Discovered in 1989, the hepatitis C virus causes approximately 20 percent of all cases of acute viral hepatitis each year in the United States. Recovery from infection is rare - about 85 percent of infected persons become chronic carriers of the virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 30,000 new infections occur each year. Chronic liver disease due to hepatitis C causes between 8,000 and 10,000 deaths and leads to about 1,000 liver transplants each year in the United States. By the year 2010, the number of deaths from hepatitis C is expected to rise to 38,000 per year. (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health)
Chronic hepatitis C varies greatly in its course and outcome. At one end of the spectrum are patients who have no signs or symptoms of liver disease and completely normal levels of serum liver enzymes. Liver biopsy usually shows some degree of chronic hepatitis, but the degree of injury is usually mild and the overall prognosis may be good. On the other end of the spectrum are patients with severe hepatitis C who have significant symptoms, abnormal serum liver enzymes, and who ultimately develop cirrhosis and end-stage liver disease. In the middle of the spectrum are many patients who have few or no symptoms, mild to moderate elevations in liver enzymes, and a prognosis that is uncertain. The best estimates are that at least 20 percent of patients with chronic hepatitis C develop cirrhosis, a process that generally takes 10 to 20 years. After 20 to 40 years, a smaller percentage of patients with chronic disease develop liver cancer.
HCV is spread primarily by contact with blood and blood products. Blood transfusions and the use of shared, unsterilized, or incompletely sterilized needles and syringes have been the most important causes of the spread of HCV in the United States. Sexual transmission of hepatitis C between monogamous partners appears to be uncommon. Maternal-infant transmission is also uncommon.
Many people with chronic hepatitis C are asymptomatic of liver disease. If symptoms are present, they are usually mild, non-specific, and intermittent. They may include:
- Mild right upper quadrant pain or tenderness.
- Muscle and joint pains.
Once a patient develops cirrhosis or if the patient has severe disease, symptoms and signs are more prominent. In addition to fatigue, the patient may complain of muscle weakness, poor appetite, nausea, weight loss, itching, dark urine, fluid retention, and abdominal swelling. Physical findings of cirrhosis may include:
- Enlarged liver.
- Muscle wasting.
Alpha interferon is currently the only approved medical treatment for hepatitis C. It improves serum aminotransferase levels in 50 percent of patients during treatment, and a majority of these patients also become negative for HCV RNA by PCR. However, many of these patients relapse once interferon is discontinued. In patients who relapse, the reappearance of HCV RNA and rise of serum ALT levels usually occurs within 1 to 3 months after treatment; only rarely does it occur later. A sustained, long-term response (defined as no relapse at least 6 months after stopping interferon) occurs in 10 to 15 percent of patients who are treated for 6 months and 20 to 25 percent of those treated for 1 year.
Few options exist for patients who either do not respond to therapy or who respond and later relapse. Patients who relapse after a 6-month course of interferon may respond to a second, longer course of therapy (lasting 12 to 18 months), particularly if they became and remained HCV RNA negative during therapy. New treatments are needed for those who do not respond to interferon at all. (Note: The above information comes from National Institutes of Health Publication No. 97-4230.)
EDGAR CAYCE APPROACH TO HEPATITIS C
Because the diagnostic category of hepatitis C was not used during Edgar Cayce's era, there are no readings which use that designation. However, thirteen readings are indexed as hepatitis and several others mention inflammation of the liver. It is not known how many, (if any) of these cases were linked specifically to the hepatitis C virus. So although Edgar Cayce gave no readings which can be identified as hepatitis C, considerable information is provided in the readings on therapies which focus on healing liver inflammation and addressing the systemic effects of viral infections. Regardless of the cause of the hepatitis, treatment recommendations tended to follow similar patterns as described below.
In most of the readings on hepatitis, the liver pathology is viewed from a systemic perspective. Invariably other organs of the digestive and eliminating systems become involved. Problems with the kidneys, gall bladder, spleen, pancreas and stomach are often associated with the liver inflammation. Thus the Cayce approach is to consider hepatitis (and liver disorders generally), from a systemic perspective with regard to treatment.
EDGAR CAYCE'S THERAPEUTIC MODEL
Another way of thinking about this approach is to recognize the natural healing potential of the body. The Cayce approach is to assist the body in healing itself. Relatively mild, natural therapies are used to improve systemic functioning while also addressing the specific pathology of liver inflammation. As the whole body becomes more healthy, it is better able to deal with the hepatitis virus and its effects.
The treatment recommendations made by Cayce for hepatitis reflect the specific and systemic aspects of the disease. Hot castor oil packs applied over the area of the liver were frequently prescribed to stimulate the circulation to the liver and improve eliminations. A basic cleansing diet and colonic irrigations were often suggested to increase eliminations through the alimentary canal.
Manual therapy (spinal manipulation and massage) were also suggested to improve circulation and eliminations. As is typical of Cayce's holistic approach, the mental and spiritual aspects of therapy were emphasized.
Based on the Cayce information for hepatitis, here are some basic therapy recommendations:
- INTERNAL CLEANSING: Hydrotherapy includes drinking six to eight glasses of pure water daily, colonic irrigations (preferably) or enemas, and cleansing diet of fresh fruits and vegetables. Castor oil packs across the abdomen are recommended to improve eliminations through the liver and colon. Mild laxatives may be helpful if constipation is a problem. Fume baths followed by full body massage helps the body eliminate toxins through the skin.
- MANUAL THERAPY (SPINAL MANIPULATION AND MASSAGE): Osteopathic or chiropractic treatment is recommended to relieve any pressures that may be hindering circulation and decreasing eliminations. If osteopathic or chiropractic treatment is not available, the use of an electric vibrator along the spine may be helpful. Gentle massage is suggested to relax the body and improve circulation and eliminations.
- DIET: The Basic Cayce Diet is intended to improve assimilation and elimination. The diet focuses heavily on keeping a proper alkaline/acid balance while avoiding foods which produce toxicity and drain the system. Essentially, the diet consists mainly of fruits and vegetables while avoiding fried foods and refined carbohydrates ("junk food"). Certain food combinations are emphasized.
- DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS: Beef juice taken as a medicine is suggested for persons suffering from weakness and general debilitation. Olive Oil taken in small quantities during the day is recommended to improve assimilations and eliminations through the alimentary canal.
- ATTITUDES AND EMOTIONS: The mental and emotional aspects of healing are frequently discussed the Cayce readings. Particularly, an attitude of desiring and expecting to be healed is important. A positive mental and emotional attitude and can be created and maintained by focusing on a high purpose (ideal) for being healed.