Liver Cirrhosis is a chronic disorder in which the healthy cells of the liver are replaced by unhealthy scarred cells and disturb the functions of the liver due to long term damage. Liver cirrhosis is an end stage of liver disease.
What are the causes of Liver Cirrhosis?
- Chronic alcohol consumption
- Scarring of the bile duct
- Cystic fibrosis
- Excessive iron build- up in the body
- Overuse of chemical-based medicines
- Chronic constipation
- Chronic viral hepatitis
- Accumulation of fat in the liver
- Intake of spicy and penetrative foods and beverages
What is the cause of Liver Cirrhosis according to Ayurveda?
In Ayurveda, liver disorders are grouped and termed as Yakrit Vikara. Yakrit means liver and vikara refers to disorder or derangement.
According to Master Sushrut (father of surgery), it is considered as the main site of the blood. Both the masters Charak and Sushrut referred 3,000 years back that bile variety (Ranjak Pitta) is responsible for the colour of liver even before body dissection and circulatory study in modern medicine.
Liver Cirrhosis is the end stage of liver disorder which is caused due to the excessive Pitta dosha in the body. Ayurveda considers liver cirrhosis under the complications of Kaamla. The kamala associated with ascites is termed as Kumbha in Ayurveda whereas with fever, it is known as Halimak. All types of liver cirrhosis respond well to the treatment mentioned in Ayurveda.
What is the Ayurvedic line of treatment for Liver Cirrhosis?
The Ayurvedic line of treatment for liver cirrhosis aims at reviving the damaged liver cells by prescribing herb that are detoxifying in nature. These herbs not only help in regenerating proper liver functions but also help in re-establishing the natural state of health in the most natural way.
Some of the herbs useful in Liver Cirrhosis are:
- Bhoomiamla (Phyllanthus niruri): The entire plant of Bhoomiamla possesses numerous medicinal properties.
- It helps to manage liver disorders due to its hepatoprotective, antioxidant and antiviral properties.
- Bhoomi amla has been used in Ayurveda since ancient times.
- This herb acts as a liver cleanser and rejuvenates the liver cells as well.
- It helps in detoxifying the damaged liver and nourish it. This is mainly because of its rejuvenating and Pitta balancing property.
- Bhringraj (Eclipta alba): Bhringraj is an herb which is widely used in the treatment of liver disorders.
- The anti-oxidants present in this herb lowers the toxic load on the liver and thus improves its functioning.
- Bhringraj also prevents inflammation of the liver due to its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It detoxifies blood as well.
- Amalaki (Emblica officinalis): Amla is one of the few herbs which helps in balancing all the three doshas in the body.
- The liver is the site in the body where toxins are found in excess amount.
- The anti-oxidants present in this wonderful fruit help in clearing toxins from the body. Therefore, it protects the liver from resulting damage.
- It inhibits the onset of liver fibrosis as well.
- Punarnava (Boerhavia diffusa): Punarnava is considered as a valuable medicinal plant in Ayurveda.
- Being coolant in nature, it helps in balancing Pitta dosha. It flushes out toxins from the liver, dhatus (tissues) and nourishes various body channels so that each and every tissue and cell of the body get proper nutrition.
- It is also useful in treating ascites caused due to liver cirrhosis. Ascites is a condition caused by fluid accumulation in the abdominal lining and it is particularly useful in treating specific types of ascites caused by certain liver disorders. Ascites is described as jalodar roga in Ayurveda with Vata Pradhan (vata dominant) disorder which blocks the channels withing the body making the water accumulated in the peritoneal cavity. In this case, punarnava is an excellent herb.
- Kalmegh (Andrographis paniculata): Kalmegh is commonly known as ‘King of Bitters’. This plant is famous by the name Chiretta.
- It might be bitter in taste but it has unmatchable health benefits.
- It is considered as one of the best herbs for liver disorders. In ancient times, this herb was used as a natural liver cleanser.
- Kalmegh is useful in liver cirrhosis as it helps the liver in clearing away the toxins and regenerates liver cells.
- Due to its bitter and cooling properties, it balances Pitta dosha especially elevated Pitta in the blood and stagnant Pitta in the liver (Ranjak Pitta), thus enhances liver function.
- Kasni (Cichorium intybus): Kasni or Chicoroy is a well-known coffee substitute.
- Kasni is suitable for all kinds of liver disorders. It has been used as blood purifier, hepatic tonic, mild laxative etc.
- It is kaphapitta shamaka in nature (reduces vitiated Kapha and Pitta doshas).
- Due to its anti-oxidant and hepatoprotective property, it protects the liver against damage caused by free radicals and also helps in maintaining normal bilirubin levels needed for normal liver function.
- Sharpunkha (Tephrosia purpurea): Sharpunkha is a famous Ayurvedic herb useful in liver cirrhosis and splenomegaly.
- It balances Pitta and Kapha doshas.
- Sharpunkha helps in liver cirrhosis by its detoxification property, prevents further damage to the liver cells and regeneration of liver cells.
- The plant is also used as a blood purifier.
Some Ayurvedic medicines useful in Liver Cirrhosis are:
- Arogyavardhini Vati
- Guduchi Satva
Diet and Lifestyle:
Patients having liver cirrhosis have poor appetite so low-fat and carbohydrate diet is likely to be recommended for liver function. Foods containing high salt should be avoided.
- Intake of spicy, fried food items, alcohol consumption should be strictly avoided.
- Intake of fresh coconut water on regular basis is recommended.
- Consumption of tea and coffee should be avoided.
- Use fresh buttermilk in the diet.
- Vegetables such as peas, cauliflower, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, ginger, broccoli and garlic should not be consumed.
- Fruits such as oranges, lemon, muskmelon, watermelon, mosmi, cucumber, mangoes, grapes and apricots should not be taken.
- Spices such as turmeric, pepper, cumin, coriander, fennel, thyme, cardamom and fenugreek should be included in the diet.
- Apples, avocado, soaked walnuts, papaya, strawberries, raisins can be included in the diet.
- Junk foods such as chocolates, packaged foods, foods containing preservatives should be strictly eliminated from the diet.
- Vegetables such as bitter gourd, round gourd, ridge gourd, pumpkin, radish, dandelion greens should be taken.
- Light exercises such as walking for 30 minutes, simple breathing exercises such as anulom-vilom is recommended.
Thus, liver cirrhosis which is considered as an incurable disease in modern medicine can be successfully managed in Ayurveda with herbs, herbal remedies and taking precautions in diet and making certain changes in lifestyle.