There’s no clear evidence that natural treatments, such as herbs, vitamins, or certain foods, can help cure hepatitis C. However, some may support liver health overall and reduce symptoms.

Hepatitis C is a viral liver infection. Over time, it can lead to serious problems like scarring (cirrhosis) and liver cancer. Hepatitis C usually requires treatment with antiviral medications to clear the virus from the body.

There’s no natural remedy to cure hepatitis C. Research has shown several natural bioactive compounds to have antiviral activity against hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the lab, but none so far have been able to clear the virus in humans.

However, some herbs, vitamins, supplements, and foods may improve symptoms or help protect the liver from damage.

Before starting any alternative treatment, discuss the benefits and risks with a doctor. Some alternative treatments can cause unwanted side effects or even interfere with hepatitis C medications and make them less effective.

If you’re considering using herbs to ease hepatitis C symptoms and protect the liver, it’s important to speak with your doctor first. Some herbs may be beneficial, but others can be toxic to the liver.

Some herbs might reduce the risk of liver cirrhosis and death in people with HCV. But currently, no herbal remedy shows clear benefits for clearing the hepatitis C virus.

Herbs that may be beneficial — with limited evidence — include:

1. Milk thistle

The most commonly used herbal supplement for hepatitis C is silymarin, which is extracted from a plant called milk thistle.

A 2008 study linked silymarin to fewer and milder liver disease symptoms and somewhat better quality of life in people with hepatitis C. However, it did not reduce virus levels.

Later research found that milk thistle taken by mouth was no better than placebo as a treatment for hepatitis C. But a 2022 clinical trial found that silymarin could be helpful as an add-on to antiviral medications.

In general, there’s currently not enough high quality evidence to support the use of milk thistle in treating hepatitis C.

2. Turmeric

Turmeric is a plant from the genus Curcuma that people have used as an herbal remedy for liver disease and jaundice.

A 2018 study found that turmeric has antiviral activity against hepatitis C in cells cultured in a laboratory. Research also suggests that turmeric could be a potential therapeutic agent for liver cirrhosis, especially in people with hepatitis C, but more research and human clinical trials are needed.

Turmeric is usually safe, but some forms may be harmful to your liver. Research links forms of turmeric that maximize its absorption, such as piperine (black pepper) with turmeric or nanoparticle delivery methods, to several cases of liver injury.

3. Dandelion root

A 2021 study found that dandelion root extract had protective effects on the liver in rats with chronic liver failure. But there’s currently not enough high quality, recent evidence to support the use of dandelion in treating hepatitis C in humans.

Dandelion is generally safe to consume but could cause allergic reactions or interfere with medications, so it’s important to consult your doctor first.

4. Licorice root

Scientists have studied an extract from licorice root called glycyrrhizin in some people with hepatitis C, but its potential benefits are unclear.

According to a 2023 research review, glycyrrhizin can improve liver function and reduce inflammation in people with hepatitis C, but it does not reduce HCV levels.

Glycyrrhizin is generally safe to consume and is unlikely to cause liver issues. However, it may be dangerous in large amounts if you have kidney or heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes.

Be sure to talk with your doctor before taking any new vitamins or supplements. Some vitamins can be harmful to your liver in high doses.

5. Zinc

Zinc is found in foods like meats, nuts, seeds, beans, and dairy products. You can also take it as a supplement. Zinc is important for a healthy immune system.

Research suggests that people with HCV infection may be deficient in zinc. A 2018 study involving 267 people with chronic liver diseases, including hepatitis C, found that zinc supplementation helped prevent liver deterioration and reduced the rate of liver cancer compared with people who didn’t take a zinc supplement.

Zinc supplements are usually well tolerated but can cause side effects like:

  • upset stomach
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • headache

6. Probiotics

Probiotics are living microorganisms that can come from foods or supplements.

Research suggests probiotic supplements can improve liver inflammation and stop the progression of liver fibrosis. However, there is not any clear evidence that probiotics are helpful in people with hepatitis C.

There’s no special dietary plan to help treat or cure hepatitis C. In general, eating a well-balanced, nutritious diet and maintaining a moderate weight can:

  • improve liver health
  • lower your risk of liver cirrhosis
  • help your immune system fight the infection

Research shows a few foods and beverages can help improve liver health and hepatitis C symptoms.

7. Coffee

Several studies have shown that drinking three or more cups of coffee can improve liver health in people with hepatitis C. A 2023 review of studies has also shown that coffee consumption may reduce the risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, liver fibrosis, and liver cancer.

In addition, a 2017 study conducted in France found that drinking three or more cups of coffee per day halved the risk of death in people who had both HIV and HCV infections.

8. Fish

A 2021 study linked a diet rich in fish to a lower viral load in people with chronic hepatitis C. Fatty fish such as salmon and tuna are also high in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s can improve outcomes in people with chronic liver diseases, according to 2023 research.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not test natural herbs and dietary supplements to the same standards as prescription and over-the-counter medications. Taking these supplements may carry risks, including:

  • reducing the effectiveness of other medications
  • increasing the side effects of other medications
  • interfering with laboratory tests
  • digestive side effects like diarrhea, nausea, and bloating
  • allergic reactions

Antiviral medications for hepatitis C have improved significantly in recent years. Newer treatment options offer a shortened course of therapy, are easier to take, and have fewer side effects.

These newer drugs cure the hepatitis C infection in over 90% of people. Treatment generally lasts between 8 to 12 weeks, depending on the medication.

Newer treatment options include:

Side effects may include:

  • headache
  • fatigue
  • diarrhea
  • nausea

Currently, there are no vaccines to prevent hepatitis C.

Can I cure hep C on my own?

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that between 15% and 45% of people with an acute HCV infection spontaneously clear the virus within 6 months without any treatment. Experts don’t fully understand why this happens for some people and not others.

However, over half of people with HCV infection will develop a chronic infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Currently, it’s not possible to clear a chronic HCV infection without medical treatment.

What is the fastest way to cure hep C?

Newer antiviral treatments can cure hepatitis C in as little as 8 weeks. In some cases, you may need two or more courses of treatment.

What is the best drink for hep C?

Research suggests that regular coffee drinking could lower the risk of disease progression in people with hepatitis C. Coffee may also reduce the risk of developing liver cancer and may even reduce the ability of the hepatitis C virus to replicate.

Though several natural compounds show antiviral activity against hepatitis C, there’s currently no firm evidence or large clinical trials to support these remedies.

Some foods and herbs, such as coffee, licorice root, and milk thistle, may help prevent complications and improve overall liver health.

However, once you have a chronic hepatitis C infection, the only way to cure it is with prescribed antiviral medications.