Dear Doctor, In a few weeks,I am going to start treatment for Hepatitis C. Here in the UK they are about to begin trials using Antioxidants in a 3 month prelude to the treatment in an attempt to reduce the anaemia that tends to run hand in hand with the treatment. In my humble opinion this may also assist to hasten the reduction of the viral load. I spoke about the possibility of this with my specialist and although he was doubtful about this happening, he said he would let me know at the end of the trials. Unfortunately I am not eligible to take part in these trials because I already use some antioxidants so I would not give them a correct reading. Now to get to the point. Obviously,the antioxidants that we can buy over the counter in this country are nothing like as powerful as the ones I would have obtained from the hospital so I wonder if you would tell me which ones they are and whether I can obtain them from the US. I do not know how familiar you are with the various genotypes,but I have genotype 3. This is one of the easiest to clear. I do however want to go through the treatment as comfortably as possible because as I am sure you are aware,the combination of interferon and ribavirin can be extremely uncomfortable. What would you recommend and indeed can I acquire these supplements from yourselves. I await your reply eagerly and hopefully. Thank you.

The idea of using antioxidants prior to the administration of potentially toxic medications to reduce potentially damaging side effects represents a very nice example of synergy between conventional and natural medicine.  The additionally possibility of antioxidant’s ability to reduce viral load is also an exciting possibility.  A significant amount research has demonstrated the role of oxidative stress and viral propagation in certain diseases.  HIV particularly has been subject to many different studies regarding antioxidants and their role in affecting viral replication.  I remember one of my colleagues in medical school did his entire thesis on this topic.  As far as it relates to Hepatitis C, I am not sure but I do imagine that some of the beneficial properties that antioxidants have on cellular health might contribute to the body’s ability to keep viral replication under control.  Antioxidants, like Vitamin C are known to have positive effects on parts of the immune system that are charged with killing viruses and bacteria.

When selecting an antioxidant, the only standard as to which measure them is referred to as the ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) value.   This measures an antioxidants capability to neutralize free radicals.  The higher the ORAC capability the more powerful the antioxidant is thought to be.

Blueberry Extracts, Resveratrol, Grape Seed and Skin Extract, Rosemary Extracts, Acai berries and Pine Bark Extracts are just a few examples of strong antioxidants.  Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins are the active antioxidants in Grape Seed extracts and Pine Bark Extracts and have been the focus of much research and are readily available.  If no ORAC value is available when selecting an antioxidant look for ones that have been standardized to contain high amounts of the active ingredients.

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