Ayurvedic treatment for Liver Cirrhosis

Liver Cirrhosis

Know More on Liver Diseases

  • Definition
  • Causes
  • Symptoms
  • Diagnosis
  • Management
  • FAQS
  • References

Definition

Liver Cirrhosis Ayurvedic treatment

WHAT IS LIVER CIRRHOSIS?

Cirrhosis is caused by scarring of the liver due to continuous, long-term liver damage.1 Every time the liver is injured, it tries to repair itself. In the process, scar tissue forms. As cirrhosis progresses, there is increased formation of scar tissue, making it difficult for the liver to function.2 This damage can't be reversed causing liver functions to stop. This is called liver failure.2

From Ayurvedic perspectives, liver cirrhosis is caused due to extreme aggravation of pitta dosha. Liver function is affected by aggravated pitta which later vitiates other doshas as well. There is intoxication of Rasa and rakta dhatus as well as dhatus too become weak. Almost all functions of pitta get considerably hampered such as digestion of food, complexion of skin, feeling of hunger, and production of blood etc.3

Causes

Liver Cirrhosis

LIVER CIRRHOSIS CAUSES

The most common causes of cirrhosis are:

  • Chronic alcohol abuse
  • Hepatitis B and C
  • Fat accumulating in the liver

Other possible causes include:

  • Buildup of iron in the body
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Accumulation of copper in liver
  • Bile ducts which are poorly formed
  • Inherited disorders of sugar metabolism
  • Genetic digestive disorder
  • Liver disease caused by your body's immune system
  • Destruction of the bile ducts
  • Hardening and scarring of the bile ducts
  • Infection
  • Medications

Symptoms

Liver Cirrhosis

LIVER CIRRHOSIS SYMPTOMS

Symptoms of cirrhosis can include:

  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Appetite loss
  • Weight loss
  • Muscle wasting
  • Feeling sick
  • Vomiting
  • Pain around the liver area
  • Itchy skin
  • Jaundice
  • A tendency to bleed and bruise more easily
  • Hair loss
  • Fever and shivering attacks

Swelling

Diagnosis

Liver Cirrhosis

LIVER CIRRHOSIS DIAGNOSIS

  • Liver and kidney function test
  • Hepatitis B and C tests
  • Clotting
  • Magnetic resonance elastography or transient elastography.
  • Imaging tests like MRI, CT and ultrasound create images of the liver.
  • Biopsy of liver

Management

Liver Cirrhosis

LIVER CIRRHOSIS AYURVEDIC TREATMENT

The Ayurvedic management of liver disease includes correct lifestyle and diet management along with use of some herbs which can effectively treat the condition.

Diet Recommendations (Aahar)

  • Complete abstinence from alcohol
  • Should undergo an initial liver cleaning with a juice for 7 days. Freshly extracted juices from lemon, papaya, grapes and lemon, papaya and grapes may be consumed; followed by the milk and fruit diet for two to three weeks
  • Post fruit and milk diet, the patient may gradually start well-balanced diet of three basic food groups, namely (i) seeds, nuts and grains, (ii) vegetables and (iii) fruits
  • An adequate high quality protein diet should be consumed
  • Vegetables such as beets, tomato, carrot, bitter gourd, egg-plant, radishes, squashes and papaya are useful in this condition.
  • All oils and fats should be avoided for several weeks.
  • The patient should avoid all refined, processed and canned foods as well as all preparations cooked in ghee, oil or butter and all meats rich in fat.
  • The use of salt should be restricted.

Lifestyle changes (Vihar)

  • Warm water enema should be used for cleansing the bowels.
  • Breathing and other exercises should be performed on a regular basis.
  • The patient should be advised bed rest.

FAQS

Liver Cirrhosis
  1. Are there more than one kind of hepatitis infections? If so, how are they caused?

Yes, there are 5 types of hepatitis infections that occur referred to as types A, B, C, D and E. The most common cause of hepatitis are viruses, but hepatitis may also be caused due to substance/drug abuse like excess use of some medicines or alcohol and some autoimmune diseases. The different hepatitis infections and their causes include:

Hepatitis A:

  • It is caused by the hepatitis A virus which is transmitted mostly by consuming contaminated food and drinks.

Hepatitis B

  • Hepatitis B is caused by the hepatitis B virus, which is transmitted from infective blood, semen and other body fluids. It can spread to babies from infected pregnant mothers during delivery, use of infected syringes, injection drug use, blood transfusion and unprotected sex.

Hepatitis C

  • Hepatitis C is caused by the hepatitis C virus. It is mostly transmitted through exposure to infective blood. It may spread through injection drug use, using contaminated injections during medical procedures and transfusions of contaminated blood and blood products

Hepatitis D

  • Hepatitis D is caused by the hepatitis D virus. Spreads through blood-to-blood contact or sexual contact. As it need hepatitis B virus to survive, it only affects people who are already infected with hepatitis B. The dual infection of HDV and HBV can result in a more serious disease.

Hepatitis E

  • Hepatitis E is caused by the hepatitis E virus. Spreads by consuming contaminated drinks or food.

Alcoholic hepatitis

  • Alcoholic hepatitis is a type of hepatitis caused by drinking excessive amounts of alcohol over many years.

Autoimmune hepatitis

  • Autoimmune hepatitis is caused when the immune system attacks and damages the liver.
  1. In jaundice, why do the eyes and skin become yellowish?

Jaundice is caused due to elevated blood levels of a body pigment secreted by liver bilirubin  which leads to yellowish discoloration of white coloured portion of the eyes, the skin and mucous membranes. Bilirubin is a yellow colored waste product that remains in the bloodstream once iron is removed from the haemoglobin. It is important to remember that jaundice is not a disease per se, but rather a visible sign of an underlying disease process.

  1. Is jaundice common in heavy alcohol drinkers?

Excessive intake of alcohol over several years, especially when nutrition is not adequately healthy, may lead to inflamed liver, which ultimately may cause a condition called as alcoholic hepatitis. People with alcoholic hepatitis usually have high blood levels of bilirubin (which is a yellow coloured waste in the blood), which is most commonly known as jaundice. 

  1. A family member has recently been diagnosed with liver cirrhosis. How can Ayurveda help in managing the condition?

Ayurveda believes in holistic management of liver cirrhosis through correct lifestyle and diet regime which can help manage the condition. These include:

Diet recommendations

  • Complete abstinence from alcohol
  • An initial liver cleaning may be advised. Freshly extracted juices from fruits like lemon, papaya and grapes may be consumed; as per physician’s recommendations.
  • The patient may gradually start well-balanced diet of three basic food groups, namely (i) seeds, nuts and grains, (ii) vegetables and (iii) fruits
  • An adequate high quality protein diet should be consumed
  • Vegetables such as beets, tomato, carrot, bitter gourd, egg-plant, radishes, squashes and papaya may be useful in this condition.
  • Oils and fats should preferably be avoided for several weeks.
  • The patient should avoid refined, processed and canned foods, preparations cooked in ghee, oil or butter and all meats rich in fat.
  • The use of salt should be restricted.

Lifestyle recommendations

  • The patient should be advised complete rest.
  • Warm water enema may be used for cleansing the bowels, as per physicians advice
  • Breathing and other exercises may be practiced.
  1. My doctor says I have fatty liver disease which has been caused due to factors other than alcohol intake. What could these reasons be?

Fat deposits in the liver cause fatty liver disease. Alcohol is a very common cause, but there are many other reasons for fatty liver disease, which in this case is called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. These include-

  • Obesity or being overweight
  • Metabolic disorder like - Type 2 diabetes, High blood pressure, High cholesterol
  • Age over 50 years
  • Smoking

References

Liver Cirrhosis
  1. NHS 2015. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cirrhosis/Pages/Introduction.aspx
  2. Mayo Clinic 2016. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cirrhosis/home/ovc-20187218
  3. Liver cirrhosis. https://jiva.com/diseases/liver-cirrhosis/
  4. Cirrhosis – symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic 2016. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cirrhosis/symptoms-causes/dxc-20187350
  5. Cirrhosis – symptoms. NHS 2015. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Cirrhosis/Pages/Symptoms.aspx
  6. Cirrhosis – tests and diagnosis. Mayo Clinic 2016. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cirrhosis/diagnosis-treatment/diagnosis/dxc-20187373
  7. A Complete Handbook of Nature Cure. http://www.healthlibrary.com/reading/ncure/chap34.htm

Keywords: Cirrhosis, Liver disorder, Ayurvedic medicines

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