The term hepatitis means inflammation (itis) of the liver (hepat). This may result from a number of causes including alcohol, drugs such as paracetamol, poisons, non-viral infections like Q fever, and various viral infections including glandular fever. Mostly, however, when we talk about hepatitis we are referring to the infectious viral hepatitis of which there are three main types – A, B, and C. It is this type of viral hepatitis that we will be discussing here.
Hepatitis A is the most common type of viral hepatitis and occurs world-wide, often in epidemics.
How is hepatitis A transmitted?
The virus is spread mainly by ingestion of fecal contaminated food (eg shellfish) or water. It occurs more frequently in developing countries and lower socioeconomic groups, possibly because of overcrowding and poor sanitation. Travellers to areas such as Asia, Africa, India, Eastern Europe and Central and South America are therefore at high risk.
Hepatitis B is also present world-wide with many people being carriers, meaning that they have no symptoms of the virus but are infective and may unknowingly transmit the infection to others.
How is hepatitis B transmitted?
Spread of hepatitis B is primarily through contact with blood (for example sharing of needles by intravenous drug users, an infected blood transfusion, contaminated needles used by tattooists), or close personal contact such as sexual intercourse, particularly in male homosexuals. Transmission of the virus from mother to child during or soon after birth is the most frequent means of transmission world-wide. The virus is also present in small amounts in the saliva, and this may be a means of transmission in communal situations or in the household of an infected person.
Hepatitis C has only been identified more recently and causes at least 95 percent of cases of what was previously termed non-A, non-B hepatitis. As with hepatitis B, it is possible to be a symptom-free carrier of the virus.
Most recent data indicates approximately 4 million Americans have been infected with HCV.
Estimates indicate over 225,000 people in Australia have been infected with the hepatitis C virus, with about 16,000 new infections occurring each year. There is a new treatment regimen available and the claim is that 60% of patients have been cured of the hep C virus using the new PBS funded treatment program.
Some statistics: 25% of hep C sufferers will clear the virus within 12 months; the remaining 75% will have an ongoing or chronic infection; hep C and related liver diseases are the leading cause of liver transplants; no vaccine for hep C exists.
How is hepatitis C transmitted?
Hepatitis C is transmitted mainly by blood, such as via contaminated blood transfusions, sharing of infected needles by drug users and occasionally from tattoos. Only a tiny quantity of virus is necessary for the virus to become established in the case of hepatitis C, and transmission usually occurs when the skin becomes contaminated by injecting paraphernalia, such as spoons, mixing tools, tourniquets, cotton buds or by hands. While bleach is an effective surface antiseptic, there is no absolute evidence that it can kill Hep C. In about 10 to 15 percent of cases no definite risk factor is detected and the mode of transmission remains unclear.
The incidence of sexual transmission from a patient with chronic hepatitis C infection seems to be quite low, in comparison with hepatitis B and HIV (AIDS). However, those with an acute hepatitis C infection are possibly more likely to spread the virus sexually. Transmission of the disease from mother to baby also occurs but much less frequently than with hepatitis B.
Excerpt from “The Liver Cleansing Diet”
“The LCD will help to repair liver damage in those who drink too much alcohol or those who have taken recreational drugs, especially intravenously. Those who test positive for hepatitis B and/or hepatitis C and are chronic carriers of these viruses will have less chance of developing chronic liver disease if they follow the Liver Cleansing Diet.”
Weight loss and hepatitis C
Weight loss in people with chronic Hep C may lead to improved liver function. This was found by researchers in Queensland, Australia. After following a group of people with chronic Hep C and fatty liver that were put on a 3 month weight reduction program, it was found that the weight loss led to a reduction in fatty liver, improved liver enzymes and improvement in fibrosis despite persistence of the virus.
The findings were:
- An average weight loss of nearly 6 kg and an average loss in weight circumference of 9 cm.
- The average fasting insulin decreased from 16 – 11 mmol/L.
- In 75% of patients, ALT levels fell progressively with weight loss (GUT 2002;51:89-94).
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of acute hepatitis infection are similar for all three viruses, although generally less severe with hepatitis C. Initially the patient feels unwell with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, headaches, tiredness and a distaste for cigarettes. Fever and upper abdominal discomfort may occur. After one to two weeks the patient frequently becomes jaundiced (the skin and eyes turn yellow), and the symptoms then often improve. The urine may become dark and the bowel motions pale. Most hepatitis C sufferers, however, do not develop jaundice.
Generally, people with hepatitis A recover well. However, it can sometimes be fatal and it may take a long while to feel really well again.
With hepatitis B, about 1 percent will develop a rapidly progressive life-threatening hepatitis, some go on to develop chronic hepatitis and about 5 percent become symptom-free carriers. Over 50 percent of those exposed to the hepatitis C virus become chronic carriers, the majority of whom have no symptoms. At least 25 percent of these chronic carriers will develop cirrhosis of the liver after many years. Liver cancer can also be a complication of hepatitis B and C. It is frequent in those (fortunately few) hepatitis B sufferers who have developed established cirrhosis secondary to chronic active hepatitis. The absolute risk of liver cancer from hepatitis C is not yet clear, but it only occurs if there is already established cirrhosis and generally takes about thirty years after the initial infection.
If you have been diagnosed with hepatitis it is important to avoid spreading the infection to others.
- Hepatitis A virus is excreted in the feces from about two weeks before the onset of the illness and up to a week after. Good hygiene and sanitation measures must be practised.
- Hepatitis B and C are transmitted by blood to blood contact. Hepatitis B sufferers in the acute stage of infection and all hepatitis C patients should consider themselves infectious.
- After the acute illness, hepatitis B patients can find out if they are still infectious by a blood test performed by their doctor.
Hep C virus is NOT spread by:
- Breast feeding
- Food or water
- Sharing eating utensils or drinking glasses
- Casual contact
The following precautions must be taken by hepatitis B and C patients:
- Do not donate blood or organs.
- Do not share needles, toothbrushes, razors or other intimate articles.
- Blood spills should be wiped up with bleach and all cuts and wounds covered with adhesive dressings.
- Bloodstained tissues, sanitary napkins and so on must be disposed of safely.
- “Safer sex” should be practised, with the use of condoms recommended, especially for anal intercourse. However, in the case of hepatitis C, the need for condom use in heterosexual intercourse with a stable partner is not entirely clear. The risk of oral sex is also not fully known, though oral-anal contact should be avoided. Intercourse during menstruation should also be avoided.
Testing and diagnosis
The initial screening test for Hepatitis C tests for the antibodies to the virus, so it does not look directly for the virus itself. Sometimes this test comes back indeterminate and then a repeat test is required. Antibodies are produced in the body after exposure to the virus. Therefore, this test indicates if the body has been exposed to the virus and has produced antibodies to fight it. It doesn’t determine whether or not someone still has the virus or how long he or she has been infected. It takes up to 6 months for antibodies to HCV to form in the blood (this is called seroconversion). It is therefore important to get retested 6 months after initial antibody test.
The main tests used are:
- ELISA III(Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay).
- RIBA (Recombinent Immunoblot Assay) These are more expensive than ELISA and are generally used as a confirmatory test.
Virus detection and analysis
The PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) is a test that amplifies the virus genetic material to a level that can be detected so it is useful when the antibody tests are unclear. It is the viral load that the PCR tests for. It is often required to have these tests done to confirm a diagnosis.
To overcome these problems, drugs can only play a limited role that is mostly concerned with the control of symptoms. To treat the underlying causes we need to turn to the power of nutritional medicine. Over the past two decades there have been enormous advances in information in the scientific and medical literature linking incorrect nutrition to disease states. Most diseases are associated with nutritional imbalances. Research of the scientific and medical literature gives great insight into the nutritional factors in illness. Dietary changes and the appropriate use of nutrients will reduce the risk of disease and are becoming increasingly important in the treatment of illness.
The main orthodox drug treatment for Hep C is the Pegylated Combo treatment incorporating Interferon and Ribavirin. Pegylated interferon has a polyethylene glycol molecule attached to the interferon molecule. As a result, its elimination from the body is slowed and higher, more constant blood levels of interferon alpha are achieved with less frequent dosing. In contrast to unmodified interferon alpha, which must be injected three times a week to treat chronic hepatitis C, peginterferon alpha needs to be injected only once a week.
The addition of ribavirin to interferon alpha is superior to interferon alpha alone in the treatment of chronic hepatitis C. Ribavirin is a synthetic nucleoside that has activity against a broad spectrum of viruses.
Subsequent studies showed that the combination of interferon alpha-2b plus ribavirin is more effective in achieving a sustained response than interferon alpha-2b alone in the treatment of patients with chronic hepatitis C not previously treated with interferon. This led to FDA approval for this indication in December 1998.
The Interferon/Ribavirin treatment provides the only hope at this stage of complete eradication of the virus, however, its effectiveness is limited and side effects are not pleasant. Some people will experience long term remission but many will relapse. Many people make the choice to avoid the drug therapies and use nutritional medicine to support the liver and immune system.
Although nutritional medicine cannot ‘cure’ the Hep C virus, using Dr Cabot’s program for Hep C many people have experienced a great improvement in the function of their liver and have reduced the risk of associated conditions such as cancer, cirrhosis and liver failure. While it is not possible to completely eradicate the virus by nutritional medicine alone, the following results have been seen in patients:
- 70% have improved function
- 25% have normalized function
- 40% have significantly reduced viral load
This program needs to be adhered to basically as a way of life.
- “The Liver Cleansing Diet”
Follow the principles for a healthy liver in this book. This book is essential reading for anyone with liver or bowel dysfunction and contains sections on fatty liver and the implication of the results, high cholesterol, irritable bowel syndrome, etc. This way of eating must be followed for life. It is not hard. You can use the recipes in the back as a guide and make your own recipes/meals up as long as they stick to those basic principles.
- “Raw Juices Can Save Your Life”
This book contains carefully designed juices to help with common health problems such as:
– Chronic fatigue
– Liver problems including fatty liver and hepatitis
– Weight excess
– High blood pressure and high cholesterol
– Skin and hair problems
– Allergies and immune dysfunction
– Recurrent infections
– Irritable bowel syndrome and constipation
– Headaches and migraines
- If you want to improve liver function you must avoid ALL dairy products – dairy foods contain high levels of antibiotics, steroids and artificial growth hormones, as this is what the herds are treated with in today’s high tech dairies to prevent disease and boost milk production. As with humans, where substances go through into breast milk it is the same for cattle – only they neglect to tell you this in the advertisements when they are telling you how great milk is.
- ALL margarines and industrial seed oils.
- Avoid gluten.
- Avoid deep fried foods.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners see www.dorway.com – use Stevia.
Dr Cabot has known about the incredible healing power of raw juices from a very young age. Her grandmother’s life was saved by raw juicing back in the 1930s. The fresh raw vegetable juices are vitally important. It is good to use both whole fruits and vegetables in the diet as well as the juices, as the juices provide an easily absorbable form of nutraceuticals that are very beneficial for the liver. Juices made freshly from raw fruits and or vegetables have unique healing and rejuvenating properties.
For those who feel they need an extra boost there is nothing better than having a raw juice every day. It will brighten up the day by providing extra energy and endurance. Juices are unique because they allow the gut to receive very concentrated amounts of phyto-nutrients that could not be obtained by eating a normal amount of raw vegetables and fruits. Juices are high in vitamin C, bioflavonoids, carotenoids, living plant enzymes to aid digestion and vitamin K in green leafy vegetables.
Appropriate juice recipes found in “Raw Juices Can Save Your Life” book. Recommended juices are:
Liver Tonic Juice
- 1 carrot
- 4.5 oz (125 g) fresh asparagus
- 4.5 oz (125 g) cucumber – leave skin on
- 1 orange
- 2 dandelion or 2 cabbage leaves
- Wash, trim and chop all ingredients and process in juicer. Drink 2 to 3 small cups daily.
Liver Cleansing Juice
- 2 dandelion leaves or 2 spinach leaves or 2 large cabbage leaves
- 1/2 cup broccoli florets
- 1/4 cauliflower or 2 large Brussels sprouts
- 1 clove garlic or 1 small radish (optional)
- 1/2 cup parsley
- 1 apple, whole
- 1 lime or 1 lemon
- Wash, trim and chop produce and process through juicer. This juice is high in Vitamin C and sulfur compounds to cleanse the liver.
- Drink 8 to 16 oz (250 to 500 ml) daily.
This is a very strong mixture and may be diluted 1 part juice to 1 part water or you can dilute it with cold herbal or fruit flavored tea. You may sweeten this juice by adding the following – strawberries, carrot and a small amount of beetroot.
Antibiotic Juice Recipe
This juice combination acts as a powerful antibiotic and antiseptic, and when taken regularly can fight infections directly. One glass (at least 300 to 400 mls / 10 – 13 oz) must be taken every day, and in more severe cases, twice daily.
- 1 carrot
- 1 beetroot including some green tops
- 2 spinach leaves
- 1 to 2 apples – skin on
- 0.4 inches (1 cm) fresh ginger
- 1 inch (2.5 cm) horseradish root
- 1/2 to 1 clove garlic (optional) or 1/2 red onion
- 1/2 cup watercress (optional)
- 2 limes or 2 lemons
- Wash all ingredients, trim, chop, and put through juicer.
- Dilute with water or cold herbal tea to begin with, or if too pungent.
NOTE: Some green herbs exert natural antibiotic properties and can be added in small amounts to your juice recipes. The most effective ones are thyme, oregano, coriander and basil.
If you prefer this juice to be sweeter, add more apples, or 1 orange, or 1 slice of watermelon.
Orthodox medical treatment
Treatment is based on the drug Interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha). This drug is given by injection and a common dosage regime is 3 million units, three times a week, for 12 months. The majority of patients who will ultimately respond to IFN tend to do so within the first 3 months of treatment. If there is no real improvement after this time the drug is generally stopped. Interferon often causes a wide range of side effects such as a “flu like illness,” suppression of the bone marrow, infections, mood changes and immune dysfunction.
Trials of therapy using a combination of the drugs IFN and Ribavirin are showing some good results. Much more research is being done into specific antiviral drugs such as NS3 proteinase and effective vaccines. Large amounts of money are needed to maintain this ongoing research which is essential in the face of this rapidly spreading epidemic. The aim of Interferon treatment is to eliminate hepatitis C virus infection and prevent liver damage and liver cancer. Interferon alone eliminates the virus in only 10 to 20% of patients. Another 25 to 40% respond but subsequently relapse. These patients may achieve much better results with Interferon/Ribavirin combination therapy.
In many cases it is impossible to eradicate the hepatitis C virus from the body and patients find it difficult to tolerate drug side effects. It is therefore not surprising that sufferers are turning towards nutritional and herbal therapies to fight the virus. Natural therapies will not usually be able to eradicate the virus from the body, however, they will definitely help to prevent the virus from damaging the liver. This approach is very successful and can keep the virus in a dormant or harmless state so that it does not damage liver cells.
Recommended supplements for hepatitis
- Livatone Plus Powder or Capsules
Take 1 teaspoon twice daily in raw juices or water, or take 2 capsules twice daily – A combination of St Mary’s Thistle, taurine, added herbs and minerals and B vitamins is recommended. This combination of synergistic herbs, vitamins and minerals stimulate the phase 1 and 2 detox pathways in the liver – therefore it supports the liver function.
Take 1-2 capsules daily with food – Selenium, in combination with anti-retroviral therapy is useful in assisting and controlling viral load whilst boosting immune cell numbers.
- MSM Plus Vitamin C
Take 1/2 teaspoon twice daily in juice or water – MSM is an organic sulfur helpful in controlling the inflammatory process.
- N Acetyl L Cysteine (NAC)
Take 1 capsule one to three times daily – helps the body to manufacture glutathione, which reduces inflammation and assists detoxification.
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.