• Alcoholic Liver Disease, Hepatitis, Alcoholic, Liver Disease, Alcoholic
• Reduce Alcohol Consumption
The liver is a marvelously sophisticated chemical laboratory, capable of carrying out thousands of chemical transformations on which the body depends. The liver produces some important chemicals from scratch and modifies others to allow the body to use them better. In addition, the liver neutralizes an enormous range of toxins. Without a functioning liver, you cannot live for long.
Unfortunately, a number of influences can severely damage the liver, of which alcohol is the most common. This powerful liver toxin harms the liver in three stages: alcoholic fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, then cirrhosis. Although the first two stages of injury are usually reversible, cirrhosis is not. Generally, liver cirrhosis is a result of more than 10 years of heavy alcohol abuse.
Usually, alcoholic hepatitis is discovered through blood tests that detect levels of enzymes released from the liver. The blood levels of these enzymes—known by acronyms such as SGOT, SGPT, ALT, AST, and GGT—rise as damage to the liver (by any cause) progresses.
If blood tests show that you have alcoholic hepatitis (or any other form of liver disease), it is essential that you stop drinking. There is little in the way of specific treatment beyond this.
Principle Proposed Natural Treatments
Several herbs and supplements have shown promise for protecting the liver from alcohol-induced damage. However, none of these has been conclusively proven effective, and cutting down (or eliminating) alcohol consumption is undoubtedly more effective than any other treatment. For information regarding natural treatments that can help people stop drinking, see the article on alcoholism . The alcoholism article also discusses the depletion of certain nutrients, which may affect people who consume enough alcohol to damage the liver.
Below, we concentrate on treatments
used specifically to treat early liver damage caused by alcohol. Treatments for
more advanced alcohol-induced liver damage are discussed in the
Two similar studies enrolling a total of
approximately 60 people also found benefits.
A 2007 review of published and unpublished studies on milk thistle as a treatment for liver disease concluded that benefits were seen only in low-quality trials, and, even in those, milk thistle did not show more than a slight benefit.
more information, including dosage and safety issues, see the full
Herbs and Supplements to Avoid
High doses of the supplements beta-carotene and vitamin A might cause alcoholic liver disease to develop more rapidly in people who abuse alcohol. 14,15
Although one animal study suggests that the
4. Trinchet JC, Coste T, Levy VG, et al. Treatment of alcoholic hepatitis with silymarin. A double-blind comparative study in 116 patients [translated from French]. Gastroenterol Clin Biol. 1989;13:120-124.
11. Barak AJ, Beckenhauer HC, Junnila M, et al. Dietary betaine promotes generation of hepatic S-adenosylmethionine and protects the liver from ethanol-induced fatty infiltration. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1993;17:552-555.
16. Veh I, Chatterjee SS, Kiianmaa K, et al. Reduction of voluntary ethanol intake in alcohol-preferring AA-rats by kava extract. Presented at International Congress and 49th Meeting of the Society for Medicinal Plant Research; September 2-6, 2001; Erlangen, Germany.
Last reviewed April 2009 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
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