Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver resulting in damage and destruction of the liver cells. Hepatitis can be either acute or chronic. Acute hepatitis is usually caused by viral infection, drug overdose or reaction, and exposure to chemicals. Hepatitis which persists longer than six months is termed as chronic hepatitis.
Acute hepatitis usually results in jaundice, which is a yellowish pigmentation of the eyes, urine, and later, the nails and skin. This is called as "Kamla" in Ayurveda, and is divided into two types: "Bahupitta Kamla" and "Ruddhapath Kamla". The first type is caused by excessive breakdown of the red blood cells (eg malaria), whereas the second type is caused by obstruction of bile flow due to swelling in the liver cells or due to some actual obstruction in the bile duct. The main apparent difference in the two is that feces (stools) are normal colored in the first type, and pale or whitish in the second type. Treatment for both types of "Kamla" is radically different.
Ayurvedic medicines are very effective in both acute and chronic hepatitis. Ayurvedic formulations which are well known for the treatment of liver disorders are: Arogya Vardhini, Kumaryasava, Rohitakarishta, Praval Panchamrut, Kamdudha, Chandanadi Vati, Chandrakala Rasa, Shankh Bhasma and Sutshekhar Rasa. Herbal medicines useful in hepatitis are: Kutki (Picrorrhiza kurroa), Trikatu (Three pungent herbs), Punarnava (Boerhaavia diffusa), Kalmegh (Andrographis paniculata), Bhrungraj (Eclipta alba), Bhumiamalaki (Phyllanthus niruri), Yashtimadhuk (Glycerrhiza glabra), Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia), Daruharidra (Berberis aristata), Triphala (Three fruits), Kakmachi (Solanum nigrum) and Sharpunkha (Tephrosia purpurea).
Most of these medicines act directly on the liver cells, reduce inflammation and swelling, and normalize cell function. Some of these medicines have strong anti-viral activity. Some medicines boost the immune mechanism of the body. These medicines help in bile secretion and improve appetite. Because of these properties, the above mentioned medicines are effective in all types of hepatitis. These medicines can also be given to reduce or eliminate the toxic effects of essential drugs like anti-tuberculosis and anti-cancer drugs.
For chronic hepatitis, in addition to the above mentioned medicines, some special formulations are used such as Suvarna Sutshekhar Rasa, Suvarna Malini Vasant and Tamra Bhasma. Fermented herbal formulations called "Asavas" and "Arishtas" are used.