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Hepatitis C, Autoimmunity and Gluten

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True enough, when one examines the medical literature, Hep C does have a strong association with gluten sensitivity and celiac disease.  Surprisingly, conventional drug treatment with interferon may exacerbate the autoimmune features, and activate a previously "Silent Celiac Disease"(6)

What Causes Progression of Hep C ?

Although most Hep C patients have a mild outcome, some will progress to advanced liver disease with 30,000 deaths from cirrhosis and liver failure attributed to Hepatitis C annually.  What factors predict progression of disease?  We don't know. However, one such factor has been defined as LPS and Leaky Gut.  Hepatitis C has been linked to Leaky Gut, LPS translocation, Gluten sensitivity, and Celiac Disease.(9)

According to Dr Sandler, "LPS-induced local and systemic inflammation is associated with cirrhosis and predicts progression to end-stage liver disease in patients with HBV or HCV infection."(9) 

LPS is lipo-poly-sachharide coating from gram negative bacteria that enter the liver through the portal circulation.  They enter because of "leaky gut".  Allesio Fasano's group at the University of Maryland has worked out the mechanism involved in increased gut permeability (leaky gut), The most common cause for a dysfunctional mucosal barrier (leaky gut) is gluten consumption in genetically predisposed individuals.(18)

If all the above is true, one might argue that all Hep C patients should be tested for LPS antibodies (Cyrex array 2), as well as gluten sensitivity with anti-gliadin antibodies (Cyrex or Enterolabs).   One might then expect Hep C liver patients to benefit from a strict gluten free diet as in this report of 4 patients with liver failure who recovered on a gluten free diet.(21)

Hep C and Treatment with LDN

Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) is beneficial for various autoimmune diseases. therefore benefit in Hepatitis C patients might be expected. (Nola Hepper patient case report )

Burt Berkson MD and Triple Antioxidant Therapy

Burt Berkson MD has shared his experience treating Hep C patients with triple anti-oxidant therapy: alpha lipoic acid, selenium and silymarin with excellent recovery in three patients with advanced liver disease .(19,20)

Conclusion: Hep C advertising campaigns raise warning flags and serious ethical concerns about the motivations of the drug companies.  Lack of virus isolation from infected individuals and animal models, lack of a vaccine, and failure to satisfy Koch's Postulates of causation, raise doubts about the scientific basis for viral causation.  The long term chronic auto-immune nature of the illness suggests an alternate causation.

The mild outcomes in asymptomatic individuals with positive Hep C RNA testing raises a question about the merits of treating asymptomatic individuals with expensive and harmful drug regimens,

If Hepatitis C causation is autoimmune, then leaky gut, LPS translocation to the liver through the portal circulation, and underlying gluten sensitivity should all be explored with lab testing.  This would include gliadin antibody testing, and a strict gluten free diet.

Jeffrey Dach MD

Articles with related interest:

Four part series on Gluten and Leaky Gut :
part one
part two
part three
part four

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

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