Jaundice is a liver disorder. It is a sign or symptom of several different diseases.
Jaundice causes white area of skin and eyes to acquire a distinct yellow colour. This is due to the presence of a bile pigment called bilirubin in very high levels. Bilirubin is a normal breakdown product of haem. Haem is the iron-based compound contained in haemoglobin.
Liver is one of the largest organs in the human body and is the metabolic powerhouse with more than 500 identified functions. Liver produces substances such as bile and proteins, metabolizes our foods and detoxifies blood of unwanted hormones, chemicals and toxins. Liver produces and stores glycogen which regulates the body’s energy supply.
The two main kinds of jaundice are haemolytic jaundice and obstructive jaundice.
The most prevalent disorders of liver are jaundice, hepatitis, cirrhosis and tumors.
Hepatitis is a diffused inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis may be caused by alcohol, drugs ( toxic reaction and overdose) or due to viral infections. Numerous viruses can cause hepatitis such as glandular fever virus and the HIV virus. The main hepatitis causing viruses are A, B, C, D, E and F. The most clinically significant of these are Hepatitis-A, Hepatitis-B, and Hepatitis-C.
Acute hepatitis symptoms are generally similar regardless of the virus involved. Significant symptoms include mild flu like illness with nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite.
Other symptoms include:
Hepatitis A virus
Infectious Hepatitis A is spread by consuming contaminated water or food. Hepatitis A virus thrives in food preparation areas where sanitation conditions are poor.
Hepatitis B virus or HBV
Serum Hepatitis B spreads through contaminated blood or body fluids. Most common mode of transmission is amongst drug users who share needles. Other groups at risk of HBV infection include people who are sexually promiscuous and health care workers.
Hepatitis C virus or HCV
HCV transmits in a similar fashion to that of HBV though contraction via sexual activity seems less easy. The incubation period is six to nine weeks and most individuals are not aware that they have been infected.
Cirrhosis of the liver
Liver Cirrhosis is characterized by death of the liver cells which are then replaced with scar tissue.
Ayurveda and liver
The liver has long been considered one of the most important body organs in traditional Ayurveda and Chinese medicine. In Ayurveda, liver is associated with emotion of suppressed anger, the seat of fire element (pita) and root of blood channels.
Ayurvedic name for liver is “Yakrut”. The word yakrut has two verbs, “ya” and “krut”. Ya denotes activity, “krut” denotes breaking down. Ayurveda considers liver as a centre and origin (mula sthana) of the circulatory system (raktavaha srotas).
There are two types of jaundice. One is the obstructive type jaundice and the other is Haemolytic jaundice.
Treatment approaches for both are different. However philosophy is the same as follows:
Regular use of mild purgative herbs will remove blockage in the biliary tract. From an ayurvedic perspective, this will also reduce excess pitta dosha.
Below is a list of some well-known ayurvedic herbs used in treating liver disorders. They regulate liver functions, cleanse and detoxify liver and also stimulate bile flow. Apart from that, these herbs have an anti bacterial action and also help in reducing constipation.
According to Ayurveda hepatitis is due to bhutha which means microbes or parasites in the body. Combining that theory with modern view, these are bacteria and viruses.
Ayurveda treatments for hepatitis are not purely based on the strain of viruses. Treatments vary from person to person. This based on the individuals dosha constitution and also according to stage of disease as well.
Hepatitis A treatment
Several effective single herbs and combination herbal medicines are used for different types of hepatitis. Herbs and medicines used for preventing Hepatitis A are pitta mitigating medicines which are hepato-protective as well.
Hepatits B and Hepatitis C need a very careful approach to treatment. Strong hepato-protective herbs and antiviral herbs are required for this virus. An experienced ayurvedic practitioner can decide the combinations and dosages.