(Natural News) Researchers from Chonnam National University in South Korea have found that Eriobotrya japonica, commonly referred to as Japanese plum or loquat, can help protect the liver from damage caused by diet or alcohol intake. In their report, they looked at how Japanese plum can help liver cells at risk of damage from alcohol or free fatty acids. The results of the study were published in the Journal of Medicinal Food.
Poor diet, heavy alcohol use damage the liver
The liver is an essential organ of the body. The largest organ inside the body, the liver helps digest food and store energy — even remove poisons. However, its many functions put it at higher risk of disease and injury, in particular, hepatic steatosis.
Hepatic steatosis, better known as fatty liver disease, happens when extra fat is stored in the liver. While the liver stores a small amount of fat, it becomes a problem when fat reaches around 10 percent of the liver’s weight.
It’s worth noting that fatty liver disease has no symptoms at its onset. However, the condition can get worse over time and progress in three stages:
- Steatohepatitis, marked by liver inflammation and tissue damage
- Fibrosis, which occurs when scar tissue forms in damaged areas of the liver
- Cirrhosis, a serious condition where scar tissue replaces healthy tissue
Cirrhosis can often lead to liver cancer and even outright liver failure. Advanced cirrhosis is life-threatening.
Hepatic steatosis has two main forms:
- Alcoholic liver disease, wherein a person develops a fatty liver due to heavy alcohol use. In the U.S., around five percent of adults have this form of disease.
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), wherein a person develops a fatty liver even if they aren’t drinkers. NAFLD is worrisome, as it is prevalent: A third of American adults — and 10 percent of children — have this condition. According to studies, several factors like obesity and diabetes can increase a person’s risk of getting NAFLD.
Japanese plum can protect liver from damage
In their report, the researchers looked at whether Japanese plum can help prevent fatty liver.
Earlier studies had shown that the plant could help in treating hepatic steatosis. A 2017 study published in the journal Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy concluded that leaf extracts from Japanese plum could potentially treat NAFLD. In addition, a study published in The Korean Journal of Community Living Science concluded that leaf extracts from the Japanese plum could protect the liver from alcohol-induced damage.
The team also used Japanese plum leaves to create a hot water extract. They used this hot water extract to pretreat liver cells before exposing them to ethanol and free fatty acids to induce alcoholic liver disease and NAFLD, respectively. The findings revealed that the hot water extract from Japanese plum exhibited antioxidant properties and inhibited lipid accumulation in pretreated liver cells. Lipid accumulation, according to research, not only increases a person’s risk of hepatic steatosis but also his risk of developing insulin resistance — a precursor to diabetes and other chronic conditions.
In addition, liver cells pretreated with hot water extract from Japanese plum exhibited increased 5’adenosine monophosphate (AMP)-activated protein kinase (AMPK) activity. When activated in the proper tissues — like the brain, liver and skeletal muscles — this brings about multiple benefits, including improved insulin sensitivity, enhanced muscle performance and reduced inflammation, among others.
The results suggest that Japanese plum extract can prevent both alcohol- and free fatty acid-induced oxidative damage and lipid accumulation in liver cells.
Learn more natural treatments for liver damage at NaturalMedicine.news.