Quercetin Might Help Fight Hepatitis C
Millions of Americans know they are currently living with chronic Hepatitis C – and millions more have yet to learn of their infection with this common, dangerous liver virus. Despite recent advances in Hepatitis C treatment, a sizable portion of those with this illness are not able to triumph over this infection, rendering them vulnerable to advancing chronic liver disease. Fortunately, several natural supplements demonstrate an ability to impair the Hepatitis C virus. While more intensive research is needed to fully back quercetin as one such supplement, research from Los Angeles delivers hope that quercetin inhibits the life cycle of the Hepatitis C virus.
Hepatitis C Treatment
Hepatitis C is a serious liver disease that can cause progressive damage to the liver. If the virus is not halted early enough, it can cause irreparable and even fatal liver injury. Hence, the need for effective treatment is paramount. Previously, the standard of treatment for Hepatitis C was a combination of pegylated interferon and ribavirin. These drugs often exert a long list of side effects, and were deemed successful in eliminating Hepatitis C in about half of those who took the drugs. However, 2011 marked a major change in Hepatitis C therapy with two new drugs approved for treatment: telaprevir and boceprevir. When added to interferon and ribavirin, telaprevir or boceprevir are believed to dramatically boost treatment success rates. However, they do not ‘cure’ everyone. This is because some individuals:
- are ineligible for Hepatitis C therapy
- must stop Hepatitis C treatment early due to the drugs’ side effects
- do not achieve a sustained viral response rate (the benchmark of successful treatment)
These obstacles to successful elimination of Hepatitis C put a great demand on natural – yet effective – treatment adjuncts. As demonstrated by UCLA researchers, the antioxidant Quercetin shows exciting promise in the inhibition of Hepatitis C.
Quercetin is a plant pigment known as a flavonoid, a substance that gives many fruits, flowers and vegetables their color. Flavonoids are also antioxidants, compounds that scavenge damaging free radicals to prevent cellular damage. Quercetin is found in many plants and foods, such as:
- citrus fruits
- dark cherries
- Ginkgo biloba
- St. John’s wort
Quercetin appears to have a variety of beneficial health properties. It acts like an antioxidant, an antihistamine, an anti-inflammatory and may help protect against heart disease and cancer. In addition, research from UCLA presents evidence that quercetin could impair the life cycle of the Hepatitis C virus.
UCLA Research – Past and Present
As published in the December 2009 edition of the journal Hepatology, research led by UCLA assistant professor of pathology Samuel French found that quercetin inhibited the synthesis of two cellular proteins that are important in Hepatitis C infection. As such, this study revealed quercetin to significantly inhibit infection with Hepatitis C. Since this natural supplement has a safety profile that dramatically trumps any of the currently approved medications for Hepatitis C treatment, French’s finding is substantial.
To gather more evidence, UCLA is sponsoring a Phase I trial to evaluate the safety and Hepatitis C antiviral activity of quercetin. Still recruiting participants, this trial zeroes in on Hepatitis C patients who have contraindications to standard antiviral treatment:
- treatment naïve patients who decline standard therapy
- patients who previously had standard treatments with relapse
- those who had intolerable side effects to previous treatment
With completion of the study expected midway through 2012, the Hepatitis C community is actively waiting to learn how much of an impact quercetin has on fighting this liver disease.
Recent progress by the pharmaceutical industry has escalated the hope for millions of people to conquer their Hepatitis C infection. For those that are not helped by these new drugs, there is still hope. Quercetin, a nutritional supplement that functions as an anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant, may be able to protect the liver from this virus without unleashing the side effects that have come to be associated with Hepatitis C treatment.
http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/study/NCT01438320, Q-Trial in Patients with Hepatitis C, Retrieved February 12, 2012, National Institutes of Health, 2012.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19839005, The heat shock protein inhibitor Quercetin attenuates hepatitis C virus production, Gonzalez O, et al, Retrieved February 12, 2012, Hepatology, December 2009.
http://www.news-medical.net/news/20100106/Quercetin-may-prevent-hepatitis-C-infection3b-findings-may-lead-to-less-toxic-treatments.aspx, Quercetin May Prevent Hepatitis C Infection; findings may lead to less toxic treatments, Retrieved February 12, 2012, News-Medical.net, 2012.
http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/quercetin-000322.htm, Quercetin, Retrieved February 12, 2012, University of Maryland Medical Center, 2012.