I went first to the traditional medical field for
information. This is a very short version of 4 different
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
The major conditions that can be confused clinically with
chronic hepatitis C include:
chronic hepatitis B and D
nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (fatty liver)
sclerosing cholangitis (bile ducts)
Wilson's disease (build up of copper in the body)
drug induced liver disease
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
Ribavirin has yet to be evaluated adequately in
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
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
2. muscle aches
4. nausea and vomiting
5. skin irritation at the injection site
6. low-grade fever
7. weight loss
9. mild bone marrow suppression
10. hair loss (reversible)
They are usually worse during the first few weeks of
The 5 most common side effect of Ribavirin
2. fatigue and irritability
4. skin rash
5. nasal stuffiness, sinusitis, and cough.
Uncommon side effects of combination therapy (less than
1. autoimmune disease (especially thyroid disease)
2. severe bacterial or viral infections
3. marked thrombocytopenia (decreased blood platelets)
4. marked neutropenia
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
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.
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.
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
Avoid all raw fish and shellfish and eat no animal
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.
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
Milk Thistle 200-400 milligrams 3 times daily.
Raw liver extract as directed on label. Promotes liver
CoQ10 60 mg daily
Counteracts immunosuppression and enhances tissue
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.
Calcium and magnesium Calcium 1,500 mg daily and Mag 1,000
Essential for blood clotting, which is a problem for people
with liver disease. Use asporotate forms. Do not use bone
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
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