Cirrhosis of the liver refers to all forms of liver disease characterised by a significant loss of cells.
It is one of the most serious hepatic
diseases. The liver gradually contracts in size and becomes
hard and leathery.
The liver is one of the most important glandular organs in the body. It is located high up on the
right side of the abdomen just under the diaphragm. It is a vast chemical laboratory which
performs many important functions. It produces bile, cholesterol, lecithin, blood albumin vital to
the removal of tissue
wastes prothrombin essential to the clotting of blood and numerous
enzymes. It inactivates hormones no longer needed, synthesises many amino acids
building tissues and breaks proteins
into sugar and fat when required for energy. It stores
vitamins and minerals. It also destroys harmful substances and detoxifies drugs, poisons,
chemicals and toxins from bacterial infections. Liver damage interferes with all of these
In cirrhosis of the liver
, although regenerative activity continues, the progressive loss of liver
cells exceeds cell replace- ment. There is also progressive distortion of the vascular system
which interferes with the portal blood flow through the liver. The progressive degeneration of
liver structure and function may ultimately lead to hepatic
failure and death.
In the early stages of the diseases, there may be nothing more than frequent attacks of gas and
, with occasional nausea and vomiting. There may be some abdominal pain and loss
of weight. In the advanced stage, the patient develops a low grade fever. He has a foul breath,
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
has been estimated that one out of 12 chronic alcoholics in the United States develops cirrhosis.
The disease can progress to end-stage of hepatic
failure if the person does not abstain from
. Cirrhosis appears to be related to the duration of alcohol
intake and the quantity
consumed daily. Recent researches indicate that the average duration of alcohol
produce cirrhosis is 10 years and the dose is estimated to be in excess of 500 ml of alcohol
Poor nutrition can be another causative factor in the development of cirrhosis and a chronic
alcoholic usually suffers from severe malnutrition as he seldom eats. Other causes of cirrhosis
are excessive intake of highly seasoned food, habitual taking of quinine for a prolonged period in
tropical climate, and drug treatments for syphillis, fever and other diseases. It may also result
from a highly toxic condition of the system in general. In fact, anything which continually
overburdens the liver cells and leads to their final breakdown can be a contributing cause of
The patient should be kept in bed. He must abstain completely from alcohol
in any form. He
should undergo an initial liver cleaning programme with 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 the fruit and milk diet for two to three weeks.
In this regimen, the patient should have three meals a day, each of fresh juicy fruits and milk.
The fruits may include apples, pears, grapes, grape fruit, oranges, pineapples and peaches. One
litre of milk may be taken on the first day. It should be increased by 250 ml. daily upto two to two
and a half litres a day. The milk should be fresh and unboiled, but may be slightly warmed if
desired. It should be sipped very slowly.
After the fruit and milk diet, the patient may gradually embark upon a well-balanced diet of three
basic food groups, namely (i) seeds, nuts and grains, (ii) vegetables and (iii) fruits, with
emphasis on raw organically grown foods. An adequate high quality protein diet is necessary in
cirrhosis. The best complete proteins
for liver patients are obtained from raw goat `s milk,
home-made raw cottage cheese, sprouted seeds and grains and raw nuts, especially almonds.
Vegetables such as beets, squashes, bitter gourd, egg-plant, tomato, carrot, radishes and
papaya are useful in this condition. All fats and oils should be excluded from the diet for several
The patient should avoid all refined, processed and canned foods,sugar in any form, spices and
condiments, strong tea and coffee, fried foods,all preparations cooked in ghee, oil or butter and
all meats rich in fat. The use of salt should be restricted. The patient should also avoid all
chemical additives in food and poisons in air, water and environment.
Warm water enema should be used during the treatment to cleanse the bowels. If constipation
habitual, all steps should be taken for its eradication. Application of alternate compress to liver
area followed by general wet sheet rub will be beneficial. The morning dry friction and breathing
and other exercises should form a regular daily feature of the treatment.