The gradual development of inflammation, scarring and progressive degeneration in the functional tissues of the liver eventually leads to a condition known as cirrhosis. The liver is a vital organ in the human body and performs many essential functions within the human body, including the elimination of toxic substances from the body-it is also the main storage site for metabolic
sugars and glycogen, thus cirrhosis is a potentially very serious condition and can be fatal. While the progression of the disease can be halted or slowed, cirrhosis of the liver is considered to be an irreversible disease with serious results. Only very severe cirrhosis over the long term is likely to show symptoms and the symptoms in the early stages of the disease are vague. The first symptoms that the disease can elicit in the body include physical fatigue, sudden nausea, and problems with the appetite along with weight loss, other symptoms like abdominal bloating, irregularities in the bowel movement and pressure or pain just under the right ribs can also become evident. The disease often affects the blood clotting mechanism and thus bruising occurs very easily on the skin of the affected person. Physical symptoms can also include outward signs such as sagging muscles on the body, the ankles and the abdominal region may also swell up with water as the body becomes deficient in proteins-this is because the cirrhosis affected liver cannot convert proteins into a form useful for the body anymore. Outward signs of the disease are also apparent on the lips and the tongue, along with the palms; these become a shiny red color. The accompanying jaundice brings its own manifestations, and the entire skin along with the white of the eyes become yellow in color. Cirrhosis is further indicated by another symptom which is the development of a milk-white coloration in the nails. Persistent itching sensations all over the body may accompany the other symptoms. Because of the fact that the hormones released by the body are no longer destroyed or detoxified the later stages, may be patients who are men turning impotent and developing small breasts, women patients can stop menstruating altogether because of similar problems caused to their hormonal systems. Mental confusion and coma can come in the final stages if the cirrhosis is left untreated and unchecked, this comes about as the brain becomes affected by the accumulating toxins that the liver cannot eliminate or detoxify.
Persistent alcohol abuse over a long period of time is the cause for cirrhosis of the liver in approximately half of such cases. Individual attributes determine the actual safe level of alcohol consumption especially if a person uses alcohol regularly over a long period of time. Alcoholic women are much more likely to be affected with cirrhosis of the liver if they have abused alcohol over the long term compared to their male alcoholic counterparts. In addition cirrhosis of the liver can also come about in the body because of deficiencies in the level of magnesium, from long chloroform narcosis within the body, and through infection with the hepatitis virus in some cases. Inflammatory liver disease can also sometimes lead to cirrhosis of the liver and very rarely, an autoimmune disorder may be the responsible cause for cirrhosis.
Supplements and herbs
Vitamin deficiencies are very common in the bodies of people with cirrhosis because the liver is the organ responsible for converting vitamins into a usable form within the body; a malfunctioning liver affects the synthesis and metabolism of vitamins. Recovery from the worst effects of a vitamin deficiency can be obtained through supplementation especially when it is combined with a strict diet over a long period of time. To protect the liver from damage, supplements such as choline and methionine (amino acid) are strongly suggested for use by patients with cirrhosis of the liver. The use of these two supplements can reverse the worst affects of cirrhosis particularly in conjunction with improved dietary regimen.
Supplemental replacement of the B vitamins is a high priority requirement as this vitamin group is highly dependant on a properly functioning liver for optimal metabolic utilization within the body. Among all the B complex vitamins, supplements of the vitamin B12 should be considered particularly important, supplements of a sublingual tablet that dissolves under the tongue is the best way to use absorb this vitamin. Many environmental and dietary toxins accumulate as the liver fails to function and supplements of the vitamin C taken at any stage of cirrhosis protects the body and liver from damage. To compensate for other deficiencies make sure that a good multivitamin is added to the dosage regimen. The liver also deals with all dietary fats and is the site of storage for the fat-soluble vitamins A, D and E, till proper liver function is regained, supplements of these vitamins must also be included in a daily or regular basis.
The use of all of the herbal remedies below is intended as a support system to a change in the dietary regimen. These herbs will eliminate toxins and strengthen the liver, speeding up the recovery process.
The use of herbal supplements of the milk thistle seeds is suggested as these help protect the cell membranes in liver cells and neutralize the toxic substances accumulated there; the milk thistle's contains silymarin-which is the compound responsible for eliminating toxins. Cellular repair in the liver cells and the renewal of cellular machinery are other beneficial functions of the milk thistle. Dosage of the herbal supplement should be about 3 cups of an herbal tea made from the milk thistle tea taken once every day, preferably half an hour before mealtime for optimal results. The herbal tea can be made using a tsp. of crushed milk thistle seeds mixed in a cup of boiling water-let the herb steep in the water for ten minutes before straining and drinking. If you prefer the milk thistle can be flavored with peppermint by adding a few leaves of this herb while the tea is boiling. Another function of the body often affected adversely during cirrhosis is the circulatory system, to improve the circulation within the body, prepare a herbal combination using two tbsp. each of herbs such as the horsetail, the St. John's wort, the lemon balm, the yarrow and the chicory. Prepare this herbal combination tea in this manner by using a single cup of boiling water to steep a tbsp. of the herbal mix for ten minutes, after ten minutes have passed strain the tea and sip a cup of this tea slowly two to three times every day, preferably half an hour before mealtime. The flow of bile is one of the first processes affected inside the body; bile flow is promoted by the dandelion which also stimulates the other functions of the liver. Dosage of this herb can be a single tbsp. of fresh dandelion juice, taken three times every day throughout the treatment regimen. Bile flow and the relaxation of the biliary ducts in the liver are also promoted by another herb-the black radish, which can also be used to achieve similar results. Dosage of this herb can be a tbsp. of fresh black radish juice taken thrice daily before mealtime. Toxins within the body are also eliminated through the use of the stinging nettle which purifies the liver and brings about the elimination of toxins. Dosage of this herb can be a tbsp. of the fresh juice taken thrice daily before mealtime. The detoxification properties of the liver can be strengthened by taking a tbsp. of fresh artichoke juice thrice daily before mealtime-the herb also bolsters liver functioning. The detoxification process within the liver is strengthened by drinking the juice of the red beet which also helps rebuild and strengthen the vital hepatic functions. Dosage of this herb can be a single tbsp. of the herb, three to four times everyday throughout the treatment period. The abdominal region of above the liver can be rubbed and a daily massage of the whole body will also help, a hot hay flower pack can be used as a topical measure.
Additional things you may do
Priority must be given to rest and relaxation, bed rest and diet are very significant contributors to speeding up recovery. Topical treatments can include the regular use of warm packs and hydrotherapy douches for the liver-these benefit the liver by increasing the rate of circulation and aiding in the removal of toxins accumulating in the liver.
- Vitamin A, 10,000 IU.
- Vitamin B12 sublingual tablet, 1,000 mcg.
- Vitamin B complex, 100 mg.
- Vitamin C, with bioflavonoids, 1,000 mg thrice a day.
- Vitamin E, 400-800 IU.
- Multivitamin (take as directed).
- Methionine, 1,000 mg.
- Choline, 1,000 mg.
Other beneficial herbs