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Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver with concomitant damage to liver cells. The disease is most commonly attributable to viral or toxic origin.

Viral hepatitis is a highly contagious systemic infection. The virus may be carried in the saliva, semen, urine, feces, tears, and blood. The virus may be spread by intimate contact with the infected individual or via materials handled by the infected individual (such as towels, food or contaminated needles). Laboratory samples or blood products from an infected individual are also important modes of transmission. In parts of the world where hepatitis is endemic, the virus is often spread by contaminated water or milk, or by seafood from contaminated water.

Toxic hepatitis results from exposure to toxic chemicals, and is therefore not contagious.

Hepatitis may be self-limiting or chronic. The severity of the disease varies with the individual's health and the causative agent. While the majority of all forms of hepatitis completely heal, there is danger of extensive liver damage which can result in cirrhosis of the liver or death.

There is no medical treatment of viral hepatitis. Therapy is directed towards the prevention of transmission, sound nutrition, and rest to support regeneration of damaged tissue. Corticosteroids have been used in severe or chronic hepatitis, although the benefits of such therapy have not been proven. For drug or chemical hepatitis, primary aim of therapy is avoidance of the toxic agent and then sound nutrition and rest.


Viral hepatitis
The primary causes of viral hepatitis are infection by the hepatitis A virus, hepatitis B virus, or any of a group of viruses known as the "non-A, non-B" viruses. These viruses have a predilection for liver cells. Viral hepatitis can also result as a complication of:

Herpes simplex
Yellow fever

Toxic hepatitis

Excessive ethanol consumption
Exposure to toxic industrial chemicals
Poisonous mushrooms
Some pharmacological agents such as:
Acetaminophen (in excess of 10 to 15 grams)
Aspirin (in excess of three grams a day)
Oral contraceptives

Oral contraceptives tend to impair liver function in a small number of women, but usually do not result in tissue damage. The effects are reversible when the pill is discontinued. Women who tend to develop impaired liver function while using oral contraceptives are also susceptible to the same condition during the last trimester of pregnancy due to increased estrogen levels. Toxic hepatitis may also be idiosyncratic. In this form of chemical poisoning, an individual is unable to metabolize certain drugs or chemicals which the vast majority of people encounter without such side effects. To be considered idiosyncratic, the reaction must develop in less that 0.4% of the population exposed to that particular chemical.

Chronic hepatitis
Hepatitis B virus
"Non-A non-B" viral infection
Toxic hepatitis
Inborn errors of metabolism

In some cases the cause is unknown, although autoimmune complications has been implicated.

Signs & Symptoms

Viral hepatitis
The incubation period varies with the infectious agent. Hepatitis A has an incubation period of two to six weeks. Onset of symptoms is usually acute. Hepatitis B has an incubation period of four weeks to six months. Onset of symptoms is slow, but may be more severe. The course of infection in "non-A non-B" is similar to that of hepatitis B.

Early Symptoms

Joint painMild fever

Late Symptoms

JaundiceEnlarged liver due to inflammation
Pain in the upper quadrantHypoglycemia
Dark urineLight colored stools

Toxic hepatitis Onset and severity of symptoms vary greatly. Signs and symptoms of toxic hepatitis, in addition to those of viral hepatitis, may include:


Chronic hepatitis
Signs and symptoms of chronic hepatitis resemble those of viral hepatitis but are usually less severe.

Nutritional Supplements

Structure & Function: Immune System Support

General Supplements

Beta-carotene 5 - 10 mg 2 - 5 mg
Chromium 50 - 100 mcg 50 - 100 mcg
Green barley*
Selenium 100 - 200 mcg 50 - 150 mcg
Vitamin A5,000 - 10,000 IU2,500 - 5,000 IU
Vitamin C4,000 - 6,000 mg2,000 - 3,000 mg
Vitamin E 200 - 400 IU 100 - 200 IU

* Please refer to the respective topic for specific nutrient amounts.

Note: All amounts are in addition to those supplements having a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). Due to individual needs, one must always be aware of a possible undetermined effect when taking nutritional supplements. If any disturbances from the use of a particular supplement should occur, stop its use immediately and seek the care of a qualified health care professional.

Dietary Considerations

The hepatitis individual should be encouraged to eat and keep fluid intake as high as possible. Several small meals should be offered in place of three large meals since the individual could experience anorexia when faced with large amounts of food.

A Low Fat Diet (Pritikin) or a Low Fat Diet (Non Pritikin) high in carbohydrate is recommended. Small amounts of fat make the meal more palatable, however excess fat can prove difficult to digest. Abstinence from alcohol is advised for as long as one year to protect the convalescing liver.

A sick liver can become unable to clear toxic amines from the system. If amines are not kept to a minimum, symptoms of brain toxicity progress and can eventually result in death. To avoid toxic accumulation of amines, a individual with hepatitis who begins to show encephalopathy is placed on a Protein Restricted Diet.

If ascites or edema is present a concomitant Mild Sodium Restriction Diet, Moderate Sodium Restriction Diet or Severe Sodium Restriction Diet is also recommended. In advanced cases, proteins are withheld entirely, and amino acids are supplied intravenously.

Chronic hepatitis
The diet should contain some protein to manipulate and protect whatever liver function still exists. Protein wastage of the liver and muscles can also occur with inadequate amounts protein in the diet.

Homeopathic Remedy

1.* Hepar sulphuris calcareum - 30C
2. Bryonia alba tinct. - 15C
3. Natrum sulphuricum - 12X

Treatment Schedule

Doses cited are to be administered on a 3X daily schedule, unless otherwise indicated. Dose usually continued for 2 weeks. Liquid preparations usually use 8-10 drops per dose. Solid preps are usually 3 pellets per dose. Children use 1/2 dose.


X = 1 to 10 dilution - weak (triturition)
C = 1 to 100 dilution - weak (potency)
M = 1 to 1 million dilution (very strong)
X or C underlined means it is most useful potency

Asterisk (*) = Primary remedy. Means most necessary remedy. There may be more than one remedy - if so, use all of them.


Boericke, D.E., 1988. Homeopathic Materia Medica.

Coulter, C.R., 1986. Portraits of Homeopathic Medicines.

Kent, J.T., 1989. Repertory of the Homeopathic Materia Medica.

Koehler, G., 1989. Handbook of Homeopathy.

Shingale, J.N., 1992. Bedside Prescriber.

Smith, Trevor, 1989. Homeopathic Medicine.

Ullman, Dana, 1991. The One Minute (or so) Healer.

Herbal Approaches


        Globe artichoke
        Licorice Root (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
        Milk Thistle (Silymarin)
        Rhubarb plant

Note: The misdirected use of an herb can produce severely adverse effects, especially in combination with prescription drugs. This Herbal information is for educational purposes and is not intended as a replacement for medical advice.


Research of the 6,000 materials used in Traditional Chinese Medicine has identified 150 which have activity against Hepatitis B virus, notably the following herbs:

Curcumin treats infectious hepatitis.

Licorice Root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is also widely used in Japan against hepatitis B. (Shiki, 1992)

Milk Thistle is the "gold standard" in liver disease. It has both restorative and antihepatatoxic properties. Globe artichoke has similar properties.

Milk thistle enjoys major sales on the German market as a phytopharmaceutical and hepatoprotectant: over $16 million.
Schizandra has achieved 80% recovery rate among patients with chronic hepatitis. (Huang, 1993)

Rhubarb plant is used in China against viral hepatitis and has also scored a 97% cure rate for digestive diseases (e.g. bleeding and ulcers).


Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Huang, KC: The Pharmacology of Chinese Herbs. CRC, 1993.

Li, T: Rhubarb in the treatment of viral hepatitis and its mechanism of action. Chung Hsi I Chieh Ho Tsa Chih. 1985, 5:382.

Shiki, Y et al., Effect of glycyrrhizin on lysis of hepatocyte membranes induced by anti-liver cell membrane antibody. J of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, 1992(1):12-16.

Aromatherapy - Essential Oils

Hepatitis is one aspect of liver disorders which may include congestion and deficiency, which is how the oils have been designated:


Chamomile Essence,Lemon Essence,
Rosemary Essence,Thyme Essence.


Lemon Essence,


Lemon Essence,Peppermint Essence,
Rosemary Essence,Sage Essence,
Thyme Essence.

Related Health Conditions

Oral contraceptives



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