Herbal Cure for Hepatitis Bby Kenneth Coppens
Hepatitis B is a serious infection that attacks the liver. It is caused by the hepatitis B virus and is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids and blood. Those who use intravenous drugs, have frequent unprotected sex or travel to countries where hepatits B is a problem are at a higher risk. There is no cure, although a number of different drug therapies can be helpful. Herbal remedies are often considered a complementary or alternative treatment.
Symptoms of hepatitis B may never develop, especially in children. The symptoms will usually present themselves about three months after infection and can include: jaundice (a yellowing of the skin), diminished appetite, nausea, vomiting, weakness, fatigue, pain centered around the liver, dark-colored urine and joint pain. The symptoms can be mild or severe. Should you experience any of these symptoms, consult your doctor immediately. Untreated hepatitis B can lead to severe liver damage, possibly resulting in the need for a liver transplant.
A number of herbal treatments are thought to be effective in treating hepatitis B. These treatments, however, have little or no medical evidence supporting their efficacy and as such they should always be discussed with your physician before you begin an herbal regimen. Potential herbal treatments for hepatitis B include, but are not limited to: Artichoke, the extract of which possesses seemingly beneficial effects on the liver by assisting in the receipt of bile from the liver to the gall-bladder. The active ingredient is cynarin and its highest level of potency is found in the leaves. Kombucha tea, which works by providing B vitamins and a variety of other minerals that serve as anti-bacterial and anti-viral agents. Kombucha tea should be made carefully, as it may contain dangerous fungi or bacteria. Liquorice root, which possesses strong anti-viral components. Too much liquorice root, consumed in the form of a powder, liquid or tincture, can cause dangerously low levels of potassium, and therefore should be used under the careful observation of a physician. Milk thistle, which is often used in conjunction with interferon treatment, works as an anti-inflammatory and by stabilizing the cells of the liver to help protect it against toxins and the negative effects of alcohol. A more comprehensive list of herbal remedies can be found on the Hepatitis & AIDS Research Trust Web site.
Chinese Herbal Remedies and Interferon
A study published in the October 2002 issue of the American Journal of Public Health compiled a comprehensive list of studies on the effects of Chinese herbal remedies on hepatitis B. It concluded that although the studies were of poor quality, there is significant evidence supporting the use of Chinese herbal medication in conjunction with interferon alfa, a protein that helps stimulate the immune system. The Chinese herbs used were a mixture of plant and root extracts, with special attention in a few of the studies being paid to bufotoxin, a toad skin extract, and kurorinone, an extract of the root of the sophorae flavescentis plant. A complete list of the herbs used in the studies chronicled can be found at the UC Berkeley Web site of Medical Epidemiology found in the resources below.