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Milk Thistle and Elevated Liver Enzymes

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sstefano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 13 2011 at 11:43am
Donna,
 
Thank you! You are amazing. I bought the CVS brand, it is a little lower - 175 mg (80% Silymarin). Hopefully it will work. I will see how the AST will be next week. ALT and bilirubin have been always normal and Alc Phos is actually getting down. It is just that AST is going up. Go figure. I am on weekly taxol/avastin. I don't want them to reduce the dose. Hopefully this combo still works. I've been on it for a month.
 
Thanks! 
DX 04/97@32 stg 3 ACx4; DX 06/06@41 stg 2 Xeloda x6; 10/10@46 mets carboplatin x10, 07/11 - Xeloda; BRCA1 positive 5382insC
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 123Donna Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 13 2011 at 11:55am
Please let us know if it helps.  I would take 2 to 3 capsules a day and saw the most benefit when I took 3 capsules.  Also make sure your onc knows you're taking this supplement.  I told mine about it and she didn't have any concerns but probably didn't think much of it.  When she saw that it helped me, she was supportive of it.  
DX IDC TNBC 6/09 age 49, Stage 1,Grade 3, 1.5cm,0/5Nodes,KI-67 48%,BRCA-,6/09bi-mx, recon, T/C X4(9/09)
11/10 Recur IM node, Gem,Carb,Iniparib 12/10,MRI NED 2/11,IMRT Radsx40,CT NED11/13,MRI NED3/15

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sstefano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 19 2011 at 10:14pm

I've been taking milk thistle for about a week now. Unfortunatelly the AST went up again. Last week it was 74, this week it was 100. All other liver function tests are normal. Actually Alc Phos went down to a normal range. AST really worries me. I did not expect that.

Donna,
 
Do you think less than a week of milk thistle is too early to say if it works or not? I see that you had good results in two weeks.
 
Thank you!
DX 04/97@32 stg 3 ACx4; DX 06/06@41 stg 2 Xeloda x6; 10/10@46 mets carboplatin x10, 07/11 - Xeloda; BRCA1 positive 5382insC
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 123Donna Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 19 2011 at 10:21pm
From my personal experience a week may not be enough time.  Are you taking 3 capsules a day?  I hope you see an improvement on your next test.

Donna
DX IDC TNBC 6/09 age 49, Stage 1,Grade 3, 1.5cm,0/5Nodes,KI-67 48%,BRCA-,6/09bi-mx, recon, T/C X4(9/09)
11/10 Recur IM node, Gem,Carb,Iniparib 12/10,MRI NED 2/11,IMRT Radsx40,CT NED11/13,MRI NED3/15

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sstefano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 19 2011 at 11:12pm
Donna,
 
I've been taking 3 a day since last Thursday so even less than a week. Hopefully next week I will see an improvement. Taxol/Avastin can't work great for two weeks and then stop, right? I just had my 6th weekly treatment but for the last 3 weeks the AST went the wrong direction.
 
Thanks so much!
Svetlana
DX 04/97@32 stg 3 ACx4; DX 06/06@41 stg 2 Xeloda x6; 10/10@46 mets carboplatin x10, 07/11 - Xeloda; BRCA1 positive 5382insC
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 123Donna Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 20 2011 at 7:41am
When I was on gem/carbo/iniparib and had 2 weekly tx, then off a week, I found my ALT/AST levels rose each week.  It would really jump the first week, then again the second week.  I usually could get it down to reasonable levels by the end of the off week.  The trial wouldn't let me get tx if it was more than 2.5 times the normal level.  I sure hope you see an improvement in your levels.  Will your treatment be delayed if your AST gets too high?
DX IDC TNBC 6/09 age 49, Stage 1,Grade 3, 1.5cm,0/5Nodes,KI-67 48%,BRCA-,6/09bi-mx, recon, T/C X4(9/09)
11/10 Recur IM node, Gem,Carb,Iniparib 12/10,MRI NED 2/11,IMRT Radsx40,CT NED11/13,MRI NED3/15

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Grateful for today Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 20 2011 at 1:43pm
Hi,

Had not been following the milk thistle/elevated liver enzymes topic.
Yesterday, a friend mentioned the nutritionist at a cancer center said to be careful of
milk thistle due to the question of estrogenic effects. (Realize we are TNBC).
Think she said there was some new info (Sorry, did not get reference. If I get reference, will post).
Her nutritionist's concern spiked my curiosity on the subject.
Sounds like many on the site know a lot about milk thistle so defer to them.
As with any alternative supplement, we all check things like this with our MD's.

I don't have an opinion on milk thistle. Just sharing info I found when looked for info.
(Donna already posted the Mayo Clinic info)
From mayoclinic.com:   milk thistle
Theoretically, because milk thistle plant extract might have estrogenic effects, women with hormone sensitive conditions should avoid milk thistle above ground parts. Some of these conditions include breast, uterine, and ovarian cancer, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids. The more commonly used milk thistle seed extracts are not known to have estrogenic effects.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
From: ww5.komen.org      (breast cancer   milk thistle)
SAFETY:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare professional before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare professional immediately if you experience side effects.
SIDE EFFECTS and Warnings:
Milk thistle appears to be well tolerated in recommended doses for up to six years. Some patients in studies have experienced stomach upset, headache, and itching. There are rare reports of appetite loss, gas, heartburn, diarrhea, joint pain, and impotence with milk thistle use. One person experienced sweating, nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, and collapse after taking milk thistle. This reaction may have been due to an allergic reaction, and improved after 24 hours. High liver enzyme levels in one person taking milk thistle returned to normal after the person stopped taking the herb.
     In theory, milk thistle may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugars. Serum glucose levels may need to be monitored by a healthcare provider, and medication adjustments may be necessary.
     Theoretically, because milk thistle plant extract might have estrogenic effects, women with hormone sensitive conditions should avoid milk thistle above ground parts. Some of these conditions include breast, uterine, and ovarian cancer, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids. The more commonly used milk thistle seed extracts are not known to have estrogenic effects.
     Exacerbation of hemochromatosis has been associated with ingestion of milk thistle.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
From breastcancer.org
Milk Thistle
Page last modified on: April 6, 2009
Also known as: Silybum marianum, holy thistle, lady's thistle.
Potential uses: It's thought that milk thistle can reduce changes in liver function that may be brought on by chemotherapy. Some people also take milk thistle to reduce the risk of cancer.
Usual dose: 240 milligrams twice per day.
Are there any risks? Milk thistle can interact with some chemotherapy drugs — check with your doctor before you start taking it. Extracts from parts of the plant other than the seeds may increase estrogen levels in the body. Side effects include stomach upset, allergic reaction, and diarrhea.
What does the research say? Laboratory research on cells suggests that milk thistle may reduce the growth of cancer cells, but there has been no research done on people.

Grateful for today..............Judy
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 123Donna Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 20 2011 at 2:31pm
Judy.

Thanks for the information.  The milk thistle I took was from the seed extract, which doesn't appear to cause estrogenic effects.  Here's the link on the supplement facts:
http://www.gnc.com/product/index.jsp?productId=4091650

As always, we should let our oncs know all supplements we are taking. 

Donna
DX IDC TNBC 6/09 age 49, Stage 1,Grade 3, 1.5cm,0/5Nodes,KI-67 48%,BRCA-,6/09bi-mx, recon, T/C X4(9/09)
11/10 Recur IM node, Gem,Carb,Iniparib 12/10,MRI NED 2/11,IMRT Radsx40,CT NED11/13,MRI NED3/15

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sstefano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 20 2011 at 6:41pm
Donna,
 
I don't think they will delay the treatment if AST is high. I am not in a study. I did not see a doctor or a nurse this time. Last week when it was 74 they told me not to worry. I do hope it is taxol toxicity and milk thistle will help eventually.
 
Thanks for your help!
DX 04/97@32 stg 3 ACx4; DX 06/06@41 stg 2 Xeloda x6; 10/10@46 mets carboplatin x10, 07/11 - Xeloda; BRCA1 positive 5382insC
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 123Donna Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov 15 2011 at 8:34pm

Milk thistle extract stops lung cancer in mice


Tissue with wound-like conditions allows tumors to grow and spread. In mouse lung cancer cells, treatment with silibinin, a major component of milk thistle, removed the molecular billboards that signal these wound-like conditions and so stopped the spread of these lung cancers, according to a recent study published in the journal Molecular Carcinogenesis.

Though the natural extract has been used for more than 2,000 years, mostly to treat disorders of the liver and gallbladder, this is one of the first carefully controlled and reported studies to find benefit.

Here is how it works:

Basically, in a cell there can be a chain of signals, one leading to the next, to the next, and eventually to an end product. And so if you would like to eliminate an end product, you may look to break a link in the signaling chain that leads to it. The end products COX2 and iNOS are enzymes involved with the inflammatory response to perceived wounds A– both can aid tumor growth. Far upstream in the signaling chain that leads to these unwanted enzymes are STAT1 and STAT3. These transcription factors allow the blueprint of DNA to bind with proteins that continue the signal cascade, eventually leading to the production of harmful COX2 and iNOS.

Stop STAT1 and STAT3 and you break the chain that leads to COX2 and iNOS A– and the growth of lung tumors along with them.

“This relatively nontoxic substance A– a derivative of milk thistle, called silibinin A– was able to inhibit the upstream signals that lead to the expression of COX2 and iNOS,” says Alpna Tyagi, PhD, investigator at the University of Colorado Cancer Center and member of the Agarwal Lab at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

In addition, Tyagi and collaborators compared the effects of silibinin to drugs currently in clinical trials for lung cancer. Would drugs that target other signaling pathways A– other linked chains A– similarly cut into the production of COX2 and iNOS?

It turned out that inhibiting the chains of JAK1/2 and MEK in combination and also inhibiting the signaling pathways of EGFR and NF-kB in combination blocked the ability of STAT1 and STAT3 to trap the energy they needed to eventually signal COX2 and iNOS production.

Compared to these multi-million dollar drugs, naturally-occurring silibinin blocked not only the expression of COX2 and iNOS, but also the migration of existing lung cancer cells.

“What we showed is that STAT1 and STAT3 may be promising therapeutic targets in the treatment of lung cancer, no matter how you target them,” Tyagi says. “And also that naturally-derived products like silibinin may be as effective as today’s best treatments.”

###

Contact: Garth Sundem
garth.sundem@ucdenver.edu
University of Colorado Denver

http://www.breakthroughdigest.com/medical-news/milk-thistle-extract-stops-lung-cancer-in-mice/

DX IDC TNBC 6/09 age 49, Stage 1,Grade 3, 1.5cm,0/5Nodes,KI-67 48%,BRCA-,6/09bi-mx, recon, T/C X4(9/09)
11/10 Recur IM node, Gem,Carb,Iniparib 12/10,MRI NED 2/11,IMRT Radsx40,CT NED11/13,MRI NED3/15

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lorene Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov 15 2011 at 11:17pm

I want to share that when I was going through chemo (10 yrs ago), my liver enzymes were elevated too.  No one mentioned to me that it was a concern, only that it was caused by the chemo and the normal levels would return, which they did.  I was not taking anything to lower the enzymes.  But I have taken Milk Thistle off and on the last few years, as it is a detoxifier.  Thank you, Donna, for all your research.  Just wanted to share my experience so no one became overly alarmed with high liver enzyme numbers. 

Lorene
dx10/01@age59,IDC TNBC, St.IIB,Gr3,2.5cm,3+nodes, epirubicin,5FU,cytoxan,33Rads,No recurrence, 2018
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote K in Sugar Land Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov 16 2011 at 8:48am
Craig76 and sstefano,
 
I too have had a pulling sensation or pressure sensation in the area of the liver or gall bladder.  ( My breast tumor was at 6:00 on the right breast.)  I would not describe the sensation as pain and the sensation is not constant.  I had an ultrasound several months ago to make sure this was not a gall bladder issue, and per the ultrasound the gall bladder was fine.  Is it possible to have some sort of nerve damage or neuropathy in this area, especially if the sensation is relatively close to the tumor site?
 
I appreciate everyone's comments on milk thistle.  I will be adding this one to my routine.


Edited by K in Sugar Land - Nov 16 2011 at 9:26am
Dx IDC TNBC MDA2/11 age 51 T2N0M0 Grd 3 4.8cm BRCA- vitD22 Taxol 12wk FAC once 3 wk for 12 wk Complete chemo8/11 Tumor not seen on scans Lumpsurgery 0/4 nodes9/11 pCR 30rads done11/11 NED vitD3903/12
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Barbi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov 16 2011 at 10:51am
I started taking milk thistle about 3 weeks ago after I noticed my liver enzymes creeping up (due to chemo or liver involvement? - who knows).  I have since noted that in the book put out by the Cancer Society which is about complementary and alternative medicines/interventions, they do note that there is reason to further research milk thistle as it appears to have anti-cancer properties as well.  I haven't had a repeat liver enzyme study done yet, so I don't know if it's worked.
 
I am not the best person to comment, K, but I do know if you've had any type of node removal/surgery, that can cause discomfort into the muscles over/under the ribs. My PT recommended lots of stretching and ROM to prevent/cure that.
10/10,age49,St3,gr3,5+cm,1 node,BRCA-,T+Cisplatin+Rad0001(or placebo),Lump 1+cm,AND 0/15,AC,rads finished 7/6/11.Mets bone, liver,mamm node 8/11,abrax/tigatuzamab failed.Started bicalutamide 11/16/11.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jerry Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 27 2012 at 4:41pm
Hi,  I am trying to lower my elevated liver enzymes as well.  I have purchased organic milk thistle seeds but I am unclear as to how much I should take on a daily basis.  How many tea/tablespoons should I take? Thanks so much for listening!
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My liver enzymes were way up after my first round of DD A/C.   Luckily, they came down a bit before my second dose as my onc almost was going to reduce or delay my treatment.   I remembered seeing your posts here because I was looking into starting my 20 year old cat on Milk Thistle because her liver enzymes were up.   I started giving it to her about a month ago and she is doing so much better - eating better and weight has stabilized.    My MO said he had never had a patient like me with such elevated liver enzymes.    So, I told him about Milk thistle and sked if I could start taking it too.   He said yes, so I started it Monday when I got home from my second DD A/C.   I am having blood drawn next week on Mon, 1/13/12, so will see if it is helping at all.    I am taking about 750 mg per day, split in two - once AM and once PM.    Thank you Donna for putting this information out here.   I am glad I saw it!!!!    I will follow-up once I know if it is helping.
Found lump 9/16/11, age 55, Diagnosed 10/27 IDC TN, LX/SNB 12/7/11, Stage 1, Grade 3, 1.8 cm, 0/3 nodes, BRCA-, DD A/C on 1/23/12, followed by DD Taxol. 3/14/14 Stage IV, 3/26/14 Paclitaxel
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 123Donna Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 16 2012 at 5:37pm
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Originally posted by 123Donna 123Donna wrote:

Judy.

Thanks for the information.  The milk thistle I took was from the seed extract, which doesn't appear to cause estrogenic effects.  Here's the link on the supplement facts:
http://www.gnc.com/product/index.jsp?productId=4091650

As always, we should let our oncs know all supplements we are taking. 

Donna

Note:  I take 3 capsules (200 mg) a day, usually one capsule after each meal.


Edited by 123Donna - Feb 16 2012 at 5:38pm
DX IDC TNBC 6/09 age 49, Stage 1,Grade 3, 1.5cm,0/5Nodes,KI-67 48%,BRCA-,6/09bi-mx, recon, T/C X4(9/09)
11/10 Recur IM node, Gem,Carb,Iniparib 12/10,MRI NED 2/11,IMRT Radsx40,CT NED11/13,MRI NED3/15

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CatWhispurrer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 18 2012 at 1:38pm
YeaH!   My liver values are getting down close to normal after only one week on Milk Thistle.  ALT went from 165 to 91 (norm 6-40), AST went back to normal from 38 to 28 (10-35), and ALK PHOS went from 174 to 149 (norm 33-130).    They will check them again next Monday when I go to AC tx #3 but it will be a GO for the full treatment.  
Found lump 9/16/11, age 55, Diagnosed 10/27 IDC TN, LX/SNB 12/7/11, Stage 1, Grade 3, 1.8 cm, 0/3 nodes, BRCA-, DD A/C on 1/23/12, followed by DD Taxol. 3/14/14 Stage IV, 3/26/14 Paclitaxel
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 123Donna Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 30 2013 at 10:21pm
Interesting studies on Milk Thistle Extract

Silibinin, found in milk thistle, protects against UV-induced skin cancer


A pair of University of Colorado Cancer Center studies published this month show that the milk thistle extract, silibinin, kills skin cells mutated by UVA radiation and protects against damage by UVB radiation ? thus protecting against UV-induced skin cancer and photo-aging.

“When you have a cell affected by UV radiation, you either want to repair it or kill it so that it cannot go on to cause cancer. We show that silibinin does both,” says Rajesh Agarwal, PhD, co-program leader of Cancer Prevention and Control at the CU Cancer Center and professor at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

The first study, published in the journal Photochemistry and Photobiology worked with human skin cells subjected to UVA radiation, which makes up about 95 percent of the sun’s radiation that reaches Earth. The Agarwal Lab treated these UVA-affected cells with silibinin. With silibinin, the rate at which these damaged cells died increased dramatically.

“When you take human skin cells ? keratinocytes ? and treat them with silibinin, nothing happens. It’s not toxic. But when you damage these cells with UVA radiation, treatment with silibinin kills the cells,” Agarwal says, thus removing the mutated cells that can cause skin cancer and photo-aging.

Specifically, the study shows that pretreatment with silibinin resulted in higher release of reactive oxygen species (ROS) within the UVA-exposed cells, leading to higher rates of cell death.

The second study, published this month by the same authors in the journal Molecular Carcinogenesisshows that instead of beneficially killing cells damaged by UVA radiation, treatment with silibinin protects human skill cells from damage by UVB radiation, which makes up about 5 percent of the sun’s radiation reaching Earth.

Again, remember Agarwal’s suggestion that the prevention of UV-induced skin cancer can happen in two ways: by protecting against DNA damage or by killing cells with damaged DNA. With UVA, silibinin kills; with UVB, it protects, in this case by increasing cells’ expression of the protein interleukin-12, which works to quickly repair damaged cells.

“It has been 20 years of work with this compound, silibinin,” Agarwal says. “We first noticed its effectiveness in treating both skin and solid cancers, and we now have a much more complete picture of the mechanisms that allow this compound to work.”

Agarwal and colleagues continue to test the effectiveness of silibinin in cancer prevention and treatment in cell lines and mouse models, and are working toward human trials of silibinin-based therapeutics.

http://www.breakthroughdigest.com/medical-news/silibinin-found-in-milk-thistle-protects-against-uv-induced-skin-cancer/

DX IDC TNBC 6/09 age 49, Stage 1,Grade 3, 1.5cm,0/5Nodes,KI-67 48%,BRCA-,6/09bi-mx, recon, T/C X4(9/09)
11/10 Recur IM node, Gem,Carb,Iniparib 12/10,MRI NED 2/11,IMRT Radsx40,CT NED11/13,MRI NED3/15

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote arabella Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 20 2013 at 7:12pm
Thanks for posting all this info about Milk Thistle, Donna!  It's good to know.

I just ordered your tea,  Every Day Detox Promotes Healthy Liver Function by Traditional Medicinals.  I am a tea drinker and think I will try this and since my l. enzymes aren't alarmingly high, I'll see if anything happens on next test.

Did you watch your alcohol intake during this time of higher l. enzymes and did you avoid any foods like eggs?  I have the odd glass of red wine and a beer in the hot summertime.  I'm a vegetarian, but do eat eggs and depend on them for a protein source.

Kaye
Dx TNBC 1/2013; age 63; 1.1 cm; Stage 1, Grade 1(?); lumpectomy clear margins; ALND -; severe SEs to first TC and treatment stopped; radsX25; BRCA -
Recur 6/2015 Mastectomy
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 123Donna Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun 20 2013 at 8:20pm
Kaye,

Just a quick note - the Everyday Detox tea has licorice root and star anise in it.  So it tastes very much like licorice tea.  If you like licorice or anise flavor, you'll love the taste.  If you're not a big fan like me, you'll learn to drink it fast!  Lol

I avoided alcohol when my enzymes were elevated.  I believe the latest elevation was due to some supplements I was taking, probably the fish oil.  My onc isn't a big fan of supplements as he feels the quality control might not be there and many times we don't know where it is manufactured (country).  I found that if I stop taking all supplements a week or two before my blood tests, they seem to improve.  I didn't avoid any foods and I do eat eggs.

Donna
DX IDC TNBC 6/09 age 49, Stage 1,Grade 3, 1.5cm,0/5Nodes,KI-67 48%,BRCA-,6/09bi-mx, recon, T/C X4(9/09)
11/10 Recur IM node, Gem,Carb,Iniparib 12/10,MRI NED 2/11,IMRT Radsx40,CT NED11/13,MRI NED3/15

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