What Is Cirrhosis of the Liver?
Cirrhosis of the liver is when liver tissue hardens, liver cells begin to scar, and a state of perpetual inflammation sets in. It is a disease which continues to worsen as time passes, as the liver is unable to function properly. Once cirrhosis begins, there is no cure, although diet and natural treatment for liver cirrhosis can help.
What causes this disease? More often than not, the culprit is excessive alcohol consumption. Years of saturating the body with toxins such as alcohol, especially when combined with a poor diet, eventually take their toll on the liver. The liver is one of the main avenues of detoxification in the body; it helps to purify the blood. It also plays a central role in breaking down fats and absorbing nutrients through the secretion of bile. Once diagnosed, abstaining from alcohol and following a strict cirrhosis of the liver diet are absolutely necessary, forcing people to make huge life changes in order to sustain their health. The hepatitis C virus and malnutrition are also causes.
A Healthy Diet
Natural treatment for liver cirrhosis includes eating a specific diet. A specific diet can appear extremely demanding, particularly for people who are used to eating a standard American diet (SAD), rich in meats, dairy, and processed foods. It is however important because the liver can no longer take the strain of heavy digestion and a deluge of waste from unhealthy foods. It also cannot handle excess vitamin A, found in almost all animal products. Talk to your doctor about what is right for you and take into consideration the following dietary guidelines.
An extreme diet for liver cirrhosis is almost completely vegetarian. Red meat, chicken, and pork should be eliminated, and fish should only be consumed once or twice a week. Milk, butter, margarine, and any hydrogenated fatty acids should be avoided; so as to prevent undue work for the liver. Even sugary foods, white flour based foods, processed and fried foods, white rice, any stimulants, including caffeine or herbal stimulants, spices, salt, and pepper are not a part of the cirrhosis of the liver diet.
What can be eaten then? Plenty of fruits and vegetables, fresh fruit and vegetable juices and raw foods, such as almonds, grains, and seeds, uncooked, cold-pressed oils, and raw goat cheese. Whole grains, such as brown rice and oatmeal. Cooked oils, nuts, and seeds can be harmful as their fatty acids will be more difficult to digest. It is helpful to start the cirrhosis of the liver diet with two weeks of consuming only raw fruits, vegetables, and fresh juices.
Eat plenty of vitamin K rich foods for blood clotting, such as green leafy vegetables; potassium rich foods, such as bananas, prunes, and brewer’s yeast; legumes, as they contain the amino acid arginine, which helps detoxify ammonia, and cleansing juices, such as beet, carrot, and cucumber. This diet will not cure the disease, but it will slow its progression.
Nutritional Therapy and Herbs
Aside from eating well, using a natural treatment for liver cirrhosis can support the liver and promote healing. Evening primrose oil supplements are beneficial as they help to balance essential fatty acids in the body — many people with liver disease have imbalances. Garlic supplements help by naturally detoxifying the bloodstream, lessening the work of the liver.
There are also a number of useful herbal treatments to use. Alfalfa and nettles are rich in vitamin K and promote digestive health; aloe vera juice helps to cleanse, heal, and reduce inflammation; burdock, dandelion, and red clover are all common blood cleansers. Drink one to three cups of any of these herbal teas every day, and drink aloe vera juice in the morning and the evening. Milk thistle extract has also proven to help repair the liver in research.
Whatever treatment is used, or diet followed, remember that cirrhosis is a very serious disorder. If you believe you may be suffering, consult your health care practitioner.
Balch, Phyllis A. “Prescription for Nutritional Healing” Fourth Edition (Penguin Books, 2006).
photo credit: Plindberg
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