Jaundice comes from the French word jaune, meaning yellow. It got its name so as the skin and whites of the eyes and mucous membranes appear yellow in colour.This occurs as a result of increased production of bilirubin in the human body. When red blood cells die, the heme in their hemoglobin is converted to bilirubin in the spleen and in the hepatocytes in the liver. The bilirubin is processed by the liver, enters bile and is eventually excreted through feces.
Jaundice usually occurs with high fever. The symptoms of jaundice are extreme weakness, headache and fever, loss of appetite, severe constipation, nausea, and yellow discoloration of the eyes, tongue, skin, and urine. The patient may also feel a dull pain in the liver region. Obstructive jaundice may be associated with intense itching. The itching can sometimes be so severe that it causes patients to scratch their skin “raw,” have trouble sleeping, and, rarely, even to commit suicide.
There are three different classes of causes for jaundice. They are Pre-hepatic, hepatic and post hepatic. In the prehepatic, too many red blood cells are broken down. Malaria can cause jaundice in this manner. Hepatic causes include acute hepatitis, hepatotoxicity and alcoholic liver disease, whereby cell necrosis reduces the liver’s ability to metabolise and excrete bilirubin leading to a build up in the blood and in the post-hepatic the removal of bile is disturbed. Post-hepatic jaundice is caused by an interruption to the drainage of bile in the biliary system. The most common causes are gallstones in the common bile duct, and pancreatic cancer in the head of the pancreas. The presence of pale stools and dark urine suggests an obstructive or post-hepatic cause as normal feces get their color from bile pigments. Patients often complain of severe itching.
Neonatal jaundice is usually harmless: this condition is often seen in infants around the second day after birth, lasting until day 8 in normal births, or to around day 14 in premature births.There are several uncommon conditions that give rise to over-production of bilirubin. These conditions include: rapid destruction of red blood cells, a defect in the formation of red blood cells that leads to the over-production of hemoglobin in the bone marrow absorption of large amounts of hemoglobin when there has been much bleeding into tissues. Any condition in which the liver becomes inflamed can reduce the ability of the liver to conjugate and secrete bilirubin. Common examples include acute viral hepatitis, alcoholic hepatitis, and Tylenol-induced liver toxicity.
Chronic liver diseases:
Chronic inflammation of the liver can cause jaundice. Common examples include chronic hepatitis B and C, alcoholic liver disease with cirrhosis, and autoimmune hepatitis. Diseases causing inflammation of the bile ducts, for example, primary biliary cirrhosis or sclerosing cholangitis and some drugs can stop the flow of bile and elimination of bilirubin and lead to jaundice. The most common causes of blockage of the bile ducts are gallstones and pancreatic cancer. Less common causes include cancers of the liver and bile ducts.
Many drugs can cause jaundice. Some drugs can cause liver inflammation (hepatitis) similar to viral hepatitis. Other drugs can cause inflammation of the bile ducts resulting in Jaundice. Drugs also may interfere directly with the chemical processes within the cells of the liver and bile ducts that are responsible for the formation and secretion of bile to the intestine.
The treatment of jaundice differs according to the severity of the disease. The patient has to undergo a variety of tests like blood, urine, etc… The treatment of jaundice usually requires a diagnosis of the specific cause of the jaundice and treatment directed at the specific cause, e.g., removal of a gallstone blocking the bile duct.
The juice of bitter luffa is regarded as an effective remedy for jaundice. It is obtained by pounding and squeezing the bitter luffa through cloth. The juice should be placed on the palm of the hand and drawn up through the nostrils. This will cause a profuse outflow of a yellow-colored fluid through the nostrils.
Tomatoes are valuable in jaundice. A glass of fresh tomato juice, mixed with a pinch of salt and pepper can be taken early in the morning.
One glass of sugarcane juice, mixed with the juice of half a lime and taken twice daily, can hasten recovery from jaundice.
Barley water drunk several times during the day is another good remedy for this disease. One cup of barley should be boiled in three litres of water and simmered for three hours.
The person suffering from jaundice should pay special attention to his diet as it must not affect his digestion. A mild form of viral jaundice can be cured rapidly by diet therapy and physical rest.
A simple light carbohydrate diet with exclusion of fats, best obtained from vegetables and fruits, may be resumed.
Juice like lemon juice and water, beet and beet greens and dandelion or black radish extract are good for rebuilding and cleansing the liver. Rub the body with lemon slices.
Raw or undercooked fish, meat, or poultry should be avoided as all raw fish pose a risk of infection from bacteria, parasites, and viruses.
Digestive disturbances must be avoided. Foods with a tendency to ferment in the lower intestines like pulses and legumes should not be included in the diet.
Avoid consuming alcohol as it place a great stain on the liver, which may worsen the condition further.
A combination therapy made from dandelion, the silverweed and black radish juice can help stimulate the liver and the gall bladder. Detoxification of the liver and gall-bladder is necessary to alleviate jaundice permanently.
Black radish juice and some other kinds of radishes are excellent for jaundice. Make fresh black radish juice, with the black skin on, and drink 1 tablespoon diluted in water three times daily.
Beet leaves and roots rejuvenate and rebuild the liver. Add 1 cup of boiling water to 1 teaspoon of leaves and roots, steep and drink twice daily.
Burdock root and red clover aid in cleansing the blood.
Calendula is useful in the treatment of liver complaints.
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