Published: 09/17/2014 - Updated: 10/29/2014
Author: MSc. Miriam Reyes
Cirrhosis is a condition in which the liver begins to weaken, deteriorate, and functioning poorly due to chronic damage whereby the healthy liver tissue is replaced by scar tissue. This partially blocks blood circulation, restricting its ability to control infections and eliminate toxins and bacteria. The liver is also limited in processing nutrients, hormones and medications, and creating the proteins that regulate blood clotting, as well as producing bile to help absorb fats (cholesterol), and fat-soluble vitamins.
A healthy liver has the ability to regenerate its own cells when they are damaged, but with cirrhosis, especially in its terminal stages, the liver is incapable of effectively replacing damaged cells. This is when a healthy liver is needed to survive.
Causes of Hepatic Cirrhosis:
- Medication use
- Toxins and infections
- Prolonged exposure to chemical toxins
- Parasitic infections
- Cardiac arrest
- Liver congestion
- Chronic hepatitis C, B, and D, which are liver infections that can be transmitted through contact with blood, semen, or other bodily fluids of the sick individual. These types of hepatitis cause liver inflammation and damage that could cause cirrhosis.
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: this condition causes an increase in liver fat that finally leads to cirrhosis. This condition is associate with being overweight, diabetes, protein undernourishment, coronary artery disease, and corticosteroid medications.
- Illnesses that damage or destroy the biliary tracts, cause bile reflux in the liver, and causes cirrhosis. These conditions could be biliary tract inflammation, or when the liver tract become tied or damaged accidentally during biliary liver surgery. Primary sclerosing cholangitis is another condition that causes damage and scars to the biliary tracts. For babies, the alagille syndrome, or biliary atresia, diseases in which the liver tracts do not exist or are not damaged, generally cause liver damage.
- Some damages that can interfere with the liver’s work and cause cirrhosis are: Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, cystic fibrosis, hemochromatosis, Wilson’s disease, galactosemia, and glycogenolysis.
We must point out that cirrhosis does not happen due to liver trauma or short term acute damage. This is generally the result of years of chronic damage, like alcohol abuse for example. A lot of people drink and their livers don’t suffer from it, but abuse and habitual consumption could turn into cirrhosis. Excessive use of medications or toxin exposure, etc., as well could cause this.
Symptoms and illnesses caused by cirrhosis
Symptoms generally do not present in the first stages of this disease, bu as it advance, you could experience the following symptoms:
- Tiredness, fatigue, or weakness for no apparent cause
- Loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, etc.
- Weight loss
- Emotional symptoms: anxiety, anguish, melancholy, doubt, discouragement
- Tendency towards irritability
- Sensitivities and allergies to medicines: cirrhosis reduces the liver’s ability to filter medications from the blood, which causes them to stay in the body longer, and causes side effects.
- Bruising and hemorrhages, when the liver decreases production of necessary proteins for coagulation.
- Weakened immune system, which predisposes the risk of contagions and infections.
- Kidney and lung failure.
- Gallbladder stones: if the cirrhosis does not allow free bile flow from and to the gallbladder, the bile hardens and calcifies, forming gallbladder stones.
- Varicose veins and hemorrhages due to portal hypertension. This condition is the result of cirrhosis that reduces the normal speed of blood flow, increases pressure in the portal vein. If the pressure increases too much, the veins could burst, and cause serious hemorrhages that will need immediate medical attention.
- Jaundice: this condition occurs because the sick liver cannot sufficiently eliminate bilirubin from the blood. This causes a yellow discoloration in the skin, the whites of the eyes, and also a darkening of the urine. Bilirubin is the pigment that gives bile its yellow color.
- Hepatic encephalopathy: due to the liver’s inability to eliminate toxins from the blood, they could accumulate in the brain, which causes a depletion of the nervous system and mental functions, and coma. This can cause symptoms like confusion, personality changes, memory loss, concentration problems, and change in sleep habits.
- Insulin resistance (and type II diabetes): cirrhosis can cause insulin resistance (a hormone produced by the pancreas that allows the body to use glucose as energy). When the body does not properly use insulin, the pancreas with be forced to meet the demand that is “lacking”, by producing more. But the excess sugar accumulate in the blood stream, leading to type II diabetes.
Emotional causes of hepatic cirrhosis:
The liver is known that the organ that holds anger, resentment, and “fiery” emotions. This means emotions that are related to anger and rage. These emotions frequently disturb internal organs, especially the liver, causing it to lose normal functioning. Chronic complaints, a tendency towards violence, perfectionism, and inflexibility, as well as silent withdraw or resentment, predispose one to contracting all sorts of liver conditions, among which, is cirrhosis.
Preventive remedies and solutions, and natural alternatives
- Prevention: to prevent cirrhosis, read all of its causes that provoke it, and avoid them.
- Mind and body: keeping the emotional causes in mind is absolutely indispensable as this condition’s deepest root. You should consider that a lot of time not knowing how to handle anger could cause a person to turn to alcohol, medications, and other measures to liberate the strong tensions that anger causes in the body. For this, we recommend readings that help a person become responsible for their emotions and to learn to handle, and understand, their emotional energy. A good way of understand anger is to begin noticing that anger is not provoked by an external circumstance, but rather, by an understanding in the way we see life.
- Aloe vera is an extraordinary remedy for helping the liver re-boot its functions, and it also has regenerative cellular properties. This noticeably affects the liver. Aloe can be drank as a juice, the most recommendable is fresh. If you can even get the plant and remove the pulp to blend into a juice, this would be a perfect liver tonic.
- Pyhytotherapy to heal the liver: there are a lot of herbs we can use to help the liver recover health. An herb called “gobernadora” is very useful in Mexico for balancing liver functions and helping the liver to recover strength. Rosemary and mint are herbs that help the liver, as well as milk thistle (Silybum Marianum) and artichoke, herbs that help facilitate the liver’s drainage function. For milk thistle, which is a good liver cleanser, you should consult a doctor if you are hypertensive or take antidepressants.
- Diet: you must avoid all types of refined sugar, as well as white flour and the long list of their byproducts, from pasta to breads, and even sodas, canned goods, etc. You should try all foods that are rich in antioxidants, like citrus fruits, broccoli, goji berries, blueberries, strawberries, etc. Fresh carrot juice is an excellent liver tonic, as well as cucumber and/or beets (combine these three vegetables in a daily juice, and your liver will be truly happy and well nourished). These foods help liver function and prevents liver deterioration.
- Lemon: the juice of one lemon dissolved in half a glass of warm water, drank before breakfast, is a very ancient and truly effective remedy for strengthening the liver functions, and helping it regenerate deteriorated cells.
- You must try to avoid all types of medications, because not only do they cause a lot of work for the liver, they affect the body’s ability to self-heal, weakening it over time and making it dependent on “outside” cures.
- Practicing Tai Chi, yoga, etc. These activities helps harmonize energy and help liberate emotions like anger and desperation.
Remember that illness is the result of a series of habits that accumulate over the years. But it is never too late to begin recovering your health.
Revised by: Dra. Loredana Lunadei on 10/29/2014
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