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Herbal Treatment for Fatty Liver

Updated: Jan 2

What is fatty liver? (Steatosis)

Fatty liver or Steatosis is a condition caused by an accumulation of fat in the liver cells and it affects approximately 20%-30% of the population. Among overweight people, the numbers of fatty liver cases resemble an epidemic! The prevalence of the disease increases as the extent of obesity increases. There are 4 degrees of fatty liver 1. Fatty tissue in the liver. 2. Inflammation. 3. Scarring of the liver cells. 4. Cirrhosis - this is the last most serious and life-threatening condition of a fatty liver that requires strict medical treatment and hospitalization.

What are the symptoms of fatty liver? People diagnosed with fatty liver often do not feel any symptoms and are not aware of the problem until it is detected in a blood test or an ultrasound. Sometimes you may feel increased fatigue or discomfort on the right side of the stomach, but usually, the condition will not be manifested by any identifying signs. One of the main characteristics of fatty liver is low metabolism, which is also manifested in obesity, intolerance to sugar or diabetes, and hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol). Non-overweight people may develop fatty liver due to a genetic disorder or an unhealthy diet high in fructose (sugars, sweets, simple carbohydrates).

The good news is, our liver can recover! Using the right tools that combine nutrition, lifestyle changes, and medical herbs, fatty liver can be rehabilitated and long-term complications may be prevented.

The natural treatment of fatty liver The natural treatment of fatty liver focuses on lifestyle changes, balanced nutrition, medical herbs which support liver function, physical activity, and weight loss. Losing weight has a huge impact on improving the condition of fatty liver! In a review (2020) that was published by the American Gastroenterology Association (AGA), these are the latest evidence is detailed with regard to lifestyle change interventions for the treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, as well as research-based recommendations from the expert team, for clinical application (1):

- Lifestyle changes that include diet and physical activity combined with weight loss have a beneficial effect on all patients with fatty liver disease. - Among patients who suffer from steatosis with inflammation, a weight loss of at least 5% of the body weight can reduce the accumulation of fat in the liver. A loss of at least 7% of the body weight can lead to the regression of the disease, and a loss of at least 10% of body weight can improve liver scarring. - Weight loss that will encourage healing and restoration of the liver requires a caloric reduction of 500-1,000 calories from the existing diet. The recommended diet is a diet where there is a consumption of not more than 1,200-1,500 calories per day. - The most recommended diet for adults with fatty liver is a Mediterranean diet alongside saturated fat reduction (especially red and processed meat) as well as limiting or avoiding sugar, fructose, and industrialized foods consumption. - Even patients without a significant excess weight will improve their liver condition with a reduced calorie diet (with a moderate goal of 3-5% weight loss). - There is not enough evidence to indicate the benefit of other calorie-reduced diets, such as a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet, meal replacement protocols, intermittent fasting, and food supplementation. - Regular physical activity that combines aerobic activity with resistance training is recommended. The recommendation is a weekly goal of 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75-100 minutes of high-intensity aerobic activity. - Other underlying diseases must be diagnosed/ruled out and treated, such as obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol levels, hypertension, and heart disease. - It is highly recommended to avoid alcohol consumption.

Herbs and fatty liver One of the things that amazes me about herbal treatment for fatty liver, is that the patients who come to me with this problem, never leave with the same herbal formula. There are dozens of herbs that I can think of, that could be suitable as part of a fatty liver natural treatment. In this article, I want to introduce you to four of the most studied herbs that can help treat fatty liver. Here we go:

Cinnamon Cinnamon is known for its antioxidant properties and for its beneficial effect on insulin resistance, therefore, it is considered a very effective natural treatment for fatty liver. In a double-blind clinical study (December 2013) it was found that participants who were treated with cinnamon, experienced a reduction of inflammation and an improvement in the levels of their insulin sensitivity, their fasting sugar levels, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and their liver enzyme levels, compared to the participants who received placebo(2).

Green tea Green tea is known for its detoxifying and antioxidant activity. It is one of my most preferred medical herbs for treating fatty liver. In a systematic review and a meta-analysis (2018), the effectiveness and safety of green tea supplements for the treatment of fatty liver were evaluated. What came out of the review was, that taking green tea supplements led to a significant improvement in liver functions and in the levels of liver enzymes in the blood. In addition, green tea had a beneficial effect on the BMI and the blood lipid profile of the patients who suffered from fatty liver(3). Licorice - Glichyrryza glabra Licorice is one of the most important medicinal herbs in modern and traditional herbal medicine and is credited with a balancing and restorative activity on various organs and systems in our body, including the liver. Science also agrees with this assumption. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study from 2022 found that incorporating licorice as part of a fatty liver treatment results in a significant reduction in the levels of liver enzymes and insulin in the blood. It also found that Licorice may help reduce the levels of oxidative stress and the accumulation of fat in the liver(4).

Milk thistle Milk thistle is considered one of the leading herbs for the protection and restoration of the liver. It is anti-inflammatory and contains powerful antioxidants which help with liver detoxification. Studies show that the active ingredient of the milk thistle, silymarin, contributes to better liver function, whilst reducing high levels of liver enzymes in the blood and improving insulin sensitivity (5,6,7). * Please note, the information is for general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Do not take medical herbs without consulting a qualified Clinical herbalist.



fatty liver
fatty liver

Resources:

1. Younossi ZM, Corey KE, Lim JK. AGA Clinical Practice Update on Lifestyle Modification Using Diet and Exercise to Achieve Weight Loss in the Management of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: Expert Review. Gastroenterology. 2021 Feb;160(3):912-918. 2. Shekarchizadeh-Esfahani P, Heydarpour F, Izadi F, Jalili C. The effect of cinnamon supplementation on liver enzymes in adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Complement Ther Med. 2021 May;58:102699. 3. Mansour-Ghanaei F, Hadi A, Pourmasoumi M, Joukar F, Golpour S, Najafgholizadeh A. Green tea as a safe alternative approach for nonalcoholic fatty liver treatment: A systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials. Phytother Res. 2018 Oct;32(10):1876-1884. 4. Rostamizadeh P, Asl SMKH, Far ZG, Ahmadijoo P, Mahmudiono T, Bokov DO, Alsaikhan F, Jannat B, Mazloom Z. Effects of licorice root supplementation on liver enzymes, hepatic steatosis, metabolic and oxidative stress parameters in women with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: A randomized double-blind clinical trial. Phytother Res. 2022 Oct;36(10):3949-3956. 5. Fehér J, Deák G, Müzes G, et al. [Liver-protective action of silymarin therapy in chronic alcoholic liver diseases] Orvosi Hetilap. 1989 Dec;130(51):2723-2727. 6. https://edoc.unibas.ch/33136/1/document(44).pdf 7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3542639/ Milosević N, Milanović M, Abenavoli L, Milić N. Phytotherapy and NAFLD--from goals and challenges to clinical practice. Rev Recent Clin Trials. 2014;9(3):195-203.


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