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Article: Cirrhosis Treatment | Liver Health | Liver Supplements

Cirrhosis of the Liver 

Author: Dr. Veena

Cirrhosis of the Liver: A widespread disruption of normal liver structure caused by fibrosis and the formation of regenerative nodules due to various progressive conditions affecting the liver (such as long-term alcohol abuse or hepatitis). It can occur at any age, has significant morbidity, and is an important cause of premature death.

Cirrhosis is a condition where normal liver tissue is replaced by scar tissue (fibrosis), preventing the liver from functioning effectively.

If cirrhosis is not diagnosed at an early stage, it may severely damage the liver. If diagnosed early, the damage to the liver can be prevented. As cirrhosis progresses, more scar tissue forms, further disturbing the liver's function.

Causes: Worldwide, the common causes of cirrhosis include chronic viral hepatitis and prolonged alcohol consumption. Other causes are:

  • Abuse of alcohol
  • Chronic viral hepatitis B or C
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Cryptogenic cirrhosis
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Primary biliary cirrhosis
  • Autoimmune liver disease
  • Genetic hemochromatosis (iron accumulation in the liver and other parts of the body)
  • Wilson's disease (copper accumulation in the liver and other parts of the body)
  • Inherited disorders of sugar metabolism (e.g., galactosemia or glycogen storage disease)
  • Chronic venous outflow obstruction
  • Schistosomiasis (infection by a parasite common in developing countries)
  • Fat accumulation in the liver (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease)
  • Destruction of the bile ducts (primary biliary cirrhosis)
  • Hardening and scarring of the bile ducts (primary sclerosing cholangitis)
  • Conditions such as cancer of the bile duct or pancreas, which can block the bile duct, leading to cirrhosis.

Types of Cirrhosis:

  • Micronodular Cirrhosis: Characterized by small nodules about 1 mm in diameter, often seen in alcoholic cirrhosis.
  • Macronodular Cirrhosis: Characterized by large nodules of various sizes.

Symptoms:

  • Visible blood capillaries on the skin of the upper abdomen
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Itchy skin
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea
  • Anorexia
  • Pain or tenderness in the liver region
  • Debility
  • Tendency to bleed and bruise easily
  • Frequent nosebleeds or bleeding gums
  • Hair loss
  • Fever and shivering attacks
  • Swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet due to fluid buildup
  • Swelling in the abdomen (ascites)
  • Loss of sexual desire
  • Tingling sensation in hands and feet
  • Enlargement of breasts in men and shrinkage of testicles in men

Clinical Syndromes of Alcoholic Liver Disease:

  • Stigmata of chronic liver disease
  • Ascites
  • Varices
  • Encephalopathy
  • Large, normal, or small liver
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma

Herbs to Treat Cirrhosis of the Liver:

  • Arjun (Terminalia arjuna): Treats cirrhosis of the liver.

Reference: Agarwal, N.W.; Prasad, B.; Sharma, M. & Sharma, B.B. (1983), Role of Liv 52 in Indian Childhood Cirrhosis, with special reference to its effect on Alpha-I-Anti-trypsin levels, Probe, Vol. 22(4), PP.243-250.

  • Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum): Best effects in early stages of cirrhosis. Flavonoids like Silymarin protect the liver from damage due to toxins and drugs. Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects help in repair.

  • Kalmegh (Andrographis paniculata): Treats cirrhosis of the liver.

Reference: Agarwal, A. (1999), Therapeutic efficacy of AV/LTP/15 in hepatic dysfunction in dogs, Indian Vet. Med. J., Vol. 23 (3), PP. 245-247.

  • Punarnava (Boerhavia diffusa): Treats cirrhosis of the liver.

Reference: De. S.; Ravishankar. B. & Bhavsar, G.C. (1993), Plants with hepatoprotective activity- A review, Indian Drugs, Vol.30 (8), PP. 355-363.

  • Ginseng: Helps the growth of certain glandular cells in the liver, aiding in healing. More studies are needed.

  • Green Tea: Contains vitamin K, useful in treating cirrhosis of the liver.

  • Turmeric (Curcuma longa): Helps eliminate toxins from the body, preventing liver damage.

  • Dalchini (Cinnamomum zeylanicum): Treats cirrhosis of the liver.

Reference: Agrawal, S.S.; Garg, A. & Agrawal, S. (1986), Screening of Phyllanthus niruri Linn. and Ricinus communis Linn. on alcohol-induced liver cell damage in non-hepatectomized and partially hepatectomized rats, Indian J. Pharmacol., Vol. 18 (4), PP. 211-214.

  • Licorice Root (Glycyrrhiza glabra): Can treat liver diseases, but patients with high blood pressure should avoid it.

  • Turmeric (Curcuma longa): Effective in liver diseases.

Management:

  • Cessation of alcohol consumption is the most important treatment.
  • Treatment for complications such as variceal bleeding, encephalopathy, and ascites may also be needed.
  • The patient's ability to stop drinking alcohol is crucial for prognosis.

Nutrition: Good nutrition is very important.

Natural Home Remedies:

  • Crushed onion juice with fresh lemon juice taken on an empty stomach in the morning.
  • Crushed papaya seeds with double the quantity of lemon juice, taken twice daily.
  • Cumin powder in buttermilk with a pinch of salt, taken twice daily.
  • Lemon juice with a pinch of salt, taken twice daily.
  • Spinach and carrot juice mixture, taken twice daily.
  • Light and easily digestible, highly nutritious food.
  • Plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Avoid:

  • Raw seafood.
  • Large amounts of protein at one time.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and aspirin.
  • Alcohol intake.
  • Smoking.

Granthokta Preparation:

  • Arogyavardhini, Punarnava Mandoor

Though I have mentioned the quantity of ingredients in some natural home remedies, it is advisable to take the quantities with the consultation of an Ayurvedic physician.