Antioxidants and Hepatitis C
- ANTIOXIDANTS, FREE RADICALS & HEPATITIS C
WHAT ARE FREE RADICALS?
Free radicals are explained in the book "Prescription for Natural
Healing", by James Balch as follows: "A free radical is an atom or
group of atoms that contains at least one unpaired electron. Electrons
are negatively charged particles that usually occur in pairs, forming
a chemically stable arrangement. If an electron is unpaired, another
atom or molecule can easily bond with it, causing a chemical reaction.
Because they join so readily with other compounds, free radicals can
effect dramatic changes within the body, and they can cause a lot of
The presence of a dangerous number of free radicals can alter the way
in which the cells code genetic material. Changes in protein structure
can occur as a result of errors in protein synthesis. The body's
immune system may then see this altered protein as a foreign substance
and then destroy it. The formation of mutated proteins can eventually
damage the immune system and then lead to cancer and other diseases.
In addition to damaging genetic material, free radicals can destroy
the protective cell membranes.
WHAT ARE ANTIOXIDANTS?
By destroying free radicals, antioxidants help to detoxify and protect
the body. We can minimize free radical damage by taking supplements of
key nutrients. There is a group of vitamins, minerals and enzymes that
are classified as antioxidants.
Antioxidants can be obtained from food sources such as fresh fruits
and vegetables, it is difficult to get enough of them to be effective
in protecting against the cellular damage caused by a virus such as
Since antioxidants protect against cellular damage it is no wonder
they are used in health regimens prescribed for hepatitis, since
hepatitis can do massive free radical damage to the liver!
WHAT ROLE DO ANTIOXIDANTS PLAY IN THE TREATMENT OF HCV?
A US study confirmed that oxidative stress (from free radical damage)
occurs in patients with chronic hepatitis and that the levels of the
free radicals correlated with the activity of the hepatitis.
Antioxidant supplements are believed by many to protect against the
free radicals generated by the hepatitis C virus.
There are clinical studies from Italy that suggest that glutathione, a
very important liver antioxidant, influences hepatitis C in the
* impairs the replication of HCV
* improvement in liver enzyme levels
* improve liver cell damage
* make interferon anti-viral therapy more effective
(To see a more detailed description of these clinical studies please
The information provided by some clinical studies done in Spain and
Italy suggest that there is an important relationship between
antioxidants and chronic liver disease, specifically hepatitis C.
Many sources believe that antioxidants are important in the management
of patients with viral hepatitis, particularly hepatitis C. In a
study, published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology:Volume
39(8)September 2005 pp 737-742, it was shown that in one of the tested
parameters (eg, liver enzymes, HCV RNA levels, or liver biopsy score),
a combination of antioxidants induced a favorable response in 48% of
the patients. Normalization of liver enzymes occurred in 44% of
patients who had elevated pretreatment ALT levels. ALT levels remained
normal throughout follow-up period in 72.7%. A decrease in viral load
(one log or more) was observed in 25% of the patients. Histologic
improvement (2-point reduction in the HAI score) was noted in 36.1% of
the patients. The SF-36 score improved in 58% of the patients
throughout the course of the trial. Treatment was well tolerated by
all patients. No major adverse reactions were noted.
Taking a look at the treatment programs used by "survivors" of HCV
(Naomi Judd, among many others) one will see that antioxidants were
invariably used in their health regimens
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