Hepatitis: Overview

Hepatitis is a serious inflammation of the liver.  Viral hepatitis, the most common form, usually appears as type A, B, or C. Type B (HBV) and Type C (HCV) affect people of all ages.  Hepatitis can result from long-term alcohol abuse, infection, or exposure to various chemicals and drugs.

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The different types of hepatitis have many similarities and are therefore discussed here as a whole.  If you know that you are infected only with a particular form, you can safely skip to the appropriate sections below.

How does HBV spread?
The spread of HBV occurs when blood from an HBV-infected person enters the body of a person who is not infected.  This can occur through having sex with an HBV-infected person without using a condom (the effectiveness of latex condoms in preventing infection with HBV is unknown, but their proper use may reduce spread of HBV).

Sexual contact is the most common reason for the spread of HBV infection in the United States.  The spread of HBV from male to female or female to male accounts for about 1 out of 3 acute (recently acquired) HBV infections in adults.  The risk of spreading HBV increases if the male or female has multiple sex partners, a history of a sexually transmitted disease, or has sex with an HBV-infected person.  About 1 out of 4 acute HBV infections occur among men who have sex with men.

HBV is also easily spread by sharing drugs, needles, or "works" when "shooting" drugs.  The risk of HBV infection from HBV-contaminated needlesticks is much greater than the risk of spreading HIV by this method.  In the United States, illegal drug use injection accounts for about 16% of acute HBV infections.  Other types of percutaneous (through the skin) exposures, including tattooing and body piercing, have also been reported to result in the spread of HBV when good infection control practices have not been used.  Unsafe injections in medical settings are a major source of HBV spread in many developing countries and might be a risk for United States residents traveling abroad, if medical care is required in settings that have poor infection control practices.

HBV is also spread through needlesticks or sharps exposures on the job and from an infected mother to her baby during birth.  Breastfeeding has not been associated with the spread of HBV.

HBV can also be spread during childhood.  Most early childhood spread occurs in households of people with chronic (life-long) HBV infection, but the spread of HBV has also been seen in daycare centers and schools.  The most likely way that the spread of HBV occurs during early childhood involves contact between an infected person's body fluids (e.g., their blood or drainage from their wounds or skin lesions) and breaks in the child's skin.  HBV can be spread also when an HBV-infected person bites another person who is not infected.  HBV can be spread also by an infected person pre-chewing food for babies, and through contact with HBV from sharing personal-care items, such as razors or toothbrushes.  The virus remains infectious and capable of spreading infection for at least seven days outside the body.  Virus can be found on objects, even in the absence of visible blood.

HBV is not spread through food or water, sharing eating utensils, hugging, kissing, coughing, and sneezing or by casual contact, such as in an office or factory setting.  People with chronic HBV infection should not be excluded from work, school, play, childcare, or other settings.

How long can a person with HBV infection spread HBV?
A person with acute or chronic HBV infection is contagious as long as they have the virus in their blood, which can only be determined by blood testing.  In general, a person with acute hepatitis B gets rid of the virus in their blood in six months.  If this does not happen, it is likely the person will become chronically infected with HBV for life.

Incidence; Causes and Development; Contributing Risk Factors

Infectious (viral) hepatitis type A (HAV), is the most common hepatitis, often affecting school children.  Unlike the other hepatitis types which are seen in all ages equally, hepatitis A in seen mostly in children and young adults.

We are in the midst of an epidemic of Hepatitis B and C infections.  Between 1% and 5% of the world's population is infected chronically with one or more of these two viruses.  In some parts of the world, such as Egypt and the Far East, up to 15% of the normal population suffer from infections with these viruses.  The CDC estimates that 4 million Americans are infected with the hepatitis virus alone.

  • Hepatitis A: Epidemics are frequent, as the virus is spread easily through food that is handled by infected individuals, and through water.
  • Hepatitis B: Hepatitis B (HBV) is usually transmitted by injection of contaminated blood, through intravenous (IV) drug use, or through sexual activity.  HBV can be transmitted during pregnancy or childbirth.
  • Hepatitis C: Hepatitis C (HCV) is spread via blood, most commonly through shared needle use, and may lead to a chronic carrier state.  Carriers of hepatitis B and C often do not know that they are infected.  HCV infections and other chronic viral infections are associated with a variety of immune system defects leading to effective transmission of the viruses through blood exposure and possibly sexual contact.  HCV can be transmitted during pregnancy or childbirth.

The following are risk factors for Hepatitis B, which your doctor should be told about:

  • Working in health care, such as in a medical laboratory or in dialysis
  • Engaging in unsafe/promiscuous unprotected sex
  • Injecting drugs
  • Having a poor selenium status
  • Having a parent, sibling or child infected with hepatitis
  • Living in or being exposed to unsanitary conditions
  • Consuming possibly contaminated food or water
  • Eating or handling raw shellfish

Receiving a tattoo can also increase your risk of contracting Hepatitis B or C.

Signs and Symptoms

Hepatitis A is contagious during the incubation period of 2-6 weeks but only for a few days once symptoms appear.

Diagnosis and Tests

If hepatitis is suspected, your health care provider will feel and tap your chest and back to determine if your liver or spleen is enlarged or tender.  Your provider will request a blood test, possibly a urine test and, in a few cases, a liver biopsy.

The following blood tests are available:

  • Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) A positive test means that you have hepatitis B virus in your blood and can pass the virus to others.  You could be recently infected or you could have chronic (life-long) infection.  A negative test means that you do not have the virus in your blood.
  • Antibody to hepatitis B surface antigen (anti-HBs) A positive test means that you are immune (cannot get hepatitis B).  This positive test occurs when you were either vaccinated with hepatitis B vaccine successfully or you had the actual infection.  Either way, this immunity means you will not get hepatitis B again.
  • Antibody to hepatitis B core antigen (total anti-HBc) A positive test means you currently have or have had infection with hepatitis B virus at some undefined time period.  The positive test has no relationship to having received hepatitis B vaccine; however, the test might be used prior to vaccination to see if you had already been infected.
  • IgM antibody subclass of anti-HBc (IgM anti-HBc) A positive test means that you were recently (within 6 months) infected with hepatitis B virus.
  • Hepatitis B "e" antigen (HBeAg) If this test is positive, you are infected with hepatitis B virus and have a large amount of hepatitis B virus in your blood.  You are at increased risk of serious liver problems due to your chronic hepatitis B virus infection.
  • Antibody to hepatitis B "e" antigen (Anti-HBe) This blood test might be positive if you have chronic hepatitis B virus infection or if you have already recovered from your infection.  If have chronic hepatitis B virus infection and this test is positive, this means that you have low levels of hepatitis B virus circulating in your blood and are at lower risk of liver problems due to your chronic hepatitis B virus infection.
  • HBV Deoxyribonucleic acid (HBV-DNA) When this test is positive, it means you are infectious to others and the hepatitis B virus is active in your body, possibly causing liver damage.  The test is often used to determine success or failure of drug therapy if given for chronic hepatitis B virus infection.

Treatment and Prevention

Because hepatitis is potentially very dangerous, a healthcare professional should be involved in its treatment.

Hepatitis A
Good hygiene is necessary to avoid spreading the infection.  People with hepatitis A should wash their hands very carefully after using the restroom and should not handle food at work.

While there is no specific treatment for HAV (most of the treatments mentioned here are for the other types), supportive care is helpful while you fight the infection.  Alcohol should be avoided.  Coconut milk, not water, is antiviral and said to help in any hepatitis.  Bed rest, lots of water, liver supportive herbs such as milk thistle or dandelion would be appropriate.

Hepatitis B
Numerous nutritional and herbal treatments are available.  Items not mentioned elsewhere include:

  • Desiccated liver – can improve liver regeneration.
  • Hepatitis Specific Transfer Factors from colostrum were used in 260 cases and a 100% clinical recovery was reported with no side-effects.  Immunological profiles were normalized in approximately half of the individuals at the end of the observation period.

Hepatitis C
Examination of liver tissue under the microscope taken from patients with chronic active HCV infection has revealed the presence of NK cells.  Indirect evidence for the importance of high NK cell function in limiting chronic hepatitis C infection was demonstrated by two studies of infected patients treated with alpha interferon.  Patients that responded clinically to therapy also demonstrated significantly greater enhancement of NK activity than controls after the initial dose of interferon.  NK activity was not improved in those who did not respond to treatment, indicating the importance of NK activity.

There are only limited conventional treatments for HCV: it is a disease that can be greatly benefited by natural therapies.  Since the persistence of a virus is due in part to lowered immunity, non-toxic immune enhancers (especially those which stimulate NK cell function) should help to resolve or control the infection.

Several nutrients and herbs have been shown to inhibit viral reproduction, improve immune system function, and greatly stimulate regeneration of the damaged liver cells.  A therapeutic approach should focus on both immune system enhancement and liver support.

Unlike other white blood cells, inadequate numbers of NK cells are rarely a problem.  Instead, it is the activity of the cells that is important.  NK activity can be significantly enhanced by natural products or drugs such as IP6 (Inositol hexaphosphate), MGN3 (a commercial rice bran product modified with mushroom extracts), thymus extracts, low dose Naltrexone, zinc, DHEA, glutamine, a good multiple vitamin-mineral over time and others such as astragalus, cordyceps (Chinese fungus), and MCP (modified citrus pectin).  NK activity can be impaired by surgery and chemotherapy.  Moderate exercise does not depress the immune system, but very strenuous exercise does.

Other treatments that have been beneficial include the use of Vitamin C, liver extracts (which promote hepatic regeneration) and Reishi mushrooms.  Licorice root, cysteine and glycine together have produced a 40% cure rate.  Silymarin (milk thistle) reverses liver cell damage, increases protein level in the blood, lowers liver enzymes and generally improves symptoms such as abdominal discomfort, decreased appetite and fatigue.

Further Recommendations

  • Cover all cuts and open sores with a bandage.
  • Discard used items such as bandages and menstrual pads carefully so no one is accidentally exposed to your blood.
  • Wash hands well after touching your blood or infectious body fluids.
  • Clean up blood spills; then clean the area again with a bleach solution (one part household chlorine bleach to 10 parts of water).
  • Tell your sex partner(s) you have hepatitis B so they can be tested and vaccinated (if not already infected or vaccinated).  Partners should have their blood tested 1-2 months after three doses of vaccine are completed to be sure the vaccine worked.
  • Use condoms (rubbers) during sex unless your sex partner has had hepatitis B or has been immunized and has had a blood test (as described above) demonstrating immunity to HBV infection.  (Condoms might also protect you from other sexually transmitted diseases).
  • Tell household members to see their doctors for testing and vaccination for hepatitis B.
  • Tell your doctors that you are chronically infected with HBV.
  • See your doctor every 6-12 months to check your liver for abnormalities, including cancer.
  • If you are pregnant, tell your doctor that you have HBV infection.  It is critical that your baby is started on hepatitis B shots within a few hours of birth.
  • Don't share chewing gum, toothbrushes, razors, washcloths, needles for ear or body piercing, or anything that might have come in contact with your blood or infectious body fluids.
  • Don't pre-chew food for babies.
  • Don't share syringes and needles.
  • Don't donate blood, plasma, body organs, tissue, or sperm.

Prognosis; Complications

  • Hepatitis A: It typically lasts for 4-8 weeks.  Immunity is life-long following infection.  HAV does not become chronic like hepatitis B and C can, does not create a carrier state, and does not lead to chronic liver disease.  Often, the disease may be so mild it is unrecognized.  The vast majority (99%) of people infected with HAV get rid of the infection on their own, and fatalities are rare.
  • Hepatitis B: Following an acute infection caused by hepatitis B virus, fewer than 1% of patients develop fulminant hepatitis and die.  Some 85-90% experience complete resolution of their physical findings and develop protective levels of antibody; the other 10 to 15% of patients become chronically infected.  Of these, 15 to 30% subsequently develop chronic active or persistent hepatitis or cirrhosis, and about 20% of those with cirrhosis will develop liver cancer.
  • Hepatitis C: Hepatitis C is a serious infection.  If you do not make continued efforts at maintaining a significant level of liver health, a chronic degenerative process will take its toll eventually.  Although the disease may be moderate in expression, a carrier state can follow in 10-50% of patients.  Infection with Hepatitis B or C often leads to liver failure or liver cancer and is the leading indication for liver transplantation.

HBV is a known risk factor for primary liver cancer.

Signs, symptoms & indicators of Hepatitis:

Lab Values - Cells

Macrocytic red cells

Chronic hepatitis can cause enlarged red blood cells.

Symptoms - Abdomen

Symptoms - Allergy

Symptoms - Bowel Movements

Symptoms - Food - General

Symptoms - Gas-Int - General

Symptoms - General


Symptoms - Head - Eyes/Ocular


Symptoms - Head - Mouth/Oral

(Slight/significant) bitter taste in mouth

Symptoms may include bad breath and bitter taste in the mouth.

Symptoms - Metabolic

Symptoms - Nails

Symptoms - Skin - General

Red palms/fingertips

Red palms can occur in any chronic liver disease and are not specifically caused by the hepatitis virus.  The cause for the redness is unknown, but it is speculated that it may involve upset hormone metabolism or microcirculatory changes.

Absence of yellow skin tone

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that often causes the kidneys to excrete high levels of bilirubin into the bloodstream, leading to a yellow discoloration of the skin.  An absence of yellow skin color is therefore evidence against Hepatitis being present.

Symptoms - Urinary

Dark urine color

Dark urine color can be caused by abnormally high levels of bilirubin (bile pigment) in the bloodstream that is excreted through the kidneys.  High levels of bilirubin may result from inflammation of liver cells due to Hepatitis.

Conditions that suggest Hepatitis:



Jaundice is a yellow discoloration of the skin and whites of the eyes caused by increased amounts of bilirubin in the bloodstream.  High levels of bilirubin my be excreted by the kidneys in response to inflammation of the liver cells caused by hepatitis.

Organ Health

Cirrhosis of the Liver

The hepatitis C virus ranks with alcohol as the major cause of chronic liver disease and cirrhosis in the United States.  Infection with this virus causes inflammation of and low grade damage to the liver that over several decades can lead to cirrhosis.

Hepatitis B is probably the most common cause of cirrhosis worldwide, but in the United States and Western world it is less common.  Hepatitis B, like hepatitis C, causes liver inflammation and injury that over several decades can lead to cirrhosis.

The hepatitis D virus is another virus that infects the liver, but only in people who already have hepatitis B.


Clubbed Fingers Or Toes

Chronic hepatitis C can cause nail clubbing.

Symptoms - Liver / Gall Bladder

Hepatitis A (confirmed)

Hepatitis A is a type of Hepatitis named after the Hepatitis A virus that causes it.

(Well controlled) hepatitis B or C (confirmed)

Hepatitis B and C are types of Hepatitis caused by the Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C viruses respectively.

Absence of hepatitis B or C (confirmed)

Hepatitis B and C are types of Hepatitis caused by the Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C viruses respectively.

Risk factors for Hepatitis:


Gluten Sensitivity / Celiac Disease

Celiac disease has long been recognized as a cause of chronic liver pathology. [Lancet 1977;2(8032): pp.270-2]


Ulcerative Colitis

The immune system may trigger mild inflammation in the liver as a result of ulcerative colitis.  This problem is usually mild and goes away when the colitis is treated.


Immune System Imbalance (TH2 Dominance)

It has been suggested that an impaired TH1 immune response appears to favor chronicity of hepatitis C infections.  Whether impaired activity of the NK cells in chronic HCV infections is due to a dominance of TH2 lymphocytes remains to be seen.

Lab Values - Nutrients

Medical Procedures

Blood transfusions

While transfusion-related HIV and hepatitis are now relatively rare events, emerging or unknown infections, transfusion errors, and immunomodulation remain compelling reasons to minimize the use of allogeneic transfusion.


Selenium Requirement

Selenium is essential for healthy immune functioning.  A large-scale study has shown that selenium supplementation reduces the incidence of viral hepatitis in selenium-deficient populations, presumably by enhancing immune function. [Yu S-Y, Li W-G, Zhu Y-J, et al. Chemoprevention trial of human hepatitis with selenium supplementation in China. Biol Trace Element Res 1989;20: pp.15-20]

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Hepatitis suggests the following may be present:

Organ Health

Liver Disease

Hepatitis is an inflammatory disease of the liver, commonly caused by a viral infection.

Hepatitis can lead to:

Lab Values

Elevated Bilirubin Levels

Diseases that cause liver damage can lead to increased bilirubin levels.  To further investigate the cause of jaundice or increased bilirubin levels, liver function tests or other evidence of infective hepatitis (hepatitis A, B, C, delta, E, etc.)  are commonly used.

A Low Platelet Count

Hepatitis C may cause or contribute to a secondary ITP.


Tumors, Malignant

Liver Cancer

80% of liver cancer cases are thought to be caused by infection with the hepatitis B or C viruses.

Recommendations for Hepatitis:


See Infectious Disease Specialist

When hepatitis is only suspected, lab testing should be performed to rule out hepatitis B and C and, if negative, Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) and Cytomegalovirus (CMV) also.

Amino Acid / Protein

Thymic Factors

Thymus extracts help immune system cells to mature and kill the virus as claimed by several clinical reports.  Through his clinical experiences with thymic supplementation, Dr. Burgstiner observed that 84 cases of Hepatitis B and 34 cases of Hepatitis C were arrested, as well as the elimination of all traces of Hepatitis B infection in himself.  Oral thymus extracts routinely raise thymosin alpha-1 serum levels.

However, thymosin alpha-1 treatment had no biochemical or virological effects in a meta-analysis of five placebo-controlled trials with a total of 353 patients with chronic hepatitis B virus infection. [Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2001;15(12): pp.1899-1905]


Researchers Ikeda, M. et al from the National Cancer Institute in Japan report that bovine lactoferrin directly binds to the HCV and effectively prevented hepatitis C in cultured human hepatocytes cell lines.  They report on experiments which show that Lactoferrin directly binds to HCV and not to the infected cells.  Other research has confirmed that lactoferrin binds to HCV and a number of other viruses.  Lactoferrin is also a natural component of human mother's milk which is also effective against HCV.  Lactoferrin is available as an over-the-counter dietary supplement.  Adult dosage levels are usually 1000 to 1500mg or more daily.  No adverse effects have been reported.


Glutathione (500mg twice a day) or N-acetyl cysteine (200mg two to three times per day) provide liver cleansing and antioxidant support.


Colostrum / Transfer Factor

Hepatitis Specific Transfer Factors from colostrum were used in 260 cases and a 100% clinical recovery was reported with no side-effects.  Immunological profiles were normalized in approximately half of the individuals at the end of the observation period.

Botanical / Herbal

Silymarin / Milk Thistle

Silymarin (the flavonoid extracted from milk thistle) and silymarin-derived compounds have been considered hepatoprotective (protecting the liver from damage) since the plant was first described in ancient times.  More recently, it has been studied for treating all types of liver disease and the results have been encouraging but not yet conclusive due to the lack of large clinical studies.

It has been shown that silymarin has the ability to block fibrosis, a process that contributes to the eventual development of cirrhosis in persons with inflammatory liver conditions secondary to alcohol abuse or hepatitis [Schuppan D, Strösser W, Burkard G, Walosek G. Legalon® lessens fibrosing activity in patients with chronic liver diseases. Zeits Allgemeinmed 1998;74: pp.577-84].  This action makes milk thistle extract potentially attractive to persons with chronic hepatitis C – particularly those who have not responded to standard drug therapy.

For acute hepatitis, double-blind studies have shown mixed results.[1] [2] A preparation of silymarin complexed with phosphatidylcholine was reported to help sufferers of chronic viral hepatitis.  One small pilot study found that at least 420mg of silymarin was necessary each day.[3] A controlled investigation found that silymarin decreased liver damage.[4] One study has suggested that silymarin may be more effective for hepatitis B as opposed to hepatitis C.[5]

Silybum Marianum (80% extract), 200 to 300mg three times per day, protects the liver.  It may also be used as phosphatidylcholine-bound silymarin (100 to 150mg three times per day).

[1] Magliulo E, Gagliardi B, Fiori GP.  Results of a double blind study on the effect of silymarin in the treatment of acute viral hepatitis carried out at two medical centers.  Med Klin 1978;73: pp.1060-5 [in German]
[2] Bode JC, Schmidt U, Durr HK.  Silymarin for the treatment of acute viral hepatitis?  Report of a controlled trial.  Med Klin 1977;72: pp.513-8 [in German]
[3] Vailati A, Aristia L, Sozze E, et al.  Randomized open study of the dose-affect relationship of a short course of IdB 1016 in patients with viral or alcoholic hepatitis.  Fitoterapia 1993;64:219-27
[4] Buzzelli G, Moscarella S, Giusti A, et al.  A pilot study on the liver protective effect of silybin-phosphatidylcholine complex (IdB 1016) in chronic active hepatitis.  Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther Toxicol 1993;31: pp.456-60
[5] Lirussi F, Okolicsanyi L. Cytoprotection in the nineties: experience with ursodeoxycholic acid and silymarin in chronic liver disease.  Acta Physiol Hung 1992;80: pp.363-7


Dandelion, owing to its anti-inflammatory properties, has the ability to arrest or slow liver disease and promote healing.  It also stimulates the liver's production of Glutathione S-transferase (GST) — an important antioxidant that also helps cleanse the blood.

Artichoke Extract

Promotes liver regeneration.


Reduces symptoms.


A series of cases of acute viral hepatitis were reported by one group in India, showing picrorhiza, combined with a variety of minerals, to be helpful in hastening recovery. [Chaturvedi GN, Singh RH. Jaundice of infectious hepatitis and its treatment with an indigenous drug, Picrorhiza kurroa. J Res Ind Med 1966;1: pp.1-13]  A variety of similar reports have appeared in the Indian literature over the years.  Between 400 and 1,500mg of powdered, encapsulated picrorhiza per day has been used in a variety of studies.

A tincture of picrorhiza protected rats against oxidation in the liver. [Anandan R, Devaki T. Hepatoprotective effect of Picrorhiza kurroa on tissue defense system in D-galactosamine-induced hepatitis in rats. Fitoterapia 1999;70: pp.54-7]  This confirmed earlier evidence suggesting picrorhiza contains antioxidant glycosides. [Chander R, Kapoor NK, Dhawan BN (1992) "Picroliv, picroside-I and kutkoside from Picrorhiza kurroa are scavengers of superoxide anions" Biochem Pharmacol 1992;44: pp.180-3]

Schisandra Berry

Protects liver health.

Chinese Thoroughwax

Contains steroid-like substances that reduce liver inflammation.

Green Tea

Green tea can decrease inflammation.  2 to 3 cups per day.


Phyllanthus has been studied primarily in carriers of the hepatitis B virus, as opposed to those with chronic active hepatitis.  In one study, administering this herb for 30 days appeared to eliminate the hepatitis B virus in 22 of 37 cases (59%) [1].  However, other studies have failed to confirm a beneficial effect of Phyllanthus amarus against hepatitis B [2] [3].

A West Indian species, Phyllanthus urinaria (not widely available in the United States or Europe), has achieved much better results than Indian Phyllanthus amarus.[4] Thus, the specific plant species used may have a significant impact on the results.  The recommended dosage is 200mg, three times per day.

[1] Thyagarajan SP, Subramian S, Thirunalasundari T, et al.  Effects of Phyllanthus amarus on chronic carriers of hepatitis B virus.  Lancet 1988;2: pp.764-6
[2] Doshi JC, Vaidya AB, Antarkar DS, et al.  A two-stage clinical trial of Phyllanthus amarus in hepatitis B carriers: Failure to eradicate the surface antigen.  Indian J Gastroenterol 1994;13: pp.7-8
[3] Leelarasamee A, Trakulsomboon S, Maunwongyathi P, et al.  Failure of Phyllanthus amarus to eradicate hepatitis B surface antigen from symptomless carriers.  Lancet 1990;335: pp.1600-1
[4] Wang M, Cheng H, Li Y, et al.  Herbs of the genus Phyllanthus in the treatment of chronic hepatitis B: observations with three preparations from different geographical sites.  J Lab Clin Med 1995;126: pp.350-2


Goldenseal has antibiotic properties and is rich in alkaloids such as berberine, canadine and hydrastine.  These alkaloids are anti-inflammatory and stimulate liver function, thereby reducing liver inflammation.

Eclipta Alba

Usually used with Phyllanthus.

Licorice Root

Recommended dosage is 250 to 500mg, three times per day.  Do not take licorice if you have high blood pressure.  One of the active constituents in licorice, glycyrrhizin, is commonly used in Japan as an injected therapy for hepatitis B and C.[1] [2]  Glycyrrhizin also blocks hepatitis A virus from replicating in test tubes.[3]  It is not known whether oral licorice extracts that are high in glycyrrhizin are effective against hepatitis.

  1. Suzuki H, Ohta Y, Takino T, et al.  Effects of glycyrrhizin on biochemical tests in patients with chronic hepatitis.  Double blind trial.  Asian Med J 1983;26: pp.423-38
  2. Yasuda K, Hino K, Fujioka S, et al.  Effects of high dose therapy with Stronger Neo-Minophagen C (SNMC) on hepatic histography in non-A, non-B chronic active hepatitis.  In Viral Hepatitis C, D, E, ed.  T Shikata, RH Purcell, T Uchida.  Amsterdam: Excerpta Medica, 1991, pp.205-9
  3. Crance JM, L'eveque F, Biziagos E, et al.  Studies on mechanism of action on glycyrrhizin against hepatitis A virus replication in vitroAntiviral Res 1994;23: pp.63-76

Chlorella – a green, plant-like algae – is extremely high in chlorophyll which increases oxygen levels in the blood, thus boosting energy, detoxifying the blood and promoting tissue repair.  The phycocyanin found in chlorella is a great immune booster as it helps the body produce more stem cells, which can be used to destroy the bacteria and viruses involved in liver inflammation.

Turmeric Extract, Curcumin

Curcumin – the most active constituent of turmeric – is known to have anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-proliferative effects on cells.  It has an inhibitory effect against a variety of organisms such as bacteria, fungi and viruses, including those causing Hepatitis.  Turmeric also affects membrane fluidity, which impairs Hepatitis C virus binding and fusion.


250 to 500mg three times daily.  Combine with Bromelain (250 to 500mg three times per day between meals) to enhance its effects.

Echinacea (Coneflower)

Echinacea has antimicrobial properties that enable it to halt the growth of the Hepatitis B Virus (HBV).  It is an immune modulator and enhances the overall functioning of a person's immune system.


Alcohol Avoidance

Alcohol and hepatitis C virus are synergistic in hastening the development of cirrhosis; patients with hepatitis C infection should abstain from alcohol.

Smaller, More Frequent Meals

Small, frequent meals are suggested to optimize digestion.

Plant-Based Nutrition

A more vegetarian diet is naturally lower in saturated fats (meat and dairy products) and higher in grains, vegetables, fruits, vegetable proteins (legumes such as soy), and essential fatty acids (cold-water fish, nuts, and seeds) that are all recommended for Hepatitis.  Foods that support the liver are beets, artichokes, yams, onions, garlic, green leafy vegetables, apples, and lemons.


Coconut oil has anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties, making it useful for treating liver inflammation.

Not recommended
Therapeutic Fasting

Extended fasting should be avoided in cases of compromised liver function.

Digestive Aids

Lactobacillus Acidophilus

Supplementation with Acidophilus (one capsule with meals) helps keep healthy levels of the "good" bacteria in your body.


Conventional Drug Use

Simeprevir (approved in 2013 and sold under the names Olysio, Sovriad, Galexos) is a medication used in combination with others to treat hepatitis C genotype 1 and 4 with cure rates of 80-90%.  Unfortunately, at the time of writing (late 2017), the cost was a prohibitive $150,000 for a 12-week course.  Danoprevir in 2017 was a clinical candidate based on its favorable potency profile against multiple HCV genotypes 1-6 and key mutants.  Both of these drugs were developed by exploiting earlier (abandoned) research on Ciluprevir.

Previously, Reuters had reported on Oct 27, 2003 that scientists working for Boehringer Ingelheim in Germany developed a drug that could offer new hope.  Ciluprevir, originally developed under the research code of BILN 2061, targets an enzyme to block the replication of the virus.  In eight people given four doses of the treatment, the amount of virus in the blood (viral load) dropped by 100 to 1,000-fold after 48 hours without producing any unpleasant reactions.  BILN 2061 was the first of a class of drugs called NS3 protease inhibitors to be tested in humans.

Unfortunately, although BILN 2061 demonstrated potent antiviral activity against HCV genotype 1, the virologic response was less pronounced and more variable in HCV genotype 2 and 3 patients.  Despite early enthusiasm, further development was halted due to concerns related to potential cardiotoxicity in animal models.


A study with Amantadine was performed at the Department of Medicine at the Milton S Hershey Medical Center by JP Smith on patients who had previously failed interferon-alpha 2b therapy.  It found that in 22 patients with chronic hepatitis C given 100mg twice daily for an average of 32 months [Dig Dis Sci 1997 Aug;42(8): pp.1681-7], 64% of the patients had decreases in ALT values with 27% having normalization of ALT values and a loss of HCV RNA as measured by PCR.  No side effects were reported.

Laboratory Testing



Optimal selenium status should be ensured for both prevention and treatment: 200mcg per day is needed to keep your liver healthy.  When the micronutrient selenium was added to the diet of 20, 847 people in a Chinese town, the number who became infected with hepatitis B virus was 50% less than for villagers not receiving dietary selenium.  Supplementation also markedly reduced the risk of liver cancer among HBV sufferers.

"Selenium also appears to be protective in individuals infected with hepatitis virus (B or C) against the progression of the condition to liver cancer." [Rayman MP. The importance of selenium to human health. The Lancet. July 15, 2000; volume 356, pp.233-41]


Zinc is essential to liver function and a deficiency of this mineral can impair cellular immunity.  Zinc promotes cell immunity and inhibits Hepatitis E Virus replication.

Colloidal Silver

The germicidal properties of silver combined with the high particle surface area of a colloid enhances the body's natural defense against infections and viruses such as Hepatitis.  However, more research into the safety and effectiveness of Colloidal Silver is needed.

Oxygen/Oxidative Therapies

Ozone / Oxidative Therapy

Some viruses are much more susceptible to ozone's action than others.  It has been found that lipid-enveloped viruses such as HBV and HCV are among the most sensitive.  While many doctors are reporting good success in treating Hepatitis with ozone, there have been limited studies performed.

In a small trial of 8 patients in which post treatment follow-up information was available, viral loads by Polymerase Chain Reaction, taken at the onset of ozone therapy, then repeated following completion of the therapy, were compared.  An average viral load reduction of 99.96% was achieved.  At the onset of treatment 7 of the 8 patients also had elevated liver enzyme levels – SGOT (AST) and SGPT (ALT).  Following ozone therapy these measures fell into the normal range.  This pilot trial, without a blind control group and conducted in an offshore setting, must be viewed as anecdotal although fully consistent with the experience of many.


Alpha Lipoic Acid

Alpha lipoic acid is given in a dose of 300mg at least twice per day for hepatitis B or C. Alpha lipoic acid (ALA), silymarin, and selenium have been used in combination with success in reducing symptoms and elevated liver enzyme levels (though the viral load was not substantially reduced).

Lecithin / Choline

Taking 3gm per day of phosphatidylcholine (found in lecithin) was found to be beneficial in one investigation of people with chronic hepatitis B.  Signs of liver damage on biopsy were significantly reduced in this study. [Jenkins PJ, Portmann BP, Eddleston AL, Williams R. Use of polyunsaturated phosphatidylcholine in HBsAg negative chronic active hepatitis: Results of prospective double-blind controlled trial. Liver 1982;2: pp.77-81]


Catechin has helped people with acute viral hepatitis [1], as well as individuals with chronic hepatitis [2], though not all studies have found a benefit.[3] A typical amount used in successful trials is 500-750mg three times per day.

[1] Blum AL, Doelle W, Kortum K, et al.  Treatment of acute viral hepatitis with (+)-cyanidanol-3. Lancet 1977;2: pp.1153-5
[2] Suzuki H, Yamamoto S, Hirayama C, et al.  Cianidanol therapy for HBs-antigen-positive chronic hepatitis: a multicenter, double-blind study.  Liver 1986;6: pp.35-44
[3] Bar-Meir S, Halpern Z, Gutman M, et al.  Effect of (+)-cyanidanol-3 on chronic active hepatitis: A double blind controlled trial.  Gut 1985;26: pp.975-9


See the link between Hepatitis and Vitamin C.


Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)

Vitamin C (1,000 to 1,500mg per day), beta-carotene (100,000 IU per day), vitamin E (400 to 800 IU per day), and zinc (30 to 50mg per day) strengthen your immune system.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E levels have been shown to be low in people with hepatitis [1], as well as in those who go on to develop liver cancer from long-standing hepatitis.[2] Vitamin E levels in the liver may also be decreased in some people with hepatitis.[3]

In a study of individuals with hepatitis B, half received 600 IU of vitamin E per day for nine months, while the others received no vitamin E (control group).  In five of the twelve people receiving vitamin E (compared with none of those in the control group), all signs of hepatitis disappeared.[4]

In a study of adults with hepatitis C, administering 1,200 IU per day of vitamin E for eight weeks appeared to reduce liver damage to some extent.[5] In a preliminary study of people with hepatitis C, 544 IU of vitamin E per day for 24 weeks improved the response to interferon/antioxidant therapy, although the results did not reach statistical significance.[6] However, in children with viral hepatitis, daily injections of vitamin E (300 IU) for seven days did not produce any benefit.[7]

[1] Von Herbay A, Stahl W, Niederau C, et al.  Diminished plasma levels of vitamin E in patients with severe viral hepatitis.  Free Radic Res 1996;25: pp.461-6
[2] Pan WH, Wang CY, Huang SM, et al.  Vitamin A, vitamin E or beta-carotene status and hepatitis B-related hepatocellular carcinoma.  Ann Epidemiol 1993;3: pp.217-24
[3] Mezes M, Par A, Nemeth P, Javor T. Studies of the blood lipid peroxide status and vitamin E levels in patients with chronic active hepatitis and alcoholic liver disease.  Int J Clin Pharmacol Res 1986;6: pp.333-8
[4] Andreone P, Gramonzi A, Bernardi M. Vitamin E for chronic hepatitis B. Ann Intern Med 1998;128: pp.156-7
[5] Houglum K, Venkataramani A, Lyche K, Chojkier M. A pilot study of the effects of d-alpha-tocopherol on hepatic stellate cell activation in chronic hepatitis C. Gastroenterology 1997;113: pp.1069-73
[6] Look MP, Gerard A, Rao GS, et al.  Interferon/antioxidant combination therapy for chronic hepatitis C – a controlled pilot trial.  Antiviral Res 1999;43: pp.113-22
[7] Yurdakok M, Kanra G. Vitamin E therapy in viral hepatitis.  Mikrobiyol Bul 1986;20: pp.91-4 [in Turkish]

Vitamin K

Low vitamin K levels may be supplemented with 100 to 500mcg per day.

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamine)

Vitamin B12 (with or without folic acid) has been reported in studies from the 1950s to help some people with hepatitis.[1] [2] Vitamin B12 injections are likely to be more beneficial than oral administration, though 1,000mcg taken orally each day can also be supplemented.

[1] Campbell RE, Pruitt FW.  Vitamin B12 in the treatment of viral hepatitis.  Am J Med Sci 1952;224: pp.252-62
[2] Campbell RE, Pruitt FW.  The effect of vitamin B12 and folic acid in the treatment of viral hepatitis.  Am J Med Sci 1955;229: pp.8-15

Vitamin B-Complex

B-complex (50 to 100mg per day), especially Folic Acid (800 to 1000mcg per day) and B12 (1000mcg per day) are needed for good liver function.

Folic Acid

See the link between Hepatitis and Vitamin B-Complex.

Not recommended
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Large doses of niacin may further increase the already elevated liver enzymes usually seen in hepatitis.

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