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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Is The Liver Disorder, NASH, on the Rise?

Are there any known causes or cures for NASH?
I've heard that more people are getting it.
Is that true?

I've seen only one case of NASH which stands for Non-Alcoholic
Steatohepatitis, a once-rare liver problem, but I understand from
my colleague, Qingcai Zhang, MD, a Chinese physician and hepatitis
expert, that it is on the rise. In fact, some surveys estimate that
NASH now affects as many as 23 percent of adultAmericans and is
the most common cause of elevation of liver enzymes on routine
blood tests.

NASH begins with deposits of fat in the liver. Exactly why this
happens isn't clear, but it is linked to obesity and diabetes and
appears to run in families. It typically affects older, overweight
women, but it can occur among men, people of normal weight and
even among children. Some cases are associated with the use of
certain drugs, including tamoxifen used to treat breast cancer,
the antibiotic tetracycline, as well as long-term use of high doses
of steroids.

Although NASH causes no obvious symptoms, as fat gradually
accumulates the liver becomes enlarged, which can lead to
vague upper abdominal

The danger is that unchecked, NASH can lead to cirrhosis of the
liver -- the replacement of normal liver tissue with nonfunctional
scar tissue as a result of inflammation (hepatitis). It is now the most
common cause of cirrhosis among people who are not alcoholics.

The only treatment for NASH is to eliminate the cause which,
in most cases, means losing weight or, if possible, switching off a
drug that may be responsible.

My patient was an overweight young man who did well once he
lost weight, and Dr. Zhang says that among his patients, such
lifestyle changes as a healthy weight-loss diet, exercise and herbal
remedies reversed the symptoms and biochemical signs of NASH.

The herbal remedies that Dr. Zhang recommends include milk
thistle (Silybum marianum) which stimulates regeneration of
liver cells. He also treats his NASH patients with Schizandra,
a Chinese medicine, and Ligustrin (Oleanolic acid),
Capillaris (Artemisiae capillaris herba) and Crataegus
(Crataegi Fructus).

By the way, foie gras, much loved by gourmets, is nothing other
than livers of geese with NASH induced by forced overfeeding.

Andrew Weil, M.D.
Via: www.drweil.com

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