Pulse of Oriental Medicine: Alternative Medicine That Works for Regular Folks
Alternative Medicine That Works for Regular Folks

Updated May 1, 2003

















Hepatitis C and Chinese Medicinal Herbs II
by Brian Benjmain Carter

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Reader Question About Hepatitis C and Chinese Medicinal Herbs:

Hello! Thanks so much for all your help. I am suffering with Hep C and I think it's wonderful that I do have some alternatives to the dreaded interferon/peg treatments. I am a little hesitant about taking herbs, I am very sensitive and have had reactions to say, dandelion, other things I am able to tolerate. My herbalist, the one you recommended in Santa Monica, said he would work with me on this, by prescribing one herb at a time to see how well I tolerate them. I was wondering, do you have any kind of screening process for your recommendations of herbalist and acupuncturists? I haven't seen Al Stone yet, but I do get a good "vibe" from him on the phone. Thanks so much, and please see if you could list any current studies on herbs and acupuncture in dealing with Hep C. Thanks so much for all your help!!!!!

Good question. There's no screening process for quality per se, butt if the acupuncturist is able to write and communicate, and willing and able to do that with the public, we at least know they will be able to communicate with you. Also, if they are able to write an academically accurate article, they either know their stuff, or know where to look it up. Obviously, we can't screen for everything, but that's more than nothing.

Sounds like a good idea prescribing one herb at a time to watch for sensitivities- but bear in mind that any herb by itself is unbalanced, so you'll have to differentiate between allergy/sensitivity reactions and the side effects that come from non-formula herbs.

All the best,

Gee Bri! I'm soooo impressed with the fact that you are such a caring individual - to have written me back so promptly - and the fact that you addressed my questions - I'm floored! Thanks so much for your insights. Sorry you don't have a practice in the Los Angeles area. you really seem to know "your stuff." I have many friends who are struggling with this disease, I met them in the various Hep C support groups, and collectively we feel kind of ignored by medical science. and there are 4 times as many people with this disease than HIV as you probably know. I am a researcher so I've been reading all I can about the disease - and the various conventional and alternative treatments. It can get confusing and overwhelming to say the least. Should I try Ayurvedic, Chinese, Homeopathic? Of course I want to do what's best for me, but how do I go about it?

I would probably go to Dr. Zhang out of New York but I don't live in New York and I really think it's important to have a one on one relationship with a practitioner. Maybe I'm wrong on that, because he does give consultations and proscribes over the phone. He has such a huge background in Hep C, literally thousands of patients. And he has a question and answer on his website and you can get some background on his patients and their experiences with him. But as I said before, I would like it if I could judge my sensitivity to the herbs one at a time. I was a little confused as to your answer to that. That I might get an imbalance doing it that way, even with small little doses of one herb at a time? Just to see my sensitivity? Anyway, I have a friend who was suffering indeed, she was helped by an herbalist (although i didn't get the impression that he was particularly schooled in Chinese medicine) who proscribed to her herbs from a company called Nature's Sunshine. He had an interesting program whereby he gave you this All Cell Detox for one week, then VS-C (viral immune formula) for another week, then a week off (to make sure your liver wasn't being unduly stressed) then an formula to clean the gall bladder. She was greatly helped by this.

But I was warned off herbal formulations in a great book called the Hepatitis C Handbook. This author said it was better to go to a practitioner and take a specialized formulation tailored for the patient. This author greatly recommended a guy out of London at the Yuan Clinic. The director there is named John Tindell. I looked up their site and was impressed with their info on Hep C and the stages according to Chinese medicine. The symptoms they talked about were uncanny in their accuracy as to stage 1 stage 2 stage 3 and so. But that's out of London and I thought they were a little insensitive to me in that they just told me that they would give me a recommendation out here and then they never got back to me. I know people are so busy but I feel a bit lost and scared obviously. Anyway, this man I'm going to go to in Santa Monica out here, he seems very amenable to working with me but he admittedly does not have a big background in Hep c. I'm just wondering if in the long run that will matter so much. Thanks so much for all your help, you can't know how much it means to someone like me. Any and all info you have would be wonderful. Have a great rest of the week, for that matter, rest of your life!


It is possible to do herbal consults long-distance. I have Dr. Zhang's book, and his treatment protocols use the pre-formulated herbs that you understand to be sub-optimal.

Personalized Herbal Formulas vs. Premade Herbal Formulas

It is true that personalized formulas are, in principle, better... but it takes a much better herbalist to do that well than to prescribe the right pre-formulated herb formula. That's because good herb formulas rely on specific dosages and combinations of herbs. When you personalize, if you don't know what you're doing, you can make it even less effective than it was before!

Hepatitis C Chinese Medicinal Herb Formulas

Can any good Chinese herbalist make their own formulas for you for Hep C? Probably... depending upon what resources they have available. They will be combining traditional formulas for your personal pattern discrimination with herbs shown to have an effect specifically against Hep C... so they'd need access to the latter info. A good herbalist with Dr. Zhang's book could treat you very competently. Plus, you can order his formulas directly... and he says how to use them on his website and in his book, Healing Hepatitis C with Modern Chinese Medicine

Given that, it's better to see an herbalist locally so they can see your tongue and feel your pulse. Those two important parts of diagnosis can't be done over the phone. You can get around that if you have enough info, but they help to confirm the diagnosis.

And of course to be building formulas one herb at a time to avoid sensitivities, you'll need special attention. So it is indeed better to work with an herbalist in person.

Herb Formulas Are Better Than Single Herbs

To clarify about imbalances with one herb… the reason it's easier to get results with fewer side effects with herbs is because they are more complex than drugs. Drugs are single active chemicals. They are very unbalanced, so they get dramatic results, and also side effects. Herbs are less that way, but still unbalanced alone; people are so complicated that they need more than one herb for healing. Herbal formulas use multiple strategies at the same time. It's like a team approach; a team can accomplish more at once than one person alone. Using a single active chemical is kind of like sending the lone ranger in… but his bullets ricochet around and hit some good guys. Or using an atomic bomb to blow up a bridge. I wish I had a better analogy. Herbal formulas are more sophisticated, versatile, and balanced.

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