Herbal Treatments for Hepatitis C

Learn about these herbal treatments for hepatitis C, includes Q and A with leading natural health experts.

Herbal treatments for hepatitis C may include Yin-chen wormwood, dandelion root and and burdock root.

Herbal treatments for hepatitis C may include Yin-chen wormwood, dandelion root and and burdock root.

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Try these herbal treatments for hepatitis C, these safe and natural methods help reduce the body’s viral load and support liver function.

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Herbal Treatments for Hepatitis C

Could you please advise me as to what type of diet and which herbs would be best for a 50-year-old man with type one hepatitis C, with a viral load of about 1 million?
Waynesburg, Pennsylvania

Willard responds: Hepatitis C has become a very common problem in the clinic in the last several years. We use a variety of herbs to aid in reducing the body’s viral load and to support liver function.

The most prominent botanical that we use is a mushroom called coriolus (Coriolus versicolor), or turkey tail. It has demonstrated some great results. Most of the research on this mushroom concentrates on the branch polysaccharides. There are more than 400 published studies on coriolus’ positive effect on critical health problems, such as hepatitis and various forms of cancer. In the clinic, we use an 8:1 extract of the mushroom at a dosage of 1,000 to 1,500 mg two to three times daily. The effectiveness has been surprisingly high, with more than 50 percent of our patients reducing their viral load substantially within a four-month period.

We normally add a liver-support formula to the protocol that contains maitake (Grifola frondosa) in a 4:1 extract, shiitake (Lentinula edodes) in an 8:1 extract, dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale), milk thistle extract (Silybum marianum), black radish (Raphanus sativus) and burdock root (Arctium lappa). The mushrooms in this formula have proven success in Asia for various forms of hepatitis, as well as other viruses. Dandelion, milk thistle, black radish and burdock all are known to be liver-supportive herbs. The dosage of this formula is also 1,000 to 1,500 mg twice daily.

Khalsa responds: Little is known about how to specifically treat this controversial disease with natural methods. What seems very clear, however, is that the process of the disease can be halted, unless the patient is deep into cirrhosis. Liver enzymes can be lowered. Every year, we get better at treating it. Almost all natural therapies I use involve milk thistle, a liver-supportive herb that seems to prevent further tissue damage.

Yin-chen wormwood (Artemisia capillaris) is a cooling Chinese herb that is used for inflammatory conditions of the liver. It is showing promise in these cases. The Chinese dose is 9 to 15 grams per day as tea. It tastes very bad, though, so you might prefer capsules.

Chinese salvia root (Salvia miltiorrhiza), also known as dan shen, protects the liver and helps restore normal function in damaged microcirculation. Bupleurum (Bupleurum chinense) and Chinese skullcap root (Scutellaria baicalensis), both cooling herbs, may help lower the liver enzymes and prevent the disease process from proceeding.

Along with these herbal measures, avoiding liver toxins, such as alcohol and any unnecessary drugs, is critical.

Globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus) contains a sesquiterpene lactone (cynaropicrin), which gives the plant its well-known bitter taste. Cynarin, another component, promotes bile flow and has anti-toxic liver functions similar to milk thistle. Artichoke promotes liver blood flow and regeneration. It is also cooling. Steam artichokes as a vegetable, or juice the globe. Supplements also are available. Other foods that generally benefit the liver include beets (root and greens), carrots and radishes (all types).

I’ve seen several dozen people with hepatitis C stay healthy for eight years or more, and it looks as though they have many healthy years ahead.

Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa has more than 25 years of experience with medicinal herbs. He is a licensed dietitian/nutritionist, massage therapist and board member of the American Herbalists Guild. Khalsa’s book Body Balance is available on our Bookshelf, page 58.

Terry Willard is a clinical herbalist, president of the Canadian Association of Herbal Practitioners and founder of the Wild Rose College of Natural Healing in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He is the author of eight books and a CD-ROM, Interactive Herbal.

Please send your questions to Herbs for Health “Q & A,” 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609; fax (785) 274-4305; or e-mail us at letters@herbsforhealth.com. Provide your name and full address for verification, although both will be kept confidential.

The information offered in “Q & A” is not intended to be a substitute for advice from your health care provider.