How to treat liver cirrhosis?

The liver performs many critical functions – providing clotting proteins necessary for the blood to clot, and removing toxic substances. The liver also regulates the body’s glucose and fat requirements.

What is cirrhosis?
Cirrhosis implies scarring of the liver. Potentially life threatening, in an advanced stage, 80-90% of the liver may be damaged and replaced with dead tissue.

In cirrhosis, the relationship between blood and liver cells is destroyed. Even though the liver cells that survive or are newly-formed may be able to produce and remove substances from the blood, they do not have the normal, intimate relationship with the blood, and this interferes with the liver cells’ ability to add or remove substances from the blood.

A second reason for the problems caused by cirrhosis is the disturbed relationship between the liver cells and the channels through which bile flows. Bile is a fluid produced by liver cells. It has two important functions: to aid in digestion and to remove and eliminate toxic substances from the body. In cirrhosis, the canaliculi are abnormal and the relationship between liver cells and canaliculi is destroyed, just like the relationship between the liver cells and blood in the sinusoids.

As a result, the liver is not able to eliminate toxic substances normally, and they can accumulate in the body. To a minor extent, digestion in the intestine also is reduced.

Cirrhosis is caused by sustained liver damage over several years either by alcohol, viral infection (Hepatitis B, C), a toxic substance (for eg. drugs, excess copper or iron in the liver), or by blockage of the billiary system such that the liver undergoes progressive scarring that slowly replaces all of normal liver cells.

Symptoms of liver cirrhosis
a. Edema in the legs and the abdomen,
b. Fatigue
c. Yellowing of the skin, nails and eyes
d. Itching
e. Profuse nose bleeds
f. Redness of the palms
g. Small red spots and tiny lines on the skin called spider angiomas
h. Bleeding from enlarged veins (varices) in the digestive tract
i. Weight loss and muscle wasting
j. Belly pain or discomfort
k. Frequent infections
l. Confusion

Herbs effective for protecting the liver
a. Andrographis paniculata (kalmegh) – Andrographolide, the active constituent isolated from the plant Andrographis paniculata, shows significantly increased viability of the hepatocytes. For centuries Andrographis has been an important herb in the Asian healing systems of Ayurveda, Unani and traditional Chinese Medicine. Traditionally, this herb has been used to potentiate immune system response to inflammation and infections, and as an anti-inflammatory, antipyretic (lowers fevers) and a hepato-protective.
b. Phyllanthus Amaris (Bhuiamala) – Phyllanthus Amaris has been researched for its effects on hepatitis. Clinically reported that 22 of 37 cases of Hepatitis B lost their “carrier” status after using the herb for a month.
c. Boerhavia diffusa (Punarnava) – An alcoholic extract of whole plant, Boerhavia diffusa given orally exhibited hepatoprotective activity. The extract also produced an increase in normal bile flow suggesting a strong choleretic activity.
d. Eclipta alba (Bhringaraj) – Was significantly restored by Ea. The study shows that hepatoprotective activity of Ea is by regulating the levels of hepatic microsomal drug metabolising enzymes.
e. Swertia Chirata (Chirayata) – Simultaneous treatments with S. Chirata caused improvement at both biochemical and histo-pathological parameters.
f. Terminalia belerica (Baheda) – Induced physiological and biochemical alterations in the liver. Administration of compound I led to significant reversal of majority of the altered parameters. Our results confirm the presence of hepato protective activity in altered parameters.
g. Tenospora cordifolia (Guduchi) – Outstanding results in people suffering from jaundice have been obtained by using this herb.
h. Picrorhiza kuroa (Katuki) – Picrorrhiza Kurroa is one of the herbs they recommend to support the liver not only in everyday situations, but also in cases where severe viral infections prevail.

Home remedies
Although simple, if regularly practiced can prove effective in treating liver cirrhosis
a. Drink Giloy (Tenospora cordifolia) juice mixed with honey.
b. Add black salt to tomato juice and consume it once a day.
c. Soak a tender bark of acacia tree in water overnight and consume it in the morning.
d. Obtain a tablespoon of juice by grinding the black seeds of papaya and mix with 10 drops of fresh limejuice. Drink this concoction twice a day for a month.

Ayurveda panchakarma for cirrhosis
Ayurveda emphasizes preventative and healing therapies along with various methods of purification and rejuvenation. To achieve this balanced state of body, mind and consciousness, Ayurveda prescribes panchakarma therapy for the cleansing of body toxins.

Panchakarma means five purification process or therapies. Ayurvedic treatments give more emphasis on prevention than cure. That’s why prevention is always better than cure.
Panchakarma is of purification type of treatment. There are many subtypes of this therapy and different types of herbal massages, fomentations such as steam, external oil treatments, Basti (medicated enemas), Virechana (purgation through herbs), Vamana (emesis through herbs), Nasya (nasal administration of oils) etc. are also incorporated. These practices are extremely helpful in relieving deep-seated diseases as well as being beneficial for maintaining and improving physical and mental health.

Lifestyle changes, reduced alcohol intake, increased consumption of water and, fresh vegetables and fruits improves liver function. Following Ayurvedic treatments, administering medicines and incorporating yoga in some way into the daily routine can also prove beneficial.

If you have a query for Dr. Gowthaman now! And don’t forget to include `Ayurveda FAQ` in the subject line.
Image: snowpeaq&bockchoi

Also read:
Heal sinusitis naturally
Ayurveda therapies, indications and benefits