Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis refers to a group of chronic liver diseases that cause abnormal changes in the interstitial cells of the liver, in turn causing hardening and inflammation of the liver itself. As a result of cirrhosis, the liver becomes damaged and cannot perform its many functions, such as storage and filtering of blood, production of bile (which helps digest fat and fat-soluble vitamins), production of bilirubin (which gives stool its color), and many metabolic actions like the production of sugar into glycogen (the form in which carbohydrates are stored in the body for energy; thus, another classic symptom of liver disease is extreme fatigue).

Cirrhosis can also refer to any organ that has chronic interstitial inflammation.

What To Consider

Cirrhosis of the liver usually has a very long period in which there are no overt symptoms. Early possible signs of cirrhosis include fatigue, itching, rashes of unknown causes, constipation or diarrhea, alternating color of the stools, fever, and indigestion.

When cirrhosis does finally manifest overtly, its symptoms include abdominal swelling, pain, vomiting of blood, swelling of the body in general, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin). Advanced stages of cirrhosis can lead to very severe symptoms that may result in coma and death.

Another form of cirrhosis, known as biliary cirrhosis, first affects the bile ducts, then moves into the liver, and is a disease of unknown causes. It is most frequent in women 35-60 years of age; 30 percent have no symptoms but the condition is discovered through abnormal blood tests. 50 percent have symptoms of itching, rash, and fatigue as the initial signs, which can occur months or even years before the actual disease is identified. Fifty percent of people at time of diagnosis have enlarged, excessively firm but non-tender livers, and enlarged spleens. Ten percent of people have patches of darkness on the skin and less then 10 percent have jaundice. Other possible signs of biliary cirrhosis include clubbing of nails, yellow stools, and kidney, bone, and nerve disease.

Most pharmaceutical drugs, if taken on a consistent basis, can also cause liver disease. If you are on such medications, be sure to have your liver function monitored regularly (every 3-6 months) by your physician, and consider other healing alternatives that might reduce or eliminate your need for medications.

Liver function can also be impaired by a toxic bowel. For this reason, bowel cleansing and rejuvenation techniques may be very important. In severe cases, repeat the bowel cleanse once a month, or as needed, and stay on bowel nutrients for up to one year depending on the severity of your condition and your response to treatment.

Caution

All cases of cirrhosis require immediate medical attention.

Self-Care Tips

Diet
Diet is extremely important in preventing and reversing all forms of liver disease, including cirrhosis. Eat a low-protein, whole foods diet of organic foods, including seeds, nuts, whole grains, beans, nuts, and goat or rice milk, and also eat plenty of leafy green vegetables. Avoid all alcohol and processed fats such as margarine, hydrogenated oils, and foods with these oils added, rancid oils, and hardened vegetable fats. Instead, use cold-processed oils such as olive. Also increase your consumption of foods high in amino acids and potassium, such as nuts, seeds, bananas, raisins, rice, wheat bran, kelp, dulse, brewer's yeast, and molasses, and drink plenty of pure, filtered water. Avoid animal protein as well as raw or undercooked fish, and limit your overall intake of fish.

Also avoid all stressors on the liver, such as overeating, drugs of any kind, a highly processed diet (especially one high in processed fats, additives and preservatives), and foods high in animal protein, and accumulation of toxins from chemicals that have to be processed by the liver such as alcohol, drugs, acetaminophen, insecticides, and chemicals from rancid and processed oils. Toxins from Candida yeast organisms within the body can also contribute to liver stress, as can the use of contraceptives.

Nutritional Supplementation
Lipotrophic factor nutrients are essential for aiding liver function. These include vitamin C, vitamin E, silymarin, lipoic acid, and raw liver tablets. Other useful nutrients in this regard include vitamin B complex, vitamin B12, folic acid, niacin (in small doses such as 10-30 mg. three times), liver glandulars, digestive enzymes with hydrochloric acid (HCl) and ox bile extract, and the amino acids L-methionine, L-carnitine, L-cysteine, L-glutathione, and L-arginine. Caution: For all cases of liver disease, do not use more than 10,000 IU of vitamin A daily and avoid cod liver oil entirely.

Aromatherapy
Juniper, rosemary, and rose essential oils can all help stimulate liver fucntion.

Herbs
Milk thistle is an excellent herb to help in the treatment of cirrhosis because it helps liver cells regenerate. It may be taken in the form of tablets or the non-alcohol extract called a glycerate. The dose is based upon the content of silymarin (the active ingredient of milk thistle) and so standardized extracts are preferable. The typical dosage range is 70-200 mg of silymarin daily. The herb Picrorhiza kurroa is not as well-known as milk thistle, but may have similar effects. Licorice can also be helpful. The Chinese herb bupleurum (chai-hu) may also be helpful, as can the herbal mixture of kutki (200 mg), shanka pushpi (500 mg), and guduchi (300 mg), with is used by practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine to boost liver function. Take 1/4 teaspoon of this mixture taken twice a day, after lunch and dinner, with aloe vera juice.

Hydrotherapy
Constitutional hydrotherapy: if illness is severe, apply two to seven times weekly. Contrast application or cold friction to stimulate liver function: apply daily.

Juice Therapy
The following juices can help the liver eliminate toxins that cause stress on it: beet and carrot juice and wheat grass juice. To either juice, you can add raw flaxseed oil and garlic as tolerated.

Caution

If your symptoms persist despite the above measures, seek the help of a qualified health professional.

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