. So if you wait for symptons, you're going to suffer at least two weeks, or alternatively have to reduce (or even temporarily stop) riba dose.
2. Consider stepping up in stages. Start with 1400 mg/day for a couple of weeks and see how that goes. Depending on your hgb and how you feel, then step up to 1600, perhaps even more, but keep it in 200 mg steps and only up dose every 2-4 weeks.
3. Labs twice a week is an excellent idea. And I wouldn't have them less than once a week until both your riba dosage and hgb levels stabalize.
CanDo, I knew all the time you were jealous of my riba consumption. Now is your time to shine :)
Jim says: ....afford a great excuse to hop on a plane and meet some nice Swedish ladies :)
Acccck!! I have this image of can-do getting off the plane and being greeted by the Sweedish Riba nurse with her little silver tray of pills and tiny cup of water. In my vision she makes Nurse Cratchet look like Linda the Good Witch from the North.
"You ville be taking yoor viba pills on time can-do. Und zoes vhat you can't svallow I ville administer zem personally....." as she slips on the heavy rubber glove....
Regarding the first part of your question about thoughts on the general concept of HDR (high dose ribavirn).
From what I've read, I'm a big fan of HDR for those who can both tolerate it, and for those geno 1's who are willing to take more treatment risks because of significant liver damage -- stage 3-4.
The trick as I see it is to balance dosage and tolerability with the always present risk of too high a dose resulting in temporary or permanent treatment discontinuance, although a good agressive and knowledgeable doctor will go a long way to do what is necessary to keep you in the game.
In Sweden, a small pilot study had almost 100% SVR using HDR based not on body weight but on serum riba levels as determined by HPLC (high performance liquid chromatography) blood tests. Unfortunatly, these tests are probably still not offered in this country, but do afford a great excuse to hop on a plane and meet some nice Swedish ladies :) I have also heard anecdotally, that they have had some success with slow responders by using HDV later in treatment but have no idea if they eventually SVRd.
Keep in mind, that everyone in the Swedish study was on Procrit and iron supplementation, and two of the participants had 2 tranfusions each. But also note that the average riba dose was a lot higher than you're talking about.
By week 48 the average dose was 2325 mg/day with a range of 1600 to a whopping 3,600 mg/day! Why such a range? Different people metabolize riba differently dependent on a number of factors including kidney function. That's why HPCL dosing IMO is so elegant compared to our crude weight-based dosing which just tries to approximate riba absorption based on weight tables.
Thanks Chevy, Rocker and others for sharing your experiences and information with Rooibos (Red Bush) tea. I was looking for a good non-caffeinated coffee/tea substitute and it seemed to fit the bill plus I really enjoyed its taste with or without milk.
But given my recent rise in enzymes -- especially GGT -- I've decided to hold off on Rooibos until I can test its effect under more controlled conditions. Right now, I'm still de-toxing from the tx drugs, so it's very hard to tell what might be effecting the enzymes. Still waiting for Forseegood to chime in as she had some personal reservations if I remember correctly, but she seems MIA.
My guess is it's not the Rooibos tea causing the rise in enzymes -- GGT in particular -- but because of the timing, and the fact that I've just finished treating -- probably better to err on the side of caution and revisit the tea later on when fewer things are happening.
Also, it's possible that certain teas/herbs that work for some people, don't for others. Sort of like with rx meds -- some can take a particular drug with no negative sides, and others can't tolerate the same drug and have to stop. Just look at the label warnings on almost every drug.
It's also possible that certain drugs/herbs are tolerated better by those with little or no liver damage. Just speculation, mind you.
Curious, how much Rooibos did you drink on tx and after -- a cup a day, quart a day, etc. Also, what stage liver damage did you have, and how old are you?
I have been drinking different flavors of Roobos and Honey Bush teas for years. It was my main source of clear liquids during my last and successful TX.
I have had my liver functions monitored for the last 9 years, after I started drinking Roobos Tea there was no difference in any the numbers. I still continue to drink the tea as my favorite beverage, I also enjoy Oolong and Green teas next. I love a good White tea also.
Here is the place I buy all my Teas. I have found them to be the cheapest, with exceptional service.
At my last BX I was stage 3 grade 2. I had to treat 3 times before finally killing the dragon.
I drank about 1 1/2 quarts of Roobos per day during my last round of TX. I currently drink about 3/4s of a quart a day now.
My favorite is the Vanilla Roobos. The Green Roobos is suppose to be the highest in antioxidants.
If you like tea, try the Oolong, it is naturally low in caffeine and has a great fruity/nutty taste.
I will pray that you are SVR, Also that the SX from the TX go away quickly.
Thanks again. So much for the liver stage theory -- at least in your case.
Unfortunately, trying to stay away from coffee and traditional teas (caffinated or defaf) because of my GERD (reflux) and prostate issues.
That's one of the reasons I liked the idea of rooibos -- besides the antioxidants and taste it has no caffeine and low in tannic acid. I'll continue to experiment with what works and what doesn't. Cammomile seems fine with the GERD, but only like to drink later at night as it's a bit too relaxing.
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