Published online Jan 27, 2014. doi: 10.4254/wjh.v6.i1.9
Revised: December 22, 2013
Accepted: January 6, 2014
Published online: January 27, 2014
Chronic hepatitis C (CHC) infection affects almost 3% of the global population and can lead to cirrhosis, liver failure, and hepatocellular carcinoma in a significant number of those infected. Until recently, the only treatments available were pegylated interferon and ribavirin, which traditionally were not very effective and have considerable side effects. For this reason, interest in complementary and alternative medications (CAM) in the management of hepatitis C has been investigated. Some CAM has demonstrated therapeutic potential in chronic hepatitis C treatment. Unfortunately, some CAM has been shown to have the potential to cause drug-induced liver injury. This article will review and evaluate many of the natural molecules that interact with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) life cycle and discuss their potential use and safety in HCV therapy, as well as highlight some important interactions between medical and complementary treatments.
Core tip: Over the last 10 years there has been a substantial increase in reports of natural compounds displaying anti-viral activity against hepatitis C. At this time, there is no firm evidence supporting complementary and alternative medications for hepatitis C virus infection. Due to a limited number of trials and small numbers of subjects included in them, it is not possible to fully evaluate the risk of adverse events connected with the use of these products.