A cure for NASH

The most common liver disease among adult Americans is nonalcoholic steatohepatitis — most know it by the acronym NASH.

by Dr. Alan Christianson — 

What is the most common liver disease among adult Americans? Surprisingly, most people are not aware of it, but nonalcoholic steatohepatitis is the name — most know it by the acronym NASH. Alcoholics have a build-up of fat in their livers that disrupts the circulation of blood and bile. This can also occur with nonalcoholics. In most cases, this is related to diabetes, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, obesity or some combination of these.

When we consume more calories then we burn, our liver converts them into fat. If we make too much, it gets trapped in the liver, causing inflammation. If the inflammation persists, scar tissue forms. Scarring is called cirrhosis and can cause liver failure. Ten percent to 20 percent of Americans may have an early version of NASH.

The main step, both for treatment and prevention, is “waist management.” If you need to lose a few pounds, do it, but do it slowly. Rapid weight loss is known to trigger liver and gall bladder damage. If that is not bad enough, be aware that it also does not work. Statistically 97 percent of those who lose more than one and a half pounds per week will gain back more than they lose.

According to a recent study, NASH can be improved by an over-the-counter vitamin. In the April 28, 2010, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers compared the effects of vitamin E against pioglitazone, an oral diabetic medicine also known as Actos. The vitamin E showed benefit in 43 percent of those studied, compared to 34 percent who improved on Actos.

The author’s summary of findings revealed the huge biases that exist regarding the role of nondrug treatments. The findings from the  comparison between Actos and vitamin E were:

Actos —

  • Side Effects: Edema, weight gain, muscle pain, headache, anemia
  • Major Risks: Heart failure, liver damage, vision loss, bladder cancer
  • Costs: $233 to $244/month at
  • Percentage With NASH Improved: 34

Vitamin E —

  • Side Effects: None at normal doses
  • Major Risks: Prolonged bleeding (with excessive doses)
  • Costs:$5 to $15
  • Percentage With NASH Improved: 43

Dr. Alan Christianson is a naturopathic medical doctor who has been practicing for more than 14 years and is currently completing a textbook on thyroid disease for Penguin Press. He is the owner of Integrative Health Care in Scottsdale, Ariz. or 480-657-0003.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 29, Number 3, June/July 2010.


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