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Does Acupuncture Help Fatty Liver Disease?

author image Danielle Hill
Danielle Hill has been writing, editing and translating since 2005. She has contributed to "Globe Pequot" Barcelona travel guide, "Gulfshore Business Magazine," "Connecting Lines: New Poetry from Mexico" and "The Barcelona Review." She has trained in neuro-linguistic programming and holds a Bachelor of Arts in comparative literature and literary translation from Brown University.
Does Acupuncture Help Fatty Liver Disease?
A woman with an acupuncture needle in her hand. Photo Credit Ingram Publishing/Ingram Publishing/Getty Images

Fatty liver disease is very much what it sounds like; the condition occurs when fat accumulates around the liver, either due to alcohol use or nonalcoholic factors. The disease may result in inflammation, scarring and eventually liver failure. In many cases, it doesn't manifest in any outward symptoms or cause secondary complications. Though the practice is not necessarily backed by scientific research, acupuncture may be used as an alternative remedy for fatty liver disease. Consult with your doctor about the best treatment for your condition.

Acupuncture Basics

Acupuncture is based on traditional Chinese medicine, a system of healing that differs in approach from modern Western medicine. According to TCM, disease occurs because of imbalances or blockages in the flow of vital energy, or "qi." An acupuncturist can resolve these energetic problems by stimulating specific points of the body using very thin needles. With proper stimulation, the body can restore proper flow of qi. Because the points on the body correspond to energetic channels called meridiens, an acupuncturist may apply needles to body parts far from the organ that's causing complaint.

Acupuncture and Fatty Liver Disease

The acupuncture treatment for fatty liver disease will depend largely on the overall condition of the patient. According to the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, one possible cause for fatty liver disease is blood stagnation. To remedy the situation, an acupuncturist would both move the qi and tonify the spleen. Of the many available acupuncture points to use, possible points may include the Liver 14, Spleen 21, Gallbladder 34, Urinary Bladder 17 and 18 and Large Intestine 4. The names of the points indicate the meridien along which they are located. A meridien named for a particular organ may also contain points that help to heal issues located in other organs. For example, the Gall Bladder 34 point can promote the flow of qi in the liver.

Scientific Trials

A couple of scientific studies have measured the effects of acupuncture on fatty liver disease and related conditions. A 2009 trial published in the "Journal of Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion" found that acupuncture had significant therapeutic benefit on individuals with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. After 12 weeks, subjects receiving regular acupuncture treatment displayed a significant reduction in liver damage. A 2008 study published in the same journal found that a three-month regimen of acupuncture treatment relieved symptoms in individuals suffering from obesity compounded with fatty liver disease. Subjects both slimmed down and exhibited decreased liver damage.

Complementary Approaches

Within the framework of Western medicine, acupuncture is widely viewed as a complementary approach. The treatment lends itself well to the complementary function, as it has a low incidence of side effects or drug interactions. If you wish to combine acupuncture with additional healing modalities, you may improve your chances of recovery with weight loss; a healthy, vitamin-rich diet; regular exercise; and herbal remedies.

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