Cirrhosis treatments are probably not something you have on your health radar. Diabetes treatments? Sure! Heart disease treatments? All over it? But cirrhosis treatments? Mm.. likely not so much.
But cirrhosis is a condition you might want to think about starting to keep an eye on, too. Though it does not yet affect the same number of Americans as conditions like diabetes or heart disease, the rate at which it is causing deaths is growing alarmingly. Shockingly, from 1999 to 2016, annual deaths from cirrhosis rose by a whopping 65 percent to around 34,174 deaths per year. (That’s about half of the deaths caused by diabetes and right around the number of deaths caused car accidents or gun violence in the US each year!)
And do you want to know the most upsetting part of these statistics? The evidence suggests that, with appropriate lifestyle changes, many of these deaths could have been avoided. Seriously, the largest increases in death rates (10.5 percent per year starting in 2009) appeared in people between the ages of 25 and 34 years old, and the rise was almost entirely alcohol related.
To understand why alcohol is so closely linked to cirrhosis, and what treatments can be helpful in fighting this epidemic, we need to establish what cirrhosis is, and how it affects your liver and your health.
Your Liver: A Detoxification, Regulation and Metabolic Powerhouse
The best place to start when talking a cirrhosis is with a tour of your healthy liver!
The liver is the largest internal organ in your body. Around the size of a football, this incredible organ weighs about three pounds in a “normal sized human” (whatever that is!), and can be found just under your rib cage, above your gallbladder, pancreas, and intestines, on the right side of your abdomen.
Your liver is comprised of two large sections. These sections are known as the right and the left lobes. These lobes are separated by a band of connective tissue which anchors your liver to your abdominal cavity.
The tissue of your liver is made up thousands of small groups of liver cells, known as lobules. Running between your lobules are thousands of different canals that carry blood and bile to and from your liver cells. The blood comes directly from your digestive organs, via your portal vein, to flow into your liver. It contains nutrients, but it can also hold medication or potentially toxic substances from your food, as well.
Once the compounds (nutrients, medications and/or toxins) in the blood reach your liver, they are processed, stored, altered, and/or detoxified. Then, they are either passed back into the blood for the body to use, or moved to the bowel so that they can be eliminated. Essentially, your liver acts as a giant filter that cleanses the blood coming from your digestive tract before it goes to the rest of your body. This is your liver’s main job and it is a seriously important one!
As if this weren’t enough responsibility, your liver also has two other absolutely essential roles in keeping you healthy, too: it maintains the health of your blood and coordinates your body’s energy metabolism.
Liver and Blood Health
To protect the health of your blood, your liver does two things. First, it uses vitamin K to produce the proteins integral for allowing your blood to clot normally (so you don’t get blood clots when you shouldn’t or bleed-out if you are wounded). Second, it breaks down old or damaged blood cells to make sure your blood can carry oxygen through your body efficiently. Clotting properly and carrying oxygen — the two most important functions of blood, and they are both wrapped up in the function of your liver.
Liver and Metabolism
To keep your metabolism running smoothly, your liver helps coordinate numerous metabolic and digestive processes that help your body use fat, carbohydrates and amino acids the way it’s supposed to.
For your fat metabolism, your liver does two important things. First, it helps break down fats so that your body can use them for energy. Second, it produces a whopping liter of bile every single day. Bile is a thick yellow liquid that flows into your small intestine and helps your intestinal cells break down and actually absorb the fat from the food that you eat!
When your blood sugar levels increase after a meal, your liver removes any excess sugar from your blood and converts it into glycogen, storing it safely away. Later, if your blood sugar becomes too low, your liver breaks down this glycogen and releases the sugar back into the blood. These processes — storing sugar when there is excess, and releasing sugar when there is too little — keeps your blood sugar levels steady, even, and healthy!
Finally, your liver also helps regulate your protein metabolism. In times of calorie restriction, your liver cells convert amino acids from your food into either carbohydrates or fats. The rest of your cells can then use these newly made sugars and fats, helping support normal body function, even when you have few calories around.
Talk about a pretty incredible organ that you really want to have healthy! But if you have cirrhosis, that is not the case.
What is Cirrhosis?
Cirrhosis is a progressive liver disease in which scar tissue gradually builds up in the liver. Over time, this scar tissue begins to replace normal, healthy, liver tissue cells. As you can imagine, this leads to a significant drop in normal liver structure and function.
As a result, liver cirrhosis leads to a number of dysfunctions that can impact the body in very big ways. These include poorer regulation of blood clotting, reduced elimination of toxins and waste from the body, poorer regulation of hormone levels, and reduced digestion and absorption of essential nutrients — basically, all the process your liver is supposed to help control stop working as well as they should! And, naturally, dysregulation of these key processes can lead to a whole host of (sometimes very serious) symptoms.
Yeah, it’s not good — and this simply describes cirrhosis in its early stages! Advanced stage cirrhosis can lead to complete liver failure and even the development of liver cancer.
If you happen to reach this stage, then the disease might become fatal. In this scenario, transplantation is usually the only the real cure.
Luckily for us, though, in the early stages of cirrhosis, certain lifestyle changes can halt and even reverse the detrimental effects of cirrhosis. But we’ll get to that in a second!
First, let’s discuss the actual symptoms of cirrhosis and the details about how and why they develop the way they do.
What are the Symptoms of Cirrhosis?
As I have already alluded to, cirrhosis is a pretty nasty disease and can cause a number of (sometimes very serious) symptoms. These symptoms can worsen significantly over time, evolving through a number of different stages.
In the early stages of cirrhosis, many people have no symptoms (particularly no severe symptoms).
If they do have symptoms, though, these are most commonly:
- Feeling tired and fatigued. The intensity of this can vary, with some individuals suffering from complete and utter exhaustion and others simply needing the occasional nap during the day. It’s important to note that fatigue typically worsens as the disease itself worsens.
- Experiencing general, whole body weakness. This can present in conjunction with fatigue and is typified by a feeling of low ‘strength’.
- General nausea and feeling the need to vomit.
- A loss of appetite and somewhat rapid – and unwanted – weight loss.
- A significant decline in sex drive and libido.
Over time, as the disease develops, more severe symptoms usually develop, as well. These can present in a number of different ways and, in some situations, can result in extreme discomfort.
These more severe symptoms, by organ system, are most commonly:
- Jaundice, or a yellowing of the skin and eyes. This occurs from the accumulation of bilirubin, a byproduct of the breakdown of old and damaged blood cells. The liver normally breaks down bilirubin and sends it for excretion, but if the liver is not healthy, bilirubin builds up in the body. Since it is yellow, it dyes your skin and eyes the same color.
- Itchy skin thought to be due to the accumulation of chemicals found in bile (which are normally metabolized by the liver) in the skin.
- Severe nausea and regular vomiting
- Intense gastrointestinal discomfort, frequently accompanied by diarrhea.
- Intense abdominal pain, caused by either the physical enlargement of the liver, the formation of gallstones in the bile duct or blood clots in the arteries feeding the liver.
- An increase in fluid retention that results in abdominal bloating and swelling. This can also result in weight gain and difficulty breathing.
- Blood in either vomit or feces. This is due to the bleeding of internal varicose veins that develop through liver congestion. In this manner, hemorrhoids can also develop.
- Unexplained bleeding from gums (or nose). This is the result of the impaired production of clotting factors by the liver.
- Confusion, delirium, personality changes, or hallucinations. These changes in thinking, mood, and personality are referred to as encephalopathy, and they occur in response to a buildup of drugs or toxins in the blood, which then impacts brain function. Encephalopathy can also lead to extreme sleepiness, difficulty waking up, or, at its worst, a coma.
- Abnormal menstrual periods is a common symptom in women with cirrhosis. This is due to a severe impairment in both the production and metabolism of hormones.
- In men, impaired hormone production and metabolism can result in enlargement of the breasts, scrotal swelling, or a decline in testicular size.
What are the Stages of Cirrhosis?
In reality, cirrhosis is already a somewhat late stage of liver damage. But it can still evolve, worsen, and move into more severe stages.
Detailed descriptions of stages of liver cirrhosis can be found here, but here is a brief overview.
In the early stages of a general liver disease, your liver becomes swollen and inflamed. If this inflammation is left untreated, it will gradually lead to the development of scar tissue. This is known as fibrosis, and can still be very much healed with conservative treatment. But, if fibrosis of the liver is not treated, it can then progress into cirrhosis.
Once your liver is at this stage, the scar tissue cannot heal completely. But it’s not all doom and gloom! With some proper lifestyle changes, you can prevent the progression of this scarring.
If you don’t start treatment at this point, however, cirrhosis can severely worsen. People with cirrhosis who avoid treatment may develop ‘advanced stage cirrhosis’, and then ‘end-stage liver disease’. Once you have reached this last stage, the only treatment viable treatment is a complete liver transplantation.
So, with all this in mind, cirrhosis can be classified into four stages:
Cirrhosis involves a small amount of scarring in the liver but presents very few symptoms. This stage is what doctors consider ‘compensated cirrhosis’, where the scar tissue is yet to cause any significant complications.
Liver scarring begins to alter liver and blood function. During this stage, it is quite common to experience the development of varicose veins and hemorrhoids.
Scarring in the liver is advanced and the abdomen has started to swell. This is highly likely to come with rather serious complications, and the risk of liver failure is very high.
Severe cirrhosis with serious symptoms. Most people have developed the end-stage liver disease by the time they reach this stage of cirrhosis, and they are likely to die if they do not receive a transplant within a reasonable timeframe.
What Causes Cirrhosis?
The two main causes of cirrhosis of the liver are long-term alcohol abuse (which we will explain in detail below), and hepatitis C infection, but a number of other conditions can also lead to liver damage and cirrhosis. Let’s explore the most common of these.
Fatty Liver and Liver Cirrhosis
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a fairly common condition in which fat gradually accumulates within the liver. This disease is increasing in prevalence alongside obesity, and, while more common in adults, it can also impact children. In addition to obesity, NAFLD can stem from chronically elevated blood cholesterol levels and uncontrolled type 2 diabetes.
NAFLD can lead to chronic inflammation of the liver, which contributes to the formation of scar tissue. If left untreated, this can then lead to full-blown cirrhosis.
Inherited Conditions and Liver Cirrhosis
There are some inherited conditions that can damage the liver. As a result, they can contribute to the scarring that leads to the development of cirrhosis. Some of the most common of these genetic conditions are:
- Haemochromatosis, an inherited condition in which the body cannot properly get rid of iron. This leads to a toxic environment that can physically damage and inflame the liver.
- Wilson’s disease: a genetic disorder in which the tissues of the body cannot properly get rid of the mineral copper. This accumulation places undue stress on the liver, leading to inflammation and scarring.
- Galactosaemia, a genetic disease in which the body is incapable of processing a type of sugar called galactose. As a result, galactose accumulates in the blood, leading to liver inflammation, damage, scarring and cirrhosis.
- Cystic Fibrosis, a common inherited disorder in which the lungs and digestive system produce abnormal amounts of excessively thick and sticky mucus. This places an extreme amount of stress on the pancreas and liver, which increases the risk of liver scarring significantly.
Other Causes of Liver Cirrhosis
There are a number of non-inheritable medical conditions that can also result in liver damage and cirrhosis. These include:
- Autoimmune diseases: Some autoimmune disease can cause immune cells to attack and damage the liver. These rather rare conditions include autoimmune hepatitis, primary biliary cirrhosis, and primary sclerosing cholangitis. All three of these conditions can all lead to liver scarring and cirrhosis.
- Exposure to toxins and poisons: As one of the liver’s main roles is to remove toxins from the blood, increased exposure to toxic chemicals and poisons can place a huge amount of stress on the liver. As a result, prolonged exposure to very high levels of toxins or poisons can damage and scar the liver, leading to cirrhosis.
- Schistosomiasis: This is a very uncommon tropical disease caused by a parasitic worm known as Schistosoma. Humans get this parasite from infected snails. It can cause extreme damage to the internal organs (including the liver).
Although the conditions above do have the ability to cause cirrhosis, they certainly aren’t the main drivers here in the US. In fact, our two main causes of liver cirrhosis are viral hepatitis and alcohol addiction.
Viral Hepatitis and Liver Cirrhosis
Hepatitis is a fairly general term that describes an inflammation of the liver. Viral hepatitis is inflammation caused by (you guessed it!) a virus-based infection, such as the hepatitis B or C virus. While chronic hepatitis C is a much more common cause of liver cirrhosis, hepatitis B can also cause cirrhosis when left untreated.
Both of these infections lead to chronic inflammation of the liver, which as we know, contributes to the development of scar tissue. Over time, this can lead to the evolution of cirrhosis.
Alcohol Addiction and Liver Cirrhosis
Excessive and chronic alcohol abuse is, hands down, the most common cause of liver cirrhosis. Alcohol-induced cirrhosis develops over many years, caused by alcohol toxicity and the damaging effects of alcohol on liver cells.
The progression of alcoholic liver cirrhosis is different from person to person. This is because the amount of alcohol required to damage the liver varies significantly among individuals. For example, if a healthy woman drinks the same amount of alcohol as a healthy man, she may have a higher risk of developing cirrhosis. This is the result of the different tissue mass and metabolism speeds. Similarly, children (who have very small amounts of tissue mass, indeed!) are more susceptible to damage from alcohol. Some people can also have a genetic predisposition to alcohol-related liver injury.
Why is the liver so vulnerable to alcohol toxicity and damage?
Well, as is the case with most things that we consume, the liver is responsible for metabolizing and breaking down alcohol. It does this with the help of a key enzyme known as alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH for short). ADH converts any alcohol that enters the liver into a compound known as acetaldehyde. Then a second enzyme (aldehyde dehydrogenase) oxidizes acetaldehyde further into carbon dioxide and water (which you can breathe out). This detoxifies alcohol and gets it out of your body, so you can sober up!
There is a bit of a kicker, though. You see, acetaldehyde is, unfortunately, itself toxic, causing oxidative damage in your liver. So, while its production is essential for getting alcohol out of your body, if you have too much acetaldehyde buildup, it can cause liver damage. And, as we’ve seen, liver damage leads to scarring and cirrhosis.
The Role of Alcohol in the Cirrhosis Epidemic
As I mentioned above, researchers believe that alcohol is the driving force behind the shocking growth in cirrhosis diagnosis since the 90s in the United States.
What makes them think that, though?
Well, there is recent research demonstrating that alcohol consumption, high-risk drinking and alcohol dependence, have all increased dramatically here in the United States over the last decade. In fact, the stats are downright alarming:
- General alcohol use grew from 65.4% in 2002 all the way to 72.7% in 2013.
- High risk drinking, defined for women as drinking four or more drinks in a day and for men as drinking five or more drinks in a day, has been increasing rapidly, with jumps as high as 3% in a single year (9.7% of the adult population in 2012 to 12.6% in 2013).
- Diagnosed alcohol dependence grew from 8.5% of the total adult population in 2002 to a worrying 12.7% in 2013.
It quickly becomes apparent that these increases have coincided with an increased incidence of cirrhosis across the country. While this correlation doesn’t prove alcohol is the root cause of the cirrhosis epidemic, it does suggest that it may certainly play a role. And the researchers that first identified the spike in cirrhosis rates absolutely believe the two are connected.
But what may have caused this jump in unhealthy alcohol use?
What Caused an Increase in Alcohol Intake?
Well, a quick look at the data shows that this terrible trend began after 2008. As you might remember, this year marked the beginning of the global financial crisis and a resulting economic recession here in the USA — which may actually explain this associated rise in cirrhosis.
Unemployment has shown extremely strong associations with alcohol misuse, particularly among young men. Given that increases in cirrhosis-related deaths were greatest in young men, it certainly appears that the economic downturn may have led to poorer mental health, increased alcohol abuse, and the detrimental effects on the country’s liver health.
With all of that essential background information out of the way, we can finally move on to cirrhosis treatments — both conventional and natural! Some of these treatment options are quite obvious, while others are a little more obscure. Let’s start with the most obvious and work our way down.
Stop Drinking Alcohol/Treat Alcoholism
As I mentioned above, while alcohol abuse is not the only possible driver of cirrhosis, it is the most common. As a result, many health professionals consider addressing alcohol consumption as the first and most important cirrhosis treatment.
For some people, cutting back on alcohol is very simple. They just replace their alcohol with other beverages — as easy as that. But, for others, decreasing alcohol intake can be an enormous challenge. These are people struggling with alcohol addiction.
Types of Alcohol Addiction
There are actually two recognized forms of alcohol addiction: alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence.
Alcohol abuse is defined as “excessive drinking without harmful physical and social consequences”. This is in contrast to alcohol dependence, which is defined as “continued drinking despite physical and social harms”.
The differences between these conditions are nuanced (when, for example, does alcohol have actual “social consequences” and when is alcohol just a part of your social life?). Doctors have to base their diagnosis on previous health history and evidence of any known alcohol-related harm.
Overcoming Alcohol Addiction
Regardless of the exact diagnosis (abuse or dependence), though, overcoming an alcohol addiction and significantly reducing (or ceasing) alcohol consumption can be very difficult. But, it’s not impossible — especially if you seek professional help.
Regularly visiting an addiction specialist (such as a counselor or rehabilitation expert) or actively participating in Alcoholics Anonymous can be very helpful. In fact, research suggests that heavy drinkers who receive even brief bouts of professional help are twice as likely to change their drinking habits for the better.
This is really important because even small changes in alcohol intake can make a big difference. Studies suggests that, in most cases, just reducing alcohol consumption (not even completely cutting out alcohol altogether) can improve the survival rate of individuals with alcohol related liver diseases, including cirrhosis.
If you think you may have a problem with alcohol, please seek help. Talk to a friend or family member. Reach out to your doctor. Click here to talk to an online counselor. Whatever feels safest and most natural to you is fine — just take that first step. The sooner you do, the more likely it is you will halt (or reverse) liver cirrhosis before it can become deadly.
For Help with an Alcohol Addiction, Please Reach Out to Friends, Family, Your Doctor, Alcoholic Anonymous or a Professional Addiction Specialist.
When it comes to pharmaceutical treatments for cirrhosis, we actually don’t have very many options. This is because there are very few medications that actually have the ability to reduce the buildup of scar tissue in the liver.
However, for those individuals who have cirrhosis as the result of hepatitis, there are some potential options. These involve prescription antiviral medications that help treat hepatitis without placing undue stress on the liver. In doing so, they reduce liver inflammation and prevent further scarring.
It is important to note that these are prescription medications (you can only get them if your doctor agrees they are a safe choice for you) and they are only effective in those individuals who have virally-driven cirrhosis.
Natural Cirrhosis Treatments
In addition to reducing alcohol intake and (if useful for you, medications), there are a number of natural foods and supplements that you can add to your daily routine to help you heal cirrhosis naturally. The most well studied (and effective!) of these are:
- Milk Thistle
- Papaya Seeds
- Vitamin C
- Carrot Seed Oil
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Burdock Root
- Coconut Oil
- Green Tea
- Licorice Root
Let’s look at how each of these may be helpful, and the best way to get them in your daily diet.
Note: As with adding any powerful bioactive compound into your daily routine (be it a medication, supplement, spice or tea), be sure to follow the instructions on the packaging of the products you buy. If you have any questions about dosage or safety, if you have multiple health conditions or take prescription medications, be sure you talk to your doctor, pharmacist or nutritionist before you add a product to your diet!
Disclosure – This post contains affiliate links. Click here for details.
Milk thistle is a member of the daisy family that has been used medicinally for thousands of years. It contains a potent compound known as ‘silymarin’ that has very positive effects on liver health.
Silymarin helps block toxin absorption from your food and has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities in liver cells. These effects help protect your liver from damage, keeping new cirrhotic scar tissue from forming.
You can easily turn milk thistle into a tea. All you need is milk thistle and some hot water and you are good to go. Our favorite milk thistle tea is Organic Milk Thistle Superherb Tea made by The Republic of Tea.
The spice turmeric is probably best known for giving curries their bright yellow color. But did you know it is also one of the most potent liver-protective foods on the planet?
Turmeric contains a potent anti-inflammatory compound known as curcumin that can reduce liver inflammation, liver cell damage and the buildup of cirrhotic scar tissue.
As turmeric is a tasty spice, you can easily add it to most dishes quickly and effectively. Often a single tablespoon will be enough to provide you with a pretty potent dose.
You can also take a simple turmeric supplement daily instead – we recommend Smarter Nutrition’s Curcumin SoftGels.
Papaya seeds are a potent health-boosting snack. Many of their health benefits come from a unique enzyme they contain called “papain”. Papain is a proteolytic enzyme, which means it breaks down proteins into smaller strings of amino acids (peptides). Because of its ability to breakdown free-radical-producing and pro-inflammatory proteins, papain also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects on the body.
As was the case with milk thistle and turmeric, the anti-inflammatory effects of papain in papaya seeds can help protect your liver from damage and reduce scar tissue formation.
Papaya seeds are best raw, straight out of a fresh papaya fruit. We enjoy eating them with other nuts and seeds or as a garnish on chicken dishes!
Vitamin C is awesome at preventing liver cell damage because it is extremely effective at neutralizing harmful reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROSs are extremely dangerous molecules that act as powerful drivers of oxidative stress and inflammation.
You can find vitamin C in extremely high doses in citrus fruits, such as oranges, mandarins, and grapefruits. If you’re not a huge fan of these fruits, though, you can also buy vitamin C as a supplement. Our favorite is Viva Natural’s Non-GMO Vitamin C.
People have been using ginger for centuries in ancient medicinal practices. This super tasty spice has shown positive health effects across a multitude of diseases and illness. Fortunately for us, it has also been shown to impact liver health in a very positive manner.
The key bioactive compounds in ginger (known as ‘gingerols’) reduce fat deposition and inflammation in the liver. In doing so, they enhance overall liver health and function, providing a potent cirrhosis treatment option.
You can easily get ginger root from your local grocery store, and it goes absolutely excellently in Asian-style curries. You can also add it to hot water to make a simple, delicious tea.
Again, if you want a more convenient method of consumption, or you’re not a fan of the flavor, though, ginger extract capsules, such as Nature’s Way Ginger Root Capsules, offer a fantastic alternative.
Carrot Seed Oil
Carrots are one of the most popular vegetables on the planet. Interestingly, its actually their seeds, not the crunchy orange flesh, that hold some rather potent health benefits for your liver.
You see, carrot seeds are full to the brim with potent antioxidants, and other unique compounds called ‘carotenoids’. Through the interaction of these compounds with your cells, the consumption of carrot seed oil can improve measures of blood cholesterol and reduce oxidative damage throughout the body’s tissues.
The result? A significantly healthier liver, and a reduced risk of cirrhosis.
Now, carrot seed oil is typically extracted from dried seeds through a process of “steam distillation”. This is not really something that you can do at home all that easily. So, we recommend you simply purchase pre-processed carrot seed oil, like the highly concentrated, organic NOW brand!
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has been taking the world by storm – and for very good reason! By consuming it, you can enhance your health in all kinds of ways, from improving your gut health to promoting weight loss. Interestingly for us here, you can also improve your liver health.
Apple cider vinegar is full of a specific molecule called ‘acetic acid’. This acid can enhance fat metabolism and insulin sensitivity. In doing so, its consumption has the ability to limit fat buildup in liver cells and improve liver health dramatically.
You can find apple cider vinegar ready to use at almost any health food shop. Our favorite brand is Bragg Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar.
Omega-3 fatty acids may be very beneficial for liver cirrhosis because they can both reduce inflammation and significantly improve blood cholesterol levels. Since both inflammation and high blood cholesterol are damaging for the liver, flaxseed offers an excellent method of improving liver health and helping treat cirrhosis.
Flaxseeds are a delicious seed that can almost go with any dish. We strongly recommend mixing in 2 tablespoons of pre-ground flaxseeds (such as Spectrum Essentials Organic Ground Flaxseeds) with your morning oats or sprinkling them in a salad or smoothie during your day.
Burdock is a perennial herb that grows wild all over the globe. In Asia, though, where the root is renowned for its therapeutic uses, it has been deliberately cultivated for centuries.
Burdock has potent anti-inflammatory properties that can help in the management of blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels. Through these mechanisms, burdock root has the potential to enhance liver health and help treat liver disease.
You can actually eat burdock raw or take it as a supplement (we like Nature’s Way Burdock Root Capsules). Because its unique and pleasantly sweet flavor, you can also add it to traditional Asian stir-frys, or brew it into a tasty tea!
Coconut oil is full of health-boosting medium-chain fatty acids. These acids exhibit antioxidant and anti-diabetic properties in the human body, easing stress on your liver cells. This reduced stress can have positive impacts on global liver health and cirrhosis symptoms.
Coconut oil is a great alternative to more traditional cooking oils, so you can just swap your vegetable out for a coconut oil (such as Garden of Life Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil), cook normally, and get your coconut oil. It also makes an excellent addition to protein shakes or keto chocolate cookies!
Green tea is the most commonly consumed beverages on the entire planet. And why not? It is not only extremely good for you, it also tastes delicious!
Green tea is full of beneficial polyphenols that have potent antioxidant and metabolism-boosting properties. Through these polyphenols, green tea can reduce harmful inflammation and lower both blood cholesterol and blood sugar. This creates a healing environment for your liver, letting your liver tissues start repairing themselves!
You can easily make green tea into tea – all you need is some hot water! Two or three cups per day appears to offer a host of benefits, and requires very little time and effort! Our favorite green tea is Prince of Peace 100% Organic Green Tea.
Kale has an awesome reputation as the epitome of health food. There has been all kinds of hype around this tasty leafy green vegetable since it was found to be incredibly full of healthy phytonutrients that can combat inflammation and the buildup of plaque in your arteries, protecting your heart.
What people often overlook about kale’s health benefits for your heart is that a healthy heart and arteries mean better blood flow to your whole body, including your liver. Better blood flow to your liver means healthier liver cells, less cellular stress, and enhanced liver health and function.
You should eat kale fresh from your local organic fruit and vegetable shop (or right out of the field) — seriously, the fresher the better!
Probiotics are supplements full to the brim with healthy microorganisms that can enhance your gut health. This is important, because people with cirrhosis have markedly different gut bacterial profiles to their healthy counterparts. This essentially means they have more ‘bad bacteria’, and less ‘good bacteria’ in their digestive systems.
These bad bacteria release chemicals into your body that increase the secretion of inflammatory proteins. This can seriously jack up inflammation, which as we know, can increase liver scarring.
Probiotics offer a means to combat this inflammation, by providing a potent shot of good bacteria straight into your digestive system, where they can populate and grow. This causes a decline in the number of bad bacteria, improves the bacterial profile, reduces inflammation, improves metabolic health, and assists in the treatment of liver disease.
People have used licorice root for thousands of years in various medical practices across the globe. It turns out, this is for good reason! We now know that licorice root has extremely potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and can protect the liver from damage and deterioration. This makes it a perfect cirrhosis treatment option.
You can easily turn dry licorice root into a simple tea (all you need is some hot water)! If the unique licorice taste isn’t your jam, though, there are licorice root supplements available as well. We like Nature’s Way Licorice Root Capsules!
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Take Home Message
Cirrhosis is a nasty condition that has reached near epidemic proportions in the United States, likely because of the increased alcohol use that accompanied the Great Recession. Though cirrhosis most commonly results from alcohol abuse, there are a number of other drivers for this liver-scarring disease, including infections with hepatitis viruses and genetic disorders. Reducing alcohol consumption, taking prescription medications, and tweaking your diet to include liver-protective foods and spices can all help in combating cirrhosis, preventing the condition from becoming life-threatening!