Cirrhosis is the term used to describe the end stages of liver disease where chronic inflammation of liver cells has caused an extensive build up of scar tissue in the liver. Scar tissue is similar to collagen as it is tough fibrous tissue; this scar tissue gradually replaces damaged liver cells. This scar tissue is not functional and cannot do the work of liver cells. Cells in the liver known as stellate cells produce the scar tissue to protect themselves from the inflammation that is occurring in the liver. This inflammation is produced by free radicals generated by such things as viruses, toxins, excess iron, excess copper, unhealthy fats, alcohol, and some drugs. In autoimmune liver disease, your immune system produces antibodies that attack and damage liver cells.
A healthy liver does not have many stellate cells and thus excessive amounts of scar tissue are not produced. In contrast, in a liver that is chronically inflamed, the stellate cells become activated and they multiply and produce excessive scar tissue (hard fibrotic collagen). A cirrhotic liver is hardened with scar tissue, which reduces its blood supply. There is not enough healthy liver tissue remaining to perform the metabolic and detoxification processes that the liver must perform to keep the body healthy.
What causes cirrhosis?
- Excessive alcohol consumption.
- Chronic infection with the hepatitis B or C viruses.
- Autoimmune liver conditions such as autoimmune hepatitis and primary biliary cirrhosis.
- Inherited metabolic disorders such as Wilson’s disease (copper overload) and hemochromatosis (iron overload).
- Adverse reactions to some drugs.
- Fatty Liver Disease.
What are the possible symptoms of cirrhosis?
Signs of advanced cirrhosis may include:
- spider naevi – spider shaped capillaries on the skin
- excessive bruising
- vomiting blood
- jaundice (yellow discoloration of skin and eyes)
- altered liver size
- enlarged spleen
- clubbing of the ends of the fingers
- ascites (fluid build up in the abdomen)
- swelling of the limbs with fluid (edema)
- a flapping tremor of the hands
- mental confusion and disorientation
- esophageal varices (swollen veins in the esophagus)
To overcome these problems, drugs can only play a limited role that is mostly concerned with the control of symptoms. To treat the underlying causes we need to turn to the power of nutritional medicine. Over the past two decades there have been enormous advances in information in the scientific and medical literature linking incorrect nutrition to disease states. Most diseases are associated with nutritional imbalances. Dietary changes and the appropriate use of nutrients will reduce the risk of liver disease and are becoming increasingly important in the treatment of illness.
- “The Liver Cleansing Diet”– This book provides vital information for supporting healthy liver cells.
- “Raw Juices Can Save your Life” – Raw vegetable juices are a critical component of any nutritional program.
- “Fatty Liver – You Can Reverse It”
- Your diet should include plentiful vegetables and fruits, especially raw and fresh, stir fried or roasted.
- Processed foods, hydrogenated vegetable oils, alcohol, tobacco and high sugar foods should be avoided.
- If the patient is in “liver failure”, he/she should follow a low protein diet, which will produce less ammonia in the body. The build up of ammonia in the blood affects the brain badly causing mental confusion and cognitive impairment. Some protein can be obtained from vegetarian sources such as legumes, nuts and grains and seeds, as this does not build up ammonia levels as much as animal sources of protein. A poorly functioning liver cannot breakdown ammonia into urea and creatinine, which are easily excreted from the body via the kidneys.
Raw juices can improve the function of the liver, bowels and kidneys and increase the elimination of toxins and waste products from the body.
Appropriate juice recipes found in the “Raw Juices Can Save Your Life” book are:
Liver Cleansing Juice
This juice is high in Vitamin C and sulfur compounds to cleanse the liver.
- 2 dandelion leaves or 2 spinach leaves or 2 large cabbage leaves
- 1/2 cup broccoli florets
- 1/4 cauliflower or 2 large Brussels sprouts
- 1 clove garlic or 1 small radish (optional)
- 1/2 cup parsley
- 1 apple, whole
- 1 lime or 1 lemon
- Wash, trim and chop produce and process through juicer.
- This is a very strong mixture and may be diluted 1 part juice to 1 part water or you can dilute it with cold herbal or fruit flavored tea.
- Drink 250 to 500 ml (8 to 16 oz) daily.
Liver Tonic Juice
- 1 carrot
- 4.5 oz (125 g) cucumber – leave skin on
- 1 orange
- 2 dandelion or 2 cabbage leaves
- Wash, trim and chop all ingredients and process in juicer.
- Drink 2 to 3 small cups daily.
- Avoid deep fried food, margarine and hydrogenated vegetable oils.
- Avoid foods and drinks high in sugar. Excess sugar can do just as much harm to the liver as alcohol.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners; use stevia instead.
Recommended supplements for cirrhosis
- Livatone Plus Powder or Capsules
Take 1 teaspoon twice daily in raw juices or water or 2 capsules twice daily with meals – Livatone Plus is the leading liver formula and has been used for over 20 years to improve liver function. Livatone Plus contains a synergistic mixture of milk thistle, N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC), taurine, selenium, activated B group vitamins and antioxidants.
- N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC)
Take between one and two capsules twice daily. Along with selenium, N-Acetyl-Cysteine is the raw material for glutathione production in the liver. Glutathione is strongly anti-inflammatory and a powerful detoxification agent; it also helps to repair liver damage.
- MSM Plus Vitamin C Powder
Take 1/2 teaspoon twice daily in juice or water- MSM is an organic sulfur food powder. Sulfur may assist in softening and preventing further scar tissue.
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.