Ayurvedic treatment for Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Know More on Liver Diseases

  • Definition
  • Causes
  • Symptoms
  • Diagnosis
  • Management
  • FAQS
  • References

Definition

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease Ayurvedic treatment

WHAT IS NON-ALCOHOLIC FATTY LIVER DISEASE?

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is caused by fat deposits in liver usually seen in obese or overweigh people. A healthy liver should contain little or no fat. Early-stage of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease doesn't usually cause any harm, but it can lead to serious liver damage, if it gets worse. High levels of fat in liver is risk factor for problems such as stroke, diabetes and heart.1

Liver is an essential component for digestion and elimination hence considered a fire or pitta organ. Therefore, a balance in the pitta dosha supports the liver's ability to flush toxins from the body. Toxins like alcohol or fats will overload the liver, making it work too hard causing inflammation throughout the body.2

Causes

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

NON-ALCOHOLIC FATTY LIVER DISEASE CAUSES

The risk factors for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease are:

  • Obese or overweight
  • Metabolic disorder like - Type 2 diabetes, High blood pressure, High cholesterol
  • Age over 50 years
  • Smoking

Symptoms

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

NON-ALCOHOLIC FATTY LIVER DISEASE SYMPTOMS

  • Enlarged liver
  • Fatigue
  • Pain in the upper right abdomen

Diagnosis

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

NON-ALCOHOLIC FATTY LIVER DISEASE DIAGNOSIS

The following tests are conducted to diagnose non-alcoholic fatty liver disease:

  • Complete blood count
  • Liver enzyme and liver function tests
  • Hepatitis test
  • Screening for Celiac disease
  • Blood sugar test (fasting blood sugar, HbA1c)
  • Lipid profile
  • Imaging procedures like ultrasound, CT, Transient elastography Magnetic resonance elastography
  • Liver biopsy

Management

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

NON-ALCOHOLIC FATTY LIVER DISEASE AYURVEDIC TREATMENT

The Ayurvedic management of liver disease include correct lifestyle and diet management along with use of some herbs which can effectively treat the condition.

Diet Recommendations (Aahar)

  • Avoid spicy and fried and fatty foods.
  • Fruits like pomegranates, berries, mangoes, melons and pears are which are cooling and non-acidic should be consumed.
  • Vegetables should be lightly steamed and served with ghee
  • Consume aloe juice for its cooling properties.
  • Hellebore root, embelia root, chicory seed, ginger and long pepper fruit may also be helpful
  • An Ayurvedic practitioner can help you select the right treatments

Lifestyle changes (Vihar)

  • Exercise helps metabolize fats properly & converted in to muscle
  • Weight loss helps in curing fatty liver.
  • Physical activity burns the fat in the body and liver, replacing with muscles.

FAQS

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  1. Are there more than one kind of hepatitis infections? If so, how are they caused?

Yes, there are 5 types of hepatitis infections that occur referred to as types A, B, C, D and E. The most common cause of hepatitis are viruses, but hepatitis may also be caused due to substance/drug abuse like excess use of some medicines or alcohol and some autoimmune diseases. The different hepatitis infections and their causes include:

Hepatitis A:

  • It is caused by the hepatitis A virus which is transmitted mostly by consuming contaminated food and drinks.

Hepatitis B

  • Hepatitis B is caused by the hepatitis B virus, which is transmitted from infective blood, semen and other body fluids. It can spread to babies from infected pregnant mothers during delivery, use of infected syringes, injection drug use, blood transfusion and unprotected sex.

Hepatitis C

  • Hepatitis C is caused by the hepatitis C virus. It is mostly transmitted through exposure to infective blood. It may spread through injection drug use, using contaminated injections during medical procedures and transfusions of contaminated blood and blood products

Hepatitis D

  • Hepatitis D is caused by the hepatitis D virus. Spreads through blood-to-blood contact or sexual contact. As it need hepatitis B virus to survive, it only affects people who are already infected with hepatitis B. The dual infection of HDV and HBV can result in a more serious disease.

Hepatitis E

  • Hepatitis E is caused by the hepatitis E virus. Spreads by consuming contaminated drinks or food.

Alcoholic hepatitis

  • Alcoholic hepatitis is a type of hepatitis caused by drinking excessive amounts of alcohol over many years.

Autoimmune hepatitis

  • Autoimmune hepatitis is caused when the immune system attacks and damages the liver.
  1. In jaundice, why do the eyes and skin become yellowish?

Jaundice is caused due to elevated blood levels of a body pigment secreted by liver bilirubin  which leads to yellowish discoloration of white coloured portion of the eyes, the skin and mucous membranes. Bilirubin is a yellow colored waste product that remains in the bloodstream once iron is removed from the haemoglobin. It is important to remember that jaundice is not a disease per se, but rather a visible sign of an underlying disease process.

  1. Is jaundice common in heavy alcohol drinkers?

Excessive intake of alcohol over several years, especially when nutrition is not adequately healthy, may lead to inflamed liver, which ultimately may cause a condition called as alcoholic hepatitis. People with alcoholic hepatitis usually have high blood levels of bilirubin (which is a yellow coloured waste in the blood), which is most commonly known as jaundice. 

  1. A family member has recently been diagnosed with liver cirrhosis. How can Ayurveda help in managing the condition?

Ayurveda believes in holistic management of liver cirrhosis through correct lifestyle and diet regime which can help manage the condition. These include:

Diet recommendations

  • Complete abstinence from alcohol
  • An initial liver cleaning may be advised. Freshly extracted juices from fruits like lemon, papaya and grapes may be consumed; as per physician’s recommendations.
  • The patient may gradually start well-balanced diet of three basic food groups, namely (i) seeds, nuts and grains, (ii) vegetables and (iii) fruits
  • An adequate high quality protein diet should be consumed
  • Vegetables such as beets, tomato, carrot, bitter gourd, egg-plant, radishes, squashes and papaya may be useful in this condition.
  • Oils and fats should preferably be avoided for several weeks.
  • The patient should avoid refined, processed and canned foods, preparations cooked in ghee, oil or butter and all meats rich in fat.
  • The use of salt should be restricted.

Lifestyle recommendations

  • The patient should be advised complete rest.
  • Warm water enema may be used for cleansing the bowels, as per physicians advice
  • Breathing and other exercises may be practiced.
  1. My doctor says I have fatty liver disease which has been caused due to factors other than alcohol intake. What could these reasons be?

Fat deposits in the liver cause fatty liver disease. Alcohol is a very common cause, but there are many other reasons for fatty liver disease, which in this case is called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. These include-

  • Obesity or being overweight
  • Metabolic disorder like - Type 2 diabetes, High blood pressure, High cholesterol
  • Age over 50 years
  • Smoking

References

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  1. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. NHS 2016. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/fatty-liver-disease/Pages/Introduction.aspx
  1. Ayurvedic Treatment for a Fatty Liver. http://www.livestrong.com/article/509862-ayurvedic-cure-for-a-fatty-liver/
  1. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease – symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic 2016. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/nonalcoholic-fatty-liver-disease/symptoms-causes/dxc-20211639
  2. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease – tests and diagnosis. Mayo Clinic 2016. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/nonalcoholic-fatty-liver-disease/diagnosis-treatment/diagnosis/dxc-20211615
  3. Yadav VM. Effect of Exercise and Restricted Diet in Alcoholic Fatty Liver: A Case Study. International Journal of Ayurvedic Medicine, 2015, 6 (1):175-178

Keywords: Fatty liver disease, Liver disorder, Ayurvedic medicines

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