Answers For YOUR Health

      Using Mother Nature's Gifts
Common Sense and Modern Medicine
 

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Hepatitis C

I went first to the traditional medical field for information. This is a very short version of 4 different reports.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is one of the most important causes of chronic liver disease in the United States. It accounts for about 15% of acute viral hepatitis, 60% to 70% of chronic hepatitis and up to 50% of cirrhosis, end-stage liver disease, and liver cancer.

Almost 4 million Americans have antibody to HCV indicating ongoing or previous infection with the virus. HCV causes an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 deaths annually in the USA.

Chronic HCV varies in its course and outcome. At one end are patients who have no signs or symptoms of the disease, and normal levels of serum liver enzymes. At the other end are patients with HCV RNA in serum and elevated serum liver enzymes, who ultimately develop cirrhosis and end-stage liver disease.

Liver failure from chronic hepatitis C is one of the most common reasons for liver transplants in the US.

HCV is primarily spread by contact with blood and blood products. However, many patients acquire hepatitis C without any known exposure to blood or to drug use.

When the source of infection is unknown, doctors call it Sporadic Transmission. These infections may have come from exposure to the virus from cuts, wounds, or medical injections or procedures.

Hepatitis C is rarely spread within a household. Do not share toothbrushes, razors or other personal care items that might have blood on them. Be sure to cover all cuts and open sores.

Symptoms

While many people with chronic HCV have no symptoms, these are the most common.

. fatigue . mild right-upper-quadrant discomfort or tenderness . nausea
. poor appetite
. muscle and joint pain

Tests

Enzyme Immunoassay (EIA-3)used today is more sensitive than previous ones. However, as with all enzyme immunoassays,false-positive results are occasionally a problem. Additional tests are required to confirm.

To confirm a diagnosis of Hepatitis C a test for HCV RNA using a sensitive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay. Immunocompromised patients may test negative because they may not produce enough antibodies for detection with EIA.

Immunoblot assays are used to confirm anti-HCV reactivity also. If the immunoblot test for anti-HCV is positive, the patient has most likely recovered from hepatitis C and has persistent antibody virus. If the immunoblot test is negative, the EIA result was probably a false positive.

Genotyping and Serotyping of HCV

There are 6 know genotypes and more than 50 subtypes of hepatitis C. Knowing the genotype or serotype of HCV is helpful in making recommendations and counseling regarding therapy.

Therapy

Alpha Interferon or the combination of alpha interferon and ribavirin. For patients with genotypes 2 and 3, a 24 week course of combination treatment is recommended. For patients with genotype 1 a 48 week course is recommended.

Because of its ease of administration and better efficacy, peginterferon has been replacing standard interferon both as monotherapy as well as combination therapy.

Differential Diagnosis

The major conditions that can be confused clinically with chronic hepatitis C include:

autoimmune hepatitis
chronic hepatitis B and D
alcoholic hepatitis
nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (fatty liver)
sclerosing cholangitis (bile ducts)
Wilson's disease (build up of copper in the body)
drug induced liver disease

Side effects

Patients older than 60 should be managed on an individual basis, since the benefit of treatment in these patients has not been well documented and side effects appear to be worse in older patients.

Ribavirin has yet to be evaluated adequately in children.

Severe depression or other neuropsychiatric syndromes, active substance or alcohol abuse, autoimmune disease (such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus erythematosus, or psoriasis) are contraindications to alpha interferon therapy.

Alpha interferon has multiple neuropsychiatric effects. Prolonged therapy can cause marked irritability, anxiety, personality changes, depression and even suicide or acute psychosis. Patients with pre-existing psychiatric conditions are particularly susceptible.

Alpha interferon has bone marrow suppressive effects.

Ribavirin causes red cell hemolysis (destruction of cells).

Ribavirin causes birth defects in animals and should not be used in women who are not practicing birth control.

Fatal myocardial infarctions and strokes have been reported during combination therapy.

The 10 most common side effect of alpha interferon

1. fatigue
2. muscle aches
3. headaches
4. nausea and vomiting
5. skin irritation at the injection site
6. low-grade fever
7. weight loss
8. irritability
9. mild bone marrow suppression
10. hair loss (reversible)

They are usually worse during the first few weeks of treatment.

The 5 most common side effect of Ribavirin

1. anemia
2. fatigue and irritability
3. itching
4. skin rash
5. nasal stuffiness, sinusitis, and cough.

Uncommon side effects of combination therapy (less than 2%)

1. autoimmune disease (especially thyroid disease)
2. severe bacterial or viral infections
3. marked thrombocytopenia (decreased blood platelets)
4. marked neutropenia
5. seizures
6. depression and suicidal ideation
7. retinopathy (microhemorrhages)
8. hearing loss and tinnitus

Rare side effects

1. acute congestive heart failure
2. renal failure
3. vision loss
4. pulmonary fibrosis
5. sepsis

Now lets look at the herbalist view.

Tests can now detect antibodies against hepatitis C in donated blood, but an infected individual may take up to six months to develop the antibodies, so it is still impossible to identify all infected blood.

Hepatitis C can also be contracted through intravenous drug use, sexual contact, and broken skin or mucous membranes.

Toxic hepatitis is caused by exposure to chemicals, principally the injection, ingestion, or absorption of toxins through the skin.

Herbs

Burdock and dandelion are important in cleansing the liver and the bloodstream.

Licorice is very effective in treating viral hepatitis particularly chronic active hepatitis, due to its well-documented antiviral activity. (Do not use licorice on a daily basis for more than 7 day in a row. Do not use if you have high blood pressure)

Milk thistle extract contains silymarin, a flavonoid that has been shown to aid in healing and rebuilding the liver. Take 200 to 400 milligrams 3 times a day.

Black radish, goldenseal, green teas, red clover and yellow dock. DO NOT TAKE goldenseal internally on a daily basis for more than one week at a time, do not use it during pregnancy and use with caution if you are allergic to ragweed.

Recommendations

Eat raw vegetables and fruit include artichokes.

Drink "green drinks", carrot juice and beet juice.

Drink only steam-distilled water.

Consume no alcohol Avoid all fats, sugar, and highly processed foods.

Avoid all raw fish and shellfish and eat no animal protein.

Avoid chemicals and food additives.

Get plenty of bed rest.

Use a chlorophyll enema 3 times a week.

Do not take any drugs that have not been prescribed by your doctor. Read package inserts carefully for information regarding liver toxicity.

Avoid excessive amounts of vitamin A over long periods as this may cause liver enzyme levels to become elevated. Take less than 50,000 IU daily.

Catechin, a flavonoid found in green and black Indian teas, has been shown to decrease serum bilirubin levels in people with all types of acute viral hepatitis.

Nutrients

Essential

Free-form amino acid complex as directed on label To supply necessary protein. The liver breaks down protein; taking free-form amino acids takes strain off the liver.

Glutathione plus L-cysteine and L-methionine. 500 mg twice daily on an empty stomach. Take with water or juice, do not take with milk. Take with 50 mg vitamin B6 and 100 mg vitamin C for better absorption. Detoxifies harmful hepatotoxins and protects glutathione.

Milk Thistle 200-400 milligrams 3 times daily.

Raw liver extract as directed on label. Promotes liver function

Very Important

CoQ10 60 mg daily
Counteracts immunosuppression and enhances tissue oxygenation.

Dimethylglycine (DMG) as directed on label
improves cellular oxygen concentration.

Lecithin granules or capsules 1 tbsp 3 times daily before meals or 1200 mg 3 times daily before meals.
Protects cells of the liver and is a fat mobilizer. Aids in preventing fatty liver.

Superoxide dismutase (SOD) as directed on label
Powerful antioxidants that neutralize damaging superoxide free radicals improving liver function.

Multivitamin complex with vitamin B complex 50-100 mg 3 times daily with meals. Do not exceed a total of 100 mg vitamin B3 (niacin) in any one day until healing is complete.
All B vitamins are absolutely essential for normal liver function. Sublingual forms are recommended. Plus extra vitamin B12 plus choline and inositol as directed on label.

Vitamin C with bioflavonoids 5,000-10,000 mg daily
A powerful antiviral agent. Studies show improvement quickly with high doses.

Vitamin E start with 400 IU daily and increase to 1,200 IU daily over the course of 1 month
A potent antioxidant.

Important

Calcium and magnesium Calcium 1,500 mg daily and Mag 1,000 daily.
Essential for blood clotting, which is a problem for people with liver disease. Use asporotate forms. Do not use bone meal.

Essential fatty acids (primrose oil and salmon oil are good sources) or shark liver oil as directed on label.
Combats inflammation of the liver and lowers serum fats. Important source of essential lipids.

Multienzyme complex with betaine hydrochloride (HCI) as directed on label.
Important for proper digestion.

If you are currently in treatment for Hepatitis C or are going into treatment, it is essential that you discuss any herbal additions you are contemplating.

Everything listed in the herbal section is helpful for your liver and you might consider starting to add these items to your daily vitamin intake. A healthy liver will go a long way in preventing disease.

This is informational only and not intended to diagnosis any condition. Always consult your physician.


Feel free to pass this article on, but please leave this tag line in place. Sharon Owen Editor of Answers For Your Health.com

 

 

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