Your Best Treatment Options: Combining the Healing Powers of Western and Chinese Medicines
In the past six years, since we first wrote this book, there have been significant improvements in detection and treatment of hepatitis C. More people are able to stay on their Western medications because we have learned how to reduce the negative side effects, and more and more people are seeing the infection come under control. In addition, there is a growing use of Chinese traditional medicine as complementary therapy for HCV. We are thrilled that to date we have trained more than two hundred Chinese medicine practitioners in the United States, Mexico, and Canada through the Hepatitis C Professional Certification Program.
But as yet there is no universal cure. As the epidemic grows—more than 5 million people are now infected in the United States alone and 40 percent of people with HIV are coinfected with HCV—people with HCV are seeking a deeper understanding of their options using both Western medicine and alternative and adjuvant therapies.
This new, updated edition of The Hepatitis C Help Book is designed to bring you the latest information available from both Western and Chinese medicine. We have added a new chapter, The Optimum Interferon Protocol, in order to help people with HCV maximize treatment success. (See chapter 20.)
How did this epidemic sneak up on us? While the infection is not spread casually—transmission occurs only through the transfer of infected blood—more than 300,000 people were exposed through blood transfusions before the disease was first identified in 1989. Thousands more picked it up by sharing intravenous drug paraphernalia, the straws used to snort cocaine, tattooing, and other sources of potential blood-to-blood contact. What makes hepatitis C so frightening from a public health point of view is that those who have the disease seldom realize they’re sick when they first become infected. They may remain symptom-free for decades and pass the virus along through shared straws or needles, and even shared toothbrushes and razors.
According to the office of the Surgeon General, the epidemic already costs around $600 million a year. That price tag will skyrocket in the future. More than 80 to 85 percent of those infected will eventually develop chronic liver disease.
The Hepatitis C Help Book is the first guide that offers comprehensive programs that include both Western and traditional Chinese medicine treatments for hepatitis C. The book is designed to inform people who are infected with the virus, as well as healthcare practitioners, about how these two medical systems can be used together to achieve the most effective treatment possible.
Although the two of us come from very different medical traditions and prescribe different medical treatments for hepatitis, over the years we have developed a collaboration. We often refer our patients to one another for diagnosis, Western treatment options, acupuncture, and herbal therapy, knowing that the best care depends on using all available resources for healing.
The Hepatitis C Help Book is a result of our work together and individually. Step by step, we explain how the liver works, exactly what hepatitis C does to the body and how it is diagnosed using Western and Chinese medicine. We outline the full range of treatment options, both Western and Chinese—from drug therapy to herbal formulas, acupuncture to nutritional support, and more.
In addition, we have created self-help programs that promote physical, spiritual, and mental health. You may use them in addition to or separate from your regular Western therapy to help maintain your health and well-being. The programs include:
The Basic Hepatitis C Help Program
Managing Digestive Dysfunction
Easing Aches, Pains, Fibromyalgia, and Arthralgias
Addiction Management: Harm Reduction and Withdrawal
We hope these programs will show you new ways to improve the health of your mind/body/spirit.
Misha Ruth Cohen, O.M.D., L.Ac., and Robert G. Gish, M.D.
Copyright © 2007 by Misha Ruth Cohen, O.M.D., L.Ac., Robert G. Gish, M.D., and Kalia Doner. All rights reserved.