A fatty liver, just as the name suggests, is a condition that occurs when the liver is surrounded by high levels of fat. This happens when one’s diet constitutes amounts of fat higher than the body can regulate. Medically, one is said to have a fatty liver when the total fat content makes 5% of the liver. This, in itself, does not often pose a problem to an individual. Problems arise when this fat accumulates and predisposes the liver to injury and scarring which usually leads to liver inflammation.
The liver’s function is to detoxify the blood and get rid of harmful toxins. When the liver is encased in a layer of fat, this function is hampered and the liver does not function optimally. As such, the liver’s cells are damaged with ease when one has a lot of fat.
Continuous cell damage leads to scarring, a condition referred to as liver cirrhosis. Some of the symptoms of fatty liver include weight loss, abdominal pain, general body weakness as well as loss of appetite. The most common cause of fatty liver is excessive alcohol consumption. Other causes of the disease include obesity, diabetes, genetic predisposition as well as the use of specific medication.
There are different types of fatty liver disease: Non Alcoholic fatty liver (NAFL) and alcoholic fatty liver. The latter is an indication of the initial stages of liver disease that arises from alcoholism. Heavy alcoholic intake damages the liver’s cells. NAFL on the other hand, is attributed to the liver’s inability to metabolize fats which leads to their accumulation. A third and less common form of fatty liver is acute fatty liver during pregnancy which typically sets in during the third trimester.
This condition can be life-threatening, and immediate medical attention is recommended. There is no particular medication for the treatment of a fatty liver, and your doctor will typically recommend lifestyle changes to address the risk factors. There are also a handful of remedies which you can use to help manage fatty liver.
1. Fresh Lemon Juice:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: 2 Medium-sized lemons and a glass of water.
Fresh lemon juice is perhaps the most common of all citrus fruits, and is loved for its immense health benefits. With the natural treatment of fatty liver, the lemon’s Vitamin C helps eliminate free radicals that damage liver tissue. More importantly, vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid) aids liver synthesis of a potent compound known as glutathione. Glutathione also helps eliminate toxins, a process which constitutes one of the key functions of the liver. Research also indicates that lemons could be helpful in reducing liver inflammation, thanks to a compound known as naringenin. Regular intake of fresh lemon juice over a period of time, is beneficial in the treatment of a fatty liver.
- Roll the lemons and then wash before squeezing to get the juice.
- Add the fresh lemon juice to the jar of water and mix well. You may use lemon wedges in place of the juice.
- Drink this lemon water throughout the day.
- Use lemon juice daily until you get relief from the associated symptoms of fatty liver.
Time Required: 10 Min
What You Need: 1/2 Teaspoon of turmeric powder, 1 glass of water/milk and honey (optional).
Turmeric is an excellent home remedy for the natural treatment of fatty liver, thanks to the presence of antioxidants that help liver function. Research indicates that turmeric assists with the metabolic breakdown of fats in the body, thus preventing their accumulation in the liver. This function in itself, helps the liver with the process of detoxification so that over time, the organ regenerates and heals from fatty liver.
NOTE: Turmeric supplements may be used as an alternative to the ground turmeric, but this should be done under the guidance of a doctor to establish the recommended dose on an individual basis. Otherwise, follow the directions below to prepare turmeric milk and treat fatty liver.
- Add the ground turmeric to a glass of warm milk and stir.
- Honey may be added as a natural sweetener. Drink the turmeric milk on a daily basis.
- If you opt to use turmeric supplements, make sure you check with your doctor on the right dosage, particularly if you are on other medication or have an underlying disease.
Time Required: 15 Min
What You Need: 1 Teaspoon of dandelion root (preferably dried) , 1 cup of hot water, a strainer and honey. Alternatively, use fresh and tender dandelion leaves.
Dandelion is a potent herb and powerful liver tonic. As a tonic, it helps with the process of detoxification by the liver, and enhances its optimal function. In addition to this, dandelion herb aids the metabolism of fats around the liver. Research studies show that the leaf of the dandelion plant has compounds that are integral in the management of nonalcohol fatty liver (NAFL). The flipside of this herb is that it is not recommended for the treatment of acute fatty liver in pregnancy as it is harmful for expectant women. Prepare dandelion tea by following the directions indicated below.
- Place 1 teaspoon of the dried dandelion root in a cup and add hot water.
- Cover the water and allow the herb to steep for 10 minutes for proper infusion.
- Strain the tea to get rid of the residual matter and then stir in the honey.
- Take 3 cups of this herbal tea daily for a couple of weeks to treat fatty liver.
4. Regular Exercise Routines:
Time Required: Varies from one workout to another
What You Need: Appropriate workout gear and equipment depending on the routines you settle for
One of the risk factors associated with fatty liver is obesity. Obesity is often a product of a sedentary lifestyle with little or no physical activity, and other times, the result of genetic predisposition. Whichever the case, the most important thing to do is to combat obesity by taking up regular exercise to reverse the diminished body functions of the different organs. Once implemented correctly, regular exercise helps maintain an ideal body weight, effectively reducing the amount if fat that is stored in the liver. For this lifestyle change, it helps to consult a trained fitness instructor who will assess your needs and determine the best routines.
- As a general guide, start with low-impact exercise routines and steadily increase the pace and intensity of the workout until you are content with the progress you have made.
- Remember to incorporate different cardio workouts, some of which can be done as you go about your daily routines – think brisk walking, climbing the stairs or rope skipping.
5. Green Tea:
Time Required: 15 Min
What You Need: Green Tea leaves and raw honey.
It is impossible to talk about fatty liver home remedies without making mention of green tea. One of the most popular herbal remedies, this tea has long been known to enhance the function of the liver. The tea has also been linked to weight loss, making it an important aspect of the natural treatment of fatty liver. It is especially effective for the nonalcoholic form of the condition. Use green tea to prevent fat accumulation in the liver and improve its overall function.
- Steep the green teabag in a cup of hot water for 5 minutes.
- Remove the teabag, stir in the honey and enjoy.
- Green tea may also be used as an extract in capsule form.
- Get professional medical advice, however, before embarking on this remedy.
6. Make Dietary Changes to Help Treat Fatty Liver:
Time Required: Varies among individuals.
What You Need: Healthier options in place of junk/processed foods.
One of the risk factors of fatty liver is a diet that is rich in fats. Processed/junk foods fit well in this category. To treat the condition therefore, it becomes important to make dietary changes accordingly. Typically, this involves eating a healthy balanced diet to improve the overall function of the liver. Below are additional tips that come in handy when making dietary changes for improved liver function.
Tips to use when making dietary changes
- Reduce your carbohydrate intake, and especially foods made from refined flour, foods rich in sugar as well as deep-fried foods. The simple reason for this is that in excess, the carbohydrates are metabolically converted to triglycerides, the precise form of fat which constitutes fatty liver. Since it may be difficult to cut off all carbohydrates from one’s diet, you may start by eliminating carbohydrate options per meal, say eliminating bread from breakfast, or doing without pasta on your plate during dinner.
- In addition to getting rid of the processed foods, it helps to replace these foods with healthy and unprocessed carbohydrates. Foods such as whole grains, oats and tubers (eg sweet potatoes and arrow roots) are excellent substitutes.
- Another important dietary change that goes a long way in the healing of fatty liver is incorporating sources of healthy fats – unsaturated fats- into one’s diet. Examples of these fat sources include ripe avocados, olive oil, nuts (peanuts, hazelnuts, pistachios and pecans among others), pumpkin seeds and sardines. In the same breath, steer clear of saturated fats in foods such as fatty cuts of meat, chicken skin, cheese, butter, pastries as well as packaged snacks.
- Regulate the amount of sugar and salt intake, and instead opt for organic honey as a sweetener, and lemon juice in place of salt.
- If the specific fatty liver is a result of excessive alcoholic consumption, one of the most effective ways to treat the condition is to quit alcohol. Failure to do this invalidates the use of all the other natural remedies.
7. Milk Thistle:
Time Required: 45 Min
What You Need: 1 Tablespoon of milk thistle seeds, 1 cup of hot water as well as a pestle and mortar.
Milk thistle, just like dandelion herb, is a reliable liver tonic. It not only improves the overall health of the liver, it is also helpful in the digestion of fats. Restore the liver’s function by taking milk thistle tea daily. Prepare the tea using the simple directions below.
- Place the milk thistle seeds in the mortar and grind with the pestle until you have a coarse mixture.
- Transfer the crushed seeds to a cup and pour in the hot water.
- Let the mixture steep for half an hour as it cools down.
- Take 2 cups of milk thistle tea daily to treat fatty liver.
Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: 1 Slice of ripe pawpaw daily. Alternatively, take a handful of dried seeds, a pestle and mortar as well as fresh lemon juice to prepare the remedy.
The flesh and seeds of ripe pawpaw are ideal for the natural treatment of fatty liver because they speed up the metabolic breakdown of dietary fats. Increased amounts of diet fat have been linked to fatty liver, so by rapidly burning these fats, pawpaw helps prevent fat accumulation in the liver. For this remedy, you may use the flesh of the ripe pawpaw or opt for the dried seeds depending on your preferences.
- Enjoy a slice of ripe pawpaw at least twice daily.
- When using the seeds, follow this procedure: Crush the dry pawpaw seeds using the pestle and mortar and mix it with the lemon juice.
- Eat this mixture at least twice daily for about 4 weeks as you monitor the progress made alongside the accompanying symptoms of fatty liver.
Other remedies for the natural treatment of fatty liver include indian gooseberry (popularly known as amla) which has a high Vitamin C concentration and works to improve liver function, licorice which is a powerful antioxidant as well as garlic whose detoxification helps the liver get rid of toxins. Remember that for these home remedies to be effective, you need to be consistent and use them regularly. Aim at making small, but regular changes over a period of time as opposed to taking all of the aforementioned remedies at one drastic go. Find the remedy which suits you best and stick to it for a considerable amount of time before incorporating another.