July 28th is World Hepatitis Day. The disease Viral Hepatitis is a group of infectious diseases known as hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E- affects almost 400 million people worldwide, causing both acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) liver disease and killingmore than 1.4 million people every year. In 2013, viral hepatitis was the seventh leading cause of death worldwide, compared with the tenth in 1990, and caused more deaths than AIDS, tuberculosis, and even road injuries.
Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. The liver is a vital organ that processes nutrients, filters the blood and fights infections. When the liver is compromised with inflammation, its function can be severely affected, leading to a major impact on the person’s health. Hepatitis can come in several forms, from A- E:
Hepatitis A – a highly contagious and usually transmitted by the fecal-oral route, either person to person or consumption of contaminated food or water.
Hepatitis B – a liver infection caused by person to person infection by blood, semen, or another body fluid, through sexual contact, sharing needles, or other drug-injection equipment or from mother to baby at birth. This disease can be short and acute or long and chronic, often related to the age at infection. Chronic Hepatitis B can lead to cirrhosis or liver cancer.
Hepatitis C – a blood borne virus; generally contracted through the sharing of infected needles. The majority of infected people are not aware they have it because they are not clinically ill.
Hepatitis D – also known as “delta hepatitis” is a liver infection caused by the virus, and uncommon in the USA. It is generally contracted through mucosal contact with infected blood and can be a coinfection with HBV.
Hepatitis E – a liver infection that is usually rare in the USA, coming from the ingestion of fecal matter, generally in contaminated water.
Dr Sally Warren, PhD ND
Metro Integrative Pharmacy
Advice from the Naturopath:
Rest and allow your body to heal, and avoid trying to keep up regular activities and exercise. Some people experience nausea and loss of appetite, which may be relieved with ginger tea, or ginger powder capsules. Drink lots of fluids, especially good fresh filtered or spring water. Replace essential minerals and electrolytes lost if vomiting.
Avoid alcohol and check with your doctor about using over the counter medicines, including Acetaminophen or similar which may make liver disease worse.
People who have Hepatitis sometimes experience itchy skin. You can control this effect by wearing loose cotton clothing, and taking a natural antihistamine like D-Hist, Quercetin or Bromelain, or a homeopathic remedy.
Natural methods of healing and using nutritional supplements for Hepatitis to support the liver and strengthen the immune system include:
Reishi mushroom – research has shown favorable results in using this mushroom in the natural treatment of Hepatitis.
Milk thistle – Silymarin, found in milk thistles protects the liver by preventing toxins from entering the cells. It is a strong antioxidant and reduces damage to the liver cells.
Zinc – an essential element to liver function and a good mineral to supplement during recovery. Do not take in excessive amounts since this is toxic.
NAC – N-Acetyl Cysteine, an amino acid that rapidly metabolizes to glutathione, is considered to be an extreme antioxidant. Research from Europe has shown NAC is valuable to help people heal from Hepatitis.
Boosting the immune system and reducing stress has shown to help most forms of healing. This also helps decrease the severity of symptoms, while increasing the potential for recovery. Come in to talk with our practitioners to see which herbal or supplemental products may help you with your Hepatitis liver disease.
Dr. Sally Warren, PhD
Board Certified Traditional Naturopathic Doctor, Metro Integrative Pharmacy
This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition. The information in this article is for educational purposes only.