Causes and Symptoms
In the early stages of the disease, there may be nothing more than frequent attacks of indigestion, with occasional nausea and vomiting. There may also be some abdominal pain and loss of weight in the advanced stage, the patient develops a low grade fever. He has a foul breath, a jaundiced skin and distended veins in the abdomen. Reddish hair like markings, resembling small spiders, may appear on the face, neck, arms, and trunk. The abdomen becomes bloated and swollen, the mind gets clouded, and there may be considerable bleeding from the stomach.
Excessive use of alcohol over a long period is the most potent cause of cirrhosis of the liver in adults. The disease can progress to the final stage of hepatic failure if the person does not abstain from alcohol. Poor nutrition can be another causative factor in the development of cirrhosis and a chronic alcoholic usually suffers from severe malnutrition. Cirrhosis may also result from a highly toxic condition of the system in general.
Papaya Seeds: The black seeds of papaya have been found beneficial in the treatment of cirrhosis of the liver, caused by alcoholism and malnutrition. A tablespoon of juice obtained by grinding the seeds, mixed with ten drops of fresh lime juice, should be given once or twice daily for about a month as a medicine for this disease.
Trailing Eclipta: The herb trailing eclipta, botanically known as Eclipta Alba, has proved invaluable in cirrhosis of the liver. The juice of all parts of this plant should be taken in doses of one teaspoon, mixed with one teaspoon of honey, three times daily.
Picrorhiza: Picrorhiza, botanically known as Picrorhiza kurroa, is a drug of choice in Ayurveda (herbal treatment) for cirrhosis of the liver among adults. The root of the herb is given in powdered form. A tablespoon of the powder, mixed with an equal quantity of honey, should be administered thrice daily. In case of accompanying constipation, the dose should be increased to double and should be given with a cup of warm water, three to four times a day. It stimulates the liver to produce more bile, the excretion of which relieves congestion of the liver and the tissues.
Vegetable Juices: The juice of carrots, in combination with spinach juice, has been found beneficial in the treatment of cirrhosis of the liver. Spinach juice- 200 ml should be mixed with 300 ml of carrot juice to prepare 500 ml or half a litre of combined juices. Alternatively, 300 ml of carrot juice, combined with 100 ml each of cucumber and beet juices can be used effectively.
The patient must abstain from alcohol in any form. He should undergo an initial liver-cleaning program by going on a juice fast for seven days. Freshly extracted juices from red beets, lemon, papaya, and grapes may be taken during this period. This may be followed by a fruit and milk diet for two to three weeks. In this regimen, the patient should have three meals a day of fresh juicy fruits such as apples, pears, grapes, grapefruit, oranges, pineapples, and peaches, and a litre of milk divided into three parts, each part to be taken with each fruit meal. The milk should be gradually increased by 250 ml daily and go up to two litres a day. It should be fresh and slightly warmed, if desired. It should be sipped very slowly.
After the fruit and milk diet, the patient should embark upon a well-balanced diet, consisting of seeds, nuts, grains, vegetables, and fruits with emphasis on raw, organically-grown foods. Vegetables such as beets, squashes, bitter gourd, egg-plant, tomatoes, carrots, radishes, and papaya are especially useful in this condition.
All fats and oils should be excluded from the diet for several weeks. The patient should avoid all refined, processed, and canned foods; spices and condiments; strong tea and coffee; fried foods; all preparations cooked in ghee, oil, or butter; all meats; and all chemical additives in food. The use of salt should be restricted.
The patient should be kept in bed. A warm-water enema should be used daily to cleanse the bowels during the juice fast and thereafter, if necessary. Application of hot and cold compresses, for two to three minutes each, on the liver area are beneficial. The morning dry friction, breathing and other exercises should form a regular daily feature of the treatment.