Jaundice is a symptom that can develop as part of various diseases. It refers to the yellowish discoloration of the skin and whites of the eyes. This happens when levels of the chemical bilirubin increase in the bloodstream. Mild elevation in bilirubin levels causes the skin to become yellow. When bilirubin levels are very high, the skin takes on a brown or yellow hue. Jaundice can be categorized into three main types, hepatocellular, hemolytic and obstructive jaundice. Hepatocellular jaundice occurs when injury or disease affects the liver. Hemolytic jaundice develops when the breakdown of red blood cells takes place at an accelerated pace. Obstructive jaundice is the result of a blockage in the tubes that transport bile between the liver, gallbladder and small intestines. Such an obstruction does not allow the bilirubin to leave the liver and this leads to jaundice.
Symptoms of Jaundice
The most prominent of all jaundice symptoms is the yellowish staining of the skin and whites of the eyes. This discoloration first becomes discernible in the facial region and then spreads across the body. Some of the other common symptoms of jaundice include:
- Appetite loss
- Weight loss
- Abdominal discomfort, in case there is obstruction of the bile duct
- Pale colored stools
- Dark yellow urine
- Bitter taste in the mouth
Jaundice commonly develops in babies, usually soon after birth. Infants affected with jaundice may have yellowing of the skin, but this may be difficult to identify since the skin tone of babies is different from adults. Jaundice tests are usually done 36 hours after birth. One can also tell if a baby has jaundice by gently pressing the infant's forehead. If the skin appears yellow in the area that was pressed, it is possible that the baby has jaundice. In case other symptoms such as persistent crying, listlessness and poor feeding are present, it is important for the child to receive medical care.
Causes of Jaundice
Jaundice mainly occurs when an underlying condition affects the bilirubin levels in the blood. In some cases, the liver is unable to remove bilirubin while in other cases; bilirubin may accumulate in the tissues. Some of the underlying disorders that may result in jaundice include:
Remedies for Jaundice
The treatment of jaundice usually begins after diagnosing the underlying cause. The treatment will then be aimed at resolving the specific cause. Jaundice that occurs due to anemia may be treated by elevating the iron levels in the blood through iron supplements or with the intake of foods rich in iron. Jaundice induced by hepatitis may be treated with anti-viral medications. Surgery may be required in cases where the condition develops as a result of blockages. In some cases, jaundice may even develop as a result of, as a side effect from certain medications. In such cases, the jaundice may be treated by altering the dosage or changing the medication.
Medical treatment however is absolutely essential, not just for the treatment, but more importantly for an accurate diagnosis of the underlying cause, so as to facilitate appropriate treatment. Home care and lifestyle modifications are however an important aspect of treatment and the recuperation process. You can also try using other natural methods that are believed to help in the treatment of jaundice, but not all of these methods have been scientifically proven, so exercise caution. Some of the most common jaundice natural remedies include:
- Radish Leaves: You can extract the juice from green radish leaves and drink daily. It helps to regulate abdominal discomfort and also improves appetite. This treatment may be continued for 8 to 10 days.
- Tomatoes: Add some pepper and salt to fresh tomato juice and drink every morning. Lycopene from tomatoes can help to reduce damage to the liver and even facilitate recovery.
- Snake Gourd Leaves: Add some dry snake gourd leaves to boiling water. Then boil coriander seeds in water until it reduces to one third the amount. Combine both decoctions and drink thrice every day.
- Almonds: Soak 7 to 8 almond kernels in water and keep overnight. Peel the almonds, grind into a paste and consume. You can also consume almonds along with dried dates and cardamoms. The dates and cardamoms should also be soaked in water for the night.
- Pigeon Pea Leaves: The juice obtained from pigeon pea leaves are known to be helpful in treating jaundice. Extract the juice and drink in small doses daily.
- Sugarcane Juice: Squeeze half a lime into a glass of sugarcane juice and drink twice or thrice daily. This is a popular remedy for jaundice which is known to quicken recovery. Make sure that the juice is not contaminated in any way. It is better to prepare the juice at home after cleaning the sugarcane thoroughly.
- Lemon Juice: Dilute lemon juice with water and drink frequently during the day. This will help in protecting the liver cells.
- Barley Water: Another hugely popular natural jaundice cure is barley water. Add a cup of barley to about three liters of water and simmer for a couple of hours. Drink this frequently during the day for relief from jaundice.
- Berberis Vultaris: This herb is also known as jaundice berry and is often recommended to those suffering from jaundice. The juice or extract of the herb may be consumed daily.
- Turmeric: Add a quarter teaspoon of turmeric powder to warm water and drink twice daily.
- Papaya Leaves: Grind some tender papaya leaves into a paste. Combine the paste with half a teaspoon of honey and consume.
- Ginger: Extract the juice from a piece of ginger, combine with lime juice and mint juice and consume several times a day.
- Buttermilk: Add a pinch of roasted cumin seeds powder and some salt to buttermilk and consume. This aids in proper digestion and is beneficial for the liver.
- Indian Gooseberry: A useful natural treatment for jaundice, Indian gooseberry may be consumed along with water daily.
- Oregano: Add a couple of teaspoons of oregano to a cup of water and bring to a boil. Simmer for about ten minutes and then strain. Consume this regularly for relieving jaundice symptoms.
Diet for Jaundice
Proper diet and adequate rest is essential for recovery from jaundice. Here are some helpful dietary tips for those affected by jaundice:
- A good intake of fluids helps to remove excess bilirubin from the body through the urine and stool. Make sure that you drink clean, uncontaminated water. Vegetable and fruit juices are also beneficial as they help to regulate the balance of electrolytes in the body. Avoid canned juices. Usually a liquid diet is recommended for the first 4 to 5 days. Alcohol should be avoided completely as it can seriously affect the liver.
- Once the bilirubin levels start decreasing, light foods such as fruits, porridge and yogurt may be added to the diet. You can also consume vegetables such as spinach and carrots. Some amount of lean protein will help in recovery and hence you can also consume egg. It is advisable to divide your meals into smaller portions and eat them frequently during the day. Refrain from eating foods that are oily or spicy. Sugary foods, artificial sweeteners and caffeine should also be avoided.
- As the bilirubin levels reduce to almost normal, you can add foods such as rice, lentil or fish to your diet. Ensure that no oil is used to cook foods. You can eat your fish either boiled or steamed. Avoid eating meat or poultry as it may be difficult to digest.
- Once the symptoms have subsided and you have your doctor's approval, you can eat foods cooked in olive oil. But try to avoid eating foods rich in cholesterol and those which are hard to digest. The body needs time to regain its normal functioning.
Suggestion for Jaundice
The best way to prevent jaundice in babies it to ensure that they are fed sufficiently. Babies that are breast-fed should get 8 to 12 feedings daily for the initial few days after birth. In case of babies that are formula-fed, one to two ounces given every couple of hours is recommended during the first week after birth.
- Aydın S, Tokaç M, Taner G, Arıkök AT, Dündar HZ, Ozkardeş AB, Taşlıpınar MY, Kılıç M, Başaran AA, Başaran N. Antioxidant and antigenotoxic effects of lycopene in obstructive jaundice. J Surg Res. 2013 Jun 15;182(2):285-95. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2012.10.031. Epub 2012 Nov 7. PubMed PMID: 23154037.
Sharma J, Gairola S, Gaur RD, Painuli RM. The treatment of jaundice with medicinal plants in indigenous communities of the Sub-Himalayan region of Uttarakhand, India. J Ethnopharmacol. 2012 Aug 30;143(1):262-91. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2012.06.034. Epub 2012 Jul 1. PubMed PMID: 22759701.
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