Botanical Herb Treatments for Hepatitis
Since the beginning of civilization, healers in all cultures on all continents have tapped the flora of the fields, forests, deserts, savannas, rivers, and oceans that surrounded them.
Today, 80% of the world's population uses over 1,000 therapeutic botanical herbs to treat a wide spectrum of injuries and conditions. Even pharmaceuticals like opium, aspirin, digitalis, quinine, corticosteroids, and oral contraceptives are derived from plants.
Now that researchers have clinically validated the function and efficacy of these time-tested plant substances, more healthcare providers are prescribing them for liver dysfunction.
Hepatitis is a liver imbalance caused by viral infections, toxins like alcohol and mnemonic pharmaceuticals, or hormone imbalances. An herbalist is a specialized healthcare provider who uses botanical herbs to biochemically correct these imbalances.
The most commonly prescribed pharmaceutical treatment for hepatitis C - pegylated interferon alpha with ribavirin-has a 50% success rate. Hundreds of clinical studies across the globe have demonstrated the efficacy of botanical herb treatments1, so it's no wonder more Americans are turning to them to prevent and treat hepatitis every day.
Which herbs can prevent and treat hepatitis?
Taking the exact dose of prescribed herbs is crucial – a damaged or inflamed liver can't handle herb overload. In fact, taking the wrong dose can cause more damage. Everybody tolerates and processes herbs differently. Harvesting, manufacturing, and packaging can affect strength and purity. Herbs may present contraindications with one another, and/or with other medical treatments. Always consult a certified herbalist when choosing this treatment option.
Green tea catechins
Studies have shown that these polyphenol antioxidants help fight a wide array of viruses, including herpes, influenza and human immunodeficiency virus. Clinical trials have demonstrated that they also interfere with the hepatitis B and hepatitis C virus's attachment when it first enters your cells.2
Overdose can cause nausea, and breastfeeding women should not drink green tea. Not for patients with anemia, anxiety disorders, bleeding or blood-clotting disorders, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, glaucoma, irritable bowel syndrome and osteoporosis.
Milk thistle contains an antioxidant called silymarin which improved liver function for hepatitis B, C and D patients in clinical trials. Practitioners treating acute and chronic viral hepatitis, toxin-induced hepatitis and alcoholic hepatitis prescribe milk thistle to:
- promote enzyme formation
- increase bile production
- decrease inflammation
- soothe mucous membranes throughout the body
Silymarin detoxifies and protects liver cells from free radical damage, helps control blood sugar, increases immunity and slows oxidative stress to treat jaundice, hepatitis, and even cirrhosis.3
Side effects include diarrhea, nausea, intestinal gas, pain, loss of appetite, and headache. Not for patients with diabetes, ragweed allergies, or hormone-sensitive conditions like breast or ovarian cancer.
Schisandra fruit extract reduces blood levels of the enzyme glutamic-pyruvic transaminase (SGPT), a blood marker of hepatitis. It also accelerates liver regeneration by increasing the activity of hepatocytes and the cytochrome P450 gene that produces them.
Side effects include heartburn, decreased appetite, stomach pain, skin rash, and itching. Not for patients with epilepsy, gastroesophageal reflex diseases, peptic ulcers, and high brain pressure, or for patients taking medications that are broken down by the liver.
The glycyrrhizic acid found in the roots of the licorice plant has anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antiallergic properties - it helps prevent the death of hepatic cells. The glycyrrhizic acid in Stronger Neominophagen C IV licorice treatment has reduced death rates of hepatitis B and C patients, while improving hepatitis C mouth sores.
Hepatitis B-specific botanicals
As more research clinically validates time-tested plant-based treatments, more patients seek a natural cure. Hepatitis B has been especially responsive to mushroom and fungi treatment.
Cordyceps sinensis and Ganoderma lucidum
These fungi have been shown to:
- inhibit the rapid increase of hepatic stellate cells
- downregulate hepatitic molecules in liver fibrogenesis and fibroblasts4
- decrease expression of the transforming hepatic growth factor-β
- decrease cell-damaging lipid peroxide levels in hepatic tissue
Side effects include slower blood clotting. Not for patients taking immunosuppressants, cyclophosphamide, or prednisolone.
This fungal extract has been shown to normalize liver function by decreasing hepatitis B blood markers aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase. Side effects include nausea and diarrhea. Not for diabetics on pharmaceutical medications.
Prescribed for centuries in China and Greece, reishi mushrooms contain bio-compounds like polysaccharides that have been shown to inhibit the replication of hepatitis B virus and activate the immune system.5 A Life Science study found they helped strengthen T- and B-cells (our defender cells that fight infection).
Reishi mushrooms are well tolerated and generally safe. Some subjects reported these mild side effects: dry mouth, nose, and throat, itchiness, upset stomach, nosebleed. Do not take if you have a bleeding disorder, low blood pressure, or thrombocytopenia, or if you take drugs for high blood pressure or slow blood clotting.
These mushrooms have been shown to normalize liver function by decreasing levels of aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) in hepatitis B patients.6 Side effects include nausea and diarrhea. Patients with diabetes should not take this mushroom, as it can cause low blood sugar.
Small amounts of this chemical element are found in certain minerals and plants. It's an ingredient in the drug Serocion, which reduces active viruses in hepatitis B patients.
Germanium contains propagermanium, which:
- augments the function of white blood cells
- induces white blood cells to generate an immune response to infectious microorganisms
- induces production of cytokines (proteins that signal cell response to infections)
Hepatitis C-specific botanicals
Liver extract with flavin adenine dinucleotide-administered either intravenously or through a muscle injection-can improve response to interferon-alpha or interferon-beta therapy for hepatitis C patients. Not for patients with hemochromatosis.
Black seed powder contains omeprazole, which helps eliminate the H. pylori bacteria in the stomach that can cause stomach ulcers in hepatitis C patients. Black seed can also be used to treat hepatitis D.
Side effects include upset stomach, vomiting, constipation, or rashes; may increase the risk of seizures in some patients. Not for children, hemophiliacs, or diabetics.
This alga helps decrease inflammatory enzymes alanine transaminase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) in hepatitis C patients. After 12 weeks of chlorella treatment, researchers at Springfield Massachusetts' Northgate Hospital found that most patients' ALT and AST levels decreased. In addition, 77% of the patients reported increased energy levels.
Side effects include diarrhea, nausea, gas, green stools, stomach cramping, and increased sun sensitivity. Do not take if you have a weak immune system, mold allergy, or iodine sensitivity.
Found in many TCM ointments, this herb blocks the scavenging effects of free radicals, suppresses toxic MDA, and restores glutathione levels in patients with alcoholic hepatitis.7 It has no known side effects or contraindications.
TCM herbal formulas
Depending on the type and severity of your symptoms and interrelated conditions, acupuncture therapy for hepatitis B or C may include these complementary herbal formulas:
- An Shen Bu Xin Wan
- Da Bu Yin Wan
- Er Long Zuo Ci Wan
- Liu Wei Di Huang Wan
- Ming Mu Di Huang Wan
- Lycii Chrysanthemum Teapills
- Artemisia Annua and Soft-Shelled Turtle Formula
- Peony and Licorice Decoction
- Polygonum Multiflorum Pills
Patients with liver damage should not consume:
- blue-green algae: produces hepatotoxins (liver toxins)
- chaparrals: these wild desert shrubs are toxic to the liver and kidneys
- germander: the furano neoclerodane diterpenoids in this plant can disrupt liver cell
- comfrey: contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which are metabolized by cytochrome P450 enzymes into highly toxic pyrrole metabolites that can damage the liver
- black cohosh: can cause autoimmune-like liver injury8
- turmeric: can induce autoimmune hepatitis by decreasing transaminase levels9
Excessive amounts of the following herbs can also harm the liver: ma-huang, mistletoe, skullcap, kava kava, and pennyroyal oil.
Reserve your appointment
As more Americans seek botanical treatments for hepatitis, they should remember to consult a professional herbalist or certified TCM practitioner who has studied clinical trials and knows which botanical herbs can fortify, and which can harm the liver. To learn more about botanical herbs for hepatitis in Valley Village, call (424) 365-1800 or contact Dr. Jeremy Fischer online.
1. Xiong, Fei, and Yong-Song Guan. "Cautiously using natural medicine to treat liver problems." World Journal of Gastroenterology 23.19 (2017): 3388-3395. Web. 16 Oct. 2018.
2. Song, Jae-Min. "Anti-Infective Potential of Catechins and Their Derivatives against Viral Hepatitis." Clinical and Experimental Vaccine Research 7.1 (2018): 37-42. PMC. Web. 29 Aug. 2018.
3. Abenavoli L, Capasso R, Milic N, Capasso F. Milk thistle in liver diseases: past, present, future. Phytother Res. 2010 Oct;24 (10):1423-32.
4. Li, S. P, and Karl W. K. Tsiam. "The biological and pharmacological properties of Cordyceps sinensis, traditional Chinese medicine that has broad clinical applications." Herbal Medicines: Molecular Basis of Biological Activity and Health (2004): 657-82. Web. 30 August 2018.
5. Sissi Wachtel-Galor, John Yuen, John A. Buswell, and Iris F. F. Benzie. Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi or Reishi). A Medicinal Mushroom. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition
6. CH, Hsu, et al. "The mushroom Agaricus blazei Murill extract normalizes liver function in patients with chronic hepatitis B." Journal of alternative and complementary medicine 14.3 (2008): 299-301. Web. 30 August 2018.
7. RB, Ding, et al. "Herbal medicines for the prevention of alcoholic liver disease: a review." Journal of Ethnopharmacology 144.3 (2012): 457-465. Web. 30 August 2018.
8.Guzman, Grace, et al. "Liver Injury with Features Mimicking Autoimmune Hepatitis following the Use of Black Cohosh." Case Reports in Medicine 2009 (2009): n. pag. Web. 30 August 2018.
9. Funk, Janet, et al. "Turmeric Dietary Supplement-Induced Autoimmune Hepatitis: A Case Report." The FASEB Journal. Web. 20 August 2018.
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