Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Hepatitis Health Center

Font Size

Grapefruit May Curb Hepatitis C

Naringenin, a Compound Found in Grapefruit and Other Citrus Fruits, Curbs Hepatitis C Virus in Lab Tests
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

April 29, 2008 -- Grapefruits may inspire a new treatment for hepatitis C, a leading cause of liver disease.

Preliminary lab tests show that naringenin, a compound found in grapefruit and other citrus fruits, may curb the spread of the hepatitis C virus by 80%.That might give healthy cells a chance to regenerate and stem the tide of hepatitis C's spread.

So say researchers including Yaakov Nahmias, PhD, of Harvard Medical School. They note that there is a "pressing need" for new treatments for hepatitis C infection because current treatments don't always work and can have side effects.

Nahmias and colleagues knew that naringenin counters very low density lipoprotein cholesterol (vLDL, a form of "bad" cholesterol), and they suspected that the hepatitis C virus may "hitch a ride" on cholesterol.

That theory held up in test tube experiments. Naringenin curbed vLDL cholesterol, which made it harder for the hepatitis C virus to spread.

But you might not be able to eat enough grapefruit to get that benefit.

The gut doesn't absorb naringenin very well, so a naringenin drug, delivered intravenously, would be a more likely treatment, the researchers conclude. In further lab tests on mice, naringenin wasn't fatal and didn't raise liver enzyme levels, so an intravenous treatment might be a possibility, the researchers report in May's edition of Hepatology. But it will take more work to develop a naringenin drug for hepatitis C.

Grapefruit may affect certain types of medications, so a grapefruit-based approach might not be right for all patients.

Today on WebMD

Hepatitus C virus
young couple
Hepatitis Basics
Hepatitis Prevent 10
Hepatitis C Treatment
Syringes and graph illustration
liver illustration
passport, pills and vaccine
Scientist looking in microscope
Fatty Liver Disease
Digestive Diseases Liver Transplantation
Picture Of The Liver
Image Collection

WebMD Special Sections