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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Physician Chu I Ta and Dr Eki Wari on April 5, 2023

Top Natural Ways To Manage Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C can often go undetected for a long time, making you prone to serious liver conditions. Learn how to identify the symptoms and manage them here.

Hepatitis c virus min scaled

Hepatitis C refers to liver inflammation caused by infection from the hepatitis C virus. Around 30% of people with the infection recover without treatment within six months.

However, if not treated, almost 70% of people infected with hepatitis C will develop chronic illnesses that predispose them to liver cirrhosis and even liver cancer. 

Read on to learn how to identify the symptoms of hepatitis C and natural ways to help manage the condition before it turns deadly.

What Are The Symptoms Of Hepatitis C?

A woman with jaundice or yellowing of the eye
Yellowing of the eye can be a symptom of chronic hepatitis C.

An acute hepatitis C infection rarely causes symptoms and often goes undetected.

Some patients may experience discoloration of the eyes and skin (jaundice), nausea, fever, and muscle aches. If detected in time, it responds well to antiviral therapy. 

Chronic hepatitis C generally remains asymptomatic or silent for years until the liver damage is bad enough to cause signs and symptoms.

Patients with a chronic hepatitis C infection easily bruise and bleed, tire quickly, have a poor appetite, and show yellowish discoloration of the eyes.

There may be fluid build-up in the abdomen, leg swelling, and weight loss. In severe cases, a person may become confused, drowsy, and disoriented.

What Does TCM Say About Hepatitis C?

Real Health Medical Chief TCM Physician Chu I Ta suggests following a healthy lifestyle to prevent an infection of the hepatitis C virus.

“According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) tenets, we recommend eating bland, nutritious, easy-to-digest food. Stay away from cold, cool, difficult-to-digest food that may easily damage Spleen yang. Avoid hot, spicy, and fried food that may easily generate Damp-Heat as well as rough and hard food that may easily damage the blood collaterals.”

TCM Physician Chu I Ta

He also recommends a low-sodium diet, as salt thickens water dampness. People with swelling in the lower limbs and low urine output should avoid salt at all costs.

Keeping a peaceful mind and avoiding overexerting oneself also helps to reduce the risk of hepatitis. According to Physician Chu, irregular emotions, especially anger and pensiveness, can damage the Liver and Spleen and aggravate the pathogenic condition of Qi-Fire. This can damage blood collaterals or even result in life-threatening situations.

Keeping warm, supplementing anti-pathogenic qi and preventing infection with pathogens help to stay healthy. “Don’t delay treatment if you contract an infection,” he cautions. 

Treatments For Hepatitis C

The prognosis for hepatitis C patients has improved considerably compared to the past. With new antiviral treatments, almost 90% of patients can be completely cured.

Besides Western medicine, TCM can be used as a supportive therapy, especially for relief from fluid in the abdomen, a common symptom of the condition. 

According to Physician Chu, tympanites or collection of fluid or gas in the abdomen is caused due to impairment of the Liver, Spleen, and Kidneys.

Common syndromes are retention of QStagnation, Blood Stasis and Water-Dampness. Tympanites mainly involve the Liver and Spleen at an early stage, affecting the Kidneys later.

Gastric and abdominal distention occurs during the initial stage of tympanites, especially after eating. The abdomen may appear visibly distended, and bluish blood vessels may appear on the abdominal wall at a later stage like ascites (a condition where fluid collects in spaces in the abdomen). In severe cases, the umbilicus may project outwards. 

Herbal remedies 

An image of ingredients and foods used in TCM herbal remedies
TCM herbal remedies can help address underlying syndromes to support Liver health.

TCM treats patients based on syndrome identification.

Qi Stagnation and Dampness 

Patients have symptoms such as abdominal distension without palpable hardness, fullness or distension and pain below the ribs.

The principle of treatment in these cases is to regulate Liver-qi, strengthen the Spleen and remove Dampness.

Physician Chu recommends the herbal formulas Chai Hu Shu Gan San and Wei Ling Tang

Water-Dampness that obstructs the Spleen 

Patients usually have an enlarged abdomen with fullness and distension, a feeling like there’s a water-filled sack upon palpation or even facial puffiness.

Symptoms such as swelling in the lower limbs and gastric and abdominal stuffiness might also show.

Physician Chu recommends the herbal formula Shi Pi Yin to warm the middle jiao, strengthen the Spleen, promote qi flow, and induce diuresis.

Dampness-Heat 

Symptoms include an enlarged abdomen with hardness and fullness, gastric and abdominal distension.

A combination of Zhong Man Fen Xiao Wan and Yin Chen Hao Tang is recommended. It clears Heat, resolves Dampness, induces urine production and removes water retention. 

Blood Stasis and water retention 

These patients typically have stomach and abdominal hardness and fullness, bluish vessels on the abdomen, and masses below the ribs with needle-pricking pain.

Physician Chu usually prescribes the formula Tiao Ying Yin. It helps circulate blood, resolve Stasis, promote qi flow and induce diuresis.

Yang Deficiency 

Patients with water retention due to Yang Deficiency are recommended the formulas Fu Zi Wei Ling Tang or Ji Sheng Shen Qi Wan.

These help warm and supplement the Spleen and Kidneys, transform qi and induce diuresis.

Yin Deficiency 

Patients with water retention due to Yin Deficiency experience an enlarged abdomen with fullness and distension, a dry throat, and restlessness.

To nourish the Kidneys, soothe the Liver, nourish yin and induce diuresis, Physician Chu recommends a combination of Liu Wei Di Huang Wan and Yi Guan Jian

Acupuncture 

Physician Chu emphasizes the effectiveness of acupuncture when administered by a licensed practitioner.

He suggests the following acupoints for treatment in the early stages of liver diseases: 

  • Tai chong (LR3)
  • Yin ling quan (SP9)
  • Di ji (SP8)
  • San yin jiao (SP6)
  • Guan yuan (CVRV4)
  • Zhong ji (CV3)
  • Ri yue (GB24)
  • Zhang men (LR13)

Can You Prevent Hepatitis C?

Unfortunately, unlike hepatitis B, there isn’t a vaccine available against a hepatitis C infection. The best way to prevent it is to avoid behaviors that expose you to the virus.

The hepatitis C virus spreads through blood. A person can get infected through contaminated needles, syringes, blood, and blood products.

Avoid using illicit drugs, especially if they’re injected. Also, be careful about body piercing and tattooing, and choose a reputable salon with good hygiene practices.

Ready-made herbal supplements that support liver health are available, such as Antrodia Cinnamomea (AC) Mycelium.

AC is a highly valued herb found only in Taiwan and is a trusted remedy for promoting liver health and alleviating liver conditions. It can also be used to promote vitality, enhance body functions and improve immunity. 

Until a vaccine for hepatitis C is found, Western and traditional medicine will continue giving patients hope of recovery and good clinical outcomes.

Share this article with someone whom you think may find this information useful.

References

  1. Clinical Therapeutic Review. 2019. Treatment of chronic hepatitis C: Efficacy, side effects and complications. [online] Available at: https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/500963  Accessed 24 October 2022. 
  2. Journal of Hepatology. 2018. Challenges and perspectives of direct antivirals for the treatment of hepatitis C virus infection. [online]Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016882781832181
  3. Disease-a-Month. 2001. Hepatitis C: A review and update. [online] Available at: <https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0011502901900070

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