Hepatitis C Alternative Medicine Treatment Options


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“Healing Hepatitis C with Modern Chinese Medicine”

Healing Hepatitis C with Modern Chinese Medicine is the complete guide for the simple and successful treatment of Hepatitis C. It is the result of over 1,000 patients who have responded and regained their health from Dr. Qingcai Zhang's herbal therapy. This book provides the reader a means to recapture health and emotional well-being from the damaging effects of hepatitis C virus.

Healthy Hepper's Interview with Dr. Qingcai Zhang, MD on Hepatitis C Treatment:

Conducted on September 3, 2009

1. Please tell us about yourself and why you wrote your book, "Healing Hepatitis C with Modern Chinese Medicine".

This is brief description of my educational background and clinical/work experiences:

-Graduated from Shanghai Second Medical University in 1962
-Worked as a physician and associate professor of medicine at Ruejing Teaching Hospital. My main focus was integrative Medicine
-In 1980, started a two-year fellowship at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, supported by a scholarship from the World Health Organization.
-In 1984, worked as a research fellow at the Wakai Clinic in Nagoya, Japan.
-In 1986, worked as a visiting professor at the University of California at Davis.
-In 1988, worked as a researcher at the Oriental Healing Arts Institute of Long Beach California. My work there focused on studying and treating HIV/AIDS with modern Chinese medicine. From this research, I published two books on AIDS and Chinese medicine. (Approximately two-thirds of HIV/AIDS patients are co-infected with hepatitis C and my work started to focus on treating hepatitis C with modern Chinese medicine.)
-Began my private practice in 1992 in New York City, focused on treating patients with AIDS, Hepatitis C, Lyme disease, and autoimmune disorders. The book Healing Hepatitis C with Modern Chinese Medicine was published in 1998. This book is now quite out-dated and I am in the process of writing a second edition, which I hope to complete by early 2010. I became focused on hepatitis C and wrote a book mainly because Hep C is the largest epidemic in the USA, with about 4.5 million people infected. Right now, the conventional IFN based treatment is not able to offer help for the majority of Hep C patients, due to the severity of side-effects and low efficacy rates. China has the largest viral hepatitis patient base in the world, with approximately one hundred and twenty million hepatitis B and 35 million hepatitis C patients. IFN based therapy is not an option for most of these people, mainly because it is too expensive. These patients have to rely on Chinese herbal medicine. Out of necessity, for the past 5 decades, China has devoted enormous amounts of research effort in modernizing it's traditional herbal medicine. By combining modern scientific methods with traditional empirical medicine, we are now able to clearly identify the hows and whys in TCM. (Traditional Chinese Medicine). We are now able to refine and modernize traditional herbal medicine so that: the active ingredient(s) is identifiable, the potency is measurable via laboratory testing, the therapeutic action is predictable, and clinical outcome repeatable. In modern Chinese hospitals, herbal medicine and Western medicine is practiced side by side, in the same setting, by the same doctors. There is no distinct boundary between these 2 medicines in China and I think patients are better off for it, simply because there are more options available.

With regard to liver diseases, there are many TCM formulas that have been modernized by modern scientific methods and they are the basis of our protocols.

2. Do you believe in eliminating the Hepatitis C virus? Is it possible to do this with natural medicines?

Conventional IFN based therapy is able to eradicate the virus in a percentage of Hep C patients.

Up to now, we still have not seen any natural medicinal supplements that can totally eradicate HCV. Some anti-viral substances may help to suppress the replication and lower the viral load, but not total eradication.

3. If the virus cannot be eliminated, is it still causing us harm?

The short answer is yes. HCV is an immunopathic virus and can trigger immune reactions that injure the liver cells. Liver injury causes inflammation and fibrosis, which leads may lead to cirrhosis in some patients and can cause other complications such as portal vein hypertension, spleen enlargement, etc. However, if you are able to regulate immune reactions and control liver inflammation/fibrosis, we can dramatically reduce the harmful effects of Hep C and normal life quality can be maintained in the long-term.

4. What can modern Chinese Medicine offer someone with HCV?

MCM's main assets are liver protective therapies to control liver inflammation to slow down and halt liver fibrosis. Anti-fibrosis therapy, in some cases, can actually reverse fibrosis and restore liver structure and functions. MCM can help manage and maintain normal to near normal life quality and life expectatancy of hepatitis C patients.

5. Do you think someone with Hep C should take just Chinese Medicine or should they also use other supplements in addition?

My opinion may be biased for obvious reasons, but I do believe MCM can be taken stand alone because it can address most of the conditions related to Hep C. (aside from virus eradication)

From my perspective, MCM hepatitis C protocols are comprehensive treatments, which cover the whole spectrum of liver disease pathology. Also, in treating liver diseases, the general principle is to take as less as possible to reduce unnecessary burden on the liver. However, I am not against taking other supplements if they are beneficial. My experience and expertise is limited to MCM. Ultimately, if one finds something that works well, then it is worthwhile to use it.

6. Any recommendations for those who are newly diagnosed with HCV?

The most important thing is to educate yourself as much as possible about Hep C. Hep c is not a death sentence. It is a slow progressing condition and most people have plenty of time to find a treatment protocol and live a normal life. Many patients I've seen were frightened because their own physicians gave them a very grim prognosis. I do not agree with this because there is not much to be gained by causing unnecessary fear and worry.

7. What are your thoughts on cirrhosis? Once someone is diagnosed with cirrhosis, is it too late to turn to alternative therapy. Can Chinese Medicine help someone with cirrhosis?

There are 2 stages in cirrhosis: compensated and de-compensated. The majority (about 75%) of patients are in the compensated stage and will remain stable for many years. Clinical studies in China has proven that early stage of cirrhosis is reversible when anti-fibrosis treatment is administered. Also, with active treatment, patients can remain in the compensated stage almost indefinitely and prevent progression into the decompensated stage. There are other complications that can arise in cirrhosis, such as hypertension of portal vein, bile retention, jaundice, ascites, and so on. MCM is also able to address these specific symptoms.

8. What do you consider a cure for HCV?

In Western medicine, the definition of cure for hepatitis C is total eradication of HCV in the body. Once viral load becomes undetectable in the serum after six months, and remains undetectable, the patient is considered “cured.”

Chinese medicine’s definition for cure is the body's return to normal functioning. In cases of viral infections, if the patient is able to return to normal functions, he or she is considered cured. However, he or she may still have the virus but is able to co-exist while leading a normal life.

MCM general philosophy is that no living body is without viruses. The key is whether or not it is causing harm.

9. Are you against using interferon/ribavirin? What are your beliefs about the effects of this treatment on your health?

IFN has anti-viral, anti-inflammation, anti-fibrosis, and anti-cancer effects and it is an extremely helpful and important substance created by our own body. It helps our body fight off harmful things such as viruses. The reason IFN based anti-HCV treatment causes such severe side effects is in the dose. IFN based therapy injects very large doses into the body and causes cytokine network imbalances. This in turn triggers severe reactions. I think there is much room for improvement in IFN based treatments but it is something that can work. We just have to keep trying to find the right balance and there are various new IFN based therapies being developed that may work better.

As for Ribavirin based therapy, it interferes with RNA and DNA metabolism, which are vitally important for our own life functions. I personally do not like the theory and methodology behind it because I believe the potential for harmful side-effects outweigh the benefits.

10. Can Chinese Medicine be used while a person is on conventional HCV treatment?

I think using both can have synergistic effects, since one is aimed to eradicate the virus and one is aimed to protect and restore l iver functions. In our clinical practice, we have many patients taking CM remedies while undergoing IFN-based treatments. Most of them reported that when taking MCM protocl, the side effects of IFN-based treatment became more tolerable and less side effects were experienced. We did not see any adverse reactions when both were used together.

11. What is the one thing you want to share with people who suffer from Hep C that you think might help them over come some of the difficulties they face?

Hepatitis C is not a death sentence. It is quite manageable and even if the virus itself cannot be eliminated, one can "co-exist", protect the liver, and lead a normal life. It is important to make healthy lifestyle adjustments, such as diet, no alcohol, and stress management.

12. What steps should someone with Hepatitis C take if they are interested in pursuing Chinese Medicine for their disease?

If the patient is not familiar with CM at all, it is helpful to do some general research about how CM works for liver disease. There is a lot of information readily avaible on the internet and in print. Once they have a general understanding, they can take the next step to find a practioner that has experience with treating liver disease.

13. Anything else you would like to share?

To change the way of our thinking about the virus is very important for the healing of the HCV infection.

No body is completely "pure". Our body is a complex system that houses millions of micro-organisms. There is a Chinese saying that translates to “Pure water has no fish.” The human body is an ecosystem in itself. There are actually more non-human cells than human cells in our body. My point is, it is okay to co-exist with micro-organisms in our bodies. The Hepatitis C virus has very short life span, the half-life is less than 2.3 hours. Everyday, the Hep C virus goes through 10 or more generations. Every generation has a 2 to 3% mutation rate. Those that can’t adapt to our body’s immunity die off. Only those can a adapt to our immunity survive. Many Hep C patients have had the infection 20 to 30 years. Thousands of generations have passed and the accumulated mutation actually makes the virus more like us, less harmful. In a strange way, the virus has also adapted to us and managed to coexist with us. This may be a strange way of looking at the Hep C virus, but I think it can help lessen the fear and anxiety for many patients.

To reach Dr Zhang:
20 E. 46th Street
Suite 1402
New York, NY 10017
Tel: (212) 573-9584