Background: There has been an increase in the number of adults seeking liver transplantation for hepatitis C in the last few years and the count is going up rapidly. There is no reliable and effective therapy for chronic hepatitis C since interferon and antivirals work no more than 30% of the time, and liver transplant surgery is uncertain and tentative over the long run. This is because, ultimately, residual hepatitis C viremia infects the new liver. Furthermore, liver transplantation can be painful, disabling and extremely costly.
Treatment program: The author describes a low cost and efficacious treatment program in 3 patients with cirrhosis, portal hypertension and esophageal varices secondary to chronic hepatitis C infection. This effective and conservative regimen combines 3 potent antioxidants (alpha-lipoic acid [thioctic acid], silymarin, and selenium) that possess antiviral, free radical quenching and immune boosting qualities.
Conclusion: There are no remarkably effective treatments for chronic hepatitis C in general use. Interferon and antivirals have less than a 30% response rate and because of the residual viremia, a newly transplanted liver usually becomes infected again. The triple antioxidant combination of alpha-lipoic acid, silymarin and selenium was chosen for a conservative treatment of hepatitis C because these substances protect the liver from free radical damage, increase the levels of other fundamental antioxidants, and interfere with viral proliferation. The 3 patients presented in this paper followed the triple antioxidant program and recovered quickly and their laboratory values remarkably improved. Furthermore, liver transplantation was avoided and the patients are back at work, carrying out their normal activities, and feeling healthy. The author offers a more conservative approach to the treatment of hepatitis C, that is exceedingly less expensive. One year of the triple antioxidant therapy described in this paper costs less than $2,000, as compared to mor than $300,000 a year for liver transplant surgery. It appears reasonable, that prior to liver transplant surgery evaluation, or during the transplant evaluation process, the conservative triple antioxidant treatment approach should be considered. If these is a significant betterment in the patient's condition, liver transplant surgery may be avoided.