The Asian water plantain is a natural remedy for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is not a serious condition in itself, but its complications can be deadly. The extract of Asian water plantains (Alisma orientale) could be a potential treatment for the condition, according to a study in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, as it is able to not only reduce the amount of accumulated fat in the liver, but also the onset of inflammation.

The liver plays a vital role in maintaining human life. Aside from filtering and purifying the blood, it facilitates the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, and fat from one’s diet. It also stores glycogen, vitamins, and minerals and helps eliminates toxins and harmful chemicals – including hormones and drugs – from the body. These very varied functions expose the liver to a lot of abuse.

Among the substances that damage the liver, fat is one of the most notorious offenders. The liver produces and excretes bile, which aids in the metabolism of fat in the intestines. But over time, whether due to underlying conditions or an unhealthy lifestyle, fat can accumulate in the liver itself. This condition is called liver steatosis or fatty liver. Although common in alcoholics, the condition can occur in people who drink little alcohol, too, in which case it is called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NFLD).

By itself, NFLD is hardly serious. It may even be reversed with the right lifestyle changes. But when left untreated, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease can graduate to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis in which the liver becomes inflamed. Too much inflammation can lead to scarring and irreversible damage to the organ. In very bad cases, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis ends in liver failure and death.

One can take supplements to complement a healthy diet and regular exercise in order to reverse NAFLD before it worsens. According to a study, the extract of the Asian water plantain may be used for this exact purpose.

The study tested the effects of the extracts on HepG2 hepatocyte cells. The HepG2 cells were previously cultured with oleic and palmitic acids to induce hepatic steatosis. These cells were exposed to different doses for the extract for 24 hours and were then analyzed.

Tests performed on the cells revealed that the extracts down-regulated the levels of enzymes that play a role in fat synthesis. The treatment also suppressed the expression of apoptotic genes – those genes that facilitate cellular death – while enhancing the expression of anti-apoptotic proteins. Furthermore, the extracts inhibited the expression of inflammatory proteins.

According to these findings, the extract of Asian water plantains not only prevented the accumulation of fat in the liver cells, but it also prevented cellular death and inflammation, both of which would have damaged liver tissues. (Related: Treat non-alcoholic fatty liver disease naturally.)

What are the other health benefits of Asian water plantains?

The Asian water plantain, as its name suggests, is an aquatic flowering plant commonly found in Asia. It is a popular medicinal ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine and is used for a variety of different health conditions, including:

  • Acid reflux
  • Bacterial infections
  • Bruises
  • Gout
  • Dizziness
  • Bloating
  • Burns

The different parts of the plant are used for various health conditions. For instance, the leaves are valued for their antibacterial and hypotensive effects, while the roots are used for treating kidney-related conditions. The plant’s stem is edible and may be used to treat digestive problems while the seeds may be powdered and used for bleeding. Men can roast the plant’s fruit and use it to remedy premature ejaculation and night emissions.

The Asian water plantain is a diuretic and for this reason, is not to be taken by people who are already taking diuretic medications.

Learn about the other uses of Asian water plantains at

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