Ayurveda and Fatty Liver Disease
By Dr Sajimon George BAMS, AAA, ATMS
Liver diseases are on the rise due to unhealthy food habits, excess alcohol intake, pollution and wreckless usage of prescription medicines. Fatty Liver is the result of accumulation of fat in the liver cells or hepatocytes. Storage of carbohydrate as glycogen for stabilization of blood glucose levels and conversion of fats into lipoproteins is done by the liver. Bile secreted by the liver is essential for fat absorption. By regulating ammonia and plasma glucose levels it also helps in normal functioning of brain. Steady conversion or breaking down of fat in the liver is impaired in fatty liver condition resulting in the accumulation fat in the liver cells. Till fat content of liver is below 10% of the weight of the liver it is harmless. When fat content exceed this limit it impairs normal functions. When there is only fatty infiltration condition it is called simple fatty infiltration or steatosis. Excess alcohol consumption can result in inflammation of fatty liver and the condition is called alcoholic steatohepatitis. In the absence of alcoholic consumption, obesity or diabetes mellitus patients may develop inflammation resulting in non alcoholic steatohepatitis. Progress of the disease will result in cirrhosis. Usually fatty liver does not cause serious symptoms and is diagnosed during a routine checkup. This major organ is considered as the site of Pitha humor by Ayurveda. Unhealthy food and life style cause impairment of fire principle and leads to fatty liver.
- Pain in the central or right side of upper abdomen
- Poor appetite
- Enlarged liver
- Skin discoloration in the neck or under arm
- Viral hepatitis
- Hereditary factors
- Diabetes mellitus
- Hyper lipidemia
- Poisons or excess intake of prescription medicines.
Ayurveda and Fatty Liver Disease
Ayurveda consider liver as the chief organ where fire principle or pitha is situated. Digestive fire (Pachakagni) manifest in seven forms called dhatwagnis. Food is converted into ahara rasa by pachakagni or digestive fire. Then ahara rasa is converted into seven dhatus or seven body tissues in the order rasa, raktha, mamsa, meda, asthi, majja and sukla. Each dhatu contain this agni or fire principle which has three functions. It assimilates nutritional part from previous dhatu, keep its own metabolism in equilibrium and finally provide nutritional part to the subsequent dhatu. Rasa dhatwagni assimilate nutritional part from ahara rasa to nourish rasa dhatu and also provide nutritional part to next dhatu ie, raktha or blood tissue. Similarly Raktha dhatwagni assimilate nutrient portion from Rasa dhatu to nourish Raktha dhatu and provide nutrients to Mamsa dhatu or flesh. Thus quantity and quality of a dhatu is influenced by agni of previous dhatu, its own agni and agni of next dhatu. Here in the fatty liver disease, failure of mamsa dhatwagni, medodhatwagni and asthidhatwagni results in increase of medodhatu. Abnormal accumulation of this improper medo dhatu or fat tissue results in fatty liver disease. This accumulated fat cause blockage of subtle channels or srothas which carry medo dhatu and leads to further vitiation of fat metabolism. Since liver is the main organ where metabolism of fat happens, fat deposition in the liver impairs every metabolic activity.
Line of treatment
Aim of the treatment is the correction of vitiated Pitha, Dhatwagnis and removal of blockage of subtle channels which carry medas or fat tissue.
- Medicated Purgation or Virechana
Medicated purgation with suitable formulations in regular intervals will help in alleviating Pitha vitiation and removal of blockage of subltle channels or srothas.
- Deepana oushadhis or Digestive fire improving formulations
After removal of blockage of srothas and pacifying the vitiated Pitha, herbs and formulations which improve digestive fire are given. While selecting digestive fire improving formulations which are hot, special care will be done not to vitiate Pitha again.
- Samanoushadhis or pacifying drugs
Herbs and formulations which specifically act on liver function are used.
Bhringaraja (Eclipta alba), Sarapunkha(Tephrosia purpurea), Thippali(Piper longum), Bhumyamalaki (Phyllanthus niruri), Katurohini(Picroriza kurrora) are examples of some of the herbs specially useful for liver disorders.
Healthy lifestyle should be strictly followed. Easily digestible light food at regular intervals and regular exercise is very useful.
Yoga postures which give stretching and increase blood flow around abdomen area give good result. Gomukhasana (Cow pose), Dhanurasana (Bow pose) Bhujangasana (Cobra pose) are useful for fatty liver.
Jogging or walking briskly helps stimulating all internal organs including the liver.
- Fruits, Vegetables and green leafy vegetables
- Whole grains
- Fatty meat such as beef and pork
- Spicy, sour and fried foods
- High calorie junk food and aerated drinks
- Alcohol consumption
- Over use of prescription medicines
- Refined carbohydrates like potato, flour bread etc.
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