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Hepatitis

A common misconception about hepatitis is that it is a viral condition. This is true in some cases of hepatitis, though not all. Hepatitis, which literally means inflammation of the liver, may occur from viral, bacterial, or fungal infections, chemical damage, or from autoimmunity.

Symptoms of hepatitis generally appear from several weeks to a month and a half after exposure to the microbes that may cause hepatitis. Chemical induced hepatitis is more sudden in its onset of symptoms. An example of chemical induced hepatitis is ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin, etc.), which caused two-dozen deaths from ibuprofen induced liver failure during clinical trials of the drug. Symptoms of hepatitis may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, light colored and loose stools, very dark urine, fatigue, loss of appetite, jaundice, abdominal pain, joint pain, and gastrointestinal bleeding.

Diagnosis of hepatitis is made based on several criteria, including the presence of symptoms of hepatitis, elevation of certain liver enzymes (ALT and AST), presence of hepatitis virus RNA, reactive antibodies to hepatitis antibody tests, and liver biopsies. The antibody tests are supposed to determine the presence of specific virus antibodies, which are designated as hepatitis A, B, C, D, or E. Though these antibody tests do not prove the presence of the virus, or even previous exposure. We are taught that antibodies are specific to their intended targets, though this is not always true. The body normally produces high affinity antibodies as its primary antibody, with a smaller number of low affinity antibodies, which are less specific to antigens. In some cases, such as autoimmune conditions, the ratio of high affinity to low affinity antibodies is reversed. Since the low affinity antibodies cannot tell the difference between healthy tissues and antigens, such as microbes, these less specific antibodies tag healthy tissues for destruction by the body's immune system.

Another way to look at this is with the production of monoclonal antibodies for disease research. In this process a sample of blood serum is reacted with an antigen test target. After the antibodies have attached themselves to the target the target is immersed in a weak solution of sodium sulfate, which remove many of the weaker low affinity antibodies. The target is then immersed in a slightly stronger solution to remove the slightly more specific antibodies. This process is repeated until only the very specific high affinity antibodies are remaining. These are then used to produce the monoclonal antibodies.

All of this information is important because this is the same reason that antibody tests often yield false positive tests. When antibody tests are used to make a diagnosis, such as with HIV or hepatitis, we assume that the antibodies were produced in response to the particular virus that the test is trying to detect. This would work if antibodies were target specific, but as we have seen they are not. For instance HIV antibody tests have 65 known causes of false positives with these tests, primarily due to a process known as serological cross- reactivity. Basically this means that antibodies of like structure can cross react on antibody tests. For example antibodies produced from vaccinations for polio, typhoid, malaria, and influenza (flu) have all been shown to react false positive on HIV tests. Other antibodies that have been shown to cross react on HIV antibody tests include maternal antibodies from pregnancy or multiple pregnancies, BLV antibodies from beef or cow's milk, autoimmune conditions; especially lupus, and even hepatitis. Gamma globulin shots have also found to yield false positives on HIV test targets due to the high concentration of pooled antibodies present, some of which could be cross reacting or are specific to the virus being tested for. Furthermore, a true positive antibody test does not mean that the person is currently infected with that virus. If a person becomes infected with the influenza virus they develop antibodies to that virus. After a short period of time their body will fight off the virus successfully, though the antibodies remain. Therefore if they went and had an ELISA or Western blot antibody test a few weeks later to detect the presence of influenza virus antibodies, they would test positive even though they were no longer infected with the virus itself. The same principle applies to HIV and hepatitis antibody tests. If the body successfully defends itself from the virus antibodies to the virus will be present even though the virus itself is no longer present.

The point of all this is that since the cause of the disease cannot always be positively identified, hepatitis should be treated with broad range antimicrobials, that kills viruses, bacteria, and fungi, as well as anti-inflammatory and liver support herbs. A sample of herbs that address these factors include:

ANTIVIRALS, ANTIBIOTICS, ANTIFUNGALS chaparral, pau d' arco, amla, turmeric, myrrh, dulse, schisandra berry, poke root (small doses), licorice root (small doses), phyllanthus, picrorrhiza

ANTI-INFLAMMATORIES chaparral, pau d' arco, amla berry, turmeric, phyllanthus, picrorrhiza, bupleurum

LIVER PROTECTANTS AND REGENERATORS turmeric, milk thistle seed, schisandra berry, bupleurum, artichoke leaf

IMMUNE STIMULANTS chaparral, pau d' arco, bupleurum, astragalus, myrrh, picrorrhiza, poke root (small doses), licorice root (small doses), schisandra berry, dulse, maitake

People with hepatitis from any cause should avoid alcohol consumption. I also recommend that they avoid over the counter minoxidil (Rogaine), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and acetaminophen (Tylenol), since these drugs can damage the liver. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have ever been diagnosed with hepatitis since many prescription pharmaceutical drugs, such as statin drugs used to lower cholesterol, may cause severe damage to the liver.

Diet is another important consideration. I recommend that anyone with liver problems avoid high protein consumption since such diets can strain the liver. Protein sources, such as meats and dairy, often contain hormones and antibiotics as well that the liver must deal with. Sugars, including honey should also be limited since sugar suppresses immune function. This occurs because both sugar and vitamin C require insulin for transport. When sugar is consumed insulin is tied up making it unavailable for vitamin C transport. When vitamin C cannot reach the white blood cells, white blood cell activity is lowered decreasing immunity. If a sweetener is desired then I recommend the herb stevia, or stevia extract. The sugar molecules in stevia are too large to be absorbed and therefore they do not affect blood sugar or immunity. You only need a small amount of stevia due to the intense sweetness of the herb. The diet should consist primarily of vegetables. Carrots are especially good for the liver.

Water is very important since water is needed to flush toxins out from the body. Drinks containing caffeine should be avoided since caffeine is a diuretic, which stimulates the excretion of water from the body. Fruit juices should be limited because of their high sugar content. If you juice your own vegetables I recommend also juicing raw red potatoes and green tomatoes with the other vegetables. Raw red potatoes and green tomatoes are high in protease inhibitors, which inactivate viruses. Seeds, including nuts, are also good sources of protease inhibitors. Green tea is antiviral due to its high polyphenol content, though it should not be taken with other herbs. Polyphenols (tannins), also found in coffee, bind to alkaloids and other beneficial compounds found in herbs rendering them useless to the body. Rooibos tea is relatively unknown, though I highly recommend it. Rooibos has no caffeine, and is very low in tannins. Though it is rich in the enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD), which is anti-inflammatory, immune stimulatory, and antioxidant. The tea has a pleasant flavor.

Here is a general list of some medications that are known for causing liver damage: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin, etc.), naproxen sodium (Aleve), and celecoxib (Celebrex), acetaminophen (Tylenol), minoxidil (Rogaine), and statin drugs used to lower cholesterol.

 

 
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