By Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© July 2015, L.D. Wilson Consultants, Inc.
Definition. Jaundice is a slight orange or yellowish tint to the skin, especially the palms of the hands. The whites of the eyes may also be slightly yellowish.
This condition is so common that most medical doctors and holistic doctors just ignore it or do not notice it. However, it is not a good sign.
In almost all cases, it is a sign of liver toxicity. It is more common in women, especially teenage girls and young women. This is likely due to their very slow oxidation rate and copper toxicity, in many cases.
CAUSES OF JAUNDICE
Liver toxicity. The most common cause for yellowish skin and sclerae (whites of the eyes) is liver congestion and toxicity. When the liver becomes toxic or too congested, it does not remove enough of an orange-yellow pigment, bilirubin. Instead, some bilirubin circulates in the blood, and gives the skin a more yellowish color.
Bilirubin is a breakdown product when red blood cells are destroyed. It is normal, but the liver should remove it from circulation. Today, however, many people have a somewhat congested liver that does not function perfectly.
Copper. The liver is a common storage area for copper. People with jaundice often have an elevated hair copper, or patterns we call hidden copper toxicity. For more on this, please read Copper Toxicity Syndrome on this website.
Iron, manganese and aluminum. Excessive amounts of toxic forms iron, manganese and aluminum (also called on this website the three amigos) may also cause a slight orange or yellowish tinge to the skin and the whites of the eyes. To read more about this cause of slight jaundice, please read The Three Amigos – Iron, Manganese and Aluminum.
Other amigos. In some cases, excessive amounts of other minerals in oxide form can cause slight jaundice. These may include nickel, cobalt, chromium, selenium, molybdenum, lithium, boron or others.
Slow oxidation. A very slow oxidation rate may be related to mild jaundice. The reason is a sluggish liver that is not detoxifying bilirubin fast enough. Copper toxicity may also be a cause, in these cases.
Drinking carrot juice or eating a lot of carrots. This can also cause a slight yellowing of the skin and sclerae of the eye. However, this is not jaundice and it is harmless. It is simply a lot of carotene circulating in the blood. Carotene is the red pigment found in carrots and a few other vegetables and fruits.
Neonatal jaundice. This is a different condition that occurs only in newborn babies. It is due to an immature liver or toxic liver in newborns that cannot remove enough bilirubin, so the skin and eyes turn a little yellow.
Most often, it is benign and goes away after a week or two of life. If it does not go away, one must see a doctor to find out the cause, but this is rare. A very healthy baby, which is rare today, will not get neonatal jaundice.
Other causes for jaundice. Severe jaundice due to a cirrhotic liver is due to chronic alcoholism. Non-alcoholic cirrhosis is also becoming more common. It is due to liver disease from chronic hepatitis, use of medical drugs or recreational drugs, toxic metal poisoning, and rarely other causes such as liver cancer.
DOES JAUNDICE SHOW UP ON BLOOD OR OTHER TESTS?
Not necessarily. If it is mild, liver function tests may be normal. This is one problem with current liver function tests. An ultrasound of the liver, and even a liver biopsy may also be normal. A hair mineral analysis may reveal copper toxicity, or the presence of the amigos, or other toxic metals.
IS JAUNDICE IMPORTANT?
Yes, because the slight yellowish color is a sign of an impaired or toxic liver. This sign will go away if a person follows a complete nutritional balancing program.
Other signs of mild liver toxicity. In some cases, a person will notice:
1. Pain or tenderness on the upper right side of the abdomen.
2. Digestive problems such as constipation, diarrhea, loss of appetite, gas, bloating, nausea, and/or foul-smelling stools.
4. Bad breath or bad body odor.
5. Less often, one may develop vision problems, itching, mental confusion, or fluid retention. This can mean a more serious liver condition.
ANOTHER MEANING OF THE WORD JAUNDICED
Yes. The word jaundiced is used in English in sentences such as “He looked at me with a jaundiced eye.” This is not necessarily referring to liver disease. It means he looked askance, perhaps looking for something bad or wrong.
Jaundice is a very old symptom that was known thousands of years ago. Ancient people realized that it may be associated with mental changes, if serious. These are also related to liver disease.
Elevated bilirubin can cause mental problems. Liver toxicity can also cause high levels of ammonia and other toxins in the blood that easily affect the brain. These can cause a person to think in a faulty way. So getting rid of jaundice may be important to change one’s way of thinking, as well.