If standard hep C treatment—ribavirin (Rebetol, Copegus or the generic Ribasphere, approved in April) taken in combination with pegylated interferon (Pegasys or Peg-Intron)—doesn’t liver up to your expectations, go natural, but only under professional supervision. These have shown promise in studies (also see “Liver It Up,”):
Chinese herbs—Licensed practitioners can dispense 10-herb Hepatoplex 1 (call 510.639.0280). But high doses of one ingredient, licorice, can raise blood pressure and drop testosterone (already low in some HIVers).
Western herbs—Silymarin (milk thistle) may reduce HCV liver inflammation. (A coinfectee study began in New York City in June; 718.622.0212.) Check with Doc before wetting your whistle with thistle if you’re on HCV meds.
Supplements—Antioxidants (especially vitamins C and E, zinc, selenium and alpha-lipoic acid) can limit liver damage. The amino acid glutamine can help restore your body’s natural glutathione, which the liver taps when breaking down nutrients, drugs and toxins.