Hepatitis is defined as an inflammation of the liver which results in damage to hepatocytes with subsequent cell death (necrosis). An acute injury is generally followed by complete recovery. Prolonged inflammation may be accompanied by fibrosis and progression to cirrhosis.
The liver is essential for removing toxins from the blood, storing vitamins, and producing hormones. Hepatitis, however, can disrupt these processes.
In Ayurveda, the liver is called Yakrit. Pitta is the predominant humor of the liver. Most liver disorders are aggravated conditions of Pitta. In Ayurveda, Acute viral hepatitis (AVH) has resemblance with Kamala. Kamala is a disease of the Raktavaha srotas (a system which includes liver, spleen, blood vessels, and reticuloendothelial tissue) and dominant of pitta dosha.
Common causes of hepatitis:
According to modern medicine, the following are the causes of hepatitis
- Hepatitis A virus
- Hepatitis B virus
- Hepatitis C virus
- Hepatitis D virus
- Hepatitis E virus
- Hepatitis G virus
- Epstein – Barr virus
- Cytomegalo virus
- Herpes – simplex virus
- Autoimmune Hepatitis
- Wilson’s disease
- α1 – antitrypsin deficiency
- Drugs such as Isoniazid, Methyldopa, halothane, amiodarone
- Autoimmune Hepatitis
- Wilson’s disease
- Al-antitrypsin deficiency
In Ayurveda classics;
Nidana or Hetu (etiology) of Kamala has been described as below:
- By excessive use of lifestyle and dietetic factors responsible for producing Pandu or anemia (Pandukta Nidana Sevanam).
- Excessive use of factors that may excite the Pitta in a patient of Pandu Roga (anemia), whose Pitta activity is already deranged.
- Incompatible foods (Aniruddha Sahara).
- Intake of excessive sour and salty foods.
- Excessive intake of alcohol.
- The excessive holding of stool and urine.
If you have infectious forms of hepatitis that are chronic, like hepatitis B and C, you may not have symptoms in the beginning. Symptoms may not occur until the damage affects liver function.
Signs and symptoms of acute hepatitis appear quickly. They include:
- Flu-like symptoms
- dark urine
- pale stool
- abdominal pain
- loss of appetite
- unexplained weight loss
- yellow skin and eyes, which may be signs of jaundice
Chronic hepatitis develops slowly, so these signs and symptoms may be too subtle to notice.
Viral infections of the liver that are classified as hepatitis include hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. A different virus is responsible for each type of virally transmitted hepatitis.
Hepatitis A is always an acute, short-term disease, while hepatitis B, C, and D are most likely to become ongoing and chronic. Hepatitis E is usually acute but can be particularly dangerous in pregnant women.
- Hepatitis A: It is caused by an infection with the hepatitis A virus (HAV). This type of hepatitis is most commonly transmitted by consuming food or water contaminated by feces from a person infected with hepatitis A.
- Hepatitis B: It is transmitted through contact with infectious body fluids, such as blood, vaginal secretions, or semen, containing the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Injection drug use, having sex with an infected partner, or sharing razors with an infected person increase your risk of getting hepatitis B.
- Hepatitis C: comes from the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Hepatitis C is transmitted through direct contact with infected body fluids, typically through injection drug use and sexual contact.
- Hepatitis D: It is a serious liver disease caused by the hepatitis D virus (HDV). HDV is contracted through direct contact with infected blood. Hepatitis D is a rare form of hepatitis that only occurs in conjunction with hepatitis B infection. The hepatitis D virus can’t multiply without the presence of hepatitis B. It is also called delta hepatitis.
- Hepatitis E: It is a waterborne disease caused by the hepatitis E virus (HEV). Hepatitis E is mainly found in areas with poor sanitation and typically results from ingesting fecal matter that contaminates the water supply.
Hepatitis can progress to or be complicated by other diseases. Some of these diseases, like fibrosis and cirrhosis, are very common. Fortunately, some of these complications, like liver failure, can also be prevented.
Other conditions and complications are:
- Cirrhosis of the Liver
- Cancer of the Liver
- Liver Failure
- Hepatic Encephalopathy
- Portal Hypertension
- Viral Co-Infection
Ayurvedic management of hepatitis:
- Ayurvedic treatment is useful in controlling the infection & replication of the virus, preventing further damage to the liver.
- Treatment involves:
- Shodhana chikitsa (detoxification through Panchakarma procedures)
Panchakarma therapies for Hepatitis:
Panchakarma can be described as the cleansing therapy or way of detoxification in Ayurveda, but it has a bigger role in treating diseases. It is a unique way of treating diseases that have no parallel in other types of medicine. In the Ayurvedic way of treatment Panchkarma is advised when the extent of Dosha imbalance is very high when the physician expects faster recovery and complete cure. It is believed that diseases and conditions treated with Panchakarma do not recur. Panchakarma is used for prevention, cure, and rejuvenation. In liver disease role of Panchakarma is manifold, it expels the excess pitta from the blood circulation, and the system restores the Agni i.e. the digestive fire, increases the efficiency, and rejuvenates the hepatic cells. In addition, it serves the main purpose of stopping the disease process and reversing the pathogenesis.
- Virechana: A part of the Panchakarma process, it is a detoxification therapy that flushes out the toxins from the body. In Ayurveda, it is believed that any disorder of the liver is caused by pitta imbalance and this imbalance is rectified by a purgation technique. In the first step, the patient is made to vomit and then is kept on a light diet for a few days and watched over. In the last step, the patient is administered virechana drugs such as sweet herbs to cleanse the toxins and purify the blood. After cleansing, the patient is given a warm bath to calm the senses.
- Vasti (Medicated enema): This procedure is useful in cleaning the urinary tract. It is most effective in Ayurvedic treatment bringing cleansing of subtle channels or srothas spread all over the body.
- Yapana Vasti is very useful in conditions of cirrhosis.
- Vamana (Emesis): Emesis therapy which removes the toxins from the upper part of our body. It is done with different herbal medications being very cautious and under the supervision of skilled doctors. This therapy is helpful in certain diseases particularly fatty liver diseases.
- Raktamokshan (Bloodletting): Raktamokshana is an effective blood purification therapy, in which carefully controlled removal of small quantities of blood is conducted to neutralize accumulated Pitta toxins of many blood-borne diseases. This therapy is useful in conditions of hepato-splenomegaly.
- Diet restrictions, lifestyle modifications, and de-addiction are also the essential factors practiced for the best possible results.
Some herbs having hepatoprotective properties:
- Bhumyamalaki- Phyllanthus niruri
- Katuki – Picrorhiza kurro
- Kalamegha –(Andrographis paniculata)
- Nimba- Azadirachta indica.
- Guggulu (Commiphora mukul)
Some herbal formulations:
- Drakshadi kashayam
- Guluchyadi Kashayam
- Arogyavardhini Vati
- Punarnava Mandoora
Reduce the following:
- Saturated fats found in butter, sour cream, and other high-fat dairy foods, fatty cuts of meat, and fried foods.
- Sugary treats like cookies, cake, soda, and packaged baked goods.
- Foods heavily laced with salt.
That diet should include:
- Plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Whole grains such as oats, brown rice, barley.
- Lean protein such as fish, skinless chicken, egg whites, and beans.
- Low-fat or non-fat dairy products.
- Healthy fats like those in nuts, avocados, and olive oil.
Pranayama and Yoga:
Some pranayama and yoga for hepatitis are:
- Kapalbhati pranayama
- Ardha matsyendrasana
- Bridge pose
- Cobra pose
- Cow pose
Note: This article is designed for the general management of Hepatitis according to Ayurvedic principles. Please do not use this information for your self-diagnosis and treatment without the proper guidelines of a professional. If you wish to follow the Ayurveda program, you are advised to book an Ayurvedic consultation with a qualified Ayurveda doctor who is specialized to design a personal program comprising a diet, a combination of herbs, and a detox program according to your personal needs. Sunshine Ayurveda offers effective and holistic management of Hepatitis based upon the ancient principles of Ayurveda.
Dr. Ram Mani Bhandari
Disease We Manage