How to maintain a healthy liver with hepatitis C
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is the fastest-growing infectious disease in Australia and the USA, and this upward trend is set to continue. Infection with the hepatitis C virus is common, and there are thought to be 3.2 million people in the world with this infection. It is a serious infection that very few people are able to fully recover from.
The infection can linger in your liver for the rest of your life and greatly increase your risk of developing liver cancer or cirrhosis of the liver.
The most commonly used medical treatment for hepatitis C involves the use of antiviral drugs called pegylated interferon and ribavirin. However they are only effective in clearing the virus for 30 to 65 percent of people. They are also very expensive and can have dreadful side effects.
Luckily there are several nutrients and lifestyle factors that can significantly improve your chances of recovering from this infection. They are far less expensive and are free of side effects.
Some facts about hepatitis C
What are the symptoms of hepatitis C?
The majority of people get no symptoms at all, therefore are unaware they are infected. A small percentage of people do feel sick after contracting the virus, with symptoms like fever, nausea, joint pain, loss of appetite and mild jaundice. The people who do develop symptoms are more likely to overcome the infection on their own and not require medication.
How is hepatitis C diagnosed?
There is a blood test that checks for the presence of hepatitis C antibodies. However it can take three months or longer for the antibodies to show up in your bloodstream after you’ve become infected with the virus. There are also tests available to check how much of the virus is present in your body.
How do people catch hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is transmitted mainly by blood. This occurs through the sharing of equipment to inject drugs, needle stick injuries in health care workers, and unsafe techniques of body piercing and tattooing. Cocaine snorting is recognized increasingly as a potential mode of transmission through the sharing of contaminated straws.
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. It is important to practice safe sexual techniques to avoid blood to blood contact. The risk of sexual transmission is estimated to be around 4%
Transmission of the disease from mother to baby also occurs but much less frequently than with hepatitis B. This occurs in only around 6% of such cases. Infection of the baby through breast-feeding from an infected mother is very uncommon, however great care should be taken to avoid nipple trauma.
HCV is NOT spread by:
• food or water
• sharing eating utensils or drinking glasses
• casual contact
• shaking hands
The following precautions must be taken by Hepatitis 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.
• Blood stained 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.
Natural remedies that help to protect the liver of hepatitis C patients
Here are some strategies you can easily incorporate into your life that should greatly improve your outcome if you have hepatitis C:
- Avoid becoming overweight. It is very important to maintain a healthy weight, and especially to avoid carrying excess weigh on your abdomen. Excess fat over your abdomen will creep into your liver and compromise its function. Fat inside the liver worsens inflammation and it promotes fibrosis (scarring) in the liver.
- Maintain a healthy blood sugar level. High blood sugar worsens scarring in the liver and can speed the progression to cirrhosis. If you are a diabetic, it is vitally important to try and get your blood sugar as close to the ideal range as possible. The ideal range is 65 – 97 mg/dL (3.6 – 5.4 mmol/L). In many instances, type 2 diabetes can be reversed altogether. See my book Diabetes Type 2: You Can Reverse It. Diabetes and syndrome X both reduce the effectiveness of drug therapy for hepatitis C.
- There is no safe level of alcohol consumption for people with hepatitis C. Alcohol raises the risk of developing cirrhosis (scarring) or liver cancer. Likewise, cigarettes pose the same risks.
- The herb St Mary’s thistle has antiviral effects. The active component of St Mary’s thistle is silybinin; this substance actually inhibits the replication of the hepatitis C virus, making it a vital component of the treatment plan for hepatitis C. Livatone Plus contains St Mary’s thistle plus other herbs and nutrients to support healthy liver function. Importantly, it contains selenium, which is a mineral that also has antiviral properties.
- Make sure you have an optimal blood vitamin D level. You are probably vitamin D deficient, therefore you should ask your doctor for a blood test to find out. Vitamin D deficiency promotes inflammation and scarring in the liver of hepatitis C patients. 5000 IU of vitamin D3 is an appropriate amount to take in supplement form for most people, but check with your doctor first.
- Drink some coffee. Several studies have shown that regular coffee consumption is associated with lower rates of liver fibrosis in patients with hepatitis C.
- Zinc may help to reduce elevated liver enzymes in people with hepatitis C because it helps to repair damaged liver cells.
As you can see, there are several dietary and lifestyle measures you can implement to significantly improve your chances of remaining healthy with hepatitis C. There is a great deal more information in my book Hepatitis and AIDS: How To Fight Them Naturally.
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.
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