There are a lot of effective non-alcoholic fatty liver disease home remedies. It is a good thing too.
After years of heavy alcohol consumption, people are at risk of liver problems like alcoholic liver disease. However, people who don’t drink a lot of alcohol are also at risk of the liver disease called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
The condition often ranges in severity. When there is inflammation of the liver, it is known as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). This stage is serious where things may advance to cirrhosis and end-stage liver disease.
In the U.S., NAFLD is thought to affect over 20% of the population. NASH will also affect approximately two percent to three percent of people with NAFLD. The majority of NAFLD sufferers will have either very little or no symptoms at all. When there are symptoms present, they include fatigue, malaise, weight loss, and pain in the upper right abdomen.
NAFLD occurs when fat is deposited in the liver, and this case the problem is not from alcohol. Others NAFLD causes include insulin resistance or diabetes, high cholesterol, viral hepatitis, malnutrition, rapid weight loss, and certain medications such as corticosteroids, aspirin, amiodarone, diltiazem, tetracycline, or antiviral drugs.
10 Home Remedies for Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
What are non-alcoholic fatty liver disease treatments? The goal in the treatment of NAFLD or NASH is to eliminate potential causes or risk factors of the problem. For instance, stopping certain drug treatments, losing weight, and controlling diabetes are the most common ways to treat non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Drug treatments, although often ineffective, include glucagon, metronidazole, metformin, glutamine infusion, and ursodeoxycholic acid. Home remedies are also proven to be effective for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Here are the most common non-alcoholic fatty liver disease natural remedies:
Weight loss is considered the most effective approach in the treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. In a systematic review published in the Journal of Hepatology in 2012, the researchers found that exercise is a valid, low-cost therapy for NAFLD. The review included 12 studies that measured aerobic exercise and progressive resistance training to help control non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in adults.
A minimum of 40 minutes of moderate to intense aerobic exercise for five days weekly can help benefit NAFLD patients. Exercise will help balance enzyme values and improve the quality of liver in those with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
2. Low-glycemic diet
The elimination of high-glycemic-index (GI) foods is vital for the prevention and treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. High GI foods that increase blood sugar levels include potatoes, watermelon, brown rice, and processed foods like chocolate bars, sweetened cereals, and beer. It is interesting to note that a 2008 study published in the Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology found that 80% of NAFLD patients drank enough juices and soft drinks that equaled 12 teaspoons of sugar; they also noted that sugar-laden drinks can cause NAFLD.
It is best to consume foods with a low GI of 55 or less such as eggs, onions, legumes, garlic, apples, pears, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, artichokes, and green leafy vegetables.
3. Milk thistle
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is considered the top herbal remedy to improve liver function and treat and prevent NAFLD. The flavonoids in milk thistle can effectively protect one from liver damage. The flavonoids also help enhance the detoxification process, including increasing the glutathione in the liver.
Glutathione is a key component for low liver function in NAFLD patients. Evidence also suggests that milk thistle is useful for other liver-related diseases such as alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis, viral hepatitis, and chemical toxicity. The recommended intake is 900 milligrams of milk thistle twice daily with meals.
Dandelion leaf or root (Taraxacum officinale) is often used to promote proper liver function as an effective cleansing herb for NAFLD. Dandelion will detoxify and metabolize fat that accumulates in the liver. A study published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology found that dandelion leaf extract can help prevent and treat obesity-related NAFLD. The dandelion leaf extract significantly suppressed fat accumulation in the liver and lowered insulin resistance.
Enjoy dandelion root tea to obtain the full effects of fatty liver disease. Add a teaspoon of dried dandelion root to a cup of boiling hot water. Next, cover and steep for up to 10 minutes. Strain the decoction. It is recommended to drink three cups of the tea each day over a three-week period.
5. Amla or Indian gooseberry
Indian gooseberry (Emblica officinalis) is a rejuvenative herb used heavily in Ayurvedic medicine for treating diabetes and fatty liver disease. It is also called amla or amalaki fruit. It contains important antioxidants that help with liver function, including vitamin C, ellagic acid, gallic acid, gallotanin, and corilagin. Studies have also linked amla with hepatotoxin-induced liver inflammation, which is a sign of NASH.
6. Licorice root
Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is another excellent remedy for NAFLD, which is also used in Ayurvedic medicine. In a double-blind, randomized study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research in 2012, licorice root extract significantly reduced liver enzymes in 66 patients with NAFLD. To make licorice root tea, simply pour boiling water over a teaspoon of licorice root powder, and let it steep for about 10 minutes. Let it strain, and enjoy the tea. It is a good idea to consume the licorice root tea once or twice daily.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) contains the potent compound curcumin, which has been used in medicine to treat jaundice and other liver diseases. Turmeric also reduces liver injury and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease by reducing the release of inflammation, minimizing oxidative stress, altering fat metabolism, and enhancing insulin sensitivity. Curcumin can also help fight liver fibrosis and liver cancer—also called hepatocarcinoma. Turmeric can be used in tea or while preparing meals.
The phytoconstituents in flaxseed help prevent harmful hormones from causing a strain on the liver. A 2013 study published in the journal Lipids in Health and Disease found that the combination of flaxseed oil and alpha-lipoic acid can help prevent NAFLD by enhancing liver fat accumulation and oxidative stress. Flaxseed ideally should be grounded using a coffee grinder to preserve freshness and avoid rancidity. Flaxseed oil is also a good addition to salads.
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum seylanicum) is considered a warming herb that helps digestion, including liver health. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in Nutrition Research in 2014, researchers suggested that taking 1,500 milligrams of daily cinnamon may effectively improve NAFLD. The study included 50 NAFLD patients who randomly received either two capsules of cinnamon daily, or two placebo capsules each day, over a 12-week period.
Cilantro or coriander (Coriandrum sativum) is another important herbal remedy for liver protection. Cilantro is also useful for conditions related to NAFLD, especially diabetes. The cooking herb contains antioxidant and antihyperglycemic effects, according to studies of diabetic rats.
Tips to Prevent Liver Disease
The following are some tips to help you prevent liver disease, as well as precautions to take if you have had a liver transplant:
- Avoid all processed foods: Avoid processed foods and ingredients like high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) or corn syrup. HFCS will produce uric acid that causes gout, increases blood pressure, and lead to liver damage. Genetic modified foods like corn will destroy good gut bacteria, and interfere with digestion. This process makes the liver work harder.
- Restrict your intake of saturated fat: A whole foods and nutrient-dense diet will help prevent liver disease and improve immunity.
- Avoid harmful drugs: Large quantities of acetaminophen (Tylenol) are considered a harmful drug for the liver.
- Avoid drinking alcohol: Even when your fatty liver disease is the non-alcoholic variety, it is best to avoid drinking alcohol altogether. Be aware that alcohol is found in some cough syrups and other drugs.
- Avoid receiving live virus vaccines: Liver transplant recipients should not receive live virus vaccines.
- Undergo liver enzyme tests: If you have fatty liver disease it is a good idea to undergo liver enzyme tests.
- Pregnancy precaution: Women with a liver transplant should avoid pregnancy for at least a year after the transplantation. After they do give birth, they should avoid breastfeeding because of the potential risk of the baby to immunosuppressive medicines in the milk.
Other NAFLD Natural Remedies
Home remedies are great non-alcoholic fatty liver disease treatments. Other NAFLD natural remedies include green tea, carnitine, betaine, choline, folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), vitamin E, bile salts, pine bark extract, grape seed extract, cascara sagrada, southern ginseng, goldenseal, ginger, barberry, papaya, and S-Adenosyl methionine (SAM-e).