Hepatitis is an attack on the liver brought on by a virus. It results in liver inflammation and various symptoms. Prognosis is broadly dependent on the type of infection, as there are different variants of the virus. Types A and E are acute, while B and C are often chronic infections. Hepatitis type B or C can go away on its own, and may or may not show symptoms. 3 out of 4 people with Hepatitis type C dont even know they have it. Sometimes, however, these infections, symptomatic or not, can lead to serious liver damage, scarring (cirrhosis or fibrosis), chronic liver disease and death. In fact, 1.5 million people die each year as a result of hepatitis, giving it rank as the 8th largest killer in the world, with hep type C killing more Americans than HIV .
There is a vaccine available for types A and B but none for C or E. (D is a co-infection of B). All variants affect the liver, causing inflammation and possibly scarring. B and C are transmitted through body fluids like blood or semen. An infection with type B or c can lead to cancer or liver failure. Symptoms of these chronic infections include abdominal pain, a swollen liver area or belly, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), dark urine, light colored stools, fatigue, nausea, fever, loss of appetite, and joint pain. Type C can also present with bleeding, bruises, blisters, and itchy skin. Over 300 million people worldwide are living with Hepatitis type B or C.
Biomedical treatment generally relies on antivirals for at least 6 months to help slow the viral spread. Side effects of these meds include headaches, dizziness, fever and depression. In the case of liver failure, an organ transplant is often needed.
The liver, in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is referred to as the army general of the body because it governs the movement of qi (energy) and directs with strong authority. This role of energy leader is a responsibility not to be taken lightly. In Chinese Medicine, much of the disharmony that can occur in the body is thought to be a result of stagnation, when the smooth flow of energy is disrupted. Good liver health can be a key to the prevention of many diseases. Protecting the liver from viral damage is one main concern in preserving liver health.
Chinese medicine looks at this infection as an invasion of pathogenic forces of toxic heat and dampness. But there is always a relationship between the pathogen and our body’s internal environment. So in TCM, treatment will not only expel the toxic damp-heat (the viral energies), but help to harmonize internal imbalances that determine how the pathogen takes hold in the body.
TCM uses acupuncture and herbs to improve liver function and tonify related organs when needed. Treatment is aimed at expelling the pathogenic forces, while internal patterns such as: Liver Qi Stagnation, Spleen and Kidney yang Xu (deficiency), Liver/Gallbladder Damp Heat, Liver and Kidney Yin Xu, and Blood Stasis are addressed. Through this more holistic approach, the body’s natural immunity is fortified to prevent future pathogenic invasion.
Chinese herbal medicines have displayed strong antiviral activity in patients with chronic Hepatitis B, along with the ability to significantly improve liver function. Chinese Herbal protocols have even proved to work better than modern medical treatment (in terms of lower mortality) in a 8 week study of patients suffering from Hepatitis B related liver failure, as well as providing better symptom relief.
Acupuncture has also shown to be an effective treatment option for patients with liver damage as a complementary therapy with little to no adverse reactions. In multiple studies looking at acupuncture’s effect on cirrhosis (often caused by Hepatitis), patients experienced symptom relief and improvement in liver function.
Acupuncture is one of the best ways to support liver function because it assists the liver in its primary job of stimulating the flow of energy in the body. Call us today at (218) 724-3400 to set up a liver-fortifying, energy balancing and immune boosting treatment!