What do Gregg Allman, of the Allman Brothers Band, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, and Pam Anderson of “Baywatch” fame have in common? They’re all infected with the hepatitis C virus. And while you might not be one of the other 5 million infected people in the U.S., chances are you know someone who is—and that person may not know it because the symptoms of hepatitis C are often non-existent, or so mild as to be mistaken for something else.
The first noticeable symptom is also the most common: fatigue. But it often doesn’t come until years after the original infection. Other symptoms of hepatitis C are very similar to flu symptoms—joint aches, muscle pain, loss of appetite, mild fever, and more fatigue—which lead many people to dismiss their symptoms as something routine. On top of that, hepatitis C symptoms can ebb and flow and even disappear for a while, so it can be years before a proper diagnosis is made.
Hepatitis C is a serious viral disease that can lead to permanent liver damage. And the conventional drug treatment is not particularly fun, nor always successful. Fortunately, there are a number of vitamins and herbs that can help. As a bonus, anything that helps with hepatitis C by definition supports the liver, so the supplement program outlined here can actually be used by anyone—whether or not you have hepatitis C—interested in improving overall liver health.
The single best thing you can do if you’ve got any form of liver disease: stop drinking. Completely. No kidding. Alcohol puts a strain on your liver that isn’t so bad if it’s healthy, but is lethal if it’s not.
You should also stop taking any products containing acetaminophen, which is the number one cause of emergency room visits for liver failure. Imagine the common scenario of drinking too much and taking Tylenol to “treat” the hangover. If you’ve got hepatitis C and you do that, you’re essentially asking to be a statistic.
I first learned about this natural treatment from Burt Berkson, MD, PhD. In a published paper, he suggested a basic protocol of three supplements to protect the liver from free-radical damage, increase the levels of other fundamental antioxidants, and interfere with viral proliferation. This protocol is the core of the natural treatment for hepatitis C:
The Big Three
Selenium: In January 2007, one of the most conservative publications in medicine, The Archives of Internal Medicine, published an article showing that daily selenium supplements appear to suppress the progression of the viral load in patients with HIV infection. It’s also essential for those with hepatitis C. As Berkson told me, “selenium acts as a birth control pill to the virus.”
Milk Thistle: The herb milk thistle is probably the premier liver nutrient. The active ingredient in milk thistle is silymarin, which is believed to be responsible for its medicinal qualities. Milk thistle has been used in Europe as a treatment for liver disease since the 16th century.
Alpha-lipoic acid: ALA is a powerful antioxidant that scavenges free radicals, protects cells from damage, and helps regenerate vitamins C and E. It’s one of the most powerful liver nutrients available.
Natural Prescription for Hepatitis C
- Alpha lipoic acid: 900–1,200 mg
- Selenium: 200–400 mcg
- Milk thistle (silymarin): 900 mg
- Phosphatidylcholine: The active ingredient in the popular supplement lecithin, phosphatidylcholine has been shown to protect against cirrhosis and fibrosis.
Natural Factors Alpha-Lipoic Acid delivers 200 mg of alpha-lipoic acid per capsule, a fat-and water-soluble antioxidant that quenches free radicals both inside and outside the cells.
Solaray High Potency Selenium Each capsule supplies 50 mcg of organically bound selenium yeast, a potent antioxidant that helps guard cells from free radical damage.
Himalaya Herbal HealthCare LiverCare supports liver cell regeneration, healthy liver enzyme levels, and acts as a daily super food for the liver and for occasional overwhelming challenges. It can be used safely by everyone on a daily basis.