By Lisa Battaglia, LAc, MAcOM
Patients with hepatitis B and C are at increased risk of hepatocellular carcinoma, a common liver cancer. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has been dedicated to the development of treatments for these disorders. For instance, many studies have been done on the use of Chinese herbs that that may assist in repairing liver damage. In the United States, TCM is becoming a popular adjunct to therapy among patients with chronic liver disease. TCM uses nutrition, acupuncture, exercise, massage, meditation and herbal medicine to treat patients with the hepatitis C virus (HCV).
The primary goal of TCM is to assist the patient in creating an environment that engages the mind, body and spirit in the healing process. In Chinese philosophy, substances within the body work together to keep one healthy. Imbalances in any of the substances, including emotional imbalance, will create an environment for illness. External influences will also affect the health of the body. HCV is an example of an external influence that causes internal imbalances. Chronic HCV is much more difficult to treat than an acute infection. Research suggests that a one-year course of TCM therapy is the minimum needed to alter the progression of HCV.
TCM can be highly effective for the management of side effects from Western drug therapy. The use of some herbal therapies in conjunction with interferon therapy may be inappropriate or contraindicated. If you decide to use a combination of Eastern and Western therapies, be sure to discuss all of your treatment approaches with your practitioners.