Hepatitis B – An Ayurvedic Perspective
Ayurvedic Treatment for Hepatitis B
There are some diseases which if detected earlier, can be treated and cured. But some diseases are such that they work as a silent killer inside our body. They do not show any symptoms and by the time we come to know that we are suffering from it, it has become too late and the disease has already progressed to an advanced stage. Hepatitis B is one of such diseases.
Hepatitis B is an infectious disease caused by a DNA virus. Hepatitis B is transmitted through physical contact and infected blood. Almost 400 million suffer from this disease all over the world from which almost 45 million people belong to India. Hepatitis B is the third most deadly disease in the category of infectious diseases.
Most of the people get scared even on the mention of hepatitis B. Let’s get complete information on this disease from our expert, Dr. Parmeshwar Arora. Welcome to the show doctor.
Q. As I have told our viewers, there are some diseases which can be treated easily as they can be detected earlier but some diseases like hepatitis B make us worried even as we hear their names and they are not detectable in earlier stage. By the time they are diagnosed, it becomes difficult to get them treated as it has already progressed quite much. Please tell us about this…what exactly is Hepatitis B?
It’s absolutely right that upto a certain extent, Hepatitis B can be put under the category of silent killer. I am saying so because in most of the cases it is detected as an accidental finding i.e. sometimes when we go for blood donation or routine checkup or we need blood then our blood is accidently found to be infected with hepatitis B virus. So definitely, there are only few cases where the patients suffering from acute viral hepatitis are identified. There is an infective condition of liver where the liver is not functioning well and when we try to find the cause for infective condition we find the involvement of hepatitis B virus. In such conditions the disease is diagnosed in early stage but generally, the virus infects the body silently and till the symptoms are seen, the liver has been badly damaged. So Hepatitis B is this type of disease.
Q. What are the reasons for this disease? What is the mode of transmission of hepatitis B and how does the virus enter our body?
Hepatitis B virus is a double stranded DNA virus and if we talk about its structure, it consists of double spheres. The outer sphere is known as surface and it contains the maximum protein which is called HBsAg or surface antigen. The inner core contains double stranded DNA, DNA polymerase, core antigen, and envelop antigen which is termed as HBcAg and HBeAg respectively. So, this is the structure of Hapatitis B virus. Talking about its mode of transmission, often the carrier stage is a silent stage i.e. people have this virus in their blood but they are unaware. At this stage, the patients are said to be in chronic stage of this disease. If we come in contact with the blood of such patients i.e. when the same syringe is injected in infected and non infected people or during acupuncture, or use of common blades or if the blood of infected carrier is infused in our body, then this virus enters our body. Blood is the most important and most leading mode of transmission of this virus. So when there is no proper checking before blood transfusion and you get the blood from an infected donor then you will become a patient of Hepatitis B.
Q. Can this virus be transmitted even through sneezing?
Saliva is definitely a proven medium for transmission of this disease. If the sneezing involves transmission of saliva to other person then definitely the disease can be transmitted through sneezing.
Q. As we all know, the symptoms of Hepatitis B are observed in quite a later stage but what are the symptoms which indicate that a particular person is a victim of Hepatitis B or how would a person know that he might be suffering from Hepatitis B?
When we talk about its symptoms, there are five stages in which we can describe them. The first stage is called acute viral hepatitis. The second stage is the carrier stage. In the third stage the patient is said to be suffering from chronic hepatitis. The patient of chronic hepatitis gradually develops cirrhosis of liver. Along with Cirrhosis, there comes the fifth stage which is called hepatoma i.e. carcinoma of liver.
So, when the virus of hepatitis B enters our body, it affects us in the acute way. We often see that when a person has jaundice and we try to find out the causative organism or when we perform the virus detection test, then 10% of the times we find that the hepatitis B is responsible for acute viral hepatitis condition. Such a patient will have jaundice, anorexia, loss of appetite, vomiting, dysentery, body ache and weakness. But here, there is a very good possibility that if the patient receives good treatment then in about 90% of the cases within 2 months, the problem gets resolved.
We have certain serological markers which help us to decide that whether the virus is left in the body or not. For example, HBeAg which is an envelop antigen, appears in acute infection. In about 15-45 days it should disappear from the blood. If we test serum of a patient and we find that HBeAg is positive, then it directly indicates that the replication of virus is going on in his body at present i.e. it indicates active viral Hepatitis B. But its disappearance from blood proves that the patient is no longer progressing to carrier stage i.e. the virus has disappeared from his body. If a patient suffered an acute viral hepatitis and had symptoms of jaundice and we did the serum test after two months. If we find his HBeAg to be positive then there are chances that his acute viral hepatitis is progressing to carrier stage. It means, he will carry the virus for a long time or may be lifelong. Similarly, we have a marker HBsAg i.e. surface antigen. This too should disappear in four months from the first day of beginning of symptoms. If we test the patient afte six months (since the first day of appearance of symptoms) and his HBsAg comes out to be positive then it is a definite indicator that the patient has entered the carrier stage. A six month old hepatitis is said to be chronic stage of hepatitis B.
Q. You were talking about the stage of chronic Hepatitis B. So, what exactly is chronic hepatitis and how do we know about it?
As I told you, anybody whose HBeAg is positive and along with this if after six months (from the day of appearance of first symptom) he tests positive for HBsAg, then the person is said to be suffering from chronic Hepatitis B. If I say it in very simple language then if anybody’s infection of liver or inflammatory condition of liver or disorder of liver does not resolve within a period of 6 months then we say that now the patient has chronic hepatitis. While the patient of acute hepatitis has severe symptoms i.e. he has jaundice, he is not able to eat, he has weakness, vomiting, diarrhea etc., but the symptoms are relatively much milder in case of chronic hepatitis. Though his body is internally undergoing many changes and his liver is progressing towards destructive phase but he is able to do his routine works. He can eat normally, he won’t have vomiting and diarrhea etc. That’s why Hepatitis B is said to be working as a silent killer.
The virus of Hepatitis B brings about continuous destruction of liver. If we talk about histopathology then the liver is undergoing two types of processes when the patient is in the stage of chronic hepatitis. The first process is the process of replication wherein the virus is increasing its number and mass by replicating itself. The second process is the process of integration which means the genome of the virus i.e. its genetic material somehow matches with the genome of hepatocytes (or liver cells) and thus gets integrated to it. The resulting thing after integration is a very different genetic material. This is called transcription or mutation of genetic material.
Making and breaking of cells is a natural process but then it is very important that the genetic material from which cells are created is normal and genuine i.e. from our original body. But since mutation has taken place, the genome gets altered and the cells formed from this are abnormal cells which entirely disturb the eco structure of liver. The liver which is originally elastic in eco structure, gradually becomes fibrous, starts to become hard and nodules begin to develop in the liver. The condition of hardness and nodules in liver is termed as cirrhosis of liver. Thus, cirrhosis of liver is a kind of disease which develops from the condition of Hepatitis B. Generally, as I have seen, if you don’t get a proper treatment for hepatitis B (at right time) and if you carry on the disease for about 20 years then there are very good chances that 60-80% (though this is not an exact figure) of such patients definitely develop the condition of cirrhosis of liver.
Q. Is there any factor of age, in this disease? Are people of certain age group more prone to this disease or more likely to catch this virus than the rest?
As far as the virus is concerned, if anything can fight it off….then that’s your immunity. So, Hepatitis B is quite fatal if it happens to children or elderly people. In these cases, one does not take such a long time for developing the condition of cirrhosis of liver i.e. it will not be like, the patient would develop the cirrhosis of liver after carrying Hepatitis B for about 20 years. Cirrhosis of liver can develop very quickly in case of children and old people. At times, the transcription or mutation can even give rise to carcinoma or cancer of liver. So definitely, the disease of Hepatitis B would be very fatal if contracted by children or older people. But anyone with a strong immunity will be able to fight this disease more strongly.
Q. If we talk about life in general, as I think, these days people don’t follow good eating habits and also the present atmosphere contains pollution dust and various other harmful particles. So, can the virus of hepatitis B enter our body through these mediums as well?
Generally, as I said, if we talk about its mode of transmission, Hepatitis B is transmitted through blood and saliva. So if we talk about contamination…..yes you can come across things like this which are contaminated with infected saliva. In that sense, the disease can be transmitted through contaminated food etc.