By naturopath Margaret Jasinska
When most people think of hepatitis, they think of the viral infections hepatitis A, B or C. These liver infections are common but hepatitis can be caused by other factors. The word hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. Sometimes the immune system can attack a person’s own liver cells and this is called autoimmune hepatitis.
Autoimmune hepatitis may cause mild, vague symptoms such as fatigue, indigestion, insomnia, abdominal discomfort and itchy skin. Sometimes the disease is aggressive and can cause extreme symptoms, including jaundice. The condition is more likely to occur in people with other autoimmune diseases, particularly thyroid conditions, coeliac disease, vitiligo, ulcerative colitis and Sjogren’s syndrome.
Your liver does an enormous number of important jobs in your body, and is the second largest organ in your body (your skin is your largest organ). Therefore, autoimmune hepatitis can have a profound negative impact on your health.
Autoimmune hepatitis may present with elevated liver enzymes in a blood test for liver function. People with this condition also produce auto-antibodies against liver cells and high levels of a protein called gamma-globulin; these can both be checked via a blood test. Autoimmune hepatitis most commonly develops during adolescence or early adulthood. The most common medical treatment involves use of oral steroids (prednisone) and immuno-suppressant drugs. These drugs can be very effective for reducing inflammation in the liver, but they can have terrible side effects if they are taken long term. The bio-identical hormone called Pregnenolone in a dose of 100 mg capsules taken twice daily may be very helpful and is safe, and requires a doctor’s prescription.