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Alternative and Complementary Treatment Options for Viral Hepatitis

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What is viral hepatitis?

Hepatitis is an inflammatory condition of the liver. Viral hepatitis occurs when hepatitis is caused by a virus. It can be spread through contact with bodily fluids of an infected person or through consumption of contaminated food or water. The most common types of viral hepatitis include hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E.

Alternative and complementary treatments

In addition to medications and other conventional medical treatments for viral hepatitis, alternative and complementary treatments are also available to help manage the condition. These treatments can maintain or improve the mental and physical well-being of individuals with viral hepatitis.

Yoga

Yoga integrates the mind, body and spirit through poses, stretches, meditation and breathwork. Practicing yoga can reduce stress, improve sleep, contribute to emotional well-being, and serve as a coping tool for health issues, including viral hepatitis. A medical professional should be consulted before adding yoga to a treatment plan, as some poses may need to be avoided if the liver is swollen due to hepatitis.

Massage therapy

A massage therapist applies pressure to the muscles, tendons and ligaments throughout the body. Massage therapy can help relieve feelings of depression, reduce fatigue, and improve functioning and overall quality of life.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the skin. The goal is to reduce symptoms of underlying health conditions. Acupuncture may help reduce pain and fatigue associated with viral hepatitis. Because hepatitis can be spread through the practice of acupuncture, it is important for an individual with hepatitis to inform their acupuncture practitioner of their condition. The practitioner should use disposable needles and personal protective equipment.

Meditation

Meditation involves focusing on the present moment while breathing slowly and deeply. It can help relieve feelings of anxiety that may be associated with viral hepatitis.

Supplements

Supplements that may be beneficial for individuals with viral hepatitis include zinc, silymarin, and vitamin D.

  • Zinc
    Zinc is a necessary mineral for liver and immune system health. Viral hepatitis may reduce levels of zinc in the body, so supplementation may be necessary.
  • Silymarin
    Silymarin is an extract of the milk thistle plant. It may help reduce inflammation and remove toxins from the liver.
  • Vitamin D
    Individuals with hepatitis may have low levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D helps fight the hepatitis virus and may help prevent severe scarring of the liver.

As supplements can interact with medications and may have potential side effects, a medical professional should always be consulted before taking any new supplement, especially when dealing with hepatitis. Supplements that can negatively affect the liver and, therefore, should be avoided include valerian root, kombucha, bush tea, kava, sassafras, green tea extract, and mistletoe.

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