What is Cirrhosis?

To most of us the word 'cirrhosis' is just a vague medical term used by doctors when they want to scare someone out of drinking. However, when we really understand what cirrhosis is, then we have good reason to be scared.

Alcohol is used by the liver to supply energy to the body in the same way as any sugar is. When we drink regularly, we build up a way to process the alcohol going through our body. For this we need enzymes and have to therefore restructure our whole body to adapt to this new source of 'food'. When we build up this enzyme chain, and we have to do this as alcohol is a poison which must be broken down by the body and expelled, then we come to depend on alcohol as a source of energy and it is used by the liver in preference to fat. When we stop drinking, however, the enzyme chain breaks down through disuse, releasing toxins and poisons and making us feel 'hung over' and toxic. It also creates the craving for more alcohol and perpetuates, a vicious circle as alcohol again feeds the enzyme chain.

Thus, fat builds up in the liver and infiltrates its way between cells. Because of this imbalance, cells die, scar tissue forms and we begin to lose bits of our essential liver. Many alcoholics survive with only ⅓ to ⅛ of their liver viable, but they are in danger because there is no reserve left to handle that little bit of extra toxicity in the body. Next time they eat, drink or smoke something a little bit poisonous, even excessive meat and protein, they get very sick and can die.

The cirrhotic must live an abnormal life, always on guard against eating the wrong food and unable to ever take alcohol again. For the alcoholic this is very grim and he may chose to face his inevitable death with a drunken smile, dying a painful and degrading death, a warning to his fellow man. There are others, however, who decide to change. Previously they had very little hope, for the modes of treatment were all far from effective in the long term. Now, however, yoga has come to the fore, offering them a better alternative to alcoholic intoxication as well as a scientific means to restore their health.