Cirrhosis of the liver – symptoms and therapy


Liver cirrhosis is a serious condition that develops gradually and often does not show symptoms in its early stages. It is a disease where healthy liver tissue is replaced by scar tissue, which does not function properly. As a result, the normal function of the liver is disrupted.

To manage symptoms and the progression of liver cirrhosis, it is crucial to identify the cause of the disease and take appropriate measures. For example, if the cause is alcohol consumption, it is important to stop drinking alcohol. Unfortunately, liver cirrhosis is the final stage of liver damage and cannot be cured. However, doctors can prescribe medications to manage symptoms and prevent complications, as well as to slow down the progression of the disease.

In Ayurveda, the liver is known as “yakrit” or “klihar,” and liver cirrhosis is seen as a result of an imbalance in the body’s energy forces, disruption of digestion, and accumulation of toxins called “ama.” Treatment of liver cirrhosis according to Ayurvedic principles involves restoring this imbalance through diet, therapies with suitable herbs, and techniques for cleansing and maintaining the liver. It is important to note that Ayurvedic treatment of liver cirrhosis focuses not only on the symptoms but also on the root cause of the imbalance in the body.

In this article, we will discuss what liver cirrhosis is, what the symptoms of this condition are, as well as Ayurvedic approaches to treatment and techniques for maintaining liver health.

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What is liver cirrhosis?

Liver cirrhosis is a serious condition that represents the final stage of a chronically developing liver disease. It is characterized by the replacement of normal liver tissue with fibrous tissue as a result of chronic inflammation and damage to the organ. The causes of liver cirrhosis are various and include: Chronic viral infections such as hepatitis B and C, Excessive alcohol consumption, Fatty liver disease, which is associated with obesity, diabetes, and other metabolic issues, Autoimmune diseases of the liver, Some genetic disorders and inherited diseases.

As liver cirrhosis develops, several changes occur in the body, affecting not only the functions of the liver but also those of other organs. Here’s what happens:

  • Fibrotic change: Chronic inflammation and damage to the liver lead to the accumulation of fibrous tissue, which replaces the normal tissue. This results in the loss of functional cells in the liver and a decrease in its ability to perform its functions.
  • Portal hypertension: Fibrotic changes in the liver lead to increased pressure in the portal vein, which is used to transport blood to the liver. Portal hypertension can lead to the formation of varices (enlarged veins) in the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Increased circulatory anomalies: Due to disruptions in the liver and portal hypertension, blood begins to be redirected through unusual pathways in the body. This can lead to the formation of collateral pathways that attempt to compensate for the increased pressure in the portal vein.
  • Increased risk of complications: Varices formed as a result of portal hypertension are vulnerable to rupture and bleeding, which can be fatal. Additionally, increased fluid accumulation in the abdominal cavity (ascites) can lead to breathing difficulties and other problems.
  • Hepatic encephalopathy: The accumulation of toxic substances in the blood due to reduced liver function can lead to disturbances in brain function, known as hepatic encephalopathy. This can cause symptoms such as confusion, forgetfulness, and disorientation.

These changes in the body are also the main reason for the serious complications and symptoms associated with liver cirrhosis.

In Ayurveda, liver cirrhosis is considered a result of improper diet, unhealthy lifestyle, and disturbances in mental state, which can lead to an imbalance of energy principles and predispose individuals to the development of liver cirrhosis.

Liver cirrhosis – symptoms

The symptoms of liver cirrhosis can vary depending on the stage of the disease. Here’s how the symptoms differ across different stages:

  • Early stage of cirrhosis: Often does not cause noticeable symptoms. Mild fatigue or loss of appetite may be felt. Mild problems with concentration or memory may occur. Jaundice and swollen abdomen are usually not present in the early stages.
  • Moderate to advanced stage of cirrhosis: Fatigue and loss of appetite increase. Symptoms of dyspepsia such as nausea and discomfort in the abdomen may appear. Jaundice may occur, especially with increased bilirubin in the blood. Abdominal swelling and ascites may become more noticeable.
  • Advanced stage of cirrhosis: The risk of serious accompanying conditions and complications such as internal bleeding, hepatic encephalopathy (a condition of impaired thinking and behavior), acute or chronic liver failure, and others increases. Recurrent infections may occur due to decreased immune function. Jaundice and abdominal swelling are more pronounced.
  • End-stage cirrhosis: Symptoms become extremely serious and complex. Bleeding in the esophagus may occur. Swelling in the legs due to fluid retention may develop. Serious cognitive function problems, including altered consciousness, may appear.

It is important to note that symptoms can vary significantly from person to person, and other symptoms not mentioned may occur.

Alcoholic liver cirrhosis: symptoms and risk factors

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Alcohol is considered one of the most common causes of alcoholic liver cirrhosis. It has a toxic effect on the liver and can significantly damage its cells and disrupt its normal function. Excessive alcohol consumption increases the risk of inflammation in the liver, which in turn can lead to the development of cirrhosis. Interestingly, genetic factors also play a role in this process. They can predispose some individuals who frequently consume large amounts of alcohol to develop cirrhosis.

The symptoms of alcoholic liver cirrhosis vary depending on the stage of the disease. In the early stages, symptoms can be general and nonspecific, such as fatigue, loss of appetite, and decreased productivity. However, as the disease progresses, the symptoms become more pronounced and include abdominal swelling due to ascites (fluid accumulation in the liver), jaundice (due to elevated levels of bilirubin), muscle weakness, severe fatigue, and internal bleeding, which can be fatal. It is important to note that quitting alcohol consumption may help slow down or stop the progression of the disease in some patients. This type of cirrhosis requires a comprehensive treatment approach, including symptom management, support for alcohol cessation, and treatment of potential complications.

Decompensated liver cirrhosis

Decompensated liver cirrhosis is a serious condition that occurs when the liver is no longer able to perform its normal functions effectively due to serious tissue damage. The term “decompensated” is used to indicate that the liver can no longer compensate for the damage it has suffered and cannot maintain the body’s normal vital functions.

Compensated liver cirrhosis differs from decompensated in that in the early stages of the disease, the liver can still compensate for the damage and perform its functions close to normal. Patients with compensated cirrhosis often do not show serious symptoms or impairments and can continue to feel well for an extended period of time. Compensated liver cirrhosis can be managed with appropriate treatment and measures, while decompensated cirrhosis requires serious treatment and medical supervision. Hence the importance of regular medical check-ups and monitoring for early detection and treatment of cirrhosis before it progresses to a decompensated state.

The causes of decompensated liver cirrhosis can be numerous and include prolonged liver damage due to alcoholism, viral infections (such as hepatitis B and C), fatty liver disease, autoimmune diseases, and others.

Treatment of decompensated liver cirrhosis

The treatment of decompensated liver cirrhosis will not lead to “cure” in the full sense of the word, due to the irreversible nature of the condition. Therefore, when we talk about treating this type of cirrhosis, it involves slowing down the progression of the disease, managing symptoms, and reducing the overall consequences for the body. Treatment includes various approaches such as medication therapy, diet and nutritional supplements, management of complications, liver transplantation, Ayurveda, and complementary approaches.

Some patients choose Ayurvedic treatments and complementary approaches as an alternative to traditional medicine. Ayurveda offers a holistic approach to treatment, including diet, Ayurvedic practices such as detoxification, and traditional herbal remedies, which are considered beneficial for liver health and overall body function.

As mentioned earlier, in Ayurveda, the liver is called “Yakrit,” and its proper functioning is associated with balancing the doshas, especially Pitta. Imbalance in Pitta can lead to improper liver function, such as excessive bile production or blockage of blood flow. Ayurveda describes these issues as “Kumbha Kamala,” where chronic imbalance in Pitta causes chronic conditions like jaundice or hepatitis, which can progress to liver cirrhosis.

Panchakarma therapy is recommended as an initial procedure for treating liver cirrhosis in Ayurveda. It involves steps that help balance the body’s doshas, detoxify, and cleanse the organs. The main techniques or procedures applied include Virechana (cleansing therapy), which helps eliminate excess Pitta from the liver and gallbladder, and Vamana (stomach cleansing), which aids in expelling toxins through the “upper pathways.”

Furthermore, Ayurveda also utilizes herbal medicines for the treatment of liver cirrhosis. Some of the most effective herbs include milk thistle, which contains silymarin – an antioxidant that aids in the regeneration of liver cells; dandelion, which protects the liver from damage by free radicals; and punarnava, which aids in digestion and weight management, as well as protects the liver from damage due to its antioxidant properties.

Regular exercise, yoga, and meditation are also important components of the Ayurvedic approach to treating liver cirrhosis. These practices help improve blood circulation, relaxation of the body and mind, as well as strengthen the immune system. All Ayurvedic approaches not only focus on the symptoms of the disease but also on the underlying causes of its onset, aiding the body in restoring its natural balance and functions.

Diet for liver cirrhosis

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In the treatment of liver cirrhosis, the diet plays a key role in supporting liver functions and reducing its workload. Here’s what the diet of patients with liver cirrhosis should be.

Recommended foods

  • Low-fat protein: Including low-fat, protein-rich foods is important for supporting liver recovery. Such foods include skinless chicken, fish, tofu, and eggs.
  • Fruits and vegetables: Rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, fruits and vegetables are important for maintaining liver health. Particularly beneficial are those high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, strawberries, cherries, papaya, and vegetables like spinach and broccoli.
  • Whole grains: The cellulose and fibers in whole grains help regulate digestion and prevent constipation. Opting for whole grain foods such as oats, corn, quinoa, and whole grain bread is preferable.
  • Dietary supplements: Some dietary supplements can be beneficial for patients with liver cirrhosis, such as milk thistle, coenzyme Q10, and antioxidants like vitamins C and E.

Foods to avoid:

  • Alcohol: Alcoholic beverages should be completely excluded from the diet, as alcohol can increase the burden on the liver and contribute to its damage.
  • High-fat foods: Fatty and processed foods can be difficult for the liver to digest and can contribute to constipation and increased strain on the liver.
  • Salt and sodium: Limiting salt and foods high in sodium is important for controlling fluid levels in the body and reducing the risk of increased blood nitrogen.
  • High-sugar foods: Excessive consumption of sugars can strain the liver and disrupt blood glucose levels.
  • Overly spicy or hot foods: These types of foods can irritate the gastrointestinal tract and exacerbate symptoms such as gastritis.

Following a proper diet in cirrhosis is crucial for supporting liver function and improving quality of life. It’s always advisable to consult with a physician, dietitian, or Ayurvedic specialist for a personalized diet tailored to your needs and health condition.


Cirrhosis is a serious condition that can have significant health consequences and impact the quality of life of affected individuals. While there are various treatment approaches, including modern medical methods and Ayurvedic therapies, it’s important for patients to consult with a specialist to choose the most suitable treatment for them.

Ayurvedic medicine offers a holistic approach to treating cirrhosis by focusing not only on symptoms but also on the root cause of the disease and supporting the restoration of liver function. Therapies such as Panchakarma and the use of herbs are used to aid in detoxification of the body and restoring the balance of doshas.

At Ayurveda Clinic Bansko, you can receive not only a personalized treatment plan tailored to your constitution and health condition but also the care and attention that every patient with cirrhosis needs. Our goal is to provide you with not only physical healing but also support for your mental and emotional well-being, encouraging and supporting you on your journey to better health and


Frequently Asked Questions

How is cirrhosis diagnosed?

Cirrhosis is typically diagnosed through a combination of medical evaluations, including blood tests, imaging techniques such as ultrasound and CT scans, as well as liver biopsy. The medical team uses these methods to assess liver function and to determine the presence of portal hypertension, fibrosis, and other characteristics of cirrhosis.

Can cirrhosis be prevented?

Preventing cirrhosis often depends on the cause of the condition. For example, avoiding excessive consumption, including alcohol and drugs, can reduce the risk of developing alcoholic or drug-induced cirrhosis. Additionally, controlling infections such as hepatitis B and hepatitis C through vaccination and preventive measures can lower the likelihood of developing viral forms of cirrhosis.

Can I live a normal life with cirrhosis?

People with cirrhosis can lead relatively normal lives, especially if they adhere to their doctors’ recommendations regarding treatment, diet, and regular medical check-ups. It’s important to follow management instructions to reduce the risk of complications and improve the quality of life. With proper treatment and support, many people with cirrhosis continue to lead active and fulfilling lives.

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