Chinese herbal medicine to treat hepatitis C
At the last International Liver CongressTM, a study was presented that identifies a new compound isolated from Chinese herbal medicine with the ability to inhibit the hepatitis C virus at different stages of the virus's life cycle. This compound is called SBEL1.
The medicinal plant from which it is extracted comes from Taiwan and southern China and is traditionally used to treat inflammation and irritation of the throat. It appears to be an ideal candidate for developing new therapies for hepatitis C. Researchers have not revealed the names of these plants.
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How does the herbal compound treat hepatitis C?
Methods of treating hepatitis C with this compound differ depending on the stage of the hepatitis C virus' life cycle:
- Results obtained with human cells in vitro, infected with the hepatitis C virus, have made it possible to pre-treat the cells with this compound containing 23% less virus than the control.
- Hepatitis C virus RNA levels were 78% lower in cells treated with SBEL1 than in the control. (Viral RNA levels are an indicator of the rate of virus replication).
- This compound can inhibit the protein translation of the virus by up to 50%.
Hepatitis C: a chronic disease
Hepatitis C is a blood-borne disease that can lead to cirrhosis and cancer of the liver and for which increasingly effective treatments have been developed, allowing a virtual cure with few side effects, unlike in the past. However, this virus has many different genotypes and the disease itself requires further research to find better and more varied solutions to treat all cases.
Between 150 and 200 million people live with this chronic disease and about 350,000 die each year from other diseases.
How can the hepatitis C virus affect diet?
Hepatitis C that affects a person's diet usually falls into one of the following categories:
- Interferon treatment: Side effects of this type of treatment may include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and sore mouth and throat.
- Cirrhosis of the liver: People with cirrhosis often have a loss of appetite and energy. They may be malnourished and may need to limit their salt intake.
- Other medical conditions: Other medical conditions, in addition to hepatitis C, may cause a change in diet. These include high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes or kidney disease.
In most cases of hepatitis C, a special diet is not necessary. However, a poor diet combined with hepatitis C can lead to further liver damage.
Being overweight can lead to a fatty liver. When combined with hepatitis C, it can lead to cirrhosis.
Alcohol consumption is another factor that can increase liver damage. People with hepatitis C are therefore advised to stop drinking alcohol or limit their consumption.
Also, people with hepatitis C have an increased risk of developing diabetes. This means that a healthy diet is even more crucial for reducing body fat and controlling blood sugar levels.
A healthy diet can improve the liver health of a person with hepatitis C and reduce the risk of developing cirrhosis. Eating well helps keep the immune system strong to fight the disease.