Hepatitis C Treatment and Herbs
Unlike conventional medical treatments, most herbal therapies have not undergone rigorous scientific study. Fortunately, a greater effort is being made to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of various types of dietary supplements, including herbs, through the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) – formerly called the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine – a center of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
So while some products may be safe others may actually pose significant risks – for example, by producing serious side effects or interacting badly with your Hepatitis C medication. Because herbs can interfere with the action of Hepatitis C medications, it’s important to tell your doctor about everything you’re taking before starting treatment for Hepatitis C. And while getting treated, it’s important not to take any new herbs or supplements before consulting with your healthcare provider. For example, you should NOT take St. John’s wort (Hypericium perforatum), or a product that contains St. John’s wort, with several of the medications used to treat Hepatitis C, including Olysio, Sovaldi Harvoni, and Daklinza.
Certain Herbs Associated with Liver Damage
It’s also important to be aware that several common herbs can cause liver damage, especially in people with an existing liver disease such as Hepatitis C. These include:
- Shark cartilage
Additionally, the following groups of people should avoid the use of herbs in general unless ordered by their medical provider:
- Women who are pregnant or nursing
- Organ transplant recipients
- People with decompensated liver cirrhosis
- People with a serious medical condition
This page has been updated and medically reviewed September 2015.