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Ascites is the accumulation of liquid in the abdomen. It is most commonly seen in individuals with severe liver damage. Cirrhosis is one of the most common causes of ascites, however, ascites can also occur due to liver infections like chronic hepatitis B or C, alcohol addiction or excessive alcohol consumption and fatty liver disease.

Blood clots in the portal vein (a vein that takes blood from all the organs in the gut to the liver) is yet another cause of ascites. These clots block blood flow through the liver, leading to rise in pressure in the portal vein, portal hypertension, and, in turn, ascites.

Additionally, ascites occurs when the kidneys become incapable of clearing sodium (salt) from the body. This salt accumulates in the body and causes fluid build up in the abdomen. 

Other conditions that may lead to ascites are inflammation of the pancreas, kidney dialysis, inflammation of the pancreas, and scarring or thickening of the covering of heart called pericardium.

Common symptoms of ascites include abdominal pain, difficulty in breathing, infection, nausea, and fluid accumulation in the lungs.

Ascites is conventionally treated through antibiotics (if it occurs due to infections) and medicines to reduce fluid accumulation. Surgery may be needed for fluid removal. 

Many homeopathic remedies are useful in treating ascites and all the symptoms associated with it. These include arsenicum album, apocynum cannabinum, apis mellifica, digitalis purpurea, china officinalis, lycopodium clavatum, helleborus niger, senecio aureus, prunus spinosa, adonis vernalis and aceticum acidum.

Homeopathic medicines work on the underlying cause of the disease and the disease symptoms. These medicines are administered on the basis of the clinical and family history of the patient as well as their mental and physical traits. So, every patient gets a unique remedy that suits their symptoms well but may not be as effective in another patient. 

  1. Homeopathic medicines for ascites
  2. Dietary and lifestyle changes for ascites as per homeopathy
  3. How effective are homeopathic medicines and treatments for ascites
  4. Side effects and risks of homeopathic medicine and treatment for ascites
  5. Takeaway
  • Arsenicum Album 
    Common Name: Arsenious acid
    Symptoms: Arsenicum album is primarily used for treating infections, burning pain, irritable weakness and restlessness. The other symptoms that can be effectively managed using this medicine are:
    • Enlarged and painful liver and spleen
    • Heartburn and burning pain in the stomach
    • Narrowing of airways and burning pain in the chest
    • Pain and swelling in the abdomen
    • Extremely irritable stomach

Symptoms worsen in cold climate, post-midnight, near the seashore and after consumption of cold foods and drinks. Symptoms get better on consuming warm drinks and keeping one's head elevated.

  • Apocynum Cannabinum
    Common Name:
    Indian hemp
    Symptoms: Indian hemp is best suited in the management of acute alcoholism (caused by rapid, excessive consumption of alcohol), excessive thirst and fluid accumulation in the abdomen. Some other symptoms that can be managed using this remedy are:
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Bloating
    • Breathlessness
    • A heavy and sick feeling in the stomach

The symptoms worsen in cold weather and after ingestion of cold drinks.

  • Apis Mellifica
    Common Name: The honey-bee
    Symptoms: Apis mellifica is an effective remedy for treating swelling and oedema, soreness and pains. It can also be used to treat:
    • Nephritis (inflammation of kidneys)
    • Tenderness in abdomen
    • Stomach pain
    • Vomiting

Symptoms aggravate on touching the affected area and on exposure to heat in any form. Symptoms improve when the patient baths in cold water or spends some time in open air.

  • Digitalis Purpurea
    Common Name: Foxglove
    Symptoms: Foxglove helps in managing oedema of the internal and external parts and enlargement of the liver. It can also treat the following symptoms:
    • Burning sensation from the stomach to the food pipe
    • Severe abdominal pain
    • Enlarged and sore liver
    • A feeling of weakness in stomach
    • Difficulty in breathing
    • Feeling of fainting on moving about

All complaints worsen after meals and on sitting straight. The symptoms get better in open air and when the person's stomach is empty.

  • China Officinalis
    Common Name:
    Peruvian bark
    Symptoms: China officinalis is primarily used in the management of weakness due to fluid loss from the body. It can also be used to treat:
    • Swelling and enlargement of liver and spleen
    • Flatulence
    • Abdominal pain
    • Throwing up undigested food
    • Suffocation and sharp pain in lungs

All symptoms worsen by slight touch, eating food, bending over and at night. Improvement in the symptoms can be seen in open air and with warmth.

  • Lycopodium Clavatum
    Common Name:
    Club moss
    Symptoms: Club moss is used for the management of weakness, malnutrition, and progressive and chronic diseases. Following are some other symptoms that can be managed using this remedy:
    • Bloating even after light meals
    • Inflammation of the liver
    • Brown spots on the abdomen
    • Pain in the lower abdomen
    • Pressure and sinking sensation in the stomach
    • Burning pain in the chest

The symptoms get worse from 4 to 8 p.m., from hot air, and warm climatic conditions. Symptoms get better on drinking warm food and drinks and on moving about.

  • Helleborus Niger
    Common Name:
    Snow-rose
    Symptoms: This remedy is the most suitable medicine for individuals with oedema and muscular weakness. It also aids in the management of:
    • Swelling and pain in the abdomen
    • Irregular respiration
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Gurgling in the abdomen as if it is filled with water

Symptoms aggravate from evening till morning.

  • Senecio Aureus
    Common Name: Golden Ragwort
    Symptoms: Golden Ragwort is best suited for individuals with liver cirrhosis. It can also help treat the following symptoms:
    • Nausea and burps with a sour after-taste
    • Abdominal pain
    • Sharp and sudden chest pain
  • Prunus Spinosa
    Common Name:
    Black-thorn
    Symptoms: This remedy is primarily used in oedema due to fluid accumulation. Few other symptoms that can be effectively managed with prunus spinosa are:
    • Wheezing
    • Pain and cramps in the bladder region
    • Difficulty breathing

Symptoms worsen while walking.

  • Adonis Vernalis
    Common Name:
    Pheasant's eye
    Symptoms: This medicine is an excellent remedy for ascites. It can also help manage symptoms such as:
    • Heaviness in the chest and stomach
    • Frequent need to take a long breath
  • Aceticum Acidum
    Common Name:
    Glacial acetic acid
    Symptoms: Aceticum acidum is used to treat oedema, weakness and difficulty in breathing. Some of the other symptoms that can be treated with this medicine are:
    • Vomiting
    • Intestinal bleeding
    • A sinking feeling in the stomach
    • Great thirst and weakness with diabetes
    • Belching with a sour after-taste
    • Frequent watery stools
    • Emaciation and debility with profound anaemia
    • Frequent fainting spells
    • Passing large volumes of pale urine 
    • Burning pain in the stomach and chest

Homeopathic remedies are highly diluted preparations that can easily lose their potency on exposure to certain external factors. Therefore, homeopathic doctors recommend their patients to include the following dietary and lifestyle changes in their routine; 

Do’s:

  • Eat healthy and nutritious food.
  • Make sure to go out in open air.

Don’ts:

  • Do not drink beverages like coffee or drinks with a strong odour.
  • Do not eat and drink food items that are known for their medicinal properties.
  • Do not eat spicy foods.
  • Avoid all excesses in the food including sugar and salt.
  • Avoid heated rooms and stay in clean and hygienic conditions.
  • Avoid extreme emotions like anger and grief.

Homeopathic medicines help reduce fluid build-up in ascites patients, provides relief from its associated symptoms like pain, discomfort and difficulty in breathing and help treat the underlying cause of ascites - such as inflammation of the liver and other digestive organs.

A study done in California, USA, reported that homeopathic remedies can be used to treat viral hepatitis (one of the possible causes of ascites). 

A presentation by Dr. Kushal Banerjee and Kalyan Banerjee at the American Institute of Homeopathy, indicated the effectiveness of homeopathic treatment in various conditions. The presentation suggested that bryonia alba and china officinalis (alternated every two hours or at a higher frequency) is beneficial in treating rapidly progressing ascites due to liver disease.

However, more studies are needed to confirm the benefits of homeopathic medicines in ascites treatment.

Homeopathic medicines contain herbs, minerals or animal products in an extensively diluted form. The dilutions help in making the medicines free of any adverse effects and safe for individuals of all age groups. Homeopathic medicines are also safe for use in pregnant women. 

However, it is still advised that you don't take these medicines without checking in with a doctor first.

Ascites is an abnormal build-up of fluid in the abdomen causing pain and discomfort. It can occur due to liver or kidney diseases or conditions related to the heart. Conventionally ascites is treated with antibiotics, medications or surgery.

Homeopathy is a personalised medicine system where patient's are prescribed unique remedies as per their symptoms, underlying conditions, medical history and their physical and mental make-up. Homeoapthic remedies are made from natural substances that are much diluted before use and are thus free of side effects. Taking the prescribed medicines and following the diet and lifestyle changes advised by the homeopathic physician can help treat ascites and its associated symptoms.

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References

  1. Cleveland Clinic. [Internet]. Cleveland, Ohio. Ascites
  2. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Ascites
  3. Oscar E. Boericke. Repertory. Médi-T; [lnternet]
  4. Oscar E. Boericke. Repertory. Médi-T; [lnternet]
  5. Wenda Brewster O’Reilly. Organon of the Medical art by Wenda Brewster O’Reilly. B jain; New Delhi
  6. Kushal Banerjee, Kalyan Banerjee. Advanced Homeopathy Protocol. Kalyan Banerjee's Clinic; New Delhi. [internet]
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