It is diagnosed in the following ways:Medical history, including the patient's drug and alcohol consumptionPhysical examination - palpation.Blood tests called liver function tests to check liver enzymes. If enzymes are raised this could be an indication of FLD, though raised enzymes can occur when taking pharmaceutical drugs or from experiencing other health disorders.Blood tests to check blood triglyceride levels (however, this test isn't considered conclusive as some cases of fatty liver do not present with raised blood triglycerides). Tests to rule out other liver diseases, such as haemochromatosis or viral hepatitis, which may cause similar symptoms Ultrasound, CT scan or MRI of the liver, which help to rule out other conditions that mimic the symptoms of fatty liver disease, such as a liver tumour or obstruction of the bile duct.Biopsy which is generally only advised if other tests are inconclusive, or if non-alcoholic steatorrhoeic hepatitis is suspected, or if tests reveal a significant degree of liver dysfunction.
However, a Live Blood Screening (LBS) test would allow you to see how the liver is functioning, whereas the conventional blood test (Liver Function Test) will only show damage despite it being called a "liver function test". Live Blood Screening is often conducted by naturopaths or specific labs with qualified technicians who specialise in LBS and other allergy/immune tests.
If alcoholism is the cause, the excess fat can disappear, usually within six weeks, when people stop drinking. However, if the cause is not identified and remedied, fatty liver can have serious consequences. For example, if excessive alcohol use continues or the person doesn't stop using a drug that is causing fatty liver, repeated liver injury may eventually lead to cirrhosis.
Treatment focuses on minimising or eliminating the cause of fatty liver. People should stop drinking, lose weight, take measures to control diabetes, and work to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, while being aware that many drugs such as cholesterol-lowering drugs can exert toxic effects on the liver cells. Statins are a fine example. No matter what some health organisations and medical bodies state, statins do not work that well at lowering cholesterol. They are toxic and can damage the liver. This is counterproductive when your aim is to lower cholesterol! Observing your diet and making lifestyle changes may be a healthier option here.
Stop consuming any recreational drugs as they also play a huge role in poor liver function.
How Can Natural Therapies Help?
Herbal and homeopathic remedies are given to detoxify the system and strengthen the liver by aiding the regeneration of liver cells. Depending on how chronic the problem is, these remedies could be taken for up to six months or more. Often, some detox homeopathic remedies are changed over a period of time depending on the particular program.
St Mary's Thistle is what I'd call the "prime herb" to give anyone with a fatty liver and is quite safe to stay on for a longer period for protection and maintenance, since even the air we breathe is highly polluted, especially in cities.
Diet needs to be addressed and more spring or filtered water consumed along with fresh vegetable juices. Food should be fresh and ideally prepared by yourself, avoiding all packaged, take away and fatty foods, or foods containing preservatives, sugar, oils and margarine. You should eat free range poultry and eggs and, if possible, organic foods and avoid dairy and saturated fats. Appropriate amino acid supplements would also be prescribed for your detox regime, as these are very important in helping regenerate the liver and in the detoxification pathway. Contrary to some TV programs, a detox regime does not mean you must abstain from solid foods. Your diet needs to consist of fresh healthy meals in conjunction with specific remedies to help eliminate toxins and improve the entire metabolic function.
If a person is compliant over a few months in following the correct remedies, they can frequently achieve optimum health again. Consistency is the key, though, and skipping a few days here and there will not allow any remedies to work efficiently for you.
I have seen some excellent results with people who presented with fatty liver. However, I don't feel changing the diet alone and eliminating substance use or alcohol is sufficient. I firmly believe natural remedies, when prescribed professionally, can generate healing at a very deep cellular level, in this case regenerating liver cells. But if someone is experiencing alcohol addiction, they would also require counselling and support to enable them to follow a detoxification and regeneration program. Remedies could also be prescribed to assist in the addiction and withdrawal, while underlying emotional factors would also need to be addressed and supported.
Weight loss and control of diabetes are also essential to achieve positive results. It is worth pointing out that weight loss should be gradual and not rapid, otherwise this will also be detrimental and contribute to fatty liver and liver cell damage.
Anyone who undergoes a detoxification and regeneration program will not only resolve, regenerate and heal the fatty liver, but also achieve vital energy, a healthier and slimmer body and optimum health for the future.
When supported and nurtured, your liver has the capacity to regenerate cells in six weeks. But that doesn't mean you should stop taking prescribed remedies after six weeks. Instead, you should aim to detoxify the entire system right down to the cellular level, creating stronger immunity, organ function and cleaner blood. By being consistent, you may discover that particular cravings and addictions will no longer exist.
Sydney-based Lyn Craven is a practitioner of naturopathy, nutrition, medical herbalism, Bowen therapy, Reiki energy healing and meditation, and is a corporate health presenter/consultant with 19 years' experience in natural therapies. www.lyncravencorporatehealth-naturopath.com
Disclaimer: Information presented in this column is not intended as medical advice but to advance the understanding of holistic nutrition and lifestyle and its place in a balanced approach to health. Readers are encouraged to be guided by their own healthcare professionals.
Lyn Craven is a practitioner of Naturopathy, Bowen Therapy, Energy/Reiki therapist, meditation teacher and Corporate Health Consultant. She is also a health researcher/writer and has produced a meditation CD assisting people to manage anxiety and stress. She runs a private practice in Sydney and can be contacted on +61403 231 804