Hepatic fibrosis and its end-stage sequelae of cirrhosis and liver cancer are major causes of morbidity and mortality throughout the world and their prevalence is rising, largely due to the increasing impact of chronic viral hepatitis and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. It is hoped better disease prevention and more effective antiviral therapies will help reduce this disease burden.
However, there remains a major need both to understand the mechanisms involved in hepatic fibrosis in order to understant its herbal treatments that prevent liver scarring, and to use better therapies for the treatment of cirrhosis and its complications.
Liver fibrosis results from chronic damage to the liver in conjunction with the accumulation of extra cellular matrix (ECM) proteins, which is a characteristic of most types of chronic liver diseases .
The main causes of liver fibrosis include chronic HCV infection, alcohol abuse, and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. The accumulation of ECM proteins distorts the hepatic architecture by forming a fibrous scar, and the subsequent development of nodules of regenerating hepatocytes defines cirrhosis. Cirrhosis produces hepatocellular dysfunction and increased intrahepatic resistance to blood flow, which result in hepatic insufficiency and portal hypertension, respectively.
Hepatic fibrosis was historically thought to be a passive and irreversible process due to the collapse of the hepatic parenchyma and its substitution with a collagen-rich tissue.
Fatty liver disease is a condition that causes fat to build up in the liver over time. There are two types of fatty liver disease: alcoholic and nonalcoholic. Alcoholic fatty liver disease is caused by heavy alcohol use.
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Although the cause of NAFLD is unknown, it’s more common in people who have:
type 2 diabetes
high blood pressure
liver fibrosis is a dynamic pathological condition which can be slowed down in its initial phases. Without proper clinical management of fibrosis, progressive liver damage may lead to cirrhosis and ultimately to liver failure or primary liver cancer, which are irreversible conditions. Therefore, in order to cure fibrotic damage to liver, its early stages should be the centre of attention.
The liver is a very resilient organ and is normally able to regenerate damaged cells. However, when there is frequent, chronic and long term damage or injury (from alcohol, drugs and chronic viral infections), the liver becomes scarred and stiff also known as cirrhosis. Such a liver that is scarred fails to function properly and ultimately, this leads to chronic liver failure, possible liver cancer, and ultimately death.
Cirrhosis of the liver makes it difficult for blood to flow into the liver from the portal vein which carries blood from the digestive organs to the liver. Over time, hypertension of that portal vein occurs causing the veins in your throat to burst and bleed. Other symptoms of liver damage include yellowing of the eyes (jaundice), decreased appetite, confusion, impotence, weight loss, itchy skin, swelling of the legs and abdominal swelling (ascites).
Cirrhosis of the liver can be caused by several numbers of issues but the main culprits include hepatitis B and C, chronic alcohol use (drinking more than two drinks per day over several years), medication use (especially paracetamol) and autoimmune diseases. Hepatitis B and C are viral infections that affect the liver thereby causing scarring, inflammation and eventually cirrhosis and liver damage.
Natural remedies for fatty liver disease
(1) This eating plan focuses on a variety of plant-based foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables and legumes, along with healthy fats. Here’s a brief overview of food to focus on:
Fruits and vegetables. Aim to eat a variety: Try berries, apples, oranges, bananas, dates, figs, melons, leafy greens, broccoli, peppers, sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, cucumbers, eggplant, and tomatoes.
Legumes. Try to include beans, peas, lentils, pulses, and chickpeas in your diet.
Healthy fats. Use healthy oils, such as extra virgin olive oil. Nuts, seeds, avocados, and olives also contain a high concentration of healthy fats.
Fish and lean meats. Opt for fish twice per week. Eggs and lean poultry, like skinless chicken and turkey, are fine in moderation.
Whole grains. Consume unprocessed grains and cereals, such as whole-wheat bread, brown rice, whole oats, couscous, whole-wheat pasta, or quinoa.
(2) Avoid foods with added sugars
Major culprits include store-bought and commercially processed foods, such as:
baked goods, like cakes, cookies, doughnuts, pastries, and pies
sweetened dairy products, like flavored yogurts
(3) Avoid known liver irritants
Certain substances can put excess stress on your liver. Some of these substances include alcohol, over-the-counter medications, and some vitamins and supplements.
4. Get active
That’s around 30 minutes, 5 days per week. You don’t necessarily have to play a sport or even go to the gym to get enough exercise. You can take a brisk 30-minute walk, 5 days a week.
Or, if you’re pressed for time, you can even break it down into two brisk 15-minute walks, twice a day, 5 days a week.
(5) Lose excess weight
The guide recommends that people with NAFLD lose between 3 and 5 percent of their body weight to reduce fat buildup in the liver.
It also states that losing between 7 and 10 percent of body weight can improve other symptoms of NAFLD, such as inflammation, fibrosis, and scarring.
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