Jaundice is due to absorption of bile into the blood vessels, a disposition of bile pigment in the skin and mucous membrane. [HHH p.100]


A morbid affliction characterized by yellowness of the skin, eyes, mucous membranes, and urine, due to bile pigments in the blood and tissues, [SNH p.34] bitter taste in mouth and constipation. Urine is dark, there is a slight fever, headache, and dizziness. [HHH p.100]


The liver is the main seat of the problem. The bile does not excrete properly and is passed off into the blood stream and the body tissues, causing a toxic condition (called cholemia) causing indigestion, sluggishness, fatigue, constipation, upset stomach, chills, vomiting, and fever. The stools become a light clay or chalky color, the skin takes on a gold cast, yellow shows in the whites of the eyes, and bile deposits in the skin causing itching. [SNH p.34]

As we said, jaundice, hepatitis, and contagious hepatitis stem from a liver/gall bladder malfunction. This is the cause, but the cause behind this cause is diet.

Jethro Kloss (Back to Eden, Beneficial Book, Box 404, New York 10016) gives the following on jaundice:

Causes: Obstruction of the bile. When the bile gets into the blood or circulation it causes the skin all over the body to become yellow, as well as the whites of the eyes. The bile does several important things: It neutralizes the gastric juice which would otherwise interfere with intestinal digestion; it alkalinizes the food and enables the system to take care of it; it has a special effect on the fatty foods. Deficient bile is the cause of constipation. Derangement of the stomach, liver and bowels is the cause of this ailment, and of course, these troubles arise from errors in diet. [HHH p.100]

Herbal aids:

Carrot Juice: This will bring the skin from clear to yellow (as the liver clears) and then back to normal, which is a sign that the bile is now cleared and flowing properly into the intestinal tract. Tonics for the liver are helpful, such as barberry, carrot juice, blueberry bark, cranesbill (crow foot) root, red raspberry root, and white oak bark. Proceed with caution since rapid unloading of toxic bile may upset the body and induce vomiting as well as turn the skin extremely yellow. Take golden seal and drink fruit juice to help cleanse. Other excellent herbs for this liver problem are agrimony, dandelion, mandrake root, self-heal and yarrow. Unsweetened fresh lemonade is good. [SNH p.6]

Dr. John R. Christophers "Three Day Cleansing Program":  One of the safest and fastest methods of reversing these conditions is to follow the three-day cleanse routine as follows: drink apple juice each waking hour, swishing (chewing) each mouthful of the juice in the mouth, so the saliva mixes with it thoroughly. A child eight years old or older can generally use an eight-ounce glass each hour, younger children in proportion. No other food is used. If desired, on the half-hour distilled water can be used. During each day of the three days, take one tablespoon or more of sweet-tasting (not rancid) olive oil, three times during the day. To take away the oily taste, eat an apple or "chew" juice well right after the oil. [HHH p.100]

Give the child the lower bowel formula [Lower Bowel] several times a day to keep the bowels clear. This is a very important part of the program--keeping the bowels free. One way to help is to start the day off with eight ounces or more of prune juice. Any good brand from the grocer's shelf is good, as long as nothing has been added such as preservatives, etc.

During each day have the child take one half cup (more or less according to age) of a liver-gallbladder tea formula three times a day. One of the best formulas we have recommended for many years is; three parts barberry root (Berberis vulgaris) or substitute Oregon grape root or rocky mountain grape root, and one part of wild yam. If wild yam is not available, substitute two parts of sweet fennel seed. [HHH p.101]
Castor Oil Fomentation: During acute stages of jaundice (hepatitis), use a castor oil fomentation over the liver and gall bladder area (right side, lower rib cage and across abdomen). Massage castor oil (circular clockwise motion) over the area, using it liberally. Or soak a flannel cloth in castor oil, squeeze out excess and cover area. After castor oil is applied either by massage or fomentation (the latter is better), cover the area, flannel and all, with a hot wet towel. Keep a hot water bottle or a moist-type heating pad over the area for a half hour to an hour several times daily. Repeat the entire program from time to time until condition is cleared. Then stay on the mucusless diet, use plenty of carrot and other type juices and no less than one ounce of steam distilled water per each pound of body weight each day. [HHH p.101]

Alfalfa: This has been used in the treatment of jaundice. Harris reports that some doctors supply their patients with fresh Alfalfa. [UW-Alfalfa]

Butcher's Broom: This is not as commonly used in modern times as it once was. It is also called Knee-Holly because it grows to about the height of a man's knee and has prickly leaves and red berries; it also grows in the vicinity of holly bushes, mostly in England and Europe. It is an excellent herb for the urinary system, opening obstructions and increasing the flow, expelling gravel, and also working on an adjacent system, the female tract, helping to bring on suppressed menstruation. Because of its action on the urinary system, it is excellent for cases of jaundice. The herb also acts as a diaphoretic. [UW-Butcher's Broom]

Wormwood: Take 2 fluid ounces of the infusion 3-4 times daily. [SNH p.108]

See formula using raspberry leaves, barberry bark, agrimony, cleavers, mountain flax and cayenne. [SNH p.147]

Dr. Shook's Jaundice Formula: See formula using turkey rhubarb, aloe leaf, fringetree, Culver's root, wahoo bark, poke root and nux vomica seeds. [SNH p.186]

Compound Syrup of Mandrake: Uses mandrake root, licorice root, ginger root and sugar. [SNH p.196] Regulate the dose to suit the bowels, trying to effect a soft, molded stool and avoiding any tendency to diarrhea. The formula is slow working, but if persisted in for a time, it will act with certainty in clearing jaundice conditions and restoring the liver to normal function. [SNH p.197]

Culver's Root: Culver's root may profitably be used alone 3-5 drops of fluid extract (add cayenne where the pulse is weak); or, it is beneficially combined with positive hepatic stimulants (such as mandrake or bitter root) [SNH p.206]

Bitter Root: Give 3-5 drops of fluid extract every 2-3 hours combined with tincture of cayenne or some syrup of ginger, in water, etc. [SNH p.209]

See formula using boneset, butternut and ginger. [SNH p.227]

Compound Lobelia Capsules: See formula using lobelia and lobelia seed, cayenne, acacia vera and anise seed. [SNH p.364]

See formula using balmony, golden seal, dwarf elder, gentian, prickly ash and wahoo. [SNH p.460]

Infant Jaundice: Many parents worry about infant jaundice, which occurs in an increasingly high percentage of newborns, which some attribute to the use of drugs in the birth process. Although the symptoms are pretty much the same--yellowness in the skin and eyes--there are actually three kinds of jaundice. Physiological jaundice occurs in blonde babies, Native American babies, those born with the aid of drugs, those not allowed to nurse immediately after birth and on-demand, and preemies. This "normal" jaundice occurs in an actively-nursing and otherwise active, normal baby. It disappears within one month. In order to help the baby overcome this jaundice be sure that the baby passes its meconium within the first day, because meconium contains bilirubin which causes this jaundice. Nurse the baby lots in order to help the meconium pass; if it doesn't come within a day or two, you might need to see a doctor to find if there is something wrong with the baby's eliminatory system. Take the baby out into the sunlight, naked, for a few minutes each day, or let him lie undressed in front of a sunlit window if the weather is cold. Sunlight breaks down bilirubin. Do this every day until the baby's color is normal. Catnip, comfrey and dandelion tea are said to be good for relieving the problem; drink them yourself, and offer a few drops, from an eyedropper, to the baby; however, do not give any honey to a small baby!...As a side note, I believe the best form for giving herbs to a small baby is in tincture or extract form. We gave Sarah dandelion extract, along with yellow dock, catnip, marshmallow, and others, and I believe they were extremely helpful in healing her. Three drops of tincture or extract can equal a full cup of tea for a little one; it is much easier to administer.

Doctors admit that another form of jaundice, breastmilk jaundice, is extremely rare. Doctors say that this jaundice is also not life-threatening. You can stop breastfeeding for a day, or at the most two, if you wish, but I would just keep taking dandelion for the liver and supplying milk for the baby. Some mothers take fresh wheat grass juice, giving a few drops to the baby.

Both physiological and breastmilk jaundice occur in a healthy, active baby. Neither requires special treatment, and the bilirubin usually goes down after the third day. Many doctors wish to treat these babies with bilirubin lights for these types of jaundice. The dangers of this treatment to babies have been identified as irritability and sluggishness, diarrhea, lactase deficiency, intestinal irritation, dehydration, feeding problems, riboflavin deficiency, disturbance of bilirubin-albumin relationship, poor visual orientation with possible diminished responsiveness to parents, and DNA-modified effects (The People's Doctor, Vol. 4, No. 7, p. 2). In addition Dr. James Sidbury of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development suspects phototherapy might be responsible for increased mortality, particularly in small infants, because of lung problems and hemorrhage.

The only dangerous kind of jaundice is pathological, resulting from an Rh or ABO blood incompatibility, or a damaged or malformed liver, or as a side effect of something wrong with the mother, including drug use. The bilirubin continues to rise after the third day, and the baby becomes dehydrated and lethargic. This unnatural condition must be treated medically, as it can lead to brain damage. As usual, the best way to decide what to do is to watch your baby and follow your maternal intuition. [EWH p.95]

Juices: Dandelion, carrot & spinach, apple, grape, tomato. [NL 3-5]

Barberry: Edward Shook, among many herbalists, identifies Barberry as one of the best herbs for stimulating the liver, especially useful in cases of jaundice, causing the bile to flow more freely (ATH: 208). Jaundice results from bile buildup in the tissues, causing skin, eyes, mucus membranes and urine to turn yellow. Barberry can soften and breakup congealed bile and cause it to flow through the gallbladder into the digestive tract (H:439). [NL 5-4]


A woman was brought into a hospital with serious jaundice. She had been well up to the onset of the disease, but had become extremely yellow in just a few days. She then began to bleed from her nose, from the bowel, and clots of blood began to form under her skin! Bile in the blood--which is what jaundice is--prevents the clotting of blood, and so doctors hesitate to do surgery for that reason. The laboratory analysis showed that the prothrombin in the woman's blood--the element necessary for clotting--was only five percent of what it should have been. A researcher recommended that the situation be treated with Alfalfa, which it was, and the woman completely recovered. [UW-Alfalfa]

See Also:

Liver and Gallbladder: Dr. Christopher's Liver-Gallbladder Formula
Dr. John R. Christophers "Three Day Cleansing Program"

"Natural Healing with Herbs for a Healthier You"