Sunday, March 25, 2007

Managing hepatitis the herbal way

Question : I HAVE a sibling with Hepatitis B and am looking for natural and safe remedies for him. Kindly advise.

Answer : HEPATITIS is an inflammation of the liver commonly due to five hepatitis viruses - A, B, C, D or E. In its early stages, the disease may be mistaken for flu, with fever, fatigue, nausea, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, muscle and joint aches. These are followed by the characteristic jaundice or yellowing of the eyes and skin due to a build-up of bile in the blood. Excessive bile can also cause severe itchiness and a darkening of urine.

Hepatitis A is transmitted through contaminated food prepared by infected food handlers. Many types of food can also be infected by sewage containing hepatitis A virus. Raw shellfish such as cockles are sometimes responsible.

Hepatitis B is transmitted through blood, semen, saliva and other body fluids. It is spread by blood transfusion, sharing of needles, sexual contact and other exposure to bodily fluids.

Hepatitis C is mostly transmitted through blood transfusion. For unknown reasons, people with alcoholic liver disease often have hepatitis C as well.

Hepatitis D & E occur only in people who already have infection with hepatitis B virus and it makes the hepatitis B infection more severe.

Follow a diet that is low in animal fats, oily fried foods and refined carbohydrates but high in dietary fibre like fruits and vegetables. The preferred methods of cooking are steaming, boiling, occasional stir-frying and grilling. All water should be boiled before drinking and if you are travelling, stick to bottled water.

Eat home-cooked food where you can be assured of hygiene and avoid hawker stalls. Have a separate set of eating and drinking utensils and these should be boiled before being used again.

Alcohol and medications that are potentially toxic to the liver must be avoided. You may check with your doctor before taking any medications, including non-prescription drugs.

Lecithin, being exceptionally rich in a compound called phosphatidylcholine, is excellent for optimum liver function. Regular intake of high phosphatidylcholine (35 per cent) has been shown to accelerate liver regeneration in the treatment of chronic liver disease resulting from viral infection, drug poisoning or excessive alcohol consumption.

Nutritional anti-free radicals such as beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, and minerals zinc and selenium are essential in protecting the liver from free radical damage. The B group vitamins are also important for liver health and have been known to shorten recovery time moderately. Milk Thistle and Dandelion have been traditionally recognised in restoring and maintaining liver health.

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