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Natural Remedies: A New Weapon Against Hepatitis C?

by Health News

Hepatitis C is an infectious virus that attacks the liver and can lead to cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, liver cancer and death. Hepatitis C the disease most commonly implicated in liver-transplant cases. While Hepatitis C is treatable, and in some cases curable, treatments are very difficult, expensive and outcomes are unpredictable; the disease often returns once treatment is stopped. Currently, standard medical treatments can cure 50-80% of patients.

But here is some welcome news: There might be a safer, much less expensive natural remedies against Hepatitis C: Vitamin B-12. The results of a recent study* published in the journal Gut suggest that adding Vitamin B-12 to the standard treatment improves cure rates. The researchers found that the addition of Vitamin B-12 strengthened the rate of sustained viral response 34%.

For the study, 94 patients with Hepatitis C infection were randomly selected to receive standard treatment or standard treatment plus Vitamin B-12 (5000 mcg every 4 weeks) for between 24 (for virus genotypes 2 and 3) and 48 weeks (for virus genotype 1—which is typically harder to treat).

While there was no difference between the two treatment regimens at 4 weeks, there were significant differences in response at all the other time points, particularly at 24 weeks after stopping treatment. 24 weeks after stopping treatment, the Vitamin B-12 group showed a significantly higher response rate than the standard treatment group. The goal of treatment is to cure the disease, and such a strong response at 24 weeks with the Vitamin B-12 group suggests the vitamin might be instrumental in curing the disease.

The effects were also significantly greater among those who carried the notoriously-difficult-to-treat type 1 strain and in those with high levels of infection (high viral load) to begin with.

The researchers believe that until better treatments are available, B-12 supplementation might be an effective and viable addition to current treatments. It might also be an easy, inexpensive alternative for people who can’t afford treatment or live in places where treatment isn’t available.

*http://gut.bmj.com/content/early/2012/06/28/gutjnl-2012-302344.abstract?sid=d08938d2-323d-450a-9833-d323f99078d6

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