It’s widely known that people who drink heavily are susceptible to liver diseases like cirrhosis. What’s less well-known is that people who don’t drink very much can develop a disease called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in which the liver stores an abnormally high number of fat cells.
NAFLD is extremely common, and many authorities believe it affects over 20 percent of the population in the US. About two to three percent of those patients will eventually develop non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) or inflammation of the liver.
Medications are generally not an effective treatment; in fact, some may even cause NAFLD. A doctor will thus alter a patient’s prescriptions when necessary. Other common treatments for NAFLD include weight loss and diabetes treatments, when applicable.
There are several natural remedies that can help a patient with NAFLD, and they include the following:
Doctors consider weight loss to be the most effective treatment for NAFLD. In 2012, researchers published a systematic review of weight loss methods in the “Journal of Hepatology.” They found that exercise and diet can help a patient bring their NAFLD under control. Doctors recommend that you get at least 40 minutes of moderate to intense aerobic exercise five days per week.
2. Low-Glycemic Diet
A low-glycemic diet can both prevent and control NAFLD. A low-glycemic diet is one in which the patient avoids foods that increase their blood sugar levels. Such foods are often carbohydrates and include watermelon, brown rice, potatoes, plus processed foods like candy bars, beer, and sugary cereals. In a 2008 study published in the “Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology,” researchers found that 80 percent of NAFLD patients drank sugary drinks that equaled 12 teaspoons of sugar.
Authorities recommend that patients eat foods with a glycemic index of 55 or less. Examples include pears, leafy greens, apples, vegetables, eggs, and garlic.
3. Milk Thistle
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is considered the most effective herbal treatment for controlling or preventing NAFLD and improving overall liver function. Milk thistle contains flavonoids that increase the glutathione in the liver and thus enhance the detoxification process. Authorities say you should take 900 mg of milk thistle twice a day with meals.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) also helps the liver by metabolizing and detoxifying the fat that accumulates there. In 2010, researchers published a study in “Food and Chemical Toxicology” that demonstrated how dandelion leaf extract could prevent and treat NAFLD.
Tea made from the dandelion root can also treat NAFLD. Boil a cup of water and add a teaspoon dried dandelion root to it. Cover it and let it steep for 10 minutes, then strain it. Doctors recommend drinking three cups of tea every day over a three-week period.
5. Indian gooseberry
Indian gooseberry (Emblica Officinalis), also known as Amalaki fruit or Amla, is an herb often used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat fatty liver disease and diabetes. It contains antioxidants like corilagin, ellagic acid, gallic acid, Gallatin, and Vitamin C that all aid the liver.
6. Licorice root
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is also used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat NAFLD. In 2012, the journal “Phytotherapy Research” published a randomized, double-blind study that showed that licorice root extract reduced liver enzymes in volunteers with NAFLD.
You can make licorice root tea by adding a teaspoon of powdered licorice root to a cup of boiling water and letting it steep for 10 minutes. Experts recommend drinking the tea once or twice a day.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) contains the compound curcumin, which doctors have used to treat liver diseases like jaundice. Turmeric increases insulin sensitivity, alters fat metabolism, and reduces inflammation and oxidative stress, all of which help reduce NAFLD and other liver problems. You can add turmeric to food or drink it as a tea.
Flaxseed contains phytoconstituents that keep hormones from straining the liver. The journal “Lipids in Health and Disease” published a study in 2013 that demonstrated that flaxseed combined with alpha-lipoic acid could help prevent NAFLD. Grind flaxseed with a coffee grinder to keep it fresh. You can use flaxseed oil as a salad dressing.
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum Seylanicum) is an herb that helps the liver and digestion. In 2014, the journal “Nutrition Research” published a study that showed that cinnamon could control NAFLD. The researchers thus recommend that patients with NAFLD take 1500 mg of cinnamon every day.
10. Cilantro or coriander
Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) can control NAFLD and related conditions like diabetes. A 2012 study in “Journal of Food Science” found that cilantro reduced the blood glucose levels in rats with diabetes.
Do you have NAFLD or know someone who does? Have you ever used any of the treatments above? Please let us know and tell your friends about the article.