The term cirrhosis means interstitial inflammation of an organ. The liver is one of the important of the body as it regulates the digestion, metabolism and many other physiological function of the body. Cirrhosis of this organ may, therefore, create many complication of the patient. Depending upon the morbidity or the pathological changes in this organ, cirrhosis of liver is of many types. Infantile cirrhosis is commonly found in children. In the beginning, there is congestion of the liver which results in the loss of appetite. Other manifestations of this disease take place if this is not properly attended in this first stage.
Signs and symptoms
Apart from loss of appetite, there is weight loss because of defective metabolism. There is presence of diarrhea and flatulence. Simultaneously, there may be a little pain in the right upper portion of the abdomen where the liver is located. Slowly the size of liver increases and because of the pressure on the diaphragm, there may be difficulty in breathing and coughing. There may be nausea and vomiting may take place.
Thereafter the liver tissue becomes fibrous and it starts to shrink in size. Because of this shrinkage the venous circulation gets obstructed and there is accumulation of fluid in the abdomen( commonly called as ascites).
Cirrhosis of liver generally occurs because of faulty diet. In adults, it occurs generally because of excessive intake of alcohol. The liver helps in the neutralization of the toxic effect of the drug and even food ingredients like tea and coffee which contain nicotine in form of caffeine and tobacco. If these harmful ingredients are taken habitually in excess then the liver becomes unable to cope with the demand for neutralizing their toxic effects. This results in the cirrhosis of this organ. It is desirable in the first instance, to ask the patient to give up these poisonous ingredients of food and drinks.
Bhringaraja (Eclipta alba) is the drug of choice for the treatment of this condition. This is a small herb which grows in marshy areas. The colour of the flower of this plant may be yellow, white or blue. The plant having blue flower is considered by the ayurveda physicians to be the best for cirrhosis of liver. The juice of the leaves, flower, stem and roots of this plant is used in the medicine. One teaspoonful of the juice of this plant is used in the medicine. One teaspoonful of the juice of this plant is to be given to a child below 8 year of age, three times a day. For adult two teaspoonful of the juice is given. The taste of the juice of bhringaraj is slightly bitter and astringent. Therefore, it is always prescribed to be given along with honey. This juice acts better if administered when the stomach is empty.
Katuki(Picrorrhiza kurroa) is the drug which is used by the physicians especially when cirrhosis occurs in the adult. This herb grows at high altitudes in the Himalayas. The rhizome or root of this plant is used in the medicine. It is exceedingly bitter in taste. The powder of this drug in a dose of one teaspoonful is given to an adult patient three times a day mixed with honey in good quantity. If there is constipation, then the dose of this powder may be increased to two teaspoonful three times a day and it should be given with a cup of warm water each time. This is a cholagogue and acts as purgative by stimulating the liver to produce more bile. The excretion of this bile in large quantity relieves the congestion of the liver and the tissue which have gone through the process of destruction start reviving and acting. A compound prepared called arogyabardhini vati , contains katuki in a good proportion. In addition, this compound preparation contains copper in the form of bhasma. Copper in ayurveda is considered to be a potent drug to revive the activity of defunct tissue cells. It is a toxic drug but by special method of processing, the toxicity of the drug s neutralized and it is easily absorbed into human syatem. Arogyabardhini is available in the form of tablet of 0.25 gram each tablet. Depending upon the seroiousness of the disease, 2 to 4 tablet of this drug is given to the patient three times a day followed by a cup of warm water each time.
The patient should not be given any food which is difficult to digest. Oil, ghee and such other fats are to be avoided. Vegetables which are bitter in the taste like patola (Trichosanthes dioica), karela (bitter gourd) and bitter variety of drum-stick should be given to the patient. Buffalo milk which contains a high percentage of fat is strictly contraindicated. Goat’s milk and cow’s milk can be given in small quantity. Camel’s milk is considered to be exceedingly useful in this disease especially when as a complication, there is accumulation of water in the abdomen, which is commonly called as ascites. Curd shouldnot be given to the patient but butter milk prepared by churning the curd(prepared from cow’s milk) is very helpful. This should be given to the patient after removing all fat. Garlic is also useful in this condition. If there is accumulation of water in the abdomen, because of cirrhosis, then the patient should be given salt free diet. Sea salt is very harmful. If required rock salt can be given to the patient only in small quantity. The patient should be advised to miss a few meals and observe fasting which helps in the promotion of function of liver.
The patient should be prohibited from sleeping during day time and riding a fast moving vehicle on an uneven surface. He shouldnot be exposed to violent jerks and shouldnot resort to any strenuous physical exercise. He should be given rest as far as possible and only walking is permitted.