Hepatitis is more common than you may think and many people who have been infected may never know it. Just because you have received a positive test does not mean you have only one option for treatment. Whether you choose drug treatment or not, you should hear what natural medicine has to say. Hepatitis is a diagnosis that is common and often can be fearful. There truly is no need for fear as this virus has so many different strains and even the most virulent strains may not produce any negative effects in an individual whose immune system is strong and healthy. The highest risk involving hepatitis is the long-term damage that can be done to the liver without treatment. Please note that when I discuss treatment here, I am referring solely to natural options. The truth is that in my experience natural treatment has prevented and treated all hepatitis strains very effectively, many to the point where testing produces no detectable viral level. The key to treatment is to prevent the cascade of problems that can occur over time following exposure to any of the hepatitis viral strains, as most often real damage occurs months or even years after the initial exposure.
The thing to remember is that the number and severity of viral infections you have experienced in your life can come back to bite you later on. It is often when you have been exposed to yet another illness, that the dormant viral history will rear its ugly head and challenge your immune system making your current symptoms much worse and even preventing complete recovery. I cannot tell you the number of times that treatment of a current unresolved "mystery" condition is actually the culmination of a viral history that is weighing on the immune system, preventing normal function.
Let’s begin with Hepatitis A. This viral strain is most common in contaminated food, contact with infected fecal material or drinking water and is the least harmful. There is normally only an acute stage and then it will go dormant. The only time this can be a problem is if your liver becomes compromised later in life at which time this dormant virus may produce secondary symptoms challenging the immune system and the liver. This is common with all viruses which is why I remind you that I will find past viral history one of the main causative factors in current symptoms or illness.
Hepatitis B is a bit more severe, with both an acute and a chronic stage. This means that once the severe part of the infection is over, the virus is still detectable in the body, even if symptoms are not present. This type of hepatitis is inflammatory and does affect the liver, if only temporarily. It can produce scarring of the liver as a result. Because this virus is a bit more virulent it can be passed from mother to unborn child, through dirty needles and through sexual contact (and I don’t mean kissing!).
Hepatitis B is is a strain that many people have been exposed to without symptoms and often without knowledge of their exposure, most often carrying the virus for the rest of their lives. The likelihood of passing the virus to another person are very high, but this is true for all viruses in one way or another, and it is dependent on the recipient’s immune system as to whether the virus will ever be detectable or symptomatic.
So both of these types of Hepatitis are common and can be easily treated naturally to the point that many of my patients have negative test results that indicate the virus is completely undetectable. For both of these exposures, I recommend a symptomatic liver cleanse (see below) followed by 6-12 months of Silymarin or Milk Thistle extract which protects and restores the liver.
Now let’s move on to more serious Hepatitis infections. Hepatitis C is also inflammatory and can be slow-moving creating complications months or even years after initial infection. This means that the symptoms can actually be worse later on. This is a blood virus, which means that contact for transmission must be through the blood. Infected tools such as needles, razors, tweezers, etc. are the most common ways of transmission, although drug paraphernalia such as straws for snorting cocaine are thought to provide an avenue for transmission. Interestingly, in most living situations, uninfected partners remain uninfected. I feel this has to do more with the fact that this strain cannot be passed casually (through kissing for instance) and the strength of the immune system of the individuals involved. For this reason I recommend treatment as early as possible, which can prevent damage to the liver and later more severe symptoms.
The danger with this strain is that it can incubate in the blood for many weeks affecting the liver and the body function. Once the damage is severe enough, symptoms will develop making treatment more difficult and more comprehensive. The key to treatment of Hepatitis C is to prevent cirrhosis or scarring of the liver which reduces the ability of the liver to filter the blood, leading to strain on the kidneys and allowing material to remain in the blood affecting other body tissues. Since the liver is the major filtering organ of the body which neutralizes toxins and other damaging substances, exposure to numerous toxic chemicals or jobs that involve cleaning, disinfecting or working with heavy metals are the most dangerous for hepatitis sufferers.
Currently there are newer strains of hepatitis that have been recognized. These tend to be in smaller populations and may actually be variants of the above types of hepatitis that have occurred over time. Any virus can change itself and its markers over time in controlled populations. For instance Hep D occurs only in people already infected with Hep B and is a variant strain. Hep E seems to be a variant of Hep A and is only found in India and surrounding countries. Hep G is a variant of Hep C and was first noticed in 1996. Some believe it does not produce any symptoms and may actually be a dormant version of the Hep C virus. It seems to be present almost exclusively in those who have received blood transfusions or hemodialysis.
There are tests available to detect each of the strains of hepatitis that are known. Some tests are used to determine acute infection, while others are to detect if the virus is due to an immunization against the virus, or chronic levels of the virus. Still other tests of liver function may be used to assess the severity of the infection. If your immune system is working properly, then it will overcome the initial infection of the virus. It will then do exactly what it is supposed to do and secrete a second form of antibody that will remain on alert in your body for years, sometimes even for life. The truth is that in either scenario, your body most likely will handle this virus as it should any virus with no long-term effects, especially since many people are exposed to milder forms of hepatitis with no symptoms or effects at all. This may especially be true if the immune system is healthy.
Treatment of Hepatitis and Affected Body Tissues
I have had great success in treating all strains of hepatitis, as have many holistic practitioners. This is because natural treatment focuses not just on the liver, but on the entire body. Treatment includes changes in lifestyle, diet and stress factors to minimize any weakening of the body tissues and the immune system. Keeping the body and immune response strong is key in preventing long-term cirrhosis or effects on secondary body tissues such as the kidneys.
It is essential to realize that nutrition is what facilitates any change that the body needs to make. First reducing or eliminating alcohol, caffeine, refined foods, sugar, food additives and saturated fats can really take the pressure off the liver and gallbladder. Remember that the gallbladder is key to the liver being able to cleanse itself of material that it has removed from the blood, as well as how effectively you prevent fatty deposits from accumulating in the liver. Secondly, maintaining a schedule of small, frequent meals can optimize digestion and absorption, while minimizing stress on the liver and stabilizing blood sugar. Changes in glycemic balance can have a profound effect on the liver. Next, I suggest increasing the intake of whole grains, fresh vegetables, fruits, vegetable proteins and essential fatty acids. In this way with every meal you are providing the liver with essential vitamins, minerals and enzymes to make the liver’s job of detoxification much easier. It is always easier to perform any function when you have all the tools at your fingertips and don’t have to run out to Home Depot and spend money on an essential tool! Foods that are specifically supportive to liver detoxification include beets, artichokes, yams, onions, garlic, green leafy vegetables, apples and lemons. Drinking of green tea can provide powerful antioxidant action, decrease inflammation and provide large amounts of vitamin K. Dessicated liver and thymus extracts may sound gross, but truly are essential to improve liver rejuvenation and immune function, especially in inflammatory strains of hepatitis.
Venous congestion is a strong issue for the liver, so making sure that the venous circulation is effective is essential. Also, arthritis may be a secondary aspect to hepatitis due to the lack of the Wolfson factor. This can be addressed with a wonderful essential formula from Standard Process called Betacol which is essentially an anti-arthritis formula that works through the liver. Another formula is key to decongesting the liver. Antronex works to dilate the hepatic portal vein, increasing the speed at which blood can be drained from the liver along with all the removed substances that the liver has handled.
Cleansing is another key step. Often the symptoms you experience can help you decide which aspects of cleansing you most need. The thing to remember is that the liver has two phases of detoxification and is highly reliant on the action of the kidneys, gallbladder and pancreas to take some of the load in handling body contaminants. So the first step is to reduce or eliminate all exposure to:
* Heavy Metals
* Drugs and unneeded prescriptions
* Artificial colorings, flavorings or additives
* Machinery & EM (electromagnetic) fields
This means hair color, nail polish, car fluids, household cleaners & detergents, red delicious apples, insecticides.... just to name a few things. You have to realize that while your liver is healing, you want to take the pressure off it, which means limiting how much work it has to do in neutralizing toxins. You can’t ask someone with the flu to get up and clean the house!
Hepatitis Liver Cleanse, Phase I: I use Standard Process and Mediherb products in treating all of my hepatitis patients. This phase is all about enhancing liver detoxification and decongestion and should be done for one month.
Hepatrophin PMG — this formula is primarily for liver damage and cirrhosis. It aids carbohydrate and protein metabolism while reducing venous congestion and toxemia issues. This is our essential building block for liver function. 3 tablets per day, 1 with each meal
Cholacol — this vascular astringent with collinsonia root not only corrects fat digestion, but also reduces the craving for sweets. By increasing the amount of fat available to the system, the body reduces its’ dependence on sugar for energy. This formula contains bile salts, making it essential for those who have had their gallbladder removed. Excellent to reduce biliary constipation. 6 to 12 tablets per day, with meals.
AF Betafood — this formula contains food derivatives of vitamins A and F, for all gallbladder symptoms, liver-based hypertension, hypoglycemic and hypercholesterol issues. This is also one instance where I highly recommend organic coffee, as it stimulates bile flow, and reduces the incidence of gall stones. 6 tablets per day, 2 with each meal
Garlic Extract — Garlic is one of the most effective foods that aid the liver in detoxification and reduce sluggish cholesterol deposits. 2 tablets per day, one with breakfast, and one with lunch.
Cruciferous Complete Liver Food — this is a combination of brassica vegetables such as kale and brussels sprouts, which are essential to support Phase II cytochrome p450 enzyme detoxification of the liver. 6 capsules per day, 2 with each meal.
Spanish Black Radish — this sulfur-containing food not only promotes liver detoxification, but it relaxes the sphincters of the digestive tract allowing decongestion and healthy movement of the bowels. 6 tablets per day, 2 with each meal.
Livco — promotes Phase I & Phase II liver detoxification. Helps to stop the toxic spill that can occur between Phase I and Phase II using a combination of schisandra, milk thistle and rosemary. Essential for multiple sensitivity disorders, allergies, estrogen-based problems, chemical damage and excessive alcohol damage. 1 tablet with each meal and 1 extra at lunch.
St. John’s Wort — surprising to most people, St. John’s Wort is the strongest antiviral herb for the liver and specifically hepatitis. It is essential in hepatitis treatment and is often effective for depression which is related to sustained liver damage. 2 tablets at breakfast and dinner.
Hepatitis Liver Cleanse, Phase II — this phase of liver cleansing is more about increasing healthy immunity while supporting liver detoxification and associated organs such as the kidneys and gallbladder.
Hepatrophin PMG — 3 per day, 1 with each meal for up to one year. Silymarin — this is a concentrated form of milk thistle (the strength of the formula is key!) which promotes the health and protection of the liver cells. 3 per day, 1 with each meal for up to six months.
Immuplex — this is an amazing blend of concentrates to support all the aspects of immune response, which has often become compromised and weakened with hepatitis exposure. Keeping the immune system strong is key to preventing liver damage. 10 per day, 3/4/3 with each meal for up to three months.
Cat’s Claw Complex — this herbal blend is a wonderful combination that is antiviral, antibiotic and antifungal, taking the pressure off of the elements of the immune system. 1 with each meal for up to two months.
Spanish Black Radish — 1 with each meal for as long as you take liver support.
Arginex — this is an amazing kidney cleanser and detoxifier, supporting proper kidney function. 1 with each meal for up to two months.
SP Cleanse — this is a blood purifier to help cleanse the blood through the liver removing debris and stagnant toxins left in the blood by a weakened liver over time. 2-7 capsules three times a day between meals on an empty stomach for up to one month.
Heavy Metal Exposure History: If you have had a job that involved the handling of or a lengthy exposure to heavy metals, then you will need to add these products. There are a number of tests available to determine your heavy metal toxicity, but blood testing is the least effective at detecting long-term exposure or the amount of heavy metal that is stored in tissues like the liver. Trace Mineral Hair Analysis is a much more effective option for accurate detection.
Chelaco — this herbal complex is amazing for reducing most heavy metal toxicity, particularly lead. 2 tablets twice a day on an empty stomach.
Horsetail — this herb is essential for aluminum and mercury toxicity. 2.5 ml twice a day on an empty stomach.
Cholacol II — this montmorillonite clay is excellent and essential as a negatively charged ionic compound which can attract and remove large amounts of positively charged ionic heavy metals on contact. 4 tablets twice a day on an empty stomach and away from all other supplements or pharmaceuticals.
Vitanox — this is a strong antioxidant compound that is important during detoxification. 1 three times a day on an empty stomach.
Therapy For Hepatitis Treatment
There are a few therapies that are essential as part of hepatitis treatment. The FAR Infrared Sauna, acupuncture and Swiss Lymphatic Drainage. I do not recommend chelation, although popular, because I feel it compromises the immune system and can actually weaken the body’s ability to handle challenges during the treatment period. Even in the case of heavy metal exposure, I prefer oral treatment to chelation so as to not just address the blood, but all ducts, tissues and organs.
The FAR Infrared Sauna is unique in that it increases the metabolism of the skin, increases blood flow and boosts immunity, all while detoxifying the body through the skin instead of the liver and lowering blood pressure, stress and breathing restrictions. There really is nothing like it for any immune challenge, with effects that far outweigh traditional steam or dry saunas.
Acupuncture is unparalleled in its historical focus on the liver and the energy that is an inherent invisible component of the health of this vital organ. I truly believe that the stresses the body handles and the emotions that the mind is buffeted by are transferred to the body organs through the meridians of the body. Only acupuncture can effectively cleanse and restore these vital pathways often in the most mysterious ways.
Swiss Lymphatic Drainage is key in cleansing the cells of the body long before their toxins ever reach the liver. By gently decongesting the lymphatic system, the body has the ability to dilute and process metabolic acids and toxins more effectively with less strain on the liver and less negative effect on the skin. If skin issues such as eczema, psoriasis or hives have been a chronic part of hepatitis, then this therapy is essential.
Hepatitis is not something that should be ignored, nor is it something to be attacked. By simply working with the body and focusing on the organs and tissues that are most affected, it is possible to make a tremendous difference in the health of the liver and the body in general.
I will leave you with one story. I had a patient, very dear to me, that I had treated for Hepatitis C for many years. He had contracted the virus due to IV drug use, but with the protocols and therapies mentioned above, he was symptomatically free and his liver tests were excellent. Then his wife decided that she desperately wanted a baby and the only way to guarantee that they could have a child free of the virus, was for him to begin a course of Interferon. One year later, he had no child and in fact had died, despite all the efforts of his allopathic physician and the hospital to find a combination of drugs to halt the virus.
This story has been repeated more often than I can tell you, and the lesson I feel is to work with your viral history day by day and follow the signs and symptoms that your body gives you. Some people respond well to pharmaceutical drugs and allopathic treatment, but just as many have the same outcome as my friend. Natural medicine works with all bodies and all aspects of illness to support the body’s own inherent healing mechanism. To ignore this is to limit your future health.