Liver Support / Fatty Liver

Article by Angela Haldane

Q. I have a fatty liver as found on ultrasound and my liver enzymes are elevated. How can I best support my liver?

A. Fatty liver is an ailment that involves the excessive accumulation or infiltration of fats in/into the liver. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease affects 20% of the general global population, 50% of diabetes mellitus patients and 50% of obese persons.

Excessive consumption of dietary fats, and carbohydrates, which may convert to fats in the liver, may cause (non-alcoholic) fatty liver.

Exposure to carbon tetrachloride can also be a cause for fatty liver. Studies show that spirulina can help to prevent fatty liver caused by exposure to environmental toxins such as carbon tetrachloride.

Excessive consumption of alcohol may cause fatty liver which is known medically as alcohol-induced fatty liver. Or it may result as one of the symptoms of Legionnaire’s disease.

As part of a consultation, I would focus on correcting the diet in accordance with the known causes, design a weight loss programme with regular monitoring and support, and have regular blood tests to monitor the liver enzymes.

Herbal medicine is also effective in the treatment of fatty liver – such as milk thistle – Silybum marianum which acts as an antioxidant which specifically protects the liver cells, and Schissandra chinensis which assists with phase one and phase two detoxification of the liver to facilitate the return to normal liver enzyme counts. Seek advice from a registered medical herbalist (www.nzamh.org.nz to find a practitioner).