There is a quiet war going on over hepatitis, between those who take the Interferon route, and those who wish to ease the effects of Hepatitis C without drugs. That the battle is between a well-armed allopathic machine, and an underfunded ‘alternative’ medicine community, is disturbing. Both sides must work together on this awful affliction, and that’s how things will play out–eventually. But for now, the medical ‘establishment’ simply guides those suffering from hepatitis toward Interferon. And damn the horrific side effects and the poor long-term cure rates.
CASE STUDY: A patient of mine recounted for me how, upon receiving a positive diagnosis for HCV from her GP, he immediately demanded that she go on Interferon. Being smart, and on general principle somewhat skeptical of Men In White making demands, she went home and did her research. Lots of it. What she came up with was this: She, along with the majority of ‘Heppers’, has a 1B genotype. Her Alts and Asts (liver enzymes) were elevated but not drastically so (under 100). The MD told her she would have to be on Interferon for over a year. Research showed that her chances—and we’re going back just two years now—were roughly 30-35% of clearing the virus.
She went on to do a liver biopsy. The news there, that she was barely stage 2, was encouraging. Upon her return to her GP she told him that she had no interest in going on Interferon. She was not prepared for his ultimatum: Either go on the drug, or else he would no longer have her as a patient.
I believe the operative word here is ‘arrogant.’
Having worked with her on several issues with success, she came to me wondering what I could do to push back against the illness. I’d treated jaundice, cirrhosis and hepatitis before. My willingness to work with her was predicated on her taking responsibility from her end. We were going to be partners in her healing and, if anything, she would be doing the heavy lifting. Being assured that she would be involved in the endeavor resonated for her.
The protocol included herbs, supplements, acupuncture and several hypnosis sessions. After a year her ALT and AST were within normal range. She has thus far avoided Interferon and the often intolerable side effects, which can include suicidal depression, hives, ‘brain fog, lethargy, insomnia, rashes and diarrhea.
She informed her former GP that her ALT and AST went into normal range without Interferon. Having seen the lab results, he is now interested in repeating the protocol we used with others. It is important to note that she has not cleared the virus—her viral load has gone from 14 million units down to 7 million—and while the drop is considered significant by any metric, HCV is notorious for not playing nice. It could theoretically return with a vengeance—nobody really knows that much. And the same holds true those who have gone the Interferon route.
Maybe ‘alternate’ treatment modalities will one day be accepted; after speaking to one of the most respected hepatic specialists in the country regarding hepatitis, I reserve judgment. These were my questions, and his answers (and no, this is not a skit or an exaggeration):
Q. Would you say that diet plays a role in hepatitis recovery?
A. You stay away from fried food, otherwise, no.
(In fact, diet is an essential component with treatment of HCV)
Q. What about exercise; do you think that can play a role?
A. If it makes you feel better, then it probably helps.
(Again, can one say enough about being physically fit and having HCV?)
Q. Okay, well, what about herbs, can they help fight Hep C?
A. What kind of herbs?
Q. The standard ones for liver inflammation: Milk Thistle, Dandelion Root, Bupleurum, Reiiki, Schizandrae, Shiitake…
A. I really wouldn’t know much about most of those, except the jury’s out on Milk thistle. I just read about a test of out of Germany where Bovine Thymus seemed to be making some difference.
Q, Not exactly an ‘herb,’ though.
A. Not exactly.
I didn’t even get into asking him about all of the valuable supplements for HCV such as Olive leaf, Choline, adrenal, Codynopsis, etc. etc. I will say that this respected MD was correct about Thymus being of value; otherwise, he was dead wrong in all his replies.)
Bottom line: My patient was motivated and dedicated. Her blood workups reflected that. What the future holds is unknowable. I have not seen my patient in some months, but the last time I did she was still drinking her herbal tea, meditating daily and taking her supplements. If I were a betting man I’d say her prognosis for a long, productive life is excellent.