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Causes of Fatty Liver

NAFLD is associated with insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome (obesity, combined hyperlipidemia, diabetes mellitus (type II) and high blood pressure). 


Secondary causes: NAFLD can also be caused by the following medications



Disturbed liver enzymes are common, and liver ultrasound may show steatosis; it may also be used to exclude gallstone problems (cholelithiasis). A biopsy (tissue examination) of the liver is the only test which is widely accepted as definitively distinguishing NASH from other forms of liver disease, and can be used to assess the severity of the inflammation and resultant fibrosis.


Other tests are often carried out. Relevant blood tests include erythrocyte sedimentation rate, glucose, albumin, and renal function etc. As the liver is important in coagulation, some coagulation studies are often carried out, especially the INR (international normalized ratio). Blood tests (serology) are usually carried out to rule out viral hepatitis (hepatitis A, B, C, EBV, CMV and herpes viruses), rubella, and autoimmune causes. Hypothyroidism is more prevalent in NASH patients, which would be detected by determining the TSH.


Some suggest that in overweight patients whose blood tests do not improve on losing weight and exercising, a further search of underlying causes of fatty liver must be sought, as well as those with fatty liver who are very young or not overweight or insulin resistant, those whose physical appearance indicates the possibility of a congenital syndrome, have a family history of liver disease, have abnormalities in other organs, and those who present with moderate to advanced fibrosis or cirrhosis.



NAFLD is considered to cover a spectrum of disease activity. This spectrum begins as fatty accumulation in the liver (hepatic steatosis). A liver can remain fatty without disturbing liver function, but by varying mechanisms and possible insults to the liver may also progress to outright inflammation of the liver. When inflammation occurs in this setting, the condition is then called NASH. Over time up to 20 percent of patients with NASH may develop cirrhosis. Cigarette smoking is not associated with an increased risk of developing NASH.

The exact cause of NAFLD is still unknown. However, both obesity and insulin resistance probably play a strong role in the disease process. The exact reasons and mechanisms by which the disease progresses from one stage to the next are the subject of much research and debate.

One debated mechanism proposes a "second hit", or further injury, enough to cause change that leads from hepatic steatosis to hepatic inflammation. Oxidative stress, hormonal imbalances and mitochondrial abnormalities are potential causes for this "second hit" phenomenon.


Treatment for Fatty Liver

  • Nutritional counseling: Diet changes have shown significant histological improvement. You can book an Initial Naturopathic Visit with any of our Naturopathic Doctors to discuss specific dietary changes to benefit the liver.

  • Weight loss: gradual weight loss may improve the process in obese patients; rapid loss may worsen NAFLD. The bad effect of rapid weight loss is controversial: the results of a meta-analysis showed that the risk of progression is very low. We offer a doctor supervised 16-Week Naturopathic Weight Loss Program.

  • Lipotropic Injections: Lipotropic Injections contain fat-dissolving Methionine, Inositol and Choline along with B12 and chromium to help clear fat out of the liver.

  • A recent meta-analysis presented at the Annual Meeting of American Association for Study of Liver Diseases(AASLD) reported that weight-loss surgery leads to improvement and or resolution of NASH in around 80 % of patients.

  • Insulin sensitisers (metformin and thiazolidinediones) have shown efficacy in some studies.

  • Antioxidants as well as lipid-lowering drugs, have little benefit.


Natural Liver Support

1. Hydryotherapy over the liver area: apply at heat source (hot pack or heating pad) over the liver area for 3 minutes. The liver is covered by your right lower ribcage. Then apply a cold pack over the liver area for 1 minute. Repeat this twice; total of 12 minutes. Do this 3-4 times a week (ie. Every second night).

2. Artichoke broth: cut 1 washed artichoke in quarters. Add it to a boiling stock pot of 12 cups of water. Boil for 10 minutes at high heat. Reduce and let simmer for another 20 minutes at low heat. Strain and use the liquid part for drinking and the cooked artichoke leaflets for consumption (soups and salads or eat as is).  You should have about 9 to 10 cups of the liquid remaining after the simmering process. Drink 1 cup twice daily, hot or cold. Store the remainder in the fridge.

3. Herbal supportive teas: when shopping at a health food store (ie. Planet organic or Community Foods), buy some dandelion, burdock, cheledonium, and/or milk thistle teas by bulk and prepare them as directed. These herbs are very supportive for the liver.

4. Avoid: try to avoid any unnecessary medications such as advil, Tylenol, etc. These medications require the liver to be metabolized and tax the liver a lot. Also avoid junk food, processed foods, and fast foods as these foods contain many additives and preservatives.



Supplements To Treat Your Liver

  • Milk Thistle Plus: Start with taking 1 capsule three times daily with meals.  Maintain at 1 capsule twice daily with your subsequent bottles. This formula contains standardized extracts of quality whole milk thistle to ensure maximum regenerative and protective effects on the liver. The active ingredient, silymarin, alters cell membranes and inhibits toxins from entering the liver cells. It also helps to stimulate protein synthesis and inhibit inflammatory enzymes. This product is specifically good for treating fatty degeneration and all other liver related conditions.

  • TLIP Hepaticol: Start with taking 1 capsule three times daily with meals. Maintain at 1 capsule twice daily with your subsequent bottles. TLIP Hepaticol provides a high concentration of liver tissue extract, which is rich in biologically-active proteins, hormones and nucleic acids, necessary for proper liver function. The antioxidant superoxide dismutase (SOD) is naturally occurring in liver tissue extract and it possesses potent detoxifying properties which help with the transport of oxygen to the glandular system and fight cell damage. This formula is used for all liver related disorders including fatty liver, digestive disturbances, and poor lymphatic circulation.


These supplements are available for purchase through our clinic via special order only. Please contact us at (403) 383-3228 if you would like to order them.

Natural Treatments for Fatty Liver


Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is fatty inflammation of the liver when it is not due to excessive alcohol use. It is related to insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome, and may respond to treatments originally developed for other insulin resistant states (e.g. diabetes mellitus type 2), such as weight loss, metformin and thiazolidinediones. Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is the most extreme form of NAFLD, which is regarded as a major cause of cryptogenic cirrhosis of the liver.


Signs and symptoms 

Most patients with NAFLD have no or few symptoms. Infrequently, patients may complain of fatigue, malaise and dull right upper quadrant abdominal discomfort. Mild jaundice may, rarely, be noticed. More commonly NAFLD is diagnosed following abnormal liver function tests during routine blood tests. By definition, alcohol consumption of over 20 g/day (about 25ml/day) excludes the condition.