Black licorice and hepatitis C

I’ve always loved black licorice. My family, who prefer chocolate, thinks my craving for the black, rubbery treat is odd, but being nice people, they often bring me licorice for birthdays and other celebrations. It turns out that licorice may be good for people with hepatitis C. My sweet tooth for the treat may have fended off the worst of the disease.liquorice all sorts

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says there’s evidence that licorice root (the flavoring in most black licorice candies) may reduce liver damage in people who have hepatitis C. Glycyrrhizin, an acid that gives licorice its sweetness, may help prevent liver cancer, the department says in its website.

A study in the Journal of Viral Hepatitis that tested glycyrrhizin on patients with hepatitis C found significantly lower ALT levels and inflammation among test patients.

Veterans Affairs warns, though, that licorice root supplements may lead to high blood pressure and ascites (a build up of fluid in the abdomen), which can increase with cirrhosis. It can also be harmful to eat the candy. According to the Federal Drug Administration, eating two ounces of black licorice per day for two weeks straight can disrupt your heart beat and send you to the hospital.

If you are considering taking licorice root extract, first ask your doctor. As for me, on special occasions I still eat twisters.licorice


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.


Elimination, Europe’s hepatitis C goal, requires testing

This year’s World Health Organization policy summit on hepatitis C announced the first Hepatitis C European Elimination Manifesto. The manifesto, launched in February, makes elimination of hep C in Europe a public health priority.

Just a few years ago elimination of the disease, anywhere, seemed impossible. But the development of quick-working direct-acting antivirals has changed the landscape for researchers and for people with hepatitis C. Now virtually everyone can be cured.

The World Hepatitis Alliance’s strategic plan for 2016-17 cites that close to seven out of ten people with hep C didn’t even know what HCV was before they were diagnosed. Presumably, once diagnosed almost everyone learns quickly.

But first, they have to be tested.


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.

New title for book about my experiences with hepatitis C


My publisher, Greystone Books, has just come up with a title for my book. The working title, The Miracle Cure, has become part of the subtitle. Here’s the new title, set in stone, I hear:

The Demon in My Blood: Blindsided by Hepatitis C and Stunned by Its Miracle Cure

Greystone is working on a cover design and plans to set a publication date for 2017.

Cost of treating all Canadians who have hepatitis C

The cost of treating all 250,000 Canadians who are infected with hepatitis would be $20 – 32 billion, according to Dr. Brian Goldman.

Goldman’s radio show, White Coat, Black Arts has often critiqued the high cost of drugs in Canada. On CBC radio’s On the Coast afternoon show last week, he cited the bottom-rung cost for today’s antiviral cures as $55,000 for an eight-week regimen. Often the treatment time is longer and the cost is higher.

Nonetheless, Canadians are getting a bargain–a relative one, that is. Canada’s falling dollar has ramped up the cost of food, clothing and other necessities, yet the cost antivirals for hepatitis C has remained high but stable.

Hepatitis C: 2015 in review

Many thanks to all of you who visited in 2015. It was a year of huge advances in hepatitis C treatment. Gilead tested short-duration antiviral treatments for all genotypes. An under-the-tongue swab test for hep C antibodies was also under development.

Meanwhile, insurance companies and governments throughout the world negotiated lower drug prices, opening doors for more people to be treated.

The outlook is promising for continuing advances in the new year. May you have a healthful and happy one.

Incidentally, if you’d like to know who read this blog in 2015, here’s a report from WordPress:

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,300 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 22 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.