Cirrhosis is a disease characterized by the replacement of healthy liver tissue by scar tissue and nodules. The abnormal tissues limit the flow of blood and bile which leads to progressive loss of liver function as it cannot perform its vital tasks of cleaning the blood of toxins, controlling infections, regulating blood clotting and the absorption of fat and fat-soluble nutrients. Unfortunately, any damage that is already done is irreversible, but Cirrhosis can be detected and treated early on which can stop the disease in its course. If left untreated, Cirrhosis can lead to symptoms like extreme fatigue, weight loss, swollen legs and abdomen, jaundice (yellowing of the skin), mental confusion and even death. The most common causes of this liver disease are excessive alcohol consumption, hepatitis B or C, however, not all people affected by this liver disease are alcoholics or dealing with hepatitis B or C. It is also possible to be diagnosed with Cirrhosis from inherited diseases or exposure to toxic substances.
When treating Cirrhosis through Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), two actions have to be taken: treating the underlying cause and stopping further damage from occurring. When Cirrhosis is due to alcoholism, TCM can help via acupuncture sessions designed to help patients get over their addiction. When the cirrhosis is caused by Hepatitis C, acupuncture in conjunction with orthodox Western medicine and other TCM methods such as herbal medicine can help decrease symptoms, lower liver enzyme levels, and slow down the disease progression. Acupuncture proved to be effective in helping people with Hepatitis through a study conducted at the Quan Yin Healing Arts Centre in 1995 on people infected with Hepatitis C. The study indicated that acupuncture alone can help normalizing liver enzyme levels. If a liver transplant is required, acupuncture before and after the surgery may help speed the recovery. An article published in 2009 on Hepatitis Central described acupuncture as a way to smooth liver transplant recovery, citing various studies including a Duke University Medical Center trial.
As a chronic disease, Cirrhosis can be at the source of continuous pain and stress. Acupuncture treatments reduce some of the painful symptoms related to the disease, as well as the stress and sometimes debilitating fatigue. Doctors do not recommend the use of most painkillers such as paracetamol and NSAIDs as they metabolize in the liver, making an acupuncture treatment a smart alternative to relieve the discomforts caused by the disease.