Note: The Clinic Memoirs are based on real experiences from Occupy Medical clinic, a free, integrated health clinic that serves patients primarily, but not exclusively, in Lane County, Oregon since 2011. The names of the patients and a few personal details are changed to protect patient identity.

A woman arrived at our clinic distraught and anxious. She didn’t want to be seen for herself but instead for the sake of a friend. He was gravely ill with hepatitis, and she wanted to be sure we could help before she brought him here. She was used to seeing the doors of our healthcare system slam in her face.

Her friend had hepatitis. His liver was shutting down. He moved up to Oregon from another state because he had run out of resources. He couldn’t afford to treat himself anymore and assumed he had come up here to die in the comforting presence of loved ones.

The medic conferred with her for quite some time, getting as much information as we could from her. We concluded we had the resources to help him. She heaved a deep sigh and drove off to find her friend.

When he arrived we could see his disease had truly progressed to a dangerous level. He suffered from abdominal pain. His eyes and skin had turned a distinctive orange color. His urine was brown. He was losing weight he did not have to lose. He was in debilitating pain. He needed help immediately.

Gary arrived with his paperwork, so we had a diagnosis to work with already. The doctor gave him the appropriate medication and sent him to me. Gary was comfortable with Western medicine but preferred herbal support.

First, we talked about his diet and living situation and made suggestions he found workable. The we talked about herbs. Dandelion was our first choice. Dandelion does wonders for patients with kidney and liver damage. Gary didn’t have bile duct or gall bladder obstructions and he wasn’t on lithium or hypoglycemic medications so we didn’t have to worry about counter indications.

The sesquiterpene lactones in dandelion root and leaves would stimulate his ailing liver and provide the antiinflammatory relief his body sorely needed. I gave Gary a compound of Milk Thistle, Dandelion, and Rosemary with strict dosage instructions and sent him on his way. As he thanked us for our help, we reminded him to return the following week. We advised him and his friend of symptoms to watch out for that would require a trip to the emergency room.

Gary returned the following week. He was already feeling better. He wanted more of the dandelion compound. He reported it made him feel much better. The doctor was pleased with his progress as well. In the months that followed, we saw less and less of Gary. He always greeted us with a hug and a smile when he arrived. His symptoms were clearing. His living situation had stabilized. He had enrolled in our local community college. He had a lot to smile about.

Gary makes his own dandelion tincture now. Although alcohol is not advised for patients with liver failure, Gary was using a small amount: only 4-5 ml daily. Dandelion is still sustaining him through his journey with hepatitis. We are all grateful for its help.