Some small studies suggest that high dose turmeric supplements might help reduce some symptoms of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. However, turmeric is not a substitute for standard treatment or lifestyle changes, and the research on its use for fatty liver is not conclusive.
People with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) have inflammation and fat accumulation in the liver. Over time, this can affect liver functioning and overall health, even though most people with fatty liver initially have no symptoms.
However, some people develop the condition in the absence of any risk factors, and most estimates suggest that at least
Read on to learn about turmeric and other remedies for fatty liver.
Several studies suggest that turmeric, or a compound it contains called curcumin, plays a role in treating nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Turmeric may help reduce inflammation, a key symptom of NAFLD.
Serum levels of triglycerides and cholesterol also declined in the turmeric group. The placebo group did not show similar changes.
- Three of four trials with data on turmeric or curcumin compared to baseline showed reductions in liver enzymes and the severity of NAFLD.
- Two of four placebo-controlled studies showed significant reductions in the liver enzymes ALT and AST with turmeric or curcumin compared to placebo.
- One trial of four placebo-controlled trials used turmeric instead of curcumin. That study did not show improvements in liver enzymes or NAFLD severity compared to the placebo group. This suggests that curcumin, rather than turmeric, could be the more important supplement.
These studies have assessed turmeric and curcumin for the treatment of NAFLD, not prevention. While it is possible that turmeric might have similar benefits in the prevention of NAFLD, research does not currently support its use. However, lifestyle factors such as maintaining a healthy body weight
The curcumin group did not experience benefits greater than those of the placebo group.
Taken together, the data suggest that turmeric may have some benefits for NAFLD. But the research does not prove that it is a viable treatment or superior to standard treatments.
As turmeric is a supplement and not a prescription medication, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not test its effectiveness or make dosage recommendations.
Instead, supplement manufacturers recommend a range of doses — usually ranging from 500–2,000 milligrams (mg) per day. Most studies also examine dosages in this range.
To try turmeric, a person should consider starting with a lower dose of a few hundred mg, then increasing the dose weekly as long as they do not experience side effects.
Researchers do not know if it is safe to use turmeric as a supplement in amounts larger than those found in food when pregnant or breastfeeding.
Very few studies
While turmeric and curcumin supplements are likely safe for most individuals, it is important for a person to consult a healthcare professional on whether turmeric or curcumin supplements are safe and appropriate for their specific needs.
Rarely, turmeric and other supplements may damage the liver. A 2019 study details two case reports of turmeric-induced liver injury at relatively low doses of turmeric.
Several interventions may help treat fatty liver disease. In most cases, lifestyle interventions are the first line of treatment. They include:
Doctors may also prescribe medication to control and reverse symptoms, but the evidence supporting these medications is weak. Some potential drugs
Additionally, a person will need to treat any underlying condition that increases the risk of NAFLD, such as type 2 diabetes.
- heart disease
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- heart failure
Some evidence suggests that supplementing with turmeric or curcumin may be helpful for those with NAFLD. However, this disease is complex, and lifestyle issues often play a significant role in both its development and treatment.
Natural remedies are not a substitute for standard treatment. They are also not an alternative to practicing a healthy lifestyle for preventing NAFLD.
People should talk with a doctor about the risks and benefits of trying turmeric and the range of treatments that might improve liver health.