Other Proposed Natural Treatments
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 liver cirrhosis article.
For more information, including dosage and safety issues, see the full Milk Thistle article.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 07/2012 -
- Update Date: 07/25/2012 -