Can Ayurveda help recover from Liver Cirrhosis?
The liver is the largest and one of the most important organs in the human body. The liver continuously cleanses and keeps our body free from unwanted wastes especially toxins that accumulate through drugs, hormones, alcohol, chemicals, etc. Liver cells prevent damages to the body by the continuous detoxification process but if the liver slows down the process it damages the organ which is due to the build-up of toxins.
According to Ayurveda, liver cirrhosis can be interpreted as ‘Yakrit Vriddhi’ (meaning enlargement of the liver) and the seat of Pitta responsible for metabolic activities that take place in the liver. Aggravation of Pitta Dosha leads to excessive production of bile or obstruction in the flow of bile resulting in decreased enzyme activity and thus lowered metabolism.
Causes of liver cirrhosis:
Consumption of excessive alcohol – Alcohol consumption from several years leads to damaging the liver and it may lead to cirrhosis.
Hepatitis B, C, and D – The hepatitis virus leads to inflammation of the liver and further damages causing cirrhosis.
Being unhealthy is an important cause to increase the pitta dosha. Consuming too spicy, salty, sour, oily food and preserved food creates imbalances amongst dosha and may cause the disease.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) –This disease is associated with obesity, diabetes, lack of protein, coronary artery disease, and corticosteroid medications. The excessive fat deposit on the liver eventually leads to cirrhosis.
Consumption of excessive drugs for arthritis, gout, skin problems and other related challenges maybe some of the reasons for the degeneration of liver conditions.
Biliary cirrhosis may also lead to liver cirrhosis.
Other causes may be hereditary, auto-immune disorder, parasitic infection, etc.
What are the symptoms: Symptoms may not be noted in the early stages but as the disease progress one may experience the following symptoms:
Nausea, vomiting, fatigue and weight loss
Jaundice and itching
Edema of the ankle, legs and abdomen
Ascites and small spider-like blood vessels underneath the skin
Confusion and personality changes may also be seen
How can Ayurveda help? Ayurveda has many herbs that can strengthen the liver, help in removing the root cause of liver cirrhosis and simultaneously reducing the symptoms. Improper digestion and low absorption rate are due to the disturbance of Agni (digestive fire) and the vitiation of pitta dosha leading to an imbalance in the Vata and Kapha dosha. Lowering of Agni Bala (strength) and imbalanced pitta along with other Dosha leads to the intoxication of rasa and raktadhatu that causes cirrhosis. It is a deep-seated disease of the koshta where one can observe that the portal gets obstructed due to the roughness of the liver.
What is the process for the treatment? Treatments include panchakarma procedures, internal medication, diet restrictions, lifestyle changes, avoiding alcohol consumption. Virechana is advised to eliminate excessive pitta dosha if symptoms persist and on certain cases, Vamana may also be initiated if there is aggravated Kapha dosha. Expelling excessive Kapha and Pitta dosha helps in activating metabolism, cleansing and regenerating the liver.