Hepatitis C is best treated with a comprehensive treatment program customized to your particular needs is the better approach. Listed below are your treatment options.
What Should You Do Next?
- At the present time, optimal treatment regimen is considered to be a 24- or 48-week course of the combination of pegylated alpha interferon and ribavirin.
- Alpha interferon is a protein that is made by your body in response to viral infections and has natural antiviral activity. Several forms of alpha interferon have been produced and used as therapy for hepatitis C.
- These standard forms of interferon are now being replaced by pegylated interferons (peg interferons) both as monotherapy and as combination therapy for hepatitis C.
- Peg interferon is alpha interferon that has been modified chemically in a manner which changes the uptake, distribution, and excretion of interferon, prolonging its half-life (how long it stays in the body).
- Peg interferon can be given once weekly and provides a more constant level of interferon in the blood, whereas standard interferon must be given several times weekly and provides more fluctuating levels.
- Peg interferon is more active than standard interferon in inhibiting HCV and yields higher sustained response rates with similar side effects.
- Ribavirin is an oral antiviral agent that has activity against a broad range of viruses. By itself, ribavirin has little effect on HCV, but adding it to interferon (called combination therapy) increases the sustained response rate by two- to threefold. For these reasons, combination therapy is now recommended for hepatitis C, and interferon monotherapy (interferon used by itself) is used only when there are specific reasons not to use ribavirin.
- Combination therapy leads to rapid improvements in serum ALT levels and disappearance of detectable HCV RNA in up to 70 percent of patients. However, long-term improvement in hepatitis C occurs only if HCV RNA disappears during therapy and stays undetectable once therapy is stopped. Among patients who become HCV RNA negative during treatment, a proportion relapse when therapy is stopped. The relapse rate is lower in patients treated with combination therapy compared with monotherapy.
- A response is considered "sustained" if HCV RNA remains undetectable for 6 months or more after stopping therapy.
- Patients with HCV genotypes 2 and 3 have a 70-80 % rate of response to combination treatment, and often can have a shorter course of treatment (24-weeks)
- Patients with genotype 1 have a 40-45% rate of response to combination therapy, and often need a 48-week course to attain a better response rate.
- The needed dose of ribavirin appears to vary depending on genotype. Patients with genotype 1 typically need a much higher dose to obtain an optimal response.
- The combination therapy is extremely expensive. Side effects include hemolytic anemia, constant fatigue, suicidal ideation, and severe depression.
Treatment Strategy for Hepatitis C
- Protect the liver from any further damage.
- Regenerate function in liver cells.
- Antiviral therapy to decrease or eliminate virus.
- Stimulate the immune system, systemically and locally.
Not every person will do every item on this treatment plan, particularly the nutrients and herbs. It is essential that you consult a physician with training in natural therapeutics to assist you in the personalized and safe selection, use, and monitoring of these treatments.
Lifestyle for Hepatitis C
- Get at least 8 hours of sleep per night.
- Abstain from alcohol. Any alcohol consumption makes the course of HCV much worse and increases replication (the amount of the virus) of the virus.
- Stop smoking cigarettes. Smoking has been associated with increased risk of HCV-associated liver cancer.
- See your doctor regularly.
- Don't start any new medicines or use over-the-counter, herbal, and other medicines without a qualified physician's knowledge.
- Consider vaccination for hepatitis A and Hepatitis B if liver damage is present.
- Hydrotherapy (constitutional or contrast) to the liver.
- Castor oil packs to the liver.
Dietary Recommendations for Hepatitis C
- If appetite is low, consume fresh juices, miso broth.
- Follow Connecticut Center for Health’s Food Program.
- Consume plenty of fresh vegetables for antioxidants and other nutrients essential for liver function.
- Consume plenty of high quality protein. Eat 6 ounces of beef, chicken, turkey, pork (preferably organic) or fish daily. Eat fish 2-3 times per week.
- Eat 4 ounces of breakfast muesli daily.
- Minimize intake of sweetened and sugary foods, including refined sugars and fruit juice. Limit fruit juice to 4-6 ounces per day.
- Drink 48-64 ounces of clean water daily. Avoid chlorinated water.
- Eat 2-3 fruits per day, a minimum of 2 cups of vegetables per day and eat 1 medium size salad per day (no iceberg lettuce).
Nutritional Supplements to Consider for Hepatitis C
- Multinutrients multivitamin. 2 capsules 3 times daily or 3 capsules 2 times daily with food.
- Antioxidants: vitamin C, vitamin E, alpha lipoic acid, beta-carotene
- Minerals: selenium, zinc
- Other nutrients: N-acetyl cysteine, s-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA)
- Cod liver oil: 1-2 tsp per day or Fish Oil 1 g capsules, 1 capsule twice daily with food.
- These treatments have various functions such as inhibiting fibrosis, reducing oxidative damage to cells, increasing effectiveness of interferon treatment, lowering ALT, inhibiting viral replication, and protecting and supporting liver function.
Supplement Quality Is Important
Nutritional and botanical supplements used in these treatments are intended to have a physiological effect and clinical benefit, i.e., they are effective and your health improves.
The quality of nutritional supplements in the general marketplace is suspect. In order to get the maximum benefit to your health, be sure you purchase the highest quality nutritional supplements.
Botanical (Herbal) Medicine for Hepatitis C
- Silybum marianum (Milk Thistle) should be in any Hepatitis C protocol. It can accelerate recovery from chronic hepatitis C, lowers liver enzymes, stabilizes phospholipid membranes of hepatocytes, protects liver cells from oxidative damage, protects against lipid peroxidation, and is antifibrotic.
- Other herbs which will be considered depending on the patients symptoms include: Glycyrrhiza glabra (Licorice), Uncaria gambir (catechins), and Phyllanthus amarus.
- Herbs will be selected and used for anti-viral effects, antioxidant effects, lowering ALT, lowering incidence of cirrhosis, improving liver function, protecting liver cells, accelerating disappearance of virus, preventing lipid peroxidation, and deterring hepatocellular carcinoma.
- Various other antiviral, immune-supportive and liver-supportive herbs.
- Treatments to decrease Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF-): Camellia sinensis (tea), Zingiber officinale (ginger), Tanacetum parthenium (feverfew), Ginkgo biloba, and the flavonoid quercetin. Therapeutic use of DHEA and melatonin may also be considered. TNF- is hypothesized to play a central role in the inflammation associated with HCV.
Homeopathy for Hepatitis C
There are various homeopathic remedies which may be of assistance with Hepatitis C. Consult a physician skilled in homeopathic medicine for a personalized recommendation of the proper remedy for you.
How is Hepatitis C Treatment Followed?
- Different people recommend different time frames for following up on testing. Listed below is a sample timeframe. Your doctor may adopt a slightly different timeframe.
- Initially, you will need 2-4 office visits to put the treatment protocol into place, assess for tolerance, and make adaptations, as necessary.
- Follow up visits every 3 months.
- Disease progression is monitored by ALT and sometimes biopsy and viral load.
- Liver function tests including ALT should be monitored every 3 months.
- Repeat CBC and Blood Chemistry every 3 months.
- Repeat viral load every 6-18 months.
- Repeat liver biopsy every 12-24 months.
The doctors at The Connecticut Center for Health are experienced in the treatment of hepatitis C. Treatment for hepatitis C is not one size fits all. We have outlined a sample treatment protocol, but we have other treatment protocols that may be equally effective.
If you have (or suspect you have) hepatitis C symptoms and want to learn more about natural treatments for this condition, we recommend that you contact one of our clinics for a free consultation about hepatitis C or an appointment.