Cirrhosis is an incurable liver disorder whereby scar tissue forms and prevents the liver from functioning properly. If you have cirrhosis there are certain vitamins and other supplements that may be beneficial and can help to prevent further damage to the liver from occurring. Supplements can interact with medications and some are toxic to cirrhosis sufferers so only take supplements under the supervision of a qualified health care practitioner.
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According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, Milk thistle is a well known herb for its liver detoxifying properties and it has been used since Greco-Roman times to treat liver disorders. UMM notes that milk thistle contains the substance silymarin that may protect the liver from damage, however the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Control found it is more helpful to people with mild liver disease then those with severe liver disease. The suggested dose for liver support is 420 mg per day of a supplement that contains 70 to 80 percent silymarin.
Licorice Root and Codyceps
Preliminary studies show that licorice root may also be useful. UMM indicates that a glycyrrhizin supplement, which is the active component of licorice root, taken along with the amino acids cysteine and glycerine might help to both reduce the risk of and treat cirrhosis. Codyceps sinesis is another potentially beneficial herbal supplement. It is a type of mushroom used in traditional Chinese medicine to support the liver and UMM reports that it may improve liver function. The recommended dose is 3 to 4.5 g taken twice daily.
The Canadian School of Natural Nutrition recommends taking a mixed antioxidant formula that contains a blend of vitamin C, E, selenium, bioflavanoids, alpha lipoic acid and Coenzyme Q10, to provide additional antioxidant support. Spirulina is a blue-green algae that is rich in antioxidants and many other nutrients and it may help to protect and strengthen the liver as well.
UMM recommends taking SAM-e and finds that it is a naturally occurring antioxidant that many cirrhosis sufferers have been found to be low in. SAM-e influences certain liver process and it may help to reverse liver damage caused by cirrhosis. It may also help to normalize bilirubin and liver enzyme levels and support the production of glutathione, which is necessary for proper liver detoxification in cirrhosis sufferers.
The B vitamins are considered very important for detoxification reactions in the liver, according to CSNN. The school recommends taking a B50 or B100 complex supplement 2 to 3 times daily, with meals.
Supplements that May be Toxic
While many supplements may be helpful, UMM warns there are also some that may cause liver damage and complications to cirrhosis sufferers. According to UMM, kava kava, vitamin A in high doses, mistletoe, germander and European barberry can all be toxic to the liver and should only be taken under the recommendation of a physician.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Cirrhosis
- "Pathology and Nutrition”; The Canadian School of Natural Nutrition; 2008