Cirrhosis is a late-stage liver disease. While traditional treatments are important and are often needed for cirrhosis, natural ways are also available to manage the condition—and, in rare instances, reverse it.
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Cirrhosis is a late-stage liver disease when scar tissue in the liver replaces healthy tissue. Scarring happens when the liver is injured and tries to repair itself.
This leads to poor liver functioning because the liver cannot process nutrients, hormones, drugs, and toxins properly. It also lowers the production of substances made by the liver and can block blood flow through the liver.
Cirrhosis occurs due to ongoing fibrosis and chronic inflammation. Diseases and damage to the healthy cells in the liver lead to cell death and inflammation. Then, when the cells and tissues repair, it leads to scarring.
This can happen due to the following causes:
Excessive and chronic alcohol use
Medical conditions such as cystic fibrosis and hemochromatosis
Chronic viral liver infections, such as hepatitis B, C, and D (hepatitis C is the most common cause of cirrhosis)
Obesity and diabetes-related fatty liver (non-alcohol related steatohepatitis)
Genetic liver diseases
Bile duct disease
Chronic heart failure
Long-term use of some medications
Cirrhosis can be classified into two stages.
During this stage, no symptoms of cirrhosis are typically present. The liver still functions relatively well, as enough healthy liver cells are still present to compensate for the scar tissue.
During this stage, symptoms and complications of cirrhosis occur. This is because the amount of scar tissue increases, and the liver struggles to function properly.
Cirrhosis can lead to liver failure.
There is no direct cure for liver cirrhosis, and it cannot be reversed in most cases. This is because the damage to the liver is too advanced.
However, some new research has shown that it may be possible to reverse or regress cirrhosis, but whether it can occur on a scale to lead to any clinical changes or improvement of symptoms is doubtful.
Since liver cirrhosis is generally regarded as permanent, the aim of treatment is typically to control the disease, prevent or slow down further progression, and improve symptoms.
Although healthcare professionals recommend traditional treatments, some natural ways may improve liver health. Remember, these aren’t cures for cirrhosis.
Some dietary changes you can make include:
Limiting alcohol to one standard drink daily for women and two for men, at most. It’s recommended to avoid alcohol if you have alcoholic liver disease. One drink is equal to 5 ounces of table wine. One 12-ounce can of regular beer or one 1.5-ounce serving of hard liquor.
Focus on a plant-based diet with plenty of foods high in fiber, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, rather than refined carbohydrates. The Mediterranean diet is often recommended for its health benefits.
Make sure to stay hydrated by drinking enough water.
Choose lean sources of protein.
Limit fatty and fried foods.
Limit sodium (salty foods).
Avoid raw seafood such as oysters and shellfish (as these can contain harmful bacteria).
Focus on omega-3 fatty acids because they are anti-inflammatory and may have a beneficial effect on the liver.
Specific liver diseases may need their own dietary changes (such as reducing fats or protein), so it’s best to talk to your doctor before making any large or sudden dietary changes.
Some ways to improve liver health in your day-to-day life include:
Taking part in regular physical activity
Avoiding smoking and using recreational drugs
Using a condom during sex prevents sexually transmitted illnesses, which can cause liver diseases
Being careful with toxic chemicals such as those found in cleaning products, aerosols, and insecticides
Not sharing needles with anyone
Only using reputable tattoo parlors
Maintaining a healthy body weight is important.
Losing weight if you’re overweight is recommended by eating smaller portions and increasing physical activity. This can help reduce fat in the liver, inflammation, and scarring.
Often, weight loss cleaners are also marketed as liver cleanses or detoxes. Currently, there is no scientific evidence that these products improve or prevent liver disease.
There is mixed evidence on whether dietary supplements help with cirrhosis and improve liver health. Most studies into dietary supplements are still in the research phase, with limited trials in human populations.
The following supplements might be helpful for liver health; however, it’s always best to talk to your doctor before starting any supplements.
Branded chain amino acids (BCAAs)
Silymarin (milk thistle) due to its antioxidant properties
Betaine, a substance produced in the body that’s important for liver function
S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe), a substance that’s naturally produced in the body
Probiotics, which research is still looking into
Curcumin, although its effectiveness is not yet proven
People with liver damage are often recommended to avoid vitamin A and selenium supplements.
Since cirrhosis is a late-stage disease, seeing your doctor as soon as possible is important if you have any concerns about your liver health.
Diagnosing liver disease at an early stage can help prevent the progression of the disease to cirrhosis and ensure that the liver retains its ability to repair itself as much as possible.
Liver cirrhosis indicates late-stage liver disease. Although it’s usually permanent, some ways to naturally treat and slow its progression are available through dietary and lifestyle changes. In rare cases, cirrhosis can be reversed.
Cirrhosis of the liver is generally described as being permanent. This is because cirrhosis indicates late-stage liver disease. However, some evidence has found that cirrhosis can be reversed in rare cases.
It depends on the underlying cause of the cirrhosis, but consuming a healthy diet, avoiding or limiting alcohol, undertaking regular physical activity, and maintaining a healthy body weight are some of the best ways to treat liver cirrhosis naturally.
While no one food can “heal” cirrhosis of the liver, a Mediterranean-style plant-based diet that contains plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources is recommended for improving liver health.
Treatment - Cirrhosis | NHS
Eating, diet, & nutrition for cirrhosis | National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Treatment for cirrhosis | National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Symptoms & causes of cirrhosis | National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Definition & facts for cirrhosis | National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)