Pre-surgery herbal boost
Question: I am going for surgery in about a month. I take a variety of herbal supplements each day. Should I stop before I go?
Dr. Wright: My colleague Kerry Bone has some excellent advice on this subject. I'll let him take over on this one:
The basic advice I can give is to stop taking all herbs about one week prior to surgery as a cautious, conservative approach. The exception is milk thistle, which can help offset one of the most debilitating aspects of surgery: the side effects of general anesthesia.
Based on what I've seen in my own patients, the longer the surgical procedure, and hence the longer they're under general anesthesia, the more likely it is that they'll experience ill effects. But milk thistle (Silybum marianum) reduces that risk by minimizing impact of general anesthesia on the whole body--especially the liver. I recommend starting the herb (in concentrated silymarin extract tablet form) about three weeks prior to surgery. Continue taking it right up to the day before surgery and then pick up right where you left off as soon as possible afterwards.
The dosage amounts depend on the anticipated length of the procedure (and the time you'll be under general anesthesia). For surgery up to two hours, I recommend 600 mg a day, and you should continue taking it for four weeks after surgery. If the surgery takes between two and four hours, I suggest taking 800 mg a day, and then continuing that dose for six weeks after surgery. And for surgery more than four hours long, I still recommend taking 800 mg a day, but continue that dose each day for two to three months post-surgery.
Keep in mind that milk thistle primarily protects the liver against toxic insult and is very safe. In fact, there's no evidence to suggest that it interacts with drugs by speeding up the rate that the liver metabolizes them, so it won't adversely interact with the anesthetic drugs.
About the author
Jonathan V. Wright, M.D. has degrees from both Harvard University (cum laude) and the University of Michigan. More than any other doctor, he practically invented the modern science of applied nutritional biochemistry and he has advanced nutritional medicine for nearly three decades.
As of today, Dr. Wright has received over 35,000 patient visits at his now-famous Tahoma Clinic in Washington State.
To learn more about Dr. Wright, and to sign up for his free Health e-Tips eLetter, please visit www.wrightnewsletter.com.