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Interferon: Main Image

Interactions with Vitamins

N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)

One preliminary trial found that adding 600 mg NAC three times per day to interferon therapy for people with chronic hepatitis C led to improvement in their conditions not seen with interferon alone. However, other preliminary and double-blind trials have failed to confirm the efficacy of this approach. At the present time, sufficient evidence is lacking to support the use of this drug-nutrient combination in persons with hepatitis.

Thymus peptides

Peptides or short proteins derived from the immune organ known as the thymus gland have been investigated in combination with interferon therapy for people with hepatitis B and C. One study found that adding thymus humoral factor-gamma 2 to interferon therapy prevented decreases in white blood cell counts sometimes seen with interferon alone, and also seemed to improve the efficacy of interferon against hepatitis B. Thymus humoral factor-gamma 2 must be administered by injection, requiring consultation with a doctor. It is not known whether orally administered thymus extracts would be useful in combination with interferon.

Interactions with Herbs

Bupleurum (Bupleurum chinense)

Bupleurum is the major constituent of a Japanese Kampo (herbal) medicine formula called sho-saiko-to. This formula has been used alone or with interferon to treat hepatitis. Eighty or more cases of drug-induced pneumonitis (inflammation of the lungs) have been associated with the use of sho-saiko-to alone or with interferon. Until more is known, sho-saiko-to should not be combined with interferon.

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)

Injections of the licorice compound glycyrrhizin are commonly used to treat hepatitis in Japan. The combination of glycyrrhizin and interferon may be more effective than interferon alone. Injectable glycyrrhizin is available from some physicians. So far, human studies have not used orally administered licorice extracts in conjunction with interferon.

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