Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis or NASH is the most common form of liver disease in the country that’s unrelated to alcohol use. This disease, which causes a fatty liver, affects up to five percent of the population – many of whom don’t know they have it – until they have a routine blood test that shows an elevation in liver enzymes.
What Causes NASH Disease of the Liver?
The exact causes of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis is unknown, but it’s more commonly seen in people who are obese, those who have metabolic syndrome, and people who have elevated lipid levels or diabetes. Correcting these problems may help to improve NASH and is usually the treatment most doctors recommend – particularly since there are few treatments for this problem that are really effective. NASH disease of the liver can progress, in some cases, to serious complications such as cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer.
A New Treatment for Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis?
A study recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that people with NASH fatty liver who took a vitamin E supplement daily (800 I.U.) experienced improvement in their liver function. In fact, forty-three percent improved on the vitamin E supplement, while improvement was seen in only nineteen percent of people who took a placebo. Could taking vitamin E be a way to slow down or even reverse the effects of this liver disease?
Taking Vitamin E for NASH Liver Disease: Why Does It Help?
Some researchers believe that oxidative stress plays a key role in non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. Chemicals called cytokines are released from fat cells which cause inflammation and oxidative damage to liver cells. Vitamin E is a strong antioxidant which may help to offset some of these damaging effects.
How Promising is This Treatment for NASH Fatty Liver Disease?
It looks promising, but previous studies that have looked at using antioxidants to treat this liver condition have been mixed. This was a placebo-controlled randomized trial that involved 247 people with NASH – so it’s certainly encouraging that it showed benefits. Vitamin E is inexpensive and readily available and if it can offer benefits – so much the better.
Vitamin E for NASH Disease of the Liver: The Bottom Line?
Anyone suffering from non-alcoholic steatohepatitis would do well to talk to their doctor about supplementing with vitamin E – but it’s just as important to get blood sugars and lipids under control and excess lose weight since these factors make the disease worse. Stay tuned for further research on this natural treatment for NASH.