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Complementary Treatment Usage Among Hepatitis C Patients

The Editors at Hepatitis Central
November 17, 2004

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The following article is about a survey presented at the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases(AASLD) conference.

The survey found that nearly 60% of Hepatitis C patients use Alternative and or Complementary Therapies. Given the low success rate and high level of side effects with current accepted medical therapy, this result should not be surprising.

Also, more doctors are learning about and appreciating the beneficial effects of natural therapies for liver support and protection. Especially milk thistle. This is why Maximum Milk Thistle is still our number one recommendation for people with liver concerns.

Complementary and Alternative Treatments: A Survey of People Living with Hepatitis C

The objective of the present study was to provide quantitative measures of the prevalence, patterns, reasons for use and perceived benefits from complementary therapies (CAM) among individuals with hepatitis C (HCV).

A self-administered questionnaire was given to 300 HCV patients attending a community-based outpatient clinic at Vancouver Hospital. The questionnaire included 19 questions regarding demographics, conventional treatments received, specific CAM therapies used, reasons for use, perceived benefit, disclosure to physician and utilization of CAM information resources.

Data was entered into SPSS 10.0 and analyzed primarily for descriptives including frequencies and summary measures.

Users of CAM and non-users were compared by demographics (age, gender, marital status, education, employment status and ethnicity) and medical (time since diagnosis, type of conventional treatment) characteristics.

Contingency analysis between CAM use and potential determinants was performed to select variables to be included in modeling. A multiple logistic regression analysis including all the significant independent variables was then conducted to determine the strongest independent predictors of CAM use.


Fifty-nine percent of patients used CAM therapies with the most common being the herbal supplement milk thistle, exercise, and multivitamins.

The most common reasons given for choosing to use CAM therapies were to

  1. Improve quality of life,
  2. Boost the immune system, and
  3. Slow disease progression.

Most patients felt that CAM therapies had improved their energy levels, reduced stress, and gave them a sense of control over the illness whereas only 43.9% felt that CAM therapies improved liver function.

The majority of those using CAM (81%) had told their physician(s) about their CAM use, but few utilized either their family physician (15%) or their specialist (7%) as sources of CAM information.

CAM users most commonly consulted friends or family (39%) for information about CAM.

CAM users were more likely than nonusers to delay or decline conventional treatment.

Respondents who had never used CAM had typically never thought about it or did not have enough information about the treatments.


Based on their study results, the authors conclude, “More than one half of recently diagnosed HCV patients utilize some form of CAM therapy, and the majority, disclose their use to their physician(s). However, they tend to rely on anecdotal information for their CAM decision-making.

Dissemination of reliable CAM information is one key to helping patients navigate this difficult arena.

A L Mulkins and others. COMPLEMENTARY AND ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE: A SURVEY FOR PEOPLE DIAGNOSED WITH HEPATITIS C. Abstract 418 (poster). 55th AASLD. October 29-November 2, 2004. Boston, MA.

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Comments provides information regarding hepatitis and liver disease. Comments are available to the community in order to discuss these topics and obtain answers to questions through community members. The Editors at will not be responding to questions or comments posed in article comments.