I have had a recent blood test show that I have liver inflammation. What does this mean and what can I do to reduce the problem?
Liver inflammation is characterised by the presence of inflammation of the liver. A blood test will reveal raised liver enzymes as an indication of inflammation present in the liver. There are commonly two types of liver inflammation classified as non-alcoholic liver disease or alcoholic liver disease.
Possible causes for liver inflammation:
- Alcoholic liver disease
- Yellow fever
- Gall bladder infection or Wilsons Disease
- Food or chemical poisoning
- Epstein Barr virus
- Side effect of medications
- Heavy metal toxicity
- High consumption of fats in the diet (especially saturated fats)
- Diabetes, insulin resistance
- High cholesterol levels
Symptoms of liver inflammation:
- Nausea, biliousness, jaundice, vomiting, abdominal pain
- Diarrhea, inability to digest fats, steatosis (floating fatty stool)
- Liver enlargement
- Loss of appetite
- Joint pain, muscle aches
- Dark urine
- Malaise, weakness, fatigue
- Pale, clay coloured stools
- Pain or tenderness in the abdomen (upper right area)
Liver function tests
A liver function test can be performed or referred by a medical practitioner. A full blood test will also generally include liver enzymes as an indication on liver health and detoxification. A test result which indicates raised liver ezymes (ALP, GGT, LD, AST, ALP, Bilirubin) may be indicative of liver disease, cirrhosis, toxicity, jaundice or any other complication associated with the health of the liver.
Fortunately the cells of the liver are able to regenerate (up to 2/3) if the health of an individual is improved; many people can recover from fatty liver congestion if the appropriate steps are taken. The primary function of the liver is to liberate toxic wastes from the circulation and eliminate them from the body. Improving the health of the liver will ensure that this organ can properly perform this task as well as others such as blood cleansing, production of bile (digestion of fats), cholesterol (synthesis of hormones) and proteins, processing of nutrients via digestion and producing new energy via glycogenesis.
The personal guidance of a Naturopath can be very helpful for the maintenance and restoration of wellbeing and positive lifestyle choices. In order to gain a clear picture of your individual health status a face to face consultation is required. You might consider finding a Health care professional in your area who can provide the personal guidance required to help you attain your optimal level of health.
Diet tips for liver function
- Betaine found in beetroot, spinach, grains and shellfish contains enzymes to support liver function and raise S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) - a potent liver anti-oxidant needed to detoxify
- The amino acids Taurine, Cysteine and Carnitine may improve the functioning of the liver in its role of detoxification thereby reducing inflammation. Foods which contain these nutrients are avocado, beef, chicken, fish, milk, cottage cheese, eggs, sardines and animal protein
- Include a vegetable juice each day in your diet (beetroot, carrot, celery and ginger)
- Begin each day with a warm glass of water with 1/2 a lemon squeezed in it as this stimulates the digestion of fats, digestion and liver function.
- Drink plenty of clean filtered water to ensure adequate hydration
- Reduce lipids (dietary fats and oils) and sugar intake
Lifestyle factors for liver function
- Exercise and weight control
- Reduce alcohol, recreational drugs and pharmaceutical drugs
Natural therapies to improve liver function and reduce inflammation:
- Herbs such as Globe Artichoke, St Marys Thistle, Bupleurum, Golden seal Dandelion, Garlic, Green Tea, Grape Seed, Cordyceps, Japanese Knotweed (Polygonum), Rhubarb, Chamomile, Golden Rod, Spirulina, Jiaogulan (Gynostemma pentaphyllum) improve liver function, triglyceride digestion and detoxification
- B Vitamins, Choline, Folic acid, Inositol - all essential nutrients for the production of the amino acid Methionine another potent liver detoxifier
- Anti-oxidants such as Vitamin C, Zinc and Selenium - may help to reduce inflammation and also provide hepatoprotective (liver protective) effects
- Specific antiinflamamtory herbs are: Boswellia, Ginger, Turmeric, Black Pepper, White willow and Devils Claw
For further information please see the Ask a Naturopath.com webpage concerning the health of the liver