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Liver Cirrhosis in Nigeria; Causes, treatment and natural remedies

The liver is the largest solid organ found in the upper right part of the abdomen. This organ is responsible for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fat, fat-soluble vitamins and the production of essential and blood clotting proteins. The liver is also our body’s natural detoxification system, serving to eliminate and detoxify harmful waste, toxins, bacteria, drugs, and alcohol. It helps to purify your blood and helps to keep your body system up and running properly.

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.

Hepatitis infections are mainly contracted through oral, anal or vaginal sex. In Nigeria alone, it is estimated that about 35 million people are infected with Hepatitis B alone. Hepatitis B is the most common cause of liver disease in Nigeria.

Currently, the conventional therapies for cirrhosis involve managing symptoms and addressing complications of the disease. These can include procedures and medications to treat the viral hepatitis infection, to control hypertension and to help reduce the build-up of toxins in your blood. If physically and financially possible, a liver transplant remains the last resort “curative” treatment for liver damage and that is not yet feasible in Nigeria as we speak.

Prevention in the case of liver cirrhosis is much better than cure. People are advised to limit the use of alcohol, and stop the practice of self-medication with pain killers. This is especially important for people who drink alcohol and then take pain killers to relieve the headaches that occur after drinking.

This combination only serves to hasten the damage of the liver. It is encouraged to lose weight and eat a diet low in fats, sugar and high in fiber, vitamins, and nutrients. Most importantly, it is advised to practice safe sex to reduce the risk of contracting hepatitis B or C which is especially rampant in Nigeria.

 Finally, anyone under the age of 45 is encouraged to get the hepatitis B vaccine if it hasn’t been given already. Herbs such as milk thistle and licorice help to detoxify the liver. Digestive enzymes especially serrapeptase may help reduce the scarring of the liver and zinc and vitamin D can help reduce the risk of developing liver cancer. When it comes to natural remedies for cirrhosis, it is important to note that this does not negate the need for proper medical treatment, rather it should be used as an adjunctive therapy. Let us all be aware of this growing health issue and take measures to quash it away from our country. Wishing you all a happy and healthy week!


Tobi Ayodele Keeney

 Managing Director Quincy Herbals

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