One in five people have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and don’t even realize it. That’s because often, there are no symptoms.
NAFLD occurs when your liver is made up of 5-10% fat. When extra fat accumulates in your liver cells, and not because of alcohol abuse, you’re prone to NAFLD, which leaves the liver vulnerable to cirrhosis, liver cancer, and liver failure over time. Those who are overweight, obese, diabetic, or with high cholesterol or triglycerides are particularly prone to NAFLD, as are people who have experienced rapid weight loss, have bad dietary habits, or take meds such as aspirin, corticosteroids, amiodarone, tetracycline, diltiazem, or antiviral drugs.
According to the American Liver Foundation, symptoms of NAFLD can manifest as:
- Weight loss
- Appetite loss
- Stomach pain
- Spider-like blood vessels
- Fluid buildup
- Swelling of the legs and abdomen
If blood tests register high levels of liver enzymes, doctors will typically follow up with an ultrasound to confirm NAFLD.
While there are no medical treatments proven to help reverse NAFLD, there are many natural herbs and healthy lifestyle practices you can implement to prevent or reverse the condition.
Here are 7 natural and highly effective herbs for treating NAFLD, many of which you may already have in your kitchen pantry!
Milk thistle is rich in flavonoids, especially liver-enhancing silymarin, that help improve the detoxification processes of the liver, protect against liver damage, and increase the presence of the master antioxidant glutathione, which the liver needs in order to function properly.
Dandelion helps support liver function by metabolizing accumulated fat in the liver. According to a study published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, an extract of dandelion can help lower insulin resistance and treat and protect against NAFLD caused by obesity.
Indian Gooseberry (Amla)
Ayurvedic practitioners have been using Indian gooseberry for centuries to help treat fatty liver disease and diabetes because it is made up of potent essential fatty acids and nutrients imperative to proper liver function, such as ellagic acid, vitamin C, gallotanin, galic acid, and corilagin.
This is another popular Ayurvedic remedy for NAFLD. A 2002 study published in Phytotherapy Research showed that an extract of licorice root dramatically lowered liver enzymes in 66 patients with NAFLD.
Turmeric contains the powerful compound curcumin which helps decrease oxidative stress, combats chronic inflammation, and promotes insulin sensitivity and fat metabolism. It’s a fantastic natural remedy for jaundice and other liver diseases such as NAFLD, and helps protect against liver fibrosis and liver cancer.
The phytoconstituents in flaxseed help protect the liver from any harmful hormones. In 2013 the journal Lipids in Health and Disease reported that flaxseed oil combined with alpha lipoic acid lowered oxidative stress and liver fat, thereby helping to reverse NAFLD.
This warming herb is a powerful digestive aid. A 2014 study in Nutrition Research showed that NAFLD patients who took 1500 mg of cinnamon daily exhibited marked improvement in symptoms.