Liver toxins, death cap mushrooms: think Milk Thistle


Milk Thistle seeds look rather like dark sunflower seeds. The taste of roasted Milk Thistle seeds also like sunflower but for medicinal purposes don’t bother roasting them. A teaspoonful to chew on is not unpleasant. For dogs the seeds should be ground.

What foods and substances are toxic or unhealthy? It depends… Or as lawyers say, what’s the context, what are the circumstances? Without those details the question cannot have a reliable answer. Jean Drapeau, the Mayor of Montreal at the time of the Olympics, said, don’t answer hypothetical questions.

The dose and the host make the poison and the cure.

Paracelsus, 500 years ago wrote what was already well-established in ancient health and medicine doctrines, “All things are poison, and nothing is without poison; only the dose permits something not to be poisonous.” The herbalist monk in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliette says the same in more poetic detail.

SHAKESPEARE “In herbs, plants, stones, and their true qualities:
For nought so vile that on the earth doth live
But to the earth some special good doth give,
Nor aught so good but strain’d from that fair use
Revolts from true birth, stumbling on abuse:
Virtue itself turns vice, being misapplied;
And vice sometimes by action dignified.”

My grandfather Francis White suffered occasional “intermittent fevers” from malaria living in China 100 years ago. One episode he recounts that the usual doses were not working,and larger doses of quinine were likely to be toxic. So he suggested to his doctor, a friend and fellow missionary Francis Goddard, to try a North American patent medicine, Indian Cholegogue, which did work. The formula is not known but publications of herbal medicine ca. 1880 propose that it contained quinine and several other herbs that amplified the effects so less of the potentially toxic components were needed.

Food and the usual metabolites of digestion and decomposition or catabolism in the body are conditionally toxic according to what amount is consumed, what other foods consumed at the same time, what is the “terrain,” the animal’s baseline health, internal and external environment. Glucose, sugar is a good example of a conditional toxin. Diabetics must limit their consumption of sugar and glycemic foods to avoid serious health problems, what could be called sugar poisoning.

Vitamins A and D are both toxic according to circumstances but together in optimum ratios may be better utilized and nontoxic at higher levels than could be tolerated separately.

To know the means look to the extremes:

Liver toxins, death cap mushrooms, milk thistle

Death Cap mushroom ingestion is usually irreversibly deadly, turning the liver into jelly.

Based on traditional use, milk thistle has been used as an emergency antidote for poisoning by death cap mushroom (Amanita phalloides). Animal studies have found that milk thistle extract completely counteracts the toxic effects of the mushroom when given within 10 minutes of ingestion. If given within 24 hours, it significantly reduces the risk of liver damage and death.

One medical paradigm is to identify the cause and find a specific remedy or antidote. The presumption of being able to find the root cause which may depend on myriad factors often breaks down. The longer standing tradition, partly exemplified by the Eclectic herbalist school, is based not on hubris but generations of experience with treatments and remedies for similar conditions and symptoms. Treat the symptoms…

Other liver support and detox foods: chlorella and spirulina microalgae, cilantro, cilantro seed/coriander, celery seed, garlic, burdock, ginger, turmeric, dandelion, plantain, rat root-calamus. None of these are toxic at functional and effective dosage levels the way most isolated reductionist drugs and conventional Establishment medicines can be.