Let us start with the main question, that can hep c be cured naturally? And the answer is “yes.” But without treatment, only a small number of people will get well.
Center of Disease Control (CDC) in the US estimates that about 20-25 percent of those infected with hepatitis C will ultimately get well without any treatment, and 75% of them will progress to the chronic form.
Diagnosing hepatitis C early is challenging as many do not develop any symptoms in the initial stages.
CDC estimates that each year about 40-50 thousand people get infected with it, and yet only about 3000 develop acute symptoms. Many of the 2.4 million people living with hepatitis C do not show any signs.
It is also important to note, that the absence of signs and symptoms does not indicate that a person is cured.
It is true that 75% of those infected with hepatitis C will not get cured in the absence of treatment and their disease will become a chronic ailment. However, the biggest issue is the absence of any sign or symptoms in many of those living with a chronic form of the disease. It means that they remain undiagnosed and do not seek medical attention or treatment therapy.
What happens if Hep C is Left Untreated
In the majority of cases of untreatment hep c, it will continue to progress slowly. In most instances, it will take years before any symptoms occur. Chronic infection continues to cause low-level damage to the liver for years, which ultimately results in liver fibrosis.
Liver fibrosis is a condition when non-functional connective tissues replace healthy working liver cells. Since the liver is quite good at compensating its function, symptoms only occur when most of the liver cells are dead. This irreversible death of liver cells is called cirrhosis, a condition when the liver is changed to an organ of connective tissues – such kind of liver cannot sustain life and nor the state can be reversed. Severe cirrhosis will finally lead to liver failure.
Chronic hepatitis C also means continuous low-grade inflammation of the liver. It significantly increases the risk of developing liver cancer.
Is Hep C Curable?
Fortunately, in the last few years, there has been considerable progress in anti-viral therapy. Modern medications can cure hepatitis C in about 95% of cases. Most will need to take these drugs for about three months, though some may need to take them for much longer.
A few decades ago, interferons were the only way to treat hepatitis C. These medications did not kill the hepatitis C virus; all they did is to stimulate the immune system. These drugs had a low cure rate. Also, when these medications were used in high doses, they caused numerous side effects.
During the last few years, many new and novel drugs have been approved by the US FDA to treat hepatitis C infection. These drugs mostly act directly on the hepatitis C infection; they prevent its replication and help the body to get rid of these viruses altogether. In addition, these drugs have an excellent safety profile, and they cause side effects only in a small number of cases.
Some of the commonly used drugs to treat hepatitis C infection are:
- Harvoni (ledipasvir-sofosbuvir)
- Zepatier (elbasvir-grazoprevir)
- Technivie (ombitasvir-paritaprevir-ritonavir)
- Viekira Pak (ombitasvir-paritaprevir-ritonavir and dasabuvir)
- Mavyret- (Glecaprevir-pibrentasvir)
List of other US FDA approved drugs to treat hepatitis C can be found here.
Can liver transplant cure hepatitis C?
Liver transplant is not to cure hepatitis C; it is done to provide you with a working organ when your liver has been damaged and has become non-functional. Such extreme damage may occur either due to cirrhosis or liver cancer.
It means that in most cases a person will still need drug therapy to clear a virus from the body. Hepatitis C virus is not present just in liver cells; it is also circulating in the blood. This is the reason why liver transplantation will not cure it.
What are the Natural Ways to cure Hepatitis C?
There is no herb or natural supplement that may help cure hepatitis C effectively. It is true that there are some animal studies to show the benefits of various herbs or alternative medicines, but in most cases, these methods are no more effective than placebo.
It does not mean that natural remedies have no place in the treatment of viral hepatitis, but their role is perhaps supportive. They may help improve liver function once the body has been cleared of the hepatitis C virus, and infection has been cured.
Milk thistle is one of the most researched herbs in hepatitis. However, there is no evidence that it may help overcome hepatitis C infection. It is true that it has hepatoprotective action, and in some cases, it may slow down the progress of the disease a bit, but ultimately one will need drug therapy to clear the virus from the body.
How to Prevent Hepatitis C?
Since, the majority of those infected with hepatitis C will not get cured without medications or with natural remedies, taking prolonged therapy with toxic drugs is the only option. In a small number of cases, even advanced drug therapy may fail. In many instances, immense damage to the liver and health occurs due to delayed diagnosis. Therefore, prevention of hepatitis C is the best policy.
At present, there is no vaccine against hepatitis C. Therefore, the only way to prevent it is through lifestyle changes and taking precaution.
Hepatitis C is a blood-borne disease; thus using contaminated needles is the most common way it spreads. It can also spread through sexual contacts, though such a possibility is much lower. Hence, to prevent contracting its infection always use sterile needles, and use condoms during sex.