Causes and symptoms of hepatitis b and its natural treatments

Hepatitis B is caused by a viral infection. The virus can survive outside of the body for at least seven days. During this time, it can infect a person if it enters his or her body. It can be detected within 30 to 60 days after infection. It can persist and develop into chronic hepatitis B, especially if someone is infected at a young age.

It can be transmitted or spread in several ways, including (8):

  • Perinatal transmission: One of the most common ways that it spreads in endemic areas is by transmission from mother to child at birth.
  • Exposure to infected blood: Another common cause of hepatitis B is exposure to infected blood. Transmission from an infected child to an uninfected child during the first 5 years of life is especially common. Some scenarios that put a person at risk of transmitting the virus through exposure to blood include sharing razors, toothbrushes or any sharp instruments with an infected person. If infected blood comes into contact with open sores of an uninfected person, this can spread hepatitis B.
  • Sexual transmission: Sexual transmission of hepatitis B occurs when the body fluids, such as semen or vaginal secretions, of an infected person enter the body of an uninfected person. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the United States, hepatitis B most commonly spreads through sexual transmission, which accounts for nearly two-thirds of all acute hepatitis B cases. People with multiple sex partners or men who have sex with men are the most at risk of transmitting hepatitis B through sexual exposure. (9)
  • Needle sharing: The reuse of needles and syringes can transmit hepatitis B. This can happen in a health care setting or among people who inject drugs. It can also spread through instruments contaminated with blood used in tattooing or medical procedures.

Anyone can get hepatitis B. But some people are at a greater risk of exposure to the virus. This includes people who:

  • have multiple sex partners
  • inject drugs or share needles
  • have spent time in prison
  • live with or have close contact with a person with chronic hepatitis B
  • are exposed to blood at work (such as health care workers)
  • are hemodialysis patients
  • travel to countries with a high hepatitis B

Conventional Treatment

Because the symptoms of hepatitis B are similar to those of other viral infections, an accurate diagnosis should be made with a blood test that detects the hepatitis B surface antigen HBsAg. If the presence of HBsAg persists for at least six months, this serves as a principal marker of risk for developing liver disease later in life. During the initial phase of the infection, patients will test positive for HBeAg, an antigen that indicates that the blood and body fluids of the infected person are highly infectious.

There is no specific treatment for acute hepatitis B. But for people with chronic hepatitis B, antiviral agents are usually prescribed to slow the progression of liver disease and reduce the incidence of liver cancer. Some of the most common medications used by patients with chronic hepatitis B are tenofovir and entecavir, which are used to suppress the virus. These drugs don’t cure most people. But they do help by suppressing the replication of the hepatitis B virus and therefore reduce the risk of developing life-threatening liver conditions. Many people with chronic hepatitis B have to stay on these medications for the rest of their lives.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a vaccine can be used to prevent the possibility of infection with the hepatitis B virus. WHO recommends that “all infants receive the hepatitis B vaccine as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours … The birth dose should be followed by 2 or 3 doses to complete the primary series.” WHO also indicates that the low incidence of chronic hepatitis B cases in children under the age of 5 is due to the widespread use of hepatitis B vaccine. And the vaccine is 95 percent effective in preventing infection and the development of chronic liver conditions due to the infection. The CDC reports that since 1991, the rates of acute hepatitis B in the U.S. have declined by approximately 82 percent. The vaccine lasts for 20 years. It’s probably lifelong, so you don’t need a booster vaccination. (10, 11)

It’s important to note that yeast is used when making the hepatitis B vaccine. So anyone allergic to yeast should not receive it. The vaccine also isn’t recommended for people who have had serious allergic reactions to a prior dose of the vaccine.

To protect infants from getting hepatitis B from his or her infected mother, the CDC recommends that the infant receive a shot called Hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG) and the first dose of the hepatitis B vaccine within 12 hours of birth. Then the infant should receive two to three additional shots to finish the series within six months. Precautions should be taken with infants of infected mothers because they have a 90 percent chance of developing chronic hepatitis B if the infection isn’t treated properly. (12)


5  Natural Treatments to Manage Hepatitis B Symptoms

1. Eat a Healthy & Well Balanced Diet

One of the most important ways for a person with hepatitis B to live a longer, healthier life is to focus on maintaining an adequate nutritional balance with a whole foods and anti-inflammatory diet. Eating foods that contain chlorophyll can also be beneficial for reducing oxidative stress and liver damage. Some of the most beneficial, detoxifying, liver-cleansing and cancer-fighting foods include (13, 14):

  • leafy green vegetables, like spinach, kale, arugula, collard greens and romaine lettuce
  • cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts
  • root vegetables, like carrots, sweet potatoes, beets and butternut squash
  • fresh fruit, especially blueberries, strawberries, goji berries and citrus fruits
  • fresh herbs, like basil, parsley, oregano and ginger
  • organic meat and wild-caught fish
  • grass-fed cattle or chicken liver
  • probiotic dairy, like kefir, cottage cheese and yogurt
  • nuts and seeds, especially walnuts, flaxseeds and chia seeds
  • unrefined oils, such as healthy coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil

Some common symptoms of acute hepatitis B are nausea and vomiting. It may be helpful to eat a more substantial breakfast. Then keep your lunch and dinner on the lighter side if you experience an upset stomach. You can also add 1–2 drops of peppermint oil to a glass of water to help get rid of nausea naturally. To be sure that you’re getting adequate nutrients and fluids, try fruit and vegetable juices or smoothies instead of heavier meals. This will be easier for you to digest and using immune-boosting ingredients will help you to recover.

2. Avoid Inflammatory Foods and Drinks

To help prevent the spread of the hepatitis B virus and ease the symptoms of an acute infection, avoid consuming foods and drinks that increase inflammation. This includes sugar, refined oils, refined carbohydrates, conventional dairy products and farm-raised meats. Try not to eat processed foods that typically contain refined ingredients and additives. It’s also very important to avoid drinking alcohol or using over-the-counter drugs, especially acetaminophen. They can worsen liver damage, which is a concern for people with hepatitis B. (15)

3. Stay Hydrated

Vomiting is a common symptom of hepatitis B, which can cause dehydration. You need to make sure you’re drinking enough fluids throughout the day so that you don’t become dehydrated. Drink plenty of water. Have at least an 8-ounce glass with every meal and water between meals, too. Drinking fresh fruit and veggie juices can be helpful. So can consuming bone broth, which is full of essential nutrients that will boost your immune system and help you to fight the virus. Instead of turning to sports drinks that are full of sugar and artificial flavors, drink coconut water, which will help you to avoid an electrolyte imbalance.

4. Reduce Stress

To help relieve hepatitis B symptoms and prevent the spread of the virus, you have to reduce stress levels and take it easy. Don’t engage in strenuous activities, especially if you are feeling tired and low energy. Allow your body to rest. Try some natural stress relievers, like taking a short walk outside, doing some gentle yoga. Take a warm bath or read an uplifting book. Another easy way to reduce stress and bring on feelings of peace is to diffuse lavender essential oil at home or work. If you don’t have a diffuser, just tub 1–2 drops of lavender oil into your temples or inhale it directly from the bottle.

5. Try Milk Thistle

Milk thistle benefits and supports the liver. It’s a powerful detoxifier. It helps rebuild liver cells while removing bodily toxins that are processed through the liver. The silymarin found in milk thistle acts as an antioxidant by reducing free radical production and oxidative stress. It even acts as a toxin blockade agent that inhibits the binding of toxins in liver cells. Research on milk thistle shows it can be used to treat acute and chronic viral hepatitis and liver disease