Hepatitis is a serious disease, requiring the care of a physician. Several nutrients and herbs have been shown to inhibit viral reproduction, improve immune system function, and greatly stimulate regeneration of the damaged liver cells. In the case of acute exposure to the hepatitis B virus (HBV), hyper-immune globulin (HBIG), a concentrated solution of immune globulins specific to HBV, is administered by injection.
This program is also intended for Hepatitis A and C.
Experts define hepatitis as short-term (acute hepatitis) or prolonged (chronic hepatitis). In some cases, acute hepatitis develops into a chronic condition, but chronic hepatitis can also occur on its own. Although chronic hepatitis is generally the more serious condition, patients having either condition can experience varying degrees of severity.
Acute hepatitis can begin suddenly or gradually, but it has a limited course and rarely lasts beyond one or two months. Usually there are only spotty liver cell damage and evidence of immune system activity, but on rare occasions, acute hepatitis can cause severe — even life-threatening — liver damage.
The chronic forms of hepatitis persist for prolonged periods. Experts usually categorize chronic hepatitis as either (1) chronic persistent or (2) chronic active hepatitis.
Chronic Persistent Hepatitis
Chronic persistent hepatitis is usually mild and non-progressive or slowly progressive, causing limited damage to the liver. Cell injury in such cases is usually limited to the region of portal tracts, which contains vessels that carry blood to the liver from the digestive tract. In some cases, however, more extensive liver damage can occur over long periods of time and progress to chronic active hepatitis.
Chronic Active Hepatitis
If damage to the liver is extensive and cell injury occurs beyond the portal tract, chronic active hepatitis can develop. Significant liver damage has usually occurred by this time. Liver cells are destroyed between the portal tract and the central veins in the liver, and progressive cell damage can build a layer of scar tissue over the liver, resulting in the condition known as cirrhosis. In such cases, the entire liver is threatened with malfunction and failure.
Most cases of hepatitis are caused by viruses that attack the liver; most are named with the letters A through G. It should be noted that the cause of hepatitis is sometimes unexplained, indicating that additional viruses have not yet been discovered.
Hepatitis A, formerly called infectious hepatitis, is always acute and never becomes chronic. The virus is excreted in feces and transmitted in contaminated food and water. Eating shellfish taken from sewage-contaminated water is a common means of contracting hepatitis A. It can also be acquired by close contact with individuals infected with the virus. The hepatitis A virus does not directly kill liver cells, and experts do not yet know how the virus actually injures the liver.
Hepatitis B and D
The virus for hepatitis B, formerly called serum hepatitis, is found in semen, blood, and saliva. It is usually spread by blood transfusions, contaminated needles, and sexual contact. Blood screening as reduced the risk from transfusions. The virus does not kill cells directly, but seems to activate cells in the immune system, which cause inflammation and damage in the liver. Hepatitis D virus can replicate only by attaching to hepatitis B and therefore cannot exist without the B virus being present. Between 1% and 10% of hepatitis B patients go on to develop chronic hepatitis and hepatitis B can become chronic without an acute stage.
Hepatitis C was the major cause of all cases of hepatitis resulting from transfusions and most resulting from intravenous drug use. Because of blood screening, the risk from transfusions is now 1 in 10,000. It can also be transmitted through injuries in the skin. It may also be transmitted sexually. About 10% to 60% of acute hepatitis C patients develop the chronic form, which can also occur without a preceding acute stage.
Hepatitis E is similar to hepatitis A and is transmitted by contact with contaminated food or water. It was thought to be rare, but experts now estimate that up to 20% of people in the US may be infected, even those who haven’t traveled.
Hepatitis G accounts for about 9% of cases that cannot be diagnosed as hepatitis A through E. It also occurs in about 25% of patients with of hepatitis A, 32% of those with hepatitis B, and 20% of patients with hepatitis C. Hepatitis G appears always to be chronic, but to date indications are that it is mild and does not even increase the severity of any accompanying hepatitis virus.
Other Viruses Causing Hepatitis or Liver Damage
Hepatitis GB has been discovered as a new distinct form, but it is not known yet whether it causes a serious condition. A number of other common viruses, including herpes simplex, can sometimes injure the liver, although they rarely cause severe hepatitis. Cytomegaloviruses is harmless in most people but can injure the livers in infants and people with impaired immune systems, such as those with AIDS.
Auto-immune Chronic Hepatitis
Chronic hepatitis may develop when the body’s immune system attacks cells in the liver, a condition called autoimmune chronic hepatitis. Autoimmune chronic hepatitis accounts for about 20% of all chronic hepatitis cases. Like other autoimmune disorders, this condition develops because a genetically defective immune system attacks the body’s own cells and organs — in this case, the liver — after being triggered by an environmental agent, probably a virus. This agent may be a virus; suspects include the measles virus, a hepatitis virus, or the Epstein-Barr virus, which causes mononucleosis. In about 30% of cases, autoimmune hepatitis is associated with autoimmune disorders that attack other parts of the body, but the relationship between these conditions is unclear.
Hepatitis Caused by Alcohol and Drugs
Over time, alcohol abuse leads to increased demands for oxygen by the liver and, at the same time, fat accumulates and impairs the liver’s ability to absorb oxygen. Cells in the liver become damaged and may die, possibly leading to cirrhosis, a dangerous and life-threatening condition.
Because the liver plays such a major role in metabolizing drugs, hundreds of medications can cause reactions that are similar to those of acute viral hepatitis. Symptoms can appear anywhere from two weeks to six months after starting drug treatment. In most cases, they disappear when the drug is withdrawn, but, in rare circumstances, they may progress to serious liver disease. Among the drugs most prominently cited for liver interactions are halothane, isoniazid, methyldopa, phenytoin, valproic acid, and the sulfonamide drugs. Notably, very high doses of acetaminophen (Tylenol) have been known to cause severe liver damage and even death, particularly when used with alcohol.
Who Gets Hepatitis?
Risk Factors for Hepatitis A:
About one third of the US population has antibodies to hepatitis A, indicating previous infection by the virus. It infects 180,000 Americans every year. Feces-contaminated water and food are the major sources of infection, and infected people can transmit it to others if they do not take strict sanitary precautions. Of the various strains of hepatitis, hepatitis A is the one people are most likely to encounter in the course of international travel. Outbreaks have occurred in day care centers, but a recent study of child care workers found that incidence of hepatitis A and B among this group was actually lower than in the general population. Risk is low if good hygienic precautions are used, particularly when changing babies and handling diapers. The disease has also been transmitted sexually among homosexual men and it often occurs in intravenous drug users.
Risk Factors for Hepatitis B and D:
About 350 million people carry hepatitis B worldwide; it is very common in southern Africa, Asia, and the Mediterranean. It is carried through body fluids. In the U.S., there are about 128,000 new cases every year and about 1 to 1.35 million people with chronic hepatitis B. It can infect children and adults; up to 90% of hepatitis B patients are men. Blood screening and vaccinations have significantly reduced the rate of infection, but drug users who share needles are at considerable risk. Hepatitis B may also be transmitted through sexual activity. Pregnant women with hepatitis B can transmit the virus to their babies. Even if they are not infected at birth, unvaccinated children of infected mothers run a 60% risk of developing it before age five. Children are more likely than adults to become chronic carriers. The virus can be passed from cuts, scrapes, and other breaks in the skin. Also at risk are hospital workers exposed to blood products, staff members of institutions for mentally impaired people, prisoners, and emigrants from areas where the disease rate is high. Contaminated medical instruments, including fingerstick devices used for more than one individual, have been known to transmit the virus.
Hepatitis D occurs only in people with hepatitis B. It is not common in the U.S. except in intravenous drug abusers and people who require multiple transfusions. Those who have the antibody for hepatitis B are immune to further infection from both hepatitis B and D viruses.
Risk Factors for Hepatitis C:
About 28,000 people acquire hepatitis C every year and as many as 3.9 million Americans are chronic carriers of the virus. Its primary mode of transmission has been through transfusions. Because of blood screening this risk has been dramatically reduced to 1 in 10,000 since 1990. Hepatitis C can exist for decades, however, without symptoms, and nearly 300,000 people who had transfusions before 1990 may have contracted the virus. Experts urge anyone who had transfusions before 1990 be tested, even though treatments for the virus are limited. People who are still at high risk for hepatitis C include intravenous drug users, intranasal cocaine users, people who have had body-piercing, and organ transplant recipients. Transmission of the virus through contaminated medical devices used in invasive procedures, such as colonoscopy, has been reported. Either sexual promiscuity or a long-term sexual relationship with an infected partner appears to increase the risk. The risk in long-term relationships is about 1% per year. The risk increases with frequency of sexual activity and intimate behavior, such as sharing toothbrushes. Although most health care providers are at low risk, the chance of infection in hospital workers who are accidentally stuck with a needle is high, ranging from 4% to 10%. Unless her own infection is severe, a pregnant woman with this virus is unlikely to pass it on to her infant. Even given these risk factors, it is still not known how 40% of patients acquire this form of hepatitis.
Risk Factors for Hepatitis G:
Hepatitis G is detected in between 1.5% and 3.2% of blood donors and is believed to be more common than hepatitis C. From what is known of hepatitis G, its risk factors are probably similar to those of hepatitis C, although incidence among patients with multiple blood transfusions is much lower than with hepatitis C.
Risk Factors for Autoimmune Chronic Hepatitis:
Autoimmune chronic hepatitis may occur in women between the ages of 20 and 40 who have other diseases of the immune system, including systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjoulmgren’s syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, glomerulonephritis, and hemolytic anemia. About 30% of patients are men, however, and in both genders there is often no relationship to another autoimmune disease. In general, no major risk factors have been discovered for this condition.
Prognosis for Acute Viral Hepatitis
In most cases of acute viral hepatitis, recovery is complete and the liver returns to normal within two to eight weeks. In a small number of cases of hepatitis B or C, the condition can be prolonged and recovery may not occur for a year. About 5% to 10% of these patients will experience flare-up of symptoms in a milder form before full recovery. A few of these patients may go on to develop chronic hepatitis. In the rare event that fulminant hepatitis develops, the liver fails and gastrointestinal hemorrhage and brain damage (encephalopathy) occur, resulting in mental confusion, or even coma. Without liver transplantation, death occurs in up to 80% of these cases. Pregnant women with acute hepatitis B, C, or E are at higher risk for these complications. Other serious, and also rare, consequences of acute viral hepatitis are aplastic anemia (which can be fatal), hypoglycemia, and polyarteritis — a serious inflammation of blood vessels. People who have been infected with a hepatitis virus continue to produce antibodies to that specific virus. This means that they cannot be reinfected with the same hepatitis virus again. Unfortunately, they are not protected from other types.
Specific Prognosis for Hepatitis A and E
Hepatitis A is the least serious hepatitis virus; it never becomes chronic. Fulminant hepatitis is the major concern, but even if this condition develops, it is less dangerous than with other viral types; only one in a thousand patients are at risk for death from this complication. Similarly hepatitis E is acute and not serious, except in pregnant women, when it can be life threatening.
Specific Prognosis for Hepatitis B and D
Acute hepatitis B is lethal in only 1% of patients, but even patients with mild symptoms can remain chronically infected with the virus. Between 5% and 15% of hepatitis B patients carry the virus throughout their lives, and about 25% of these carriers progress to chronic hepatitis. People most at risk for carrying the virus are children infected before they are five and newborns, most of whom become carriers. People most at risk for progression to chronic hepatitis are those infected in early childhood and people with damaged immune systems, such as AIDS patients.
If a patient with hepatitis B becomes co-infected with hepatitis D, the consequences can be very serious. There is an increased risk for fulminant hepatitis, a life-threatening condition. The risk for developing a chronic form of hepatitis D is the same as for hepatitis B alone.
Specific Prognosis for Acute Hepatitis C
The mortality rate for acute hepatitis C is well below 1%, but people infected with hepatitis C tend to become life-long carriers of the virus. Between 40% and 60% of these patients develop chronic hepatitis within four years. It is currently not possible to predict which patients will develop the chronic form of hepatitis C.
Prognosis for Chronic Hepatitis
Patients with chronic persistent hepatitis who have few, if any, symptoms generally have a favorable outlook, with only a small risk for developing cirrhosis. In chronic active hepatitis, however, liver biopsies often reveal scarring indicative of cirrhosis and damage to the liver cells that bridge the portal and central veins of the liver. Nearly every bodily process is affected by a damaged liver, including digestive, hormonal, and circulatory systems. Without treatment, encephalopathy, stomach and intestinal bleeding, or kidney failure may eventually develop, with life-threatening consequences. The degree of severity in people with hepatitis caused by viruses B and C usually depends on the degree to which the virus can replicate itself. Viruses that replicate quickly usually cause a more severe form of chronic hepatitis.
Prognosis of Chronic Hepatitis B
The great majority of people with chronic persistent hepatitis B have a good long-term outlook, but between 5% and 10% become carriers of the virus and 5% to 10% eventually develop cirrhosis. The addition of hepatitis D is a particular danger and increases the risk for cirrhosis. Hepatitis B is a primary cause of liver cancer. In Asia about 15% of people who have chronic hepatitis B develop liver cancer, but this high rate is not seen in other parts of the world. (One Italian study which followed a group of hepatitis B patients for 11 years found no development of liver cancer over that period of time.) Vaccinations for hepatitis B is proving to significantly reduce this risk.
Prognosis of Chronic Hepatitis C
A recent study reported that from the time of diagnosis, the 10-year risk for the patients in the study developing cirrhosis was 29% and for liver cancer was 14%. It should be noted that these patients had had hepatitis for many years before being diagnosed, so these time frames are not based on when a patient first gets hepatitis. One large study has identified people at highest and lowest risk for developing cirrhosis: people who contracted hepatitis after exposure in a hospital setting, blood transfusion, and when the cause is unknown have a 20% to 30% chance for cirrhosis; those who developed hepatitis C from drug abuse, sexual activity, and occupational exposure have a lower risk — around 10%. Another study found that drinking alcohol also significantly increased the risk. A study reporting a high rate of hepatitis C in diabetics has led some experts to theorize that the virus may have effects on the immune system or pancreas that could cause this disorder in some people.
Prognosis of Chronic Hepatitis G
Although only recently identified, experts believe that hepatitis G usually has a mild chronic course and the likelihood of liver damage is low.
Prognosis for Autoimmune Hepatitis
The persistent form is usually benign and causes little trouble, although there is a very small risk that chronic persistent hepatitis can evolve to the active form. A recent study found that the overall outlook for treated patients with autoimmune hepatitis and no indication of hepatitis viruses was very favorable. In this study, the 10-year survival rate was 95% — similar to the same age group in the general population. The five-year survival rate for chronic active form of this hepatitis is only 50% if the disease is not treated. (This rate may be higher in people with milder symptoms and less liver damage.) During the early years, patients are most at risk for liver failure and bleeding in the stomach and esophagus. This risk diminishes over time but is replaced by an increase in liver cancer rates and bleeding in the stomach and intestines. The risk for liver cancer is not has high, however, as with chronic viral hepatitis.
a. Diets high in refined foods, processed foods or hydrogenated fats.
b. Stress (physical and psychological).
c. Previous hepatitis or mononucleosis infection not completely resolved
d. Chronic endocrine hypo-function.
e. Possible iron overload in the liver; check serum Ferritin levels.
The therapeutic goals of natural hepatitis treatment are to protect the liver and to prevent further damage to the liver by supporting the immune system.
During the acute phase, the focus should be on replacing fluids through consumption of vegetable broths, diluted vegetable juices (diluted fifty percent with water), and herbal teas.
In chronic cases, the diet should be low in saturated fats, simple carbohydrates (sugar, white flour, fruit juice, honey, etc.), oxidized fatty acids (fried oils), and animal products.
High doses of vitamin C (40 to 100 grams orally or intravenously) can greatly relieve acute viral hepatitis in two to four days.
There is good clinical data to support the effectiveness of orally administered bovine (beef) thymus extracts in treating acute and chronic viral hepatitis.
Licorice exerts many actions that are beneficial in the treatment of acute and chronic hepatitis, including protecting the liver; enhancing the immune system; and potentiating interferon.
Silymarin, the flavonoid complex from milk thistle, is effective in treating both acute and chronic viral hepatitis.
A growing body of scientific research indicates that Silymarin phytosome is better absorbed and produces better results than unbound Silymarin.
Hepatitis is a serious disease requiring the care of a physician. The therapeutic goals are to prevent further damage to the liver by supporting the immune system and to protect the liver. Bed rest is important during the acute phase of viral hepatitis, with slow resumption of activities as health improves. Strenuous exertion, alcohol, and other liver-toxic drugs and chemicals should be avoided. During the contagious phase (two to three weeks before symptoms appear to three weeks after), careful hygiene and avoiding close contact with others are important. In particular, once diagnosis is made, work in a day care center, restaurant, or similar environs is not recommended.
During the acute phase, the focus should be on replacing fluids through consumption of vegetable broths, diluted vegetable juices (diluted by half with water), and herbal teas.
In the chronic phase, a natural foods diet, low in saturated fats, simple carbohydrates (sugar, white flour, fruit juice, honey, etc.), oxidized fatty acids (fried oils), and animal fat and high in fiber is recommended.
1. Drink 2 to 3 ounces of filtered spring water every 30 minutes while awake (no well water or water containing fluoride or chlorine).
2. Eliminate all hydrogenated fats and oils. Eat only extra virgin olive oil, fish oils and coconut oil as your only source of dietary oils. Coconut oil is a very healthy oil to consume and it also has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.
3. Avoid refined carbohydrates, alcohol, processed foods, mucous producing foods such as dairy products, gluten containing grains and gelatin, fried foods and caffeine containing foods such as coffee, tea, cola and chocolate.
4. Increase raw foods and quality proteins.
1. BIO-IMMUNOZYME FORTE ? 3 tablets, 3 times daily after meals in the acute phase, and 1 tablet, 3 times daily with meals in the chronic phase.
2. BIO-C PLUS 1000 ? 1 tablet, 3 times daily after meals.
3. M S M POWDER — 1/2 teaspoonful , 2 to 4 times daily (depending on severity of symptoms) after meals. It is important to take your MSM with 1 BIO C PLUS 1000 tablet.
4. SUNFLAX — 2 capsules, twice daily after meals for Essential Fatty Acids.
5. CoQ-ZYME 30 – 1 tablet, 3 times daily after meals
Specific Nutrients: When symptoms or condition begins to subside, gradually, as needed, wean yourself from the Specific Nutrients & stay on the Primary Nutrients. If any symptoms re-occur resume taking Specific Nutrients.
6. ULTRAVIR-X – 2 capsules, 3 times daily after meals.
7. LIVOTRIT-PLUS – 1 tablet, 3 times daily with meals in the acute phase. Increase by one tablet daily until a maximum of 3 tablets, 3 times daily is reached. In the chronic phase, 2 tablets, 3 times daily after meals.
8. BETA-TCP – 1 tablet, 3 times daily with LIVITRIT PLUS after meals.
9. I A G POWDER – 1 tablespoonful 3 times daily in juice or water in the acute phase and 1 teaspoonful 2 times daily in the chronic phase.
10. MCS – 2 capsules after breakfast & 1 capsule after lunch.
11. LIPOIC ACID – 2 capsules, 3 times daily after meals.
12. GSH PLUS – 3 capsules, 3 times daily after meals.
Follow-Up Support: After you have become symptom-free, make sure you revert back to the General Supplement Program and continue to take LIVOTRIT-PLUS and BIO-IMMUNOZYME FORTE at 1 tablet of each, 2 times daily with meals for one year. This therapy is most important as it will help to prevent return of the virus (often the virus will become dormant in the hepatic ducts of the liver).
This program may seem intense with all the supplements you need to take. However, we have had excellent results and have avoided the need for Interferon therapy in some patients. Once you are in remission you can revert to the Primary Nutrients (Items 1 thru 7) supplement program.
You will need to work with your primary care physician to monitor your liver and your overall progress.
Patients with viral hepatitis should abstain from sexual activity or take strict precautions if they cannot. Sterilizing utensils or clothing is not necessary with any type of hepatitis, but hot water and thorough cleanings are necessary for items used by patients with hepatitis E and A. Utensils used by the patient for eating and cooking should be kept separate from those used by others. Because hepatitis A and E are usually passed through contaminated food, people with these viruses should not prepare food for others; unfortunately these viruses are most contagious before symptoms appear. Restrictions on food preparation are not necessary for other types of hepatitis. All objects contaminated by blood from patients with hepatitis B or C must be handled with special care.
Hepatitis Foundation International
30 Sunrise Terrace
Cedar Grove, NJ 07009-1423