Hepatitis is the general term for the inﬂammation of the liver, which is the body’s largest internal organ and is located beneath the breastbone, extending under the bot- tom of the right side of the rib cage. Hepatitis can result from the use of alcohol, drugs, and chemicals but is most commonly caused by one of several speciﬁc hepatitis viruses.
One of the liver’s functions is to produce and metabolize bile, which is necessary to break down fats and expel toxins out of the body. With hepatitis, bilirubin, a pig- ment normally excreted in bile, builds up in the bloodstream and accumulates in the skin. This causes the characteristic yellowish color of the skin and the eyes, as well as dark urine. Classic symptoms of hepatitis include nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, clay-colored stools, fever, and diarrhea. Blood tests show an elevation of one or more liver enzymes.
At least six different viruses cause acute viral hepatitis. The main three are hepatitis A, B, and C. Other hepatitis viruses include D, E, and G.
Hepatitis A, which has a 15- to 45-day incubation period, is highly contagious and
is spread mainly by fecal-tainted food or water. Epidemics are common in underde- veloped countries. Contaminated raw shellﬁsh can be a causative factor. It can also be transmitted through blood or saliva secretions. Hepatitis A is an acute infection, and people do not become chronic carriers of the virus. It does not play a role in the development of chronic hepatitis or cirrhosis. A vaccine for hepatitis A is available.
Hepatitis B has an incubation period of 30 to 180 days. It is contracted by contam- inated blood or blood products, as happens with drug users who share needles. It can also occur from sexual contact and, less commonly, from transfusions tainted with infected blood. People can become chronic carriers of this virus. A wide spectrum of liver diseases is associated with hepatitis B, including cirrhosis and liver cancer. A vaccine for hepatitis B is available.
Hepatitis C has an incubation period of 15 to 150 days. This is the most common form of viral hepatitis. In the past, it was more commonly contracted through con- taminated blood. The main causes of hepatitis C infection worldwide include unscreened blood transfusions and the reuse of needles and syringes that have not been adequately sterilized. In developed countries, it is estimated that 90 percent of peo- ple with chronic HCV infection are current and/or former injecting drug users or those with a history of transfusion of unscreened blood or blood products. Hepatitis C can also be transmitted by sexual activity and from mother to infant. It is estimated that
3 percent of the world’s population (170 million people) are chronically infected with hepatitis C virus. Most people with hepatitis C have no symptoms. According to the World Health Organization, about 80 percent of newly infected patients progress to develop the chronic infection. Cirrhosis develops in about 10 to 20 percent of peo- ple with chronic infection, and liver cancer develops in 1 to 5 percent of those with chronic infection over a period of twenty to thirty years. Currently, there is no vac- cine to prevent hepatitis C. Antiviral drugs are the standard conventional treatment. Effectiveness of these drugs varies, but side effects prevent many people from con- tinuing treatment.
Hepatitis D virus occurs only in the presence of acute or chronic hepatitis B virus infection. Drug addicts who share needles are at high risk for this infection. It is char- acterized by an unusually severe acute hepatitis B infection.
Hepatitis E virus is most commonly transmitted via contaminated water in devel- oping countries. The infection can be severe but is not chronic.
Hepatitis G virus can be transmitted by blood. Currently, not a lot is known about this virus, although it can become chronic.
The early symptoms of acute hepatitis may include a loss of appetite, fatigue, nau- sea, vomiting, and fever. Hivelike eruptions and joint pains occasionally occur. After a period of three to ten days, the urine darkens and is followed by jaundice (yellow- ing of the skin). The liver is usually enlarged and tender, and the spleen may enlarge as well. Blood tests will show elevated liver enzymes from the beginning stage of the illness.
Hepatitis usually resolves within four to eight weeks, especially hepatitis A. How- ever, 5 to 10 percent of hepatitis B infections become chronic, and up to 80 percent of hepatitis C infections become chronic. Hepatitis lasting for six months or longer is generally termed chronic.
Natural therapies can be very helpful in preventing liver damage and decreasing the viral load or the infectiousness of the hepatitis viruses. Holistic therapies are becoming very popular for people with hepatitis C—an emerging world epidemic. The effectiveness of conventional antiviral drug therapy varies, and side effects of these drugs can be severe. Natural treatment is used to augment the immune system to ﬁght
the viral infection and to improve and protect liver function. Our experience is that most cases can be helped with natural treatment, and sometimes the improvements are dramatic. Many natural therapies in this chapter can be combined with conven- tional therapy.
• Loss of appetite
• Weight loss
• Clay-colored stools
• Dark urine
• Viral infection
• Adverse reaction to drugs andother toxins
• Weakened immune system
The following tests go beyond regular conventional testing and identify rea- sons for weakened immunity:
Blood work (conventional testing)—immune function, liver enzymes, viral load
Stool analysis—digestive health
Hormone analysis by saliva, urine, or blood (testosterone, DHEA, corti- sol, melatonin, IGF-1, thyroid panel)
Toxic metal—hair or urine
Oxidative stress analysis—urine or blood testing
During the acute phase, it is recommended that you consume soups, broths, diluted vegetable juices, herbal teas, steamed vegetables, brown rice, and nonred meat pro- tein sources, such as free-range turkey or chicken, legumes, and ﬁsh.
To promote healing of the liver and to provide a diet that is supportive to the immune system, consume lots of vegetables and moderate amount of fruits, whole grains, and legumes. Reduce or eliminate foods that are taxing to the liver, such as fried foods; reﬁned sugar products; foods containing trans-fatty acids, such as mar- garine and vegetable shortening; and saturated fats, found in meat and dairy products. Make fresh juices out of foods such as apples, beets, and carrots. Start with small amounts to see how you tolerate them. Steamed artichokes are healing to the liver. Eating smaller and more frequent meals is recommended. Soups and stews are good,
as they are easy to digest. Puriﬁed water should be consumed, an 8-ounce glass every two to three waking hours.
Food to Avoid
Cut out junk food, sugar, and alcohol, all of which suppress your immune system and tax your entire body.
Avoid saturated fats and hydrogenated oils, which stress the immune system and the liver. Stay away from fried foods and solid fats, such as margarine, lard, and veg- etable shortening.
Find out now if you have any food allergies or sensitivities, because they weaken the immune system. See the elimination diet on page 253 for further details.
Every month consider doing a juice fast. Juices made from carrots, cabbage, greens, and apples help cleanse the body. Green drinks are another excellent way to purify the blood.
Super Seven Prescriptions—Hepatitis
Super Prescription #1 Milk thistle (Silybum marianum)
Take a daily dosage of a product standardized with regard to silymarin, so that you supplement a daily total of 600 to 1,000 mg of the active constituent silymarin daily. This herb protects the liver, promotes liver cell regeneration, and helps reduce liver enzyme count.
Super Prescription #2 Vitamin C
Take 1,000 mg three to four times daily of a buffered (nonacidic) vitamin C. A more therapeutic technique is to keep gradually increasing the dosage until loose stools occur, and then cut back on the dosage. Intravenous vitamin C treatments from a holistic doctor are even more effective. Vitamin C improves immune function and
has antiviral properties.
Super Prescription #3 Catechin
Take 750 mg three times daily. Catechin is a type of ﬂavonoid that was shown in studies to be helpful for acute and chronic hepatitis. It is best used under the super- vision of a doctor.
Super Prescription #4 Thymus extract
Take as directed on the container. Look for a high-quality puriﬁed thymus extract. A typical dose is 200 to 300 mg three times daily. Thymus extract has been shown to improve immune function and be helpful for people with hepatitis C.
Super Prescription #5 Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Take 500 mg three times daily. One of the active phytonutrients in licorice root, known as glycyrrhizin, has been used as part of injectable formulas to treat chronic hepatitis B and C, with favorable outcomes. Licorice root has been shown to have immune-enhancing and antiviral properties. Holistic doctors also admin- ister glycyrrhizin intravenously for a strong therapeutic effect. Note: High doses of licorice root may cause high blood pressure. High doses, as recommended in this section, are best used under the supervision of a physician.
Super Prescription #6 Reishi extract
Take 3,000 to 6,000 mg daily of a standardized extract. Preliminary studies have shown Reishi extract to be effective for hepatitis B and elevated liver enzymes. Reishi is commonly used by health practitioners for liver support.
Milk thistle (Sily- marin) was studied in a group of 21 people who had active liver disease (cirrhosis). People who took 420 mg of silymarin had a 15 percent reduction in the liver enzyme AST and a 23 percent decrease in the enzyme ALT.
A preliminary trial involving 5,000 people with various types of hepatitis found liver enzymes normal- ized in 75 percent of cases of people supplementing schisandra.
Super Prescription #7 Schisandra extract (Schisandra chinensis)
Take 500 mg three times daily. Studies have found that this Chinese herb is effec- tive in treating chronic hepatitis.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) (90 to 95 percent curcumin) has anti-inﬂammatory ben- eﬁts for liver infection. Take 500 mg three times daily.
Alpha lipoic acid supports immune function and has anti-inﬂammatory properties. Take 300 mg twice daily.
Phosphatidylcholine helps the liver to process fats and protects the liver cells. One study demonstrated beneﬁts for people who had chronic hepatitis B. Take 3,000 mg daily.
Astragalus is an excellent herb for long-term immune support and is used for chronic viral hepatitis. Take 2 ml of the tincture or 1,000 mg of the capsule form three times daily.
A high-potency multivitamin and mineral formula should be supplemented, for general immune system support.
Selenium is important, because a deﬁciency can make it easier for viruses to repli- cate. Make sure you are getting a total of 400 mcg daily.
Zinc supports immune function. Take a daily total of 30 to 50 mg.
Vitamin E-complex is important for protection against liver damage and to sup- port immune function. Take 800 mg of a blended formula containing tocopherols and tocotrienols.
Phyllanthus (Phyllanthus amarus) was shown in one study to be effective for peo- ple who were chronic carriers of hepatitis B. Take 200 mg three times daily.
Dandelion root improves liver function. Take 3 ml of the tincture or 500 mg in cap- sule form three times daily with meals.
Liver glandular extract supports liver function. Take as directed on the container. A greens drink that contains super green foods, such as chlorella, spirulina, and others, supports liver detoxiﬁcation and immunity. Take as directed on the container.
Pick the remedy that best matches your symptoms in this section. Take a 6x, 12x, 6C,
12C, or 30C potency twice daily for two weeks to see if there are any positive results. After you notice improvement, stop taking the remedy, unless symptoms return. Con- sultation with a homeopathic practitioner is advised.
Cardus Marianus is a speciﬁc remedy for inﬂammation of the left lobe of the liver. The person’s symptoms are worse when lying on the left side. There is abdominal or liver pain that is worse from breathing in or from movement.
Chelidonium is used when there is pain under the right rib cage, radiating to the right shoulder blade. Abdominal pain is ameliorated after eating or by lying on the left side with the legs drawn up. The person feels better from warm drinks. Jaundice is usually present.
China is used when the liver is very sensitive to the touch. There is tremendous bloating of the abdomen, which is not relieved from passing gas.
Lycopodium is used for hepatitis in which bloating, indigestion, and ﬂatulence are prominent symptoms. There is discomfort in the upper right area of the abdomen. The symptoms feel better from warm drinks. The person feels irritable and craves sweets.
Natrum Sulphuricum is used to treat jaundice that is accompanied by diarrhea. The tongue has a greenish coating. It is used for hepatitis that causes headaches, accom- panied by nausea and vomiting. The person feels better from ﬁrm pressure or rubbing of the abdomen.
Nux Vomica is helpful when constipation, cramping, or reﬂux accompanies hep- atitis. Common symptoms also include fatigue and irritability. The person is chilly and feels better from heat.
Phosphorous is indicated for hepatitis that occurs from solvent and toxin exposure. The person feels a thirst for ice-cold drinks but tends to vomit after drinking them.
Sulphur is a remedy for chronic hepatitis with jaundice and diarrhea. The person feels very warm and desires a cool environment.
Pericardium 6 is used to relieve nausea.
Stomach 36 is used for fatigue.
Stomach 37 is for diarrhea and abdominal cramps.
Acupressure and acupuncture can be very effective in treating hepatitis. See a prac- titioner of Asian medicine for a speciﬁc treatment.
Lymphatic massage detoxiﬁes the body, while improving circulation. Consult with an experienced practitioner.
Massage the liver points to relieve liver congestion.
To detoxify cells and tissues, work the area corresponding to the lymph system.
Other Bodywork Recommendations
Constitutional hydrotherapy helps to improve liver detoxiﬁcation and stimulate the immune system for viral hepatitis. See pages 676–677 for directions.
Add juniper to a carrier oil, and use it in a lymphatic massage. Juniper helps break down toxins that have built up as a result of compromised liver function.
General Stress-Reduction Therapies
A diagnosis of chronic hepatitis can be very stressful. Although family and friends are always a welcome source of strength, you may also want to recruit the help of a professional who has experience working with people suffering from chronic illness. A religious adviser, a psychotherapist, or a support group leader can offer you invaluable advice and help.
In a world of expensive and invasive medical treatments, meditation and positive mental imagery can come as a relief.
Exercise is a healthful way to relieve stress and improve immune function.
Bach Flower Remedies
Consult to ﬁnd the appropriate ﬂower remedy for your particular condition. Once you’ve found the right remedy, place 10 drops under your tongue. Hold the drops in place for thirty seconds and swallow. Use as often as needed.
For fear of the unknown, try Aspen.
For exhaustion and fatigue, Hornbeam or Olive can be useful. Rescue Remedy is excellent in any stressful crisis.
Avoid the use of acetaminophen and over-the-counter painkillers and other pharma- ceuticals, if possible, as they stress the liver.
Chinese herbal therapy from a practitioner of Asian medicine can be highly effective.