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Hepatitis C, Autoimmunity and Gluten

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Possible HCV-particles from human serum after chromatographic purification. 180,000x ELMI C10 Zeiss by Gleiberg and Wikimedia Commons
Hepatitis C, Autoimmunity and Gluten by Jeffrey Dach MD

Case Report:

Jill is a 52 year old nurse who contracted Hepatitis C after a needle stick at the hospital ten years ago.  She has done well with occasional mild liver enzyme elevations and fluctuations in her platelet count which always seem to resolve on their own.

In the past, Jill's doctors have always offered the usual Hepatitis C  treatment with interferon and ribaviron.    Because of potential adverse side effects, she has so far declined treatment.  Now, Jill's doctors are recommending two new drugs, boceprevir (Victrelis) and telaprevir (Incivek).  Jill is asking for advice.  What should she do?

Problems with Viral Causation of Hepatitis C

Critics have pointed out viral liver infections with Hepatitis A and B are real diseases in which the virus can be isolated in culture from infected individuals, and animal disease can be produced by injecting the virus into animals.  Thirdly, a vaccine against the virus can be produced in the lab.  These criteria are called Koch's postulates, used for one hundred years to prove microbial causation of disease. None of these Koch's Postulates are satisfied for Hepatitis C, raising  questions about the scientific basis for viral causation.

With hepatitis C, Koch's Postulates have been thrown out the window, changing the diagnosis to a new technique called  RNA sequencing with the PCR test (polymerase chain reaction).(17)  Modern microbiology has accepted this change, no longer requiring satisfaction of Koch's Postulates.  I would question the validity of this, and instead examine the profit motives involved.  Huge amounts of money are at stake in the sale of drugs to treat the new disease.

Asymptomatic Hep C -- Outcomes are Mild

Left Image Hep C Ad courtesy of Jon Cox

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In a 25-year study of the outcomes of hepatitis C virus infection in 738 people,  outcomes were relatively mild: After 25 years, most (85%) had no or mild fibrosis, and only 2% had cirrhosis. Nearly one-fifth spontaneously recovered.(2)  These mild outcomes would raise questions about the merits of treating asymptomatic individuals with toxic Hep C treatments.(8)

Is Hepatitis C an Auto-Immune Disease? 

Many clinical features of Hepatitis C resemble an auto-immune disease, such as the long duration, chronic nature and association with other auto-immune symptoms.

According to Dr Strassburg, "Based on biochemical and clinical features, Hep C is almost indistinguishable from autoimmune hepatitis,"(4)  

Viral causation of Hepatitis C is accepted as dogma by modern medicine.  Will this be modified or overturned in the future and changed to an autoimmune disease?  We will have to wait and see.

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Hep C and the Auto-immune and Gluten Connection

In addition to itself being an auto-immune liver disease similar to auto-immune hepatitis, Hepatitis C is associated with various other auto-immune symptoms such as arthralgias, arthritis, vasculitis and sicca syndrome. (3,4)  This type of association might raise the suspicion that Hep C is an auto-immune disease related to gluten exposure and underlying gluten sensitivity.  Both gluten sensitivity and celiac disease are known to be associated with autoimmune disease and liver disease.(5,6,7)

According to Kenneth D Fine MD, "hepatitis C appears to be the most common hepatic disease associated with the development of celiac sprue."(5) 

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Jeffrey Dach MD is a physician and author of two books, Natural Medicine 101, and Bioidentical Hormones 101, both available on Amazon, or as a free e-book on his web sites. Dr. Dach is founder and chief medical officer of TrueMedMD, a clinic in (more...)

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