Primary Biliary Cholangitis – A Disease That Attacks the Liver

Primary Biliary Cholangitis is an autoimmune disorder that affects the bile ducts present in the liver. Bile ducts produce a fluid known as bile which is used in digestion and to get rid of toxins from the body. When the bile ducts are damaged, they fail to produce bile and as a result toxins start building up in the liver leading to damage. If left untreated, this disease can progress to liver cirrhosis and liver failure.

Symptoms of Primary Biliary Cholangitis

In its initial stages Primary Biliary Cholangitis (PBC) does not show any major symptoms.  Some of the initial symptoms could be:

  1. Pruritus or Itching
  2. Fatigue
  3. Dryness of mouth and eyes

As the disease advances the following symptoms may show up:

  1. Pain in the abdomen especially in the upper right portion
  2. Pain in the joints and bones
  3. Jaundice which presents yellowing of skin, eyes
  4. Hyperpigmentation or skin darkening
  5. Edema of feet and ankles
  6. Fluid in the abdomen due to failure of liver
  7. Deposits of fat around the eyes, eyelids, creases of palms, soles, elbows or knees
  8. Osteoporosis
  9. Increase in blood cholesterol level
  10. Diarrhoea
  11. Hypothyroidism
  12. Vaginal Dryness

Causes of Primary Biliary Cholangitis

Since PBC is an autoimmune disease, it is said to be hereditary sometimes. Genetic factors in conjunction with environmental factors cause PBC.

Risk Factors of Primary Biliary Cholangitis

  • Women are at a higher risk of contracting PBC than men.
  • People in the age group of 30 years – 60 years are more susceptible to PBC.
  • A person who has a family member with PBC is at a higher risk of contracting it.
  • Sometimes a microbial infection can lead to PBC.
  • Excessive smoking is said to be a trigger for PBC.
  • Certain toxic chemicals present in the environment are said to trigger PBC.

Complications of Primary Biliary Cholangitis

  1. An enlarged spleen is a common complication of PBC.
  2. Liver scarring or cirrhosis could happen if PBC is left untreated for long. Over a period of time the liver tissue starts to harden up which hampers the functioning of the liver. This may result in liver failure.
  3. Portal hypertension stands for an increased pressure on the portal vein due to scarred liver tissue. This happens when the blood is unable to flow freely through the liver in PBC.
  4. As the flow of blood through the portal vein is hampered, it leads to the backing up of blood into other veins especially the ones in the stomach and oesophagus. This could cause these veins to burst resulting in bleeding in the upper portion of the stomach or oesophagus.
  5. When bile is unable to flow freely through the liver, it hardens up and forms stones that may obstruct the bile ducts or gallbladder.
  6. Osteoporosis is a common complication of PBC. This happens because PBC patients tend to have weaker, brittle bones.
  7. People who suffer from PBC also tend to be deficient in vitamin A, D, E, K. Due to lack of bile; the body is unable to absorb these nutrients and hence becomes deficient.
  8. As the liver tissue gets damaged the probability of getting liver cancer increases.

Diagnosis of Primary Biliary Cholangitis

  1. A detailed physical examination and assessment of personal history, family history and medical history is carried out.
  2. Blood tests are conducted to check the level on enzymes that indicate liver disease.
  3. Blood tests are conducted to check for Anti-mitochondrial antibodies or AMAs that indicate autoimmune disorders.
  4. An ultrasound could be conducted to see if the liver is showing signs of damage.
  5. CT scan, MRI and MRE are also imaging techniques that can be used to show liver damage.
  6. An X-ray of bile ducts could be carried out.

Treatment of Primary Biliary Cholangitis

  1. Some drugs like methotrexate and colchicine which are immunosuppressant in nature are administered to treat PBC.
  2. Ursodiol is an acid that helps in moving the bile through the liver. If given in the early stages, this drug may help in prolonging the life of the affected liver.
  3. If the liver has been damaged excessively then liver transplant may be recommended.
  4. Antihistamines can be administered to relieve itching caused due to PBC.
  5. Vitamin A, D, E, K supplements may be suggested to avoid deficiencies.

How can curcumin help in prevention and treatment of biliary diseases?

Apart from a healthy lifestyle which includes exercise, a balanced diet and avoiding stress, curcumin supplements can also help prevent and treat PBC.

1) Curcumin has been known to prevent the formation of gallstones. It reduces cholesterol and lipids in the bile. However, it should be taken in the form of supplements only to prevent gallstones and not in the treatment of existing ones.

2) In case of PBC, curcumin can be helpful as it reduces the inflammation caused. Due to the strong anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, it is effective in reducing any form of inflammation that may occur in the body due to cholangitis.

3) Curcumin stops the proliferation of cells and thus prevents fibrosis.

4) Curcumin prevents liver injury by controlling the amount of bile produced.

Bagdara Farms has brought to us a supplement known as Livturm which helps in safeguarding our liver and bile ducts against liver and biliary diseases. It is made of 100% natural and organic curcumin, which is grown with no chemical insecticides or pesticides.

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