Hepatitis is a disease affecting many people. It is the inflammation of the liver commonly caused by viral infections. It may also be caused by drugs, excessive alcohol consumption, or certain medical conditions. As May is the hepatitis awareness month, it is a good time to learn more about this disease as well as take the necessary steps for its prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. There are five main types of hepatitis virus that causes this disease. They are:
- Hepatitis A virus (HAV) – It is transmitted through consumption of contaminated food or drink. Places having improper and unhygienic sanitation facilities are prone to an outbreak of HAV as this virus is present in the feces of an infected person. This type of viral infection usually goes away on its own.
- Hepatitis B virus (HBV) – It is transmitted through bodily fluids, unprotected sexual contact, transfusions of infected blood, using infected needles and from a mother to her baby during childbirth. Chronic hepatitis B can lead to serious problems such as liver damage, liver failure, and liver cancer.
- Hepatitis C virus (HCV) – It is transmitted through exposure to infected blood from transfusions or by sharing and using an infected needle.
- Hepatitis D virus (HDV) – This viral infection only affects a person who is already affected by HBV.
- Hepatitis E virus (HEV) – It is transmitted by consumption of infected food and is the common cause of outbreaks in developing countries.
With the exception of HCV, all other types of hepatitis can be prevented by immunizations.
Symptoms of Hepatitis
Hepatitis is a very difficult disease to diagnose through its symptoms as some types do not show any symptoms at all. Some symptoms are usually mistaken for the common flu and are treated accordingly. By the time the disease is identified, the liver could be already damaged. Each type of Hepatitis has unique symptoms. To diagnose and treat the disease, a blood test is done. The most common symptoms are:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dark urine
- Light-colored stools
Ayurveda and hepatitis
According to Ayurveda, the balance of the tridoshas, the Kapha, vata, and pitta is necessary to maintain a healthy body and mind. Together and in balance, the tridoshas govern all metabolic activities and is the cause of the wellbeing of the mind and body. When the tridoshas are out of balance, it manifests in the form of diseases. Hepatitis is one such disorder caused by the imbalance in the doshas.
In Ayurveda, the liver, along with the spleen, is the seat of ranjaka pitta. When the pitta dosha is out of balance, it affects Agni (the metabolic fire) which in turn affects digestion. This causes accumulation of the ama (toxins) in the body leading to liver diseases.
Aggravation of pitta is usually caused by improper diet and unhealthy lifestyle. Too much of alcohol consumption, lack of sleep, etc. all add to aggravate pitta.
Treatments for hepatitis in Ayurveda
Ayurvedic treatments are fixed depending on the person’s constitution, state of physical condition and the symptoms. The main aim is to bring the affected dosha into balance. In Ayurveda, the treatment for hepatitis usually involves a combination of lifestyle and diet modifications, herbal formulations and detoxification of the body. Pitta dosha is brought into balance. Herbs like bhumiamla, bhringaraj, haritaki, punarnava, Guduchi, etc are an effective remedy for treating liver disorders. The regular use of these herbs helps in treating all types of hepatitis.
Special Herb for Liver care
This herb is not common in Liver protective medicines due to the endangered status and I am sure, this will provide wonderful alkaloids for the treatment of Liver Cirrhosis and Carcinoma. Rohitaka or Amoora rohituka will be the drug of choice after ten years and it will revolutionize the prescriptions for Liver disorders.
Things to do to protect your liver
The liver is an important organ in our body. Its proper functioning ensures a healthy body. It is the main organ for detoxifying pollutants and chemicals in our body. The liver has to be in good shape for it to do its many critical functions properly. Diseases like Hepatitis can weaken the liver and cause long-term damage. Below are some tips to help you to protect your liver and keep it in top working condition:
- Drinking water flushes out the toxins from the body, thus reducing the load on the liver.
- Practice proper personal hygiene as unhygienic conditions increase the chances of getting Hepatitis.
- Practicing safe sex and limiting the number of partners can help prevent transmission of the Hepatitis virus.
- Taking precautions when exposed to blood and blood products can also prevent the transmission of the Hepatitis virus.
- Having food rich in vitamin B like avocado, currants, eggs, dairy products, legumes, nuts (almonds, walnuts), salmon, green vegetables, etc. can help the liver eliminate the toxins from the body more effectively.
- Avoid sharing razors, toothbrushes, and needles as they contain many viruses and can harm your liver.
- Avoid consuming alcohol and caffeine.
- Green tea is said to be rich in antioxidants that protect the liver.
- Detoxifying your body regularly helps your body to flush out toxins and reduce the workload of your liver.
- Consuming amla fruit, and including garlic, turmeric, and cayenne in the diet is said to improve liver health.
- Doing pranayama (breathing exercise) every day can also help improve liver health.
By following the above tips and maintaining a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle through the Ayurvedic way of life, you can help minimize the chances of getting infected with the hepatitis virus.