Hep history and food for thought

ancient greek buildingThe Greek physician Aretaeus of Cappadocia was one of the first people to write about hepatitis. In the 2nd century AD he wrote that hep weakened “the liver’s power of nutrition.” It’s wise to take heed of that ancient advice. Every bit of nutrition that goes into your body gets filtered by the liver, but if you’ve contracted hepatitis C, it may not be filtered well. Some substances are easy on the liver and some are not.

At the top of the not list are alcohol and all drugs with liver warnings. The good news is that the list of excellent nutrition for the liver is long–and tasty. Here are a few of my favorite liver-good foods. There are many more:

  • Avocados help the body produce glutathione, which the liver uses for detoxification.
  • Walnuts contain the amino acid arginine, which detoxifies ammonia. These nuts also contain glutathione and omega-3-fatty acids.
  • Eggs contain choline, which protects the liver from toxins and heavy metals. Although too many eggs can cause heart disease, the usual problem is not the eggs. It’s the bacon or sausages they are paired with.



Cover of my book on hepatitis C

Greystone Books, which will be publishing my book on hepatitis C, has come up with a cover. I think designer Peter Cocking did a fantastic job.Demon cover

The book will be launched in early 2017. I’ll let you know when I learn the specific date. It’s all in the hands of Greystone, which is doing excellent work in getting this book ready for production.

In memory of an enthusiastic friend, Alicia Priest

Today I learned that a wonderful friend of mine passed away after suffering from ALS. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the same disease that afflicts physicist Stephen Hawking, can attack the body slowly, as in Hawking’s case, or more quickly, as with Alicia. She was diagnosed in 2012. During her illness Alicia wrote the book A Rock Fell on the Moon. It is the story of her dad, the convicted mastermind of the Great Yukon Silver Ore Heist. Alicia raced to complete the manuscript before her typing muscles withered. The book, which I’m reading now and enjoying immensely, was published last last summer. By that time Alicia was unable to speak. Anna Comfort, managing editor at Harbour Publishing, which published A Rock Fell on the Moon, told me on the phone today that Alicia never lost her enormous spirit, and she never stopped traipsing through the province attending book events. Her husband Ben Parfitt and daughter Charlotte were at her side.

I could tell you a lot about my memories of Alicia. A favorite one happened when we attended journalism school together. We were asked to do a presentation on Baltimore journalist H.L. Mencken, and instead of the usual slides and academic talk, we wrote and performed a skit. Alicia was the sarcastic Mencken, and I was his demure wife. We dressed in period costume and drank real wine on the set, to the dismay of our startled instructor. We lost a few marks but we gained many laughs.

What does this have to do with hepatitis C? Maybe nothing, but maybe the fact that despite a daunting diagnosis, we should face life creatively, with enthusiasm. Like Alicia did.

Must-read book about drug costs gives insight into development of hep c treatments

Hep C made me hungry–not for food, but for information. I’ve been reading websites galore, magazine articles, news articles, and books about hepatitis. You’ll find references to my favorite reading discoveries in the Research Notes page of this blog. Although books, by nature, take the most time to read, I find that my reading speed picks up and often flies when I’m immersed in the right book. Deadly Monopolies by Harriet A. Washington is one of them.

The book tells the story of many drug discoveries, as well as drugs taken out of production or never developed because of the big pharma profit quest. In the pursuit of those profits drug companies have sought patent protection for almost every medical breakthrough they can possibly lay claim to. These include patents on genes and even human tissue. Did you know there was a patent on the hepatitis C genome? Yep. It was held by Chiron Corporation. The California firm patented the virus in 1987. It used the patent to quash another drug company’s efforts to sell a low-cost test for the virus. Washington has a lot more to say about drug costs and about hepatitis as well. Her book is an engaging, revealing, and somewhat frightening read.