HEPATITIS C: An illness calling for nutritional therapy

According to the medical establishment, Hepatitis C is a chronic viral infection of the liver that can gradually progress over the course of 20 to 30 years to produce liver cirrhosis and failure. In 1975, physicians recognized a form of hepatitis, which was not due to hepatitis A or B viruses and they called it “non-A, non-B”. Then in 1987, research scientists using an extremely sensitive method called PCR, isolated a genetic fragment from “non-A, non-B” hepatitis patients, which they called the hepatitis C virus. Subsequently, antibody tests were developed, which could confirm the diagnosis of hepatitis C.

According to recent estimates, there are 4 million people in the United States who have hepatitis C and as much as 400 million are infected worldwide. About 15% of infected people develop symptoms of acute hepatitis, but recover completely without treatment. The majority of the other 85%, however, develop a chronic infection. Of these, about 20% may develop liver cirrhosis and failure over the next two or three decades, and 6 to 8 % may develop liver cancer. Curiously, there are some people with hepatitis C who seem to be carriers and show no signs of illness.

The illness can be contracted from exposure to blood, such as sharing drug needles, transfusions, blood workers, hemodialysis and sexual intercourse with “many partners”. Probably the majority of patients are surprised to find out that they have hepatitis C, as it is often diagnosed at a doctor’s visit after a period of vague flu-like symptoms, or fatigue, usually in association with minor elevations in liver enzymes (e.g, SGOT and SGPT).

The standard medical treatment for hepatitis C is alpha interferon, a powerful component of the body’s natural defense against viral infection, along with the anti-viral drug ribavirin. When interferon is given at high dose there can be serious side effects, including flu-like symptoms, depression, apathy, anxiety, confusion, irritability, suicidal tendencies, sleep disturbance, hair loss, fatigue, and nausea. Because of these problems only a certain number of infected people are recommended for the therapy. And, interferon and ribavirin therapy provides long-lasting benefits to fewer than 20% of patients who receive it. Recently, an improved form of interferon has been introduced – peginterferon alpha-2a. This form of interferon has been altered biochemically so that it stays in the body longer and fewer of the potentially toxic treatments are needed. Also, ribavirin has serious side effects as well, including birth defects and miscarriages.

Combination therapy with interferon and ribavirin is now considered to be the treatment of choice for chronic hepatitis C by conventional doctors, but there are limitations to this approach. In addition to frequent and serious side effects, more than half of patients will continue to have viremia (virus particles in the blood) after treatment has stopped. Therefore, according to an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine in December 2000, liver specialists are adopting the language of oncologists and are looking for a “response” instead of a “cure”. A favorable “response” to combination therapy is determined by reduced levels of virus in the blood, along with improved liver enzymes tests and liver biopsy results. Clearly, the standard medical treatment for hepatitis C has significant limitations.


Now, let us consider hepatitis C from the perspective of the alternative, nutritionally oriented physician. Unlike conventional doctors, who focus on killing the virus, complimentary physicians focus on promoting health to the body in general as well as reducing the viral load. Using vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other natural biochemical factors they aim to restore the natural wisdom and healing power of the body. They provide treatments that improve digestion and assimilation, enhance immune function, balance hormones, support liver detoxification, and reduce the body burden of chemical toxins and heavy metals. In addition to enhancing the body’s defenses against viral infection, they use a variety of anti-viral therapies, such as intravenous vitamin C, selenium, mushroom extracts and more.

In 1977, Dr. Berkson randomly selected three patients from a group of 50 chronic hepatitis C patients with cirrhosis, portal hypertension and esophageal varices that were waiting for liver transplant surgery. He then provided the three patients with “triple antioxidant therapy”, which consisted of alpha lipoic acid, silymarin, and selenium. These three supplements were chosen because of their antioxidant, anti-viral and immune boosting qualities. According to Dr. Berkson, the three patients “recovered quickly” with improved liver enzyme studies. Furthermore, they did not need liver transplantation, and they all went back to work, carrying out their normal activities and feeling healthy. Dr. Berkson published the results of his study in Med Klin 1999 Oct 15;94, Supple 3:83-90.

Dr. Darryl See is an infectious disease specialist who reported a similar experience while he was part of a liver transplant team at a major American hospital. Dr. See was following hepatitis C patients with severe liver disease while they waited for liver transplant surgery. Since it takes a long time to find a donor and arrange the complicated surgical procedure, Dr. See decided to see what he could do for his patients in the meantime. He selected a few of the transplant candidates and gave them high dose intravenous vitamin C, which is known for its ability to quench free radicals, detoxify chemicals in the body, boost immunity and support the body’s anti-viral defense. Once again, the patients felt better, improved their liver enzyme studies and liver biopsy results and were pulled off the liver transplant waiting list.

At the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine in 1999, Dr. Fred Pescatore presented dramatic results from hepatitis C patients. He treated three patients with a combination of mushroom extracts and all three were able to reduce their viral loads by 89%, 28% and 80%. Two of the three patients no longer tested positive for hepatitis C.

Also, there is significant medical research that shows that the medical community over estimates the dangers of hepatitis C. In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1992 (volume 327, No. 27, pages 1906-1911), doctors followed transfusion related non-A, non-B hepatitis patients for 18 years and compared them a control group of patients who had received transfusions but did not evidence of hepatitis. The study concluded that those believed to have hepatitis C lived as long as those with no infection and severe complications seem to be uncommon.

In another study published by Dr. Seef in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2000, the blood of U.S. Army soldiers that had been frozen 45 years ago was studied for the effects of hepatitis C. The study concluded that over 45 years there are practically no differences between liver disease of hepatitis C positive men and those that were hepatitis C negative.

Most hepatitis C positive patients do not have any symptoms of the disease. I have followed a few patients who are positive for the virus and yet have no abnormalities in liver enzymes. It is becoming increasingly apparent that serious liver damage occurs primarily in hepatitis C positive people who have consumed alcohol and drugs in the past. Is it the drugs and alcohol that is damaging the liver, or the virus?

Dr. Dennin, a German researcher, has found the genetic sequences that are called hepatitis C virus in human DNA from healthy hepatitis C negative people, thus raising the possibility that hepatitis C positive blood tests may simply reflect liver damage from drugs, chemicals or alcohol. This would explain the high correlation between hepatitis C positivity and alcohol and drug use.

Hepatitis C virus has never been isolated, grown in cultures and then injected into animals to produce hepatitis. In other words, hepatitis C has never been documented according to the Standards of Virology. Instead, a tiny genetic sequence has been determined to be a virus and the subsequent antibody test has been used to include millions of people in the “epidemic” of hepatitis C.

I am not saying that hepatitis C does not exist. I am simply presenting medical evidence that a positive hepatitis C blood test may not mean that serious liver disease is always going to occur in the following decades. Instead, a positive antibody test and PCR evidence of virus in the blood are good reasons to embark on a vigorous health enhancement program, which focuses on improving liver detoxification and better immune function.

At New Hope Medical Center we offer hepatitis C patients some combination of the following services:

  • Liver and total body detoxification using nutrients, herbal therapies, far infrared sauna and ozone steam baths
  • Gastrointestinal evaluation and treatment to improve digestion and assimilation with special emphasis on the correction of immune weakening conditions such as yeast overgrowth, food allergies and parasites
  • Evaluation and elimination of chemical toxins (e.g. pesticides) and heavy metals (e.g. mercury)
  • Immune system enhancement with special focus on nutrients and botanicals that support the body’s viral defense
  • Anti-viral therapies such as intravenous vitamin C, ultraviolet blood irradiation and mushroom extracts
  • Stress management therapies that enhance overall health, especially the immune system

Each patient seen at the Center is evaluated with appropriate lab tests and then an individualized treatment program is designed. We have excellent results in treating hepatitis C and look forward to assisting people in their journey towards health.