Liver is the second largest organ in the human body which performs multiple critical functions to keep the body pure of toxins and harmful substances. An average adult liver weighs about three pounds. It receives about 1.4 liters of blood every minute. Liver produces bile, a substance needed to digest fats. It break up fat so that it can be absorbed more easily in the small intestine. Bile produced by the liver is stored in a pocket like hollow organ called gall bladder.
Another function of the liver is to detoxify the blood to get rid it of harmful substances such as alcohol and drugs. It also Stores some vitamins and iron. It destroys old red blood cells which usually have a life span of about three to four months. Liver acts as a power house of energy as it stores Glycogen, that can be quickly mobilized to meet a sudden need for glucose in the body to produce energy.
When there is excess fat intake through our diet like oil, ghee, butter, milk products, and if it is not digested and metabolized it starts depositing in liver cells causing FATTY LIVER also termed as Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver . While it’s normal to have some fat in your liver, but more than 5 to 10 percent of your liver weight is fat in the case of fatty liver. It is a reversible condition that can be resolved with changed eating habits. The other most common reason responsible for fatty liver is excess ALCOHOL intake which causes Alcoholic Fatty Liver. It is the earliest stage of alcohol related liver disease. If alcohol drinking is stopped it will help fatty liver to subside within few weeks. If still patient continues drinking, fatty liver which is reversible disease gets changed into irreversible fatal disease termed as Cirrhosis of Liver.
There are few other causes also which may cause fatty liver like hyperlipidemia, or high levels of fats in the blood, diabetes, genetic inheritance, rapid weight loss and side effect of certain medications, including aspirin, steroids, tamoxifen, and tetracycline etc.
Sometimes it also arises as a rare complication of pregnancy which can be life threatening. Usually symptoms begin to appear in the third trimester like persistent nausea and vomiting, pain in the upper-right abdomen, jaundice and general malaise. Generally the condition improves after delivery and have no lasting effects.
SYMPTOMS OF FATTY LIVER: Typically there are no specific symptoms of fatty liver. Patient usually complaints of fatigue, vague abdominal discomfort along with the associated symptoms like poor appetite, weight loss, Weakness and Confusion.
HOW IS FATTY LIVER DIAGNOSED?
Usually when a person experiences above symptoms and visits the doctor, during physical examination some signs of fatty liver are felt and for more conformation patient is asked to undergo Ultrasonography Whole Abdomen which reveals the clear picture of the condition along with the routine blood investigations such as Liver Function Test.
Factors which cause fatty liver if checked is the best
way to prevent the disease. What we need is to focus on the reduction of the precipitating factors for fatty liver.
Restrict fat intake: Since excess fat intake is the major cause of fatty liver. Therefore we need to restrict intake of products such as ghee, oil, sweets, refined flour, milk and its products, potatoes chips, chocolates, aerated drinks, fast food, junk food etc. we should Follow proper exercise regime, diet plan, proper water intake, maintain calorie intake in order to reduce the risk of fatty liver.
Restrict Alcohol: If a person is alcoholic he should restrict the alcohol intake from his life. After stopping drinking, the positive result will appear with in 3-4 months.
If the cholesterol levels are high, that should be controlled and in case a person is diabetic it should be managed properly.
AYURVEDIC TREATMENT OF FATTY LIVER: Ayurvedic system of medicine, which is India’s native wisdom in health and medicine has great role to play for management of fatty liver. Dozens of herbs grow in India which reverses the condition of fatty liver. These herbs can be taken in form of juice, decoction or powder as a single herb or in combination of two or three herbs.
Following herbs are helpful in treating Fatty Liver-
• Bhringraj: Botanical name is Eclipta alba. It is a small herb which grows all over India near flowing water. Its stem, leaves, flowers, fruits as well as seeds are used for the management of fatty liver.
Whole of plant in dried form as powder can be used as medicine. It can be taken in the dose of 3-5 gm after breakfast, lunch and dinner. For still better result, whole of plant can be crushed into paste and its juice 5-10 ml three times a day can be taken or it can also be used in the form of decoction prepared by the method explained in the footnote of this article.
• Kutki: It is perinneal herb, found in alpine Himalayas at 3000-5000 m from Kashmir to Sikkim. Botanists called this plant as Picrorhiza kurrooa. Its leaves are 5 to 15 cm long almost all at the base, often whithered, oval in shape, flowers are small, pale, purplish blue in colour. It has peculiar fishy smell. Part used- Root, Underground stem (Rhizome & Roots).Dosage- 500 mg powder three times a day and 3-5 gm of powder for decoction.
• Bhoomyamlaki: Scientific name of bhoomyamlaki is Phyllanthus nururi. It is an annual herb cum tropical weed which grows in the wild after first showers of monsoon in Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and in almost all states of India. it is erect herb that grows 30-40 cms in height. Leaves are small elliptic-oblong; flowers, whitish-green ooth capsules containing seeds. Whole plant can be used in form of dried powder or juice or decoction.
• Pitpapda: it is a seasonal herb which is available during rainy and winter season.In India it is found in high altitudes in Nilgiris and Salem (Tamil Nadu) and in greater parts of India. It is named as Fumaria indica by botanists. Leaves are just similar to that of carrot leaves. Flowers are small having a length of 0.2-03 inch long and are white to pink in colour. The plant fruits and flower in winter season. It can be used in fresh or dried form or as decoction.
• Kalmegh: Botanical name of kalmegh is Andographis paniculata. It is an erect annual herb that grows almost in every part of India. Its flowers are white in colour with purple spots .The plant produces yellowish brown seeds and all parts have an extremely bitter taste. It is also known as the king of bitters. Whole plant can be used in dried form as powder or in form of fresh juice as well as decoction.
• Makoy: Makoy is a herb found abundantly growing in all parts of the globe, botanically named as Solanum nigrum. In India, it grows as a weed in all the dry areas. It is a short-lived perennial herb. It is a small, erect, & delicate annual herb with soft & smooth branches n stems. It has alternate, egg shaped leaves with white, cream & violet flowers in clusters. Its fruits are purple or black in color when ripe. Whole plant, fresh juice or fruit can be used.
• Nimb: Neem is a tree. it is found in almost all the parts of country. Scientific name of nimb is Azadirachta indica. Flowers are white and fragrant. The fruit is smooth olive like drupe which encloses rarely two or three elongated seeds having brown seed coat. The bark, leaves, and seeds are used. Less frequently, the root, flower and fruit are also used.
Method of preparing decoction: For preparing its decoction take 10 gm of dry herb powder in 150 ml of water. Boil it for 5-10 minutes on low heat and stain. Since most of the herbs grow wild, these can be collected and dried in shade, once dried this can be grinded to powder in a blender. Decoction is ready to use. Decoction prepared may be kept in a stainless steel or glass container in a refrigerator.
Because of ignorance about importance and function of liver we keep on damaging this most important gland of the body through unhealthy food habits and consumption of alcohol. A little carefulness about our food habits and use of herbs can help prevention and treatment of fatty degeneration of our liver.
Ayurveda & Yoga Therapist,