Initially, the symptoms of hepatitis appear as weakness, drowsiness, nausea, fever, headaches, loss of appetite, aching muscles, joint pain, and malaise. The liver becomes enlarged and tender, causing pain in the upper abdomen and chest area. Jaundice may develop, along with depression. Stools may become gray, urine dark. As the disease progresses, the liver may develop cirrhosis (hardening due to scar tissue) or necrosis (death of tissue). If left untreated, hepatitis can be fatal.
What is Hepatitis?
From Modern Western Medicine
Literally, hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. When the illness becomes chronic, there is growing inflammation and destruction of cells causing scar tissue within the organ. Ultimately, cirrhosis sets in. Cirrhosis of the liver is both a cause of hepatitis and a result. Other causes include an autoimmune reaction, viral infection, a reaction to medication or a chemical toxin, and metabolic disorders. The autoimmune-related disorder is treated with corticosteroid drugs to reduce the swelling, while the metabolic cause is addressed by treating the underlying disorder.
Apart from cirrhosis, the most common cause of hepatitis is viral, which is designated as A or B. Hepatitis A is often called infectious hepatitis, and is contracted by ingesting contaminated food or water. Hepatitis B is communicated via blood transfusion, sexual contact with an infected person, or through a use of a contaminated intravenous needle.
From Traditional Medicine
Hepatitis is often the result of an immune-depressing lifestyle, with alcoholism, intravenous drug use, poor diet, and unhealthy ways of living the primary causes. In these cases, the liver is often congested with fatty acids, which prevent the blood from flowing freely through the organs, thus allowing toxins to stagnate inside the tissues and creating underlying conditions for disease. If poor health habits are not a cause, then exposure to infectious agents and chemical toxins are important considerations when attempting to create a healing program.
- See Part IV for ways to promote liver health.
- Eat at least 2 servings of green vegetables a day, especially collard, kale, and Chinese cabbage.
- Eat soft grains, especially wheat, bulgur, barley, and brown rice.
Foods to Eat
It is especially important not to overeat, chew thoroughly, and not eat up to 3 hours before bed.
- Whole grains, especially barley, wheat, bulgur, and brown rice
- Leafy, green vegetables
- Wheat and barley grass juices
- Wheat germ
- Button mushrooms (to treat contagious hepatitis)
- Garlic (use every day for several weeks)
- Grape juice
- Kukicha tea
Foods to Avoid
- Red meat
- Dairy products
- Refined flour
- Oils (as much as possible)
- Cold drinks
- Nuts and nut butters
Herbs to Treat Hepatitis
- Milk thistle: 15 – 30 drops of tincture in water, twice daily for two weeks
- Combine equal parts of dandelion, blessed thistle, Oregon grape, and pipsissewa with fennel seed. Three cups taken daily are an excellent liver tonic
- Michael Tierra’s Planetary Herbs: Formula 12 removes liver stagnation, smoothes and regulates qi, and is very useful for hepatitis. (Can be purchased or ordered through your health food store.)
- Goldenseal treats liver diseases. Infusion, 1 tsp. in 1 cup of boiling water; tincture, 10 – 30 drops; 3 – 6 g in formula
- Celandine: tincture, 1 – 10 drops, three to four times per day
- Culver’s root: tincture, 10 – 60 drops, three to four times per day
Physiotherapy and Hydrotherapy
- Coffee enemas
- Alternate hot and cold compresses over the liver area
- Beta-carotene: 10 – 30 mg per day
- Folic acid: 5 mg per day
- Vitamin B complex: oral, 50 mg per day
- Vitamin C: 500 mg per day
- Vitamin E: 400 – 600 IU per day