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Do Home Remedies for Hepatitis C Work?

Nicole Cutler L.Ac. February 28, 2011

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Determining if home remedies for Hepatitis C actually work depends on which remedies are being used and what the treatment goal is.

Natural approaches to fight the Hepatitis C virus are gaining more and more attention, especially as the rising cost of healthcare collides with the significant number of non-responders to antiviral treatment. In fact, many alternative healing methods have valid scientific evidence substantiating their claims to help those with Hepatitis C. As anyone who has dabbled in complementary healthcare can attest, some do-it-yourself remedies are better than others. Regardless of what approach is considered, anyone wondering if home methods for Hepatitis C work must first understand the difference between elimination of the Hepatitis C virus and helping the liver cope with this virus.

The currently approved Hepatitis C treatment can successfully treat hepatitis; however, success is only achieved in about half of Americans with the virus. To date, no form of alternative medicine has been proven to successfully treat Hepatitis C. Despite this fact, many home remedies and natural substances have been found to offer other important benefits to those with chronic Hepatitis C.

Curing vs. Helping

The current standard treatment for Hepatitis C consists of pegylated interferon and ribavirin, a combination that yields a sustained viral response in approximately half of those who are eligible for this treatment. According to Schering Corporation, a sustained viral response is the inability to detect Hepatitis C genetic material for at least six months after Hepatitis C therapy is completed. A sustained viral response is:

  • the best measure currently available for evaluating the elimination of Hepatitis C
  • considered the same as a cure by many physicians, although some are wary of proclaiming someone can be cured of Hepatitis C

Doubtfulness exists, because there is no way to be sure that a sustained viral response is permanent. Hepatitis C tests examine the blood for viral particles, but they are not yet sophisticated enough to test for this virus in other organs, the lymphatic system or other parts of the body where the virus is believed to hide. Thus, it is difficult to know if Hepatitis C is truly eradicated or if a microscopic virion has found a good hiding place.

The pharmaceutical industry is heavily invested in its attempts to completely eliminate the Hepatitis C virus from someone’s body. However, therapeutic actions falling outside of Western medicine function differently. In general, these alternative methods are aimed at helping people manage chronic Hepatitis C, not viral elimination. Most home remedies for Hepatitis C attempt to:

  • strengthen the liver’s ability to battle Hepatitis C
  • reduce the damage this virus can do to the liver
  • assist the liver with its functions
  • ease symptoms of liver inflammation or damage

Top Helpful Home Remedies

While remedies that don’t require a doctor’s prescription may not deliver a sustained viral response, they can be extremely helpful to anyone living with chronic Hepatitis C. Based on safety profiles, clinical studies and empirical data, the following three home remedies are widely regarded as some of the best for Hepatitis C:

  1. Castor Oil Packs – Despite their potential for making a mess, applying a castor oil pack over the liver area can help reduce inflammation, activate immune cells, ease pain and facilitate detoxification.
  2. Supplement With Milk Thistle – The most highly regarded herb for supporting the liver, milk thistle offers benefits to someone with Hepatitis C, such as strengthening liver cell walls – which prevents liver cell damage and inflammation while also promoting new, healthy liver cell growth.
  3. Take N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) – An amino acid that metabolizes to glutathione, the body’s most potent antioxidant, NAC helps neutralize toxins. This function supports the liver’s role of detoxification, reducing toxin-induced liver damage. In addition, NAC appears to improve the likelihood of achieving sustained viral response during Hepatitis C antiviral treatment.

Assessing whether or not home remedies work for Hepatitis C depends on your goal. If the desire is to eradicate the Hepatitis C virus then, no, home remedies do not work. However, if the desire is to help minimize the damage Hepatitis C can cause then, yes, certain home remedies – such as castor oil packs, milk thistle and NAC – are worth the extra effort.

References:

http://altmedicine.about.com/od/healthconditionsdisease/a/hepatitis_c.htm, Is There a Natural Hepatitis C Cure?, Cathy Wong, Retrieved November 23, 2010, About.com, 2010.

http://www.healingwell.com/library/hepatitis/info4.asp, Alternative Treatment for Hepatitis C, Retrieved November 23, 2010, HealingWell.com, LLC, 2010.

http://www.hepatitis-central.com/mt/archives/2009/11/hepatitis_c_cur.html, Hepatitis C: Curable or Incurable Disease?, Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., Retrieved November 26, 2010, Natural Wellness, 2010.

http://www.hepatitis-central.com/mt/archives/2010/06/the_top_three_a.html, The Top Three Alternative Treatments for Hepatitis C, Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., Retrieved November 27, 2010, Natural Wellness, 2010.

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hepatitis-c/DS00097/DSECTION=lifestyle-and-home-remedies, Lifestyle and home remedies, Retrieved November 23, 2010, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2010.

http://www.webmd.com/hepatitis/features/hepatitis-c-alternative-treatments, Hepatitis C Alternative Treatments, Stephanie Watson, Retrieved November 23, 2010, WebMD, LLC, 2010.

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