Hepatitis C is a liver condition that occurs due to an infection from the hepatitis C virus (HCV). The infection inflames the liver and can result in health problems such as cirrhosis and liver cancer. Typically, a doctor will prescribe antivirals to treat the infection. Some herbs may also benefit the condition, but people should discuss their options with a doctor before using any natural herbal supplement.

Hepatitis C is the most common blood-borne viral infection in the United States. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that globally about 58 million people have a chronic HCV infection. As a blood-borne infection, HCV lives in a person’s blood, and people can contract the virus by coming into contact with blood that contains it.

Usually, a doctor will treat HCV infections by using medications to control symptoms of the infection, reduce the viral load, and cure the infection before it leads to severe complications. In addition to antiviral medication, some people may consider using herbs to ease symptoms and protect the liver. However, while some herbs may be beneficial, others can be toxic to the liver.

In this article, we will discuss if natural herbs and remedies are beneficial for treating hepatitis C.

An image of natural herbs that some people may use to treat HCV.Share on Pinterest
lingqi xie/Getty Images

Some people may consider using natural herbs to help treat HCV infections. A 2014 study notes that 23% of participants in a survey used herbal products to treat HCV. While some people may believe natural herbs to be safer than conventional therapy, many herbs can cause adverse events.

For example, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not hold natural herbs and dietary supplements to the same standards as prescription and over-the-counter medications. Additionally, some herbs can interact with other medications and cause serious side effects. Individuals living with hepatitis C should always check with a healthcare professional before using any natural herb supplement.

Currently, no dietary supplements show any potential benefits for hepatitis C. However, research continues, and proponents suggest that beneficial herbs may include:

Milk thistle

Milk thistle, also known as silymarin, is the most common natural herbal product used by people living with liver disease. The herb may have some potential benefits due to its high antioxidant profile. While some evidence suggests that milk thistle may have some medical uses for liver disease, more research is necessary.

However, other research suggests that milk thistle provides no benefit for those with HCV infections. While evidence notes that people generally tolerate milk thistle well, it may cause digestive issues or allergic reactions. The herb may also lower blood sugar levels in some people with type 2 diabetes, so people living with diabetes should use milk thistle with caution.


Schisandra is a traditional Chinese herbal medicine that some people may use to treat liver disorders such as hepatitis C. Some evidence suggests that the herb may possess hepatoprotective, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antiviral properties. However, the herb may reduce the effectiveness of some drugs or increase their side effects.


Turmeric is a plant that is available around the world. It contains the active ingredient curcumin, which may have powerful biological properties and be useful for treating liver disease. A 2013 study suggests turmeric may be able to inhibit HCV and people could use it in combination with antiviral agents. Most research suggests turmeric is generally safe when people use the recommended amounts.

Dandelion root

Dandelion is a common medicinal plant that grows in many parts of the world. A 2021 study using animal models suggests dandelion root may possess hepatoprotective properties. However, more research is necessary, as there is little evidence suggesting dandelion’s potential health benefits. There is not much information about consuming dandelion in large quantities, but some people may experience an allergic reaction.

Green tea

Green tea contains unoxidized leaves of the Chinese tea tree Camellia sinensis. People have used green tea for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. An older study suggests that green tea may possess some anti-HCV properties and can help to reduce inflammation.

However, evidence attributes more than 100 instances of liver injury to green tea extract. Therefore, people with HCV should consult their doctor before taking products with green tea extract. They should also discontinue use if they begin to notice symptoms of liver problems, such as abdominal pain, dark urine, or jaundice.


Bupleurum is a traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine that people may use to treat a variety of illnesses, including liver disease. While more research is necessary, a 2017 animal study using a medicinal herbal mixture containing bupleurum suggests it may possess hepatoprotective and curative effects against liver damage.

However, bupleurum may interact with certain medicines, and a few case reports note that excessive doses of the herb may cause liver damage.

Licorice root

Licorice root is an herbal medicine that has a long history of medicinal use in many cultures. It contains a compound called glycyrrhizin, which some research suggests may hold promise as a treatment for HCV infections. While licorice root is generally safe as a food ingredient, when taken in larger amounts it may interact with drugs and cause adverse effects such as increased blood pressure.

Other natural dietary supplements that may show some promise include:

  • Zinc: Zinc is an essential trace element important for a number of functions. A person may also experience a zinc deficiency due to an HCV infection. While zinc supplements may help to reduce symptoms and correct deficiencies, more research is necessary. There is also a risk of zinc toxicity when taking excessive supplements.
  • Silver: Colloidal silver is a suspension of tiny silver particles in a liquid. Some people may use it as a natural remedy to prevent infections. However, more research is necessary. Some evidence suggests it is not safe and can cause irreversible side effects, including a permanent bluish discoloration of the skin.
  • Probiotics: These are live microorganisms that may provide some health benefits. Research does not yet suggest that they provide any benefits for HCV infections. They may also result in some side effects, such as digestive issues and skin problems.

Healthcare practitioners often use oral medications called direct-acting antivirals to treat individuals with hepatitis C.

The American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases currently recommends two different regimens for hepatitis C treatment: glecaprevir (300 milligrams [mg])/pibrentasvir (120 mg) for 8 weeks or sofosbuvir (400 mg)/velpatasvir (100 mg) for 12 weeks.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hepatitis C treatment cures more than 90% of individuals with few side effects.

Anyone who has untreated hepatitis C should speak with a doctor as soon as they can. The CDC recommends all people ages 3 years and over receive treatment for HCV infections. The CDC also adds that a doctor should regularly monitor people with hepatitis C, as there is a continued risk of complications of advanced liver disease. This also holds true for previously treated individuals.

If people who are at risk of exposure to blood containing HCV, such as healthcare workers or intravenous drug users, notice potential symptoms of HCV, such as abdominal pain, dark urine, or jaundice, they should contact a doctor.

Hepatitis C is a liver disease that occurs due to the hepatitis C virus. According to current research, there is no firm supporting evidence that natural herbs and dietary supplements are beneficial for hepatitis C. If people wish to take any herbs, they should discuss these with their doctor, as some herbs may have adverse effects and actually damage the liver.

To treat HCV infections, a doctor will likely recommend that people take antiviral medications, which are effective in treating most cases of HCV infections.