Natural Home Care for Liver Disease

Cirrhosis is a late stage of liver disease. Damage to your liver can occur with different conditions, including chronic alcoholism and infections. The more damage that occurs, the more scar tissue forms to repair the damage until the liver is unable to function.

The liver excretes cholesterol, hormones, toxins and drugs, metabolizes fats, proteins and carbohydrates, activates enzymes, stores glycogen, vitamins and minerals, and synthesizes other necessary substances and actions. The liver removes alcohol from the blood. You need your liver!

In the early stages, it is usual to have no symptoms.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bruising easily
  • Dark urine
  • Fatigue
  • Itchy skin
  • Jaundice (eyes appear yellow)
  • Nausea
  • Pale stool
  • Poor appetite
  • Swelling in the legs
  • Vomiting

PREVALENCE

According to the CDC, there are 4.5 million adults in the US diagnosed with liver disease.

ALLOPATHIC TREATMENT

A blood test will indicate malfunction. Diagnostic tests may involve imaging tests and biopsies. Along with lifestyle changes, your doctor may recommend medications to control symptoms and progression.  Worst-cases may require a liver transplant.

SELF TREATMENT

Some natural or alternative treatments can harm your liver.  Please consult with your doctor and make her a partner in your home care.  If you are pregnant or nursing, do NOT take any herbs without clearing it with your doctor.

DIET

A healthy immune system is always the first line of defense against disease and inflammation.  To promote a healthy immune system, it is important to eat a balanced diet, with as much variety as you can manage, with lots of whole, fresh vegetables and fruits, quality protein and healthy sources of monounsaturated fat.  The Zone is an excellent nutrition plan.

FOODS THAT MAY PROMOTE HEALING

  • Avocado
  • Blueberries
  • Cranberries
  • Cruciferous vegetables
  • Dairy products
  • Fish
  • Grapefruit
  • Grapes
  • Greens
  • Nuts
  • Oatmeal, steel-cut, slow cooking
  • Olive oil
  • Prickly Pear
  • Walnuts

FOODS AND OTHER SUBSTANCES TO REDUCE OR ELIMINATE

  • Alcohol
  • Avoid raw shellfish (which can contain a dangerous bacteria)
  • Eliminate empty calories from food with little or no nutritional value. Liver health is affected by excess weight.
  • European barberry
  • Excess sodium
  • Fried foods
  • Germander
  • Kava Kava
  • Mistletoe
  • Red meat is high in saturated fat
  • Reduce toxins in your environment, including additives in food.
  • Sho-saiko-to
  • Vitamin A supplements

BEVERAGES, HERBS AND SPICES

  • Apple
  • Bupleurum
  • Coffee
  • Cordyceps
  • Green tea
  • Holy Basil
  • Licorice root
  • Long pepper
  • Milk thistle
  • Phyllanthus tea (not for someone with Wilson’s disease)
  • Turmeric

ESSENTIAL OILS

Essential oils can be administered via a diffuser for inhalation, administered topically in a carrier oil  (coconut, almond, olive, etc.), or undiluted drops can be added to a hot bath or compress.  Find recipes for blends on the web or create your own.

  • Carrot seed
  • Cypress
  • Fennel
  • Geranium
  • German chamomile
  • Ginger
  • Grapefruit
  • Helichrysum
  • Juniper berry
  • Ledum
  • Lemon
  • Lemongrass
  • Oregano
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary

OTHER SUBSTANCES AND SUPPLEMENTS

The cost of having a blood test to determine if you have nutritional deficiencies is likely to be negligible compared to over-consuming expensive supplements that you do not need.

  • Antioxidants
  • Artichoke leaf
  • Beetroot
  • Betaine
  • Choline
  • Dandelion leaf water extract
  • Molybdenum
  • N-acetylcysteine (NAC)
  • Omega 3
  • Quercetin
  • Resveratrol
  • S-adenosylmethionine
  • Vitamin E

HYDRATION

Water is essential and a main nutrient for the human body.  Without it, you cannot survive for many days.  Toxins will build up when you are dehydrated, thus making more work for liver and kidneys. Water transports nutrients throughout the body, protects the eyes and mouth, lubricates joints, regulates your body temperature and removes waste from your body.  Staying hydrated is fundamental for a healthy body, so how much is enough?  There are so many differences in people (i.e., how much we sweat), as well as the diets we consume (a lot of water comes from healthy, whole foods), but a general rule is to consume enough water that your urine is clear, but not so much that you dilute your nutrients.  If you are taking certain supplements that make your urine yellow, then you can start out with the formula of drinking ½ to one ounce of water for each pound you weigh.  If you weigh 130 pounds, drink 65 to 130 ounces of water a day.  Definitely drink when you are thirsty.

EXERCISE

Exercise will help you maintain a healthy weight which is good for your liver.  Exercise will also burn triglycerides, reduce liver fat and prevent cell damage. That exercise is beneficial for overall health is undisputed. If you are ill, you will want to take it easy, of course, but there is always something you can do to support your body. Do what you can do without making yourself feel worse. Exercise in fresh air whenever possible.

SLEEP

Sleep disturbances are common in patients with cirrhosis. Studies show that lack of quality sleep affects the production of disease-fighting antibodies.  If you wake in the morning after 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep feeling unrested, you aren’t getting enough sleep.  Studies have been done with medications for the patient with liver disease, but medication toxicity is a concern.  Do what you can do to promote quality sleep (dark cool room, no lights, no screen time for an hour before bed, regular sleep time, daily exercise in fresh air, etc.) and try some relaxation exercises.  If none of that helps, consult your doctor.

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT

Stay calm.  Anxiety undermines health.  Practice relaxation exercises, talk to a friend, meditate.  Do what works for you to stay mellow.  Some of the following relaxation methods may be helpful for you:

ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5442075/

  • Acupressure https://exploreim.ucla.edu/self-care/acupressure-point-lv3/
  • Acupuncture https://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1627-acupuncture-plus-herbs-alleviate-cirrhosis-and-ascites
  • Ayurveda https://www.hindustantimes.com/health/ayurveda-for-liver-diseases-a-natural-cure-for-you-on-world-liver-day-2018/story-fhNEe7lNjrZ0eigFlUTJwM.html
  • Chinese Medicine https://www.tcmworld.org/what-is-tcm/the-five-major-organ-systems/tcm-lifestyle-wisdom-for-liver-health/
  • Chiropractic https://www.drmarkolsonchiropractic.com/chiropractic-can-help-fix-liver-problems/
  • Earthing https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4378297/
  • Homeopathy https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/health-fitness/home-remedies/homeopathy-treatment-regimens-can-help-arrest-acute-liver-diseases-even-when-conventional-medicine-fails/articleshow/71046879.cmsSCIO

CAUTIONS AND PREVENTION (Keeping your liver healthy)

  • A wholesome, balanced diet
  • Adequate hydration
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Avoid body tattoos or piercings
  • Avoid contaminated needles
  • Avoid toxins in your environment
  • Consider vaccinations for Hepatitis A and B (do your research first)
  • Don’t use drugs except when necessary for medical reasons
  • Get medical care if you are exposed to someone else’s blood
  • Low stress levels
  • Maintain a healthy weight (to avoid fatty liver disease)
  • Quality sleep
  • Regular exercise
  • Unprotected sex may transmit infection.

NOTES

Liver “detoxes” have become big business, but it is questionable whether they do any good or if they are even safe.  If you treat your body with respect and care, giving it quality nutrition, adequate sleep and exercise, and sparing it from unhealthy excesses, your liver will do the job it was intended to do, which is to detox YOU.

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