This section is from the book "Practical Dietetics With Special Reference To Diet In Disease", by William Gilman Thompson. Also available from Amazon: Practical Dietetics with Special Reference to Diet in Disease.
Cirrhosis is a disease of the liver occasioned by irritation of that organ by substances in the blood derived more particularly from the portal system after direct absorption from the intestine. Among those irritants may be mentioned as the foremost excitant alcohol, which produces fully 60 per cent of all cases. Strong alcoholic stimulants often contain fusel oil or other especially noxious impurities. The prolonged use of strong condiments, or spices, such as curry and peppers, may occasion cirrhosis, as also may chronic metallic poisoning by arsenic, antimony, lead, or phosphorus. Experimentally, ptomaines have been made to excite the disease in the lower animals, and continued poisoning by such agents may possibly produce it in man. Cirrhosis may be caused in other ways, but the facts above mentioned show its frequent relation to dietetic errors. As a result of fibrous hepatitis, the terminals of the portal vein are obstructed and the portal venous system is congested, the blood being dammed back in the vessels of the stomach, spleen, intestines, and pancreas.
Owing to the congestion there is frequent vomiting, sometimes of blood, and there is marked interference with the character of the digestive secretions as well as the process of intestinal absorption.
Cirrhosis without accompanying ascites is often best treated by a milk diet for two or three weeks. Bread and crackers may be allowed with the milk, but nothing else. Hot water and aŽrated waters should be drunk in large quantities, fasting, to "flush" the liver. Subsequently a light diet is to be prescribed in accordance with the suggestions given for the treatment of liver diseases in general (p. 592). All condiments, relishes, sauces, fats, fried food, pastry, and sweets must be withheld, as well as alcohol in every form. The skin and bowels must be kept active.