Hepatitis C: Glutamine and N-Acetyl
by Michael Mooney (March, 2000)
Recent headlines underline how seriously Hepatitis C (HCV)
affects HIV(+) people. Some reports, like the one below
show as much as three times the increase in the rate of
death from HCV over the last few years.
Disease Raises Questions for AIDS Patients
Reuters (11/19/99) A report presented at the annual meeting
of the Infectious Diseases Society of America in Philadelphia
shows that liver disease is a leading cause of death among
HIV patients at a Massachusetts hospital, especially among
those also infected with hepatitis C. Dr. Barbara McGovern
of the Tufts University School of Medicine found that
HIV patients taking highly active antiretroviral therapy
(HAART) were at risk for liver disease because
of the drugs' potential toxicity. McGovern performed a
retrospective review of HIV-positive patients who died
at the hospital between May 1998 and April 1999, comparing
them to those who died in 1991. The findings revealed
that 50 percent of the 22 deaths among HIV patients in
the 1998-to-1999 period were due to end-stage liver disease,
compared to 15 percent of the 27 AIDS deaths in 1991,
before HAART was available.
Earlier this year, a friend with HCV began to use the
amino acids glutamine and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC),
after I suggested that these nutrients might help because
of their effect of improving glutathione production in
the liver. Glutathione is the main antioxidant that the
body makes and it is critically important for detoxifying
activities done by the liver.
He first checked with his doctor, who stated he agreed
that this might be productive even though popular medical
opinion was that amino acids might cause problems because
they could produce an increase in ammonia levels.
I suggested that he try a dose that is relatively low
for a short time, and then have his doctor check his liver
functions, and ammonia level. The dose I suggested was
500 mg of NAC, along with 2,000 mg of powdered glutamine
twice per day.
He started doing this and only two days after he began
using these dietary supplements, his wife reported to
me that she noticed that he was thinking much more clearly,
and that his energy level had increased radically. Three
weeks later, he returned to his doctor for routine tests.
His doctor was extremely surprised to find that his liver
function tests and ammonia levels had decreased signficantly
and were now in the normal range. They had been elevated
for over three years.
I suggested that he keep working with his doctor and
double the dose every month or so and have the doctor
retest to make sure that there wasn't some kind of negative
effect caused at a some higher dose. The idea was to increase
gradually in an effort to find an optimal dose for him.
I also suggested that, based on what I have seen in HIV,
an optimal top dose might be 500 to 1000 mg of NAC and
4,000 mg of glutamine three times per day. (One heaping
teaspoon of glutamine powder is about 4,000 mg.)
It you decide to experiment with these nutrients, consult
your doctor first, and have them follow you with the appropriate
This article is provided for educational purposes only,
and is in no way a substitute for the advice of a qualified
medical doctor or a recommendation to do other than your
doctor determines is best for you. You should present
this information to your doctor for their analysis because
appropriate medical therapy should be tailored by a knowledgeable
doctor for the individual as no two individuals are alike.
I do not recommend self-medicating with any pharmaceutical
drug or nutrient as you should consult with a qualified
medical doctor who can determine your individual situation.
If you use the information I present without the approval
of your doctor, you do so strictly at your own risk and
no responsibility is implied or intended on my part.
Reports from people
with Hepatitis C:
Dennis in NYC writes: My liver got much
better since I have taken Milk Thistle (silymarin
herb extract) and choline/inositol 500 mg (250
mg each of choline and inositol). I took three pills
of each three times a day for about a year. Now my liver
tests as being in very good health.
Bob answered: That's great. So you're
saying you have a coinfection of HIV and Hep C and after
taking these supplements for a year that it appears to
have solved the problem? I have heard of silymarin but
not the choline/inositol for liver problems. what does
the choline/inositol specifically do for the liver?
Dennis answers: A few years ago, I was
told that I had a light case of Hep C (along with
HIV). I researched the liver to see what would help
and found that there is a large amount of choline in the
liver used to metabolize "stuff." (I sound
very scientific, I joke.) So I started to take inositol/choline
500 mg (250mg of each) three times a day. About
9 months later, I went to Dr. Jacobson in NYC who is a
liver specialist (maybe the only one) and he
had a DNA (RNA?) test done and said, "The
hepatitis C appears to be gone." Talk about anecdotal
evidence. Who knows what did it because I also took 3
milk thistle pills a day.
This is why I suggest that people take Alfalfa and Lipoic
See chapter 19
in the newest edition of Triumph Over Hepatitis C