Our Herbal Treatment

Our Herbal Treatment of Hepatitis C with ‘HCV Compounds’ 

Hepatitis C is becoming a major health problem of north India, which accounts for one-fourth of all cases of chronic liver diseases in the region and public concern is escalating. Until the mid-1990s, Interferon was the only available treatment in modern medicine. The addition of Ribavirin, a nucleoside analogue, substantially improved the response; however, viral genotype remains an important determinant of response rate. It seems that interferon treatment alone or in combination may prevent progression of hepatic fibrosis in infected patients even if cure is not achieved. Although Ribavirin alone does not seem to be active against HCV, the combination resulted in much improved and sustained biochemical, virological and histological response rates.
 
Recent studies have shown that long-acting pegylated interferon (modified form of interferon) have better viral response than standard INF-a preparations and in combination with Ribavirin, achieved sustained viral eradication rates of 54– 56% In India, the percentage of sustained responders is quite high (50– 60%). Such response of INF-a therapy in chronic hepatitis C is due to a predominant prevalence of hepatitis C genotype 3 in this region, which is interferon sensitive.
 
Unfortunately, relapse occurs in most of these cases when treatment is stopped. No other treatment option was available for patients with chronic hepatitis C – thus, despite these modest responses, both interferon and ribavirin are not only expensive but can also have serious side effects. Interferon-based therapy is especially problematic in patients with psychiatric disorders such as depression. In fact, a history of severe depression or other psychiatric conditions is considered to be a relatively strong contraindication to interferon-based therapy, since dose dependent and reversible neuro - psychiatric effect occurs in 30 to 40% of patients during treatment.

 

 

Scope of Alternative Medicine

Therefore, there is a need to explore the scope of cost-effective natural products with minimal side effects in the treatment of chronic hepatitis C.

In Ayurvedic texts following herbs are commonly recommended for patients suffering from Chronic Liver Disorders:

Andrographis paniculata, Raphanus sativus, Achyranthes aspra, Curcuma longa, Glycyrrhiza glabra, Rheum emodi, Chicorium intybus, Tinospora cordifolia, Aloe vera, Berberis aristata, Boerhavia diffusa, Eclipta alba, Solanum nigrum, Emblica officinalis, Ocimum sanctum, Terminalia chebula and Terminalia arjuna.

Preliminary work done by Dr Harish Verma (BAMS)
 
On the basis of following major pharmacological actions of herbs from above mentioned group:
 
  1. Hepatoprotective
  2. Immuno Modulator
  3. Anti-Viral

 
Observations made by Dr Karun Verma:
 
Dr. Karun Verma selected patients having anti-HCV positive antibodies with elevated liver enzyme levels, in our Clinic at 266, Shivpuri Street, Khanna – 141401 (Punjab)

 

The observation was initiated with a view to find out :

  1. Whether HCV Compounds can normalize the raised serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) enzymes in HCV patients.
  2. Whether HCV Compounds can help in reducing the ‘Viral Load’ in the blood
  3. Whether recurrence, which is common feature, can be prevented by HCV Compounds
 
Our observation on appox. 500 patients of positive anti – HCV antibodies confirmed that HCV Compounds :
  1. HCV Compounds were well tolerated by all patients.
  2. Patients with history of recurrence or relapse after Interferon & Ribavirin Therapy were given only HCV Compounds.
  3. Virus Load was significantly reduced in HCV Genotype 1 cases.
  4. Virus Load was reduced minutely in HCV Genotype 3 & 4 cases when HCV Compounds were given alone.
  5. Virus Load was reduced remarkably in HCV Genotype 3 & 4 cases when HCV Compounds were given along with Interferon & Ribavirin Therapy.
  6. HCV Compounds Normalize raised Liver Enzymes within 4 to 8 weeks in all Genotypes.
  7. In the follow up period of two years only a few patients reported relapses.
 

Conclusion

In a developing country like India the cost of combination therapy of Interferon & Ribavirin for chronic hepatitis C treatment is around Rs 5–10 lakhs. Since a majority of the population is not covered by health insurance, financial constraints become a major obstacle for many patients to initiate therapy. Our Ayurveda based herbal compounds have shown promising results in hepatitis C treatment. Proper evaluation of these herbal preparations for treatment of Hepatitis C requires immediate attention. If further research will be carried out on these compounds then there is a chance of developing the cost-effective natural products with minimal side effects in the treatment of chronic hepatitis C.