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









Hepatitis C - The Silent Epidemic
By Brian Benjamin Carter

Brian is the founder of the Pulse of Oriental Medicine, medical professor at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and author of Powerful Body, Peaceful Mind: How to Heal Yourself with Foods, Herbs, and Acupressure.


Hepatitis C is a virus that causes inflammation of the Liver. It is called 'silent' because 80% of people with 'Hep C' have no symptoms. It is not officially an epidemic, but it is a disease worth talking about, because a little knowledge and prevention could make a huge difference. Almost 1 in every 50 Americans has it (3.9 million). It is a dangerous virus because it often causes a chronic state of liver inflammation that leads to liver disease, and is the leading reason for liver transplantation. You can get Hep C via sex, IV drug use, occupational needle sticks, and a baby can get it from its mother during childbirth. Alcoholics and addicts are a particularly susceptible population.

Biomedical treatments for Hep C usually involve a drug cocktail of interferon and ribavirin. This combination is 40% successful at eliminating the virus (at least temporarily- only 10-15% of patients' viral load remains undetectable for more than 6 months). It is appropriate for the patient and doctor to weigh the pros and cons of such treatment together. This therapy is indicated for Hep C patients with cirrhosis or scarring of the liver (from chronic inflammation). The side effects of this drug cocktail can make life quite uncomfortable. Interferon has a number of psychological side-effects. Its long-term use may cause significant irritability, anxiety, personality changes, depression, and even suicide or acute psychosis. Patients are especially at risk if they already have a serious psychiatric condition or neurological disease. Interferon therapy is also associated with (and might cause) relapse in newly sober alcoholics and addicts.

One should not take interferon therapy if one has severe depression or other neuropsychiatric syndromes, active substance or alcohol abuse, autoimmune disease (such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus erythematosus, or psoriasis) that is not under control, or bone marrow compromise. Contraindications to ribavirin and thus the combination cocktail include marked anemia, renal dysfunction, and coronary artery or cerebrovascular disease. Bear in mind that many patients with psychological problems are undiagnosed.

Chinese medicine has successfully treated Hep C. In particular, Dr. Qincai Zhang, who treats mostly Hep B & C, has produced a number of alternative medicine books about and herbal products for Hep C sufferers. His clinic has been recommended by Dr. Andrew Weil, and he has had high success rates at improving the health and lab tests of Hep C patients. Chinese herbal treatments for Hep C are partly based upon herbs that have been shown in studies to fight the Hep C virus. As with all Chinese herbal medicine, each patient's unique constitution and symptom-presentation determine the design of the herbal formula. In this way, herbalists can avoid side-effects and provide significant support to each patient.

More information about Dr. Zhang's Chinese Medical treatments for Hep C.

All information herein provided is for educational use only and not meant to substitute for the advice of appropriate local experts and authorities.
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