Pulled and Torn Calf Muscle Recovery Time: How to Heal Your Lower Leg

This article has details on how to rest the injured area, how long it takes for pulled or torn calf muscle recovery time, and how to strengthen the back of the lower leg to avoid reinjury going forward.

Anything from a calf strain to an outright muscle tear can hobble you, interrupting your ability to walk, to work out, and to enjoy your daily life. This article has details on how to rest the injured area, how long it takes for pulled or torn calf muscle recovery time, and how to strengthen the back of the lower leg to avoid reinjury going forward.

The Calf Muscle and Lower Leg

In human anatomy, the calf muscle is located on the back of the lower leg. It consists of two distinct muscles, the larger gastrocnemius muscle, which creates the visible bulge on the back of the leg, and the soleus muscle, a flatter muscle that lies beneath the gastrocnemius muscle.

The calf is attached via the Achilles tendon to the heel of the foot. The calf muscle allows us to flex the ankle and the knee, and to run, jump, and rise to our tippy toes. It’s an integral part of daily movement.

Calf Muscle Injuries

There are many degrees of calf muscle injury. Here’s a breakdown of the different soft tissue injuries that could be causing calf pain.

  • Calf muscle strain: Straining the calf muscle involves a tearing of the calf muscle fibers. Muscle strains can exist along a spectrum from mild cases of light pain and soreness to severe cases of complete tear.
  • Pulled calf muscle: Another name for a calf muscle strain, a pulled calf muscle is caused by “pulling” or overstretching the muscle beyond its natural limits.
  • Calf muscle tear: Any strain involves some measure of tearing, but the more serious ones are partial or complete tears that may require surgery to fix.
  • Calf muscle rupture: A complete tear is also known as a rupture, which impairs the ability to walk and may display a lump under the skin if the calf collapses.
  • Calf muscle myositis: Another culprit that can cause calf pain is myositis, a rare inflammation of the muscle that can occur due to infections or autoimmune disorders.
  • Calf muscle cancer: This is another rare condition, but in cases of cancer, it is possible for a tumor (sarcoma) to form in the calf muscle or for other cancerous growths to spread to the calf (metastasis).

Pulled or torn calf muscle recovery time.

Pulled or Torn Calf Muscle Recovery Time

A pulled or torn calf muscle can be a brief concern, a mild injury resulting from a one-time accident or overstrain. It’s a common sports injury, familiar to many athletes and runners, but one strain that is not properly healed can become a long-term chronic injury that is more likely to become reinjured multiple times. Chronic calf injuries could possibly lead to a complete calf tear and immobility. The treatment options and recovery times differ depending on severity.

Pulled Calf Muscle Recovery Time

A milder pulled calf injury may come with symptoms like redness, bruising, mild swelling, and an inability to stand up on the ball of your foot. Depending on the severity of the injury, these types of sprains can usually be treated at home with RICE and other healing aids. RICE stands for:

  • Rest: If sharp pain makes it difficult for you to walk normally, stay off your feet or use the aid of a cane or crutch to give your body time to heal.
  • Ice: An ice pack or a cold compress applied to the area for 10 minutes at a time, every hour or so in the first few days, can help reduce inflammation and swelling, plus ease pain.
  • Compression: A leg wrap can also help reduce swelling and increase your mobility while you heal.
  • Elevation: Prop up your leg above the level of your heart to help reduce swelling and pain.

Other options for at-home treatment include a heating pad to help draw blood to the area after the first few days (just be sure not to fall asleep with the pad on as it could cause skin burns or exacerbate swelling). You might also try over-the-counter anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen—just be sure to take them as directed. For more natural aids, consider taking an amino acid supplement to increase the supply of raw materials needed to mend muscle fiber: all nine essential amino acids.

The recovery time for a mild calf injury is a few days to a week. You may only have to take special care to treat the injury in the first day or two. So long as you don’t reinjure the area by resuming vigorous physical activity too soon, your body will take care of the rest. In more severe cases it could take a month to 6 weeks to fully heal an injured calf muscle, so just be sure to listen to your body before resuming sports activities.

Torn Calf Muscle Recovery Time

Symptoms of a torn calf that don’t improve after a few days or start to worsen could be a sign of a more severe tear or a gastrocnemius muscle rupture. Also known as “tennis leg,” calf ruptures may require surgical intervention and/or physical therapy. Prompt treatment should be sought if you suspect the injury won’t improve with at-home care, as some injuries could handicap the affected leg for the rest of your life.

Keep in mind that around 30% of people who have one calf muscle strain end up experiencing repeated injuries because they’re not fully healed before returning to strenuous activity. This is especially true for athletes who demand the same movements from their bodies over and over again. Also keep in mind that it’s possible to herniate the muscle of a calf, prompting repeated and chronic injury.

The recovery time for a fully torn calf muscle will be longer than a simple strain and will depend on the treatment option you choose with your doctor or physical therapist, plus other factors like your age and general fitness level. Once you are healed, it’s important to restrengthen your calf to avoid future injuries.

How to Prevent a Torn Calf Muscle

Here are some stretches and strengthening exercises you can use to help minimize the risk of calf injury and hopefully prevent future sprains and injuries.

  • Warm up and stretch for at least 5 minutes before engaging in exercise or sport, and set aside time for a cool-down period of stretching to prevent cramping.
  • Use a chair stretch to loosen up your hamstrings. It’s important to stretch your whole leg and body before working out, as every bit of the body is connected to the rest, and tension in one area could cause an injury in another.
  • Wall stretches allow you to focus on loosening up the back of the leg from heel to hip.
  • The floor or supine stretch helps condition your leg muscles for the prevention of injury.
  • A standing calf stretch is not only targeted for calf strength but can also be easily done just about anywhere throughout the day.
  • Supplement with amino acids to help support muscle recovery and repair with a full host of the building blocks of new protein synthesis.

Proper stretching helps prevent injury and strengthens the stability of your knee, improving your physical performance and protecting other areas of the leg from getting hurt. For more specific medical advice or help with your technique, consult with a doctor or qualified physiotherapist.

Long-Term Calf Recovery

Calf injuries are relatively common in sports medicine and physiotherapy and can quickly become debilitating if they keep you from walking. Be extra cautious as you heal these injuries to reduce recovery time. And be sure to consume the right amount of amino acid nutrition to build new muscle fibers. The faster you heal, the better chance you have to return to your full range of motion and make instances of further injury less likely.

Kidney Pain After Drinking Alcohol: How Worried Should You Be?

What causes kidney pain after drinking alcohol? How dangerous is kidney pain and does it require a trip to the doctor? We have the details on how alcohol affects your kidneys, and what health conditions may arise from excessive drinking.

The most detrimental effect of alcohol overconsumption, aside from any personal or psychological problems that arise, is the impact alcohol has on our detox organs: the liver and the kidneys. Imbibing a harmful substance like alcohol regularly overtaxes these organs with the effort of clearing out the poison, opening us up to certain risk factors associated with alcohol abuse. Heavy drinkers or those who engage in binge drinking are doing even more harm than those who drink in moderation, and alcohol abuse could lead to serious kidney problems. If you experience kidney pain after drinking alcohol, we have the information you need on the possible causes.

How the Kidneys Function and Where They Are Located

Our kidneys are part of the system known as the urinary tract, which also includes our bladders and ureters. Kidney health is essential for filtering toxins and waste out of our blood and transferring those substances to our urine for elimination from the body. The kidneys also keep our electrolyte and fluid levels balanced, and they are directly impacted by the excessive intake of alcohol.

Our kidneys are vital to our survival, and luckily they are one of many paired organs and parts our bodies have, like our eyes, ears, testes/ovaries, lungs, limbs, adrenal glands, and more. What’s fortunate about that is it’s quite possible to live with only one kidney, a fact that allows healthy, living people to donate one of their kidney organs to save the life of someone who has lost the use of both.

The kidneys are about the size of our fists and are located below the rib cage on either side of our spines. Kidney pain may be experienced as back pain, but if there is kidney damage resulting from alcohol use, other symptoms may occur. We review the symptoms of kidney damage and kidney failure further along in this article, but first let’s discuss how alcohol interacts with the kidneys.

Alcohol’s Effect on the Kidneys

According to the National Kidney Foundation, alcohol harms the kidneys in the following ways.

  • Interruption of function: High blood alcohol levels can cause changes in the function of the kidneys, interrupting the prime objective of these organs, which is filtering the blood.
  • Interference with fluid levels: Another principle role of the kidneys is fluid regulation, and alcohol as a diuretic forces frequent urination and causes dehydration and possible kidney stone formation (more information on kidney stones below).
  • Elevated blood pressure: Consumption of alcohol frequently causes high blood pressure, which increases the risk of kidney disease and other cardiovascular health problems.
  • Interrelated liver damage: Chronic alcohol consumption can cause liver disease and liver failure, disrupting the rate of blood flow between it and the kidneys and detrimentally impacting all of them.

Some of these impacts won’t be felt until they cause you pain, or lead to other health conditions with recognizable symptoms. If you suspect you’ve overdone it on alcoholic beverages, seek medical advice before being prompted by severe pain: your doctor may be able to detect the early signs of kidney stressors before they cause irreversible damage.

Alcohol's Effect on the Kidneys

Kidney Pain After Drinking Alcohol: Symptoms

Here is a list of symptoms that may indicate there is something wrong with your kidneys. Seek medical advice for a specific diagnosis if you experience:

  • Stabbing or dull pain in your mid-lower back (on either or both sides)
  • Pain between the buttocks
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Worsening kidney-area pain after sleeping
  • Painful urination
  • Blood in urine

Kidney Pain After Drinking Alcohol: Possible Causes

Here are some of the potential causes of alcohol-related kidney pain.

1. Dehydration

Because alcohol is a diuretic, it can cause severe dehydration when over-consumed, and in fact dehydration is one of the biggest culprits in causing the symptoms of a hangover (like headache). When we drink alcohol in excess, it overrides our kidneys in the area of water retention and balance, not only flushing more water than necessary out of our systems, but also the vitamins, salts, and electrolytes we need along with that water. This is why many a hangover recovery involves drinking a sports drink full of electrolytes or (more problematically) a hair-of-the-dog cure in the form of a spicy Bloody Mary.

Extreme dehydration can cause palpable kidney pain. Water is the best cure for dehydration, while sugary drinks should be avoided after a hard night of drinking. In severe cases, you may need to visit a doctor for an IV fluid.

2. Kidney Stones

When worrying about how alcohol affects the kidneys, many wonder, “Can alcohol cause kidney stones?” Dehydration can, and excessive alcohol consumption quickly induces dehydration.

When there isn’t enough fluid available to filter out certain substances like calcium or uric acid through urine, those substances will deposit in the kidneys and form into stones. Not only can alcohol contribute to the formation of the stones, but if you have kidney stones already, extreme dehydration can also cause them to move, resulting in kidney pain and (if they’re small enough to pass without medical intervention) pain throughout your urinary tract.

If you suspect you have kidney stones, increase your water consumption and consult with a medical professional for assistance and possible medication to help break them up. According to the Mayo Clinic, kidney stone diagnoses may involve blood tests, urine tests, imaging tests, and tests on any passed stone to analyze its content in the hopes that such information will help prevent future stones from forming.

3. Hydronephrosis

Hydronephrosis is a condition characterized by one (or two) swollen kidneys, filled with urine due to an obstruction or blockage of the urinary tract. This could be caused by kidney stones, and may present with flank pain or an inability to urinate.

This condition requires immediate medical attention, and treatment may involve antibiotics if the blockage is caused by a kidney infection instead of kidney stones.

4. Kidney Infection

A kidney infection can come about due to a number of causes, including bacteria that enters through the urethra and bladder, and then moves up to one (or both) kidneys. This would be a UTI (urinary tract infection), and drinking alcohol can worsen the severity of a UTI.

A UTI can be a minor infection, but if it travels to and takes hold in the kidneys, it can cause lasting kidney damage and even kidney failure if it isn’t treated successfully in time. It’s important not to hesitate in seeking advice from a health care professional, and it may be advisable to abstain from drinking if you have a UTI, and definitely if you are taking antibiotics to treat a UTI or any other infection.

5. Liver or Kidney Disease

Liver disease and kidney disease are conditions that can be caused by long-term alcohol abuse, sometimes as part of end-stage alcoholism and death. While it’s not a concern after one night of binge drinking, if you habitually over-imbibe, the damages can accumulate in the liver and cause fatty liver disease or scarring that leads to cirrhosis. Once the liver becomes compromised, the blood flow to the kidneys is interrupted, instigating a domino effect of vital organ damage and possible shutdown.

Should kidney disease develop, it could be due to alcohol or other contributing health conditions that alcohol exacerbates, including high blood sugar, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. Chronic kidney disease can lead to kidney failure, which, like liver failure, can sometimes only be reversed by organ transplantation.

Don’t Kid Around with Kidney Function

Excessive drinking can lead to very painful and serious health consequences, and while there are natural ways to support your kidney health with a kidney flush diet, as Benjamin Franklin once pointed out, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

The best thing you can do to prevent kidney damage caused by heavy drinking is to detox from alcohol and either quit drinking entirely or drink only in moderation. Swapping hard liquor drinks for low-alcohol beer and wine can help you avoid drinking too much alcohol, as can making sure you stay adequately hydrated. Drink a glass of water for every alcoholic drink to help balance out the amount of alcohol consumed. If you do drink, be sure to drink responsibly, for the sake of your kidneys and your quality of life.

Pancreatin: Uses, Side Effects and Potential Drug Interactions

Pancreatin, a mixture of the digestive enzymes amylase, lipase, and protease, has a well-established history of use as a treatment for pancreatic insufficiency and other conditions that impact pancreatic function and fat digestion. It’s important to follow the dosing instructions provided by your doctor or on the product label to avoid side effects and unforeseen drug interactions.

Pancreatin, also called pancrelipase and pancreatic enzymes, is a mixture of digestive enzymes used to supplement the body’s natural supply of such enzymes. Under normal circumstances, the pancreas produces all the digestive enzymes necessary for breaking down fats, proteins, and carbohydrates from the food you eat. However, certain conditions—including cystic fibrosis, chronic pancreatitis, and pancreatic cancer—can impede the pancreas’s ability to carry out that vital function, resulting in malabsorption.

Here’s what you should know about what pancreatin is and how it works, the conditions it’s been shown to effectively treat, side effects associated with its use, and potential drug interactions.

What Is Pancreatin?

To prevent malabsorption and ensure full, efficient digestion, three essential enzymes are needed: amylase, lipase, and protease. Most pancreatin products are made using enzymes extracted from the pancreases of pigs—you may see these termed porcine pancreatic extract or porcine pancreatic enzymes. In some cases, the pancreatic enzymes come from the pancreases of cows—the key term to look for here is bovine.

The medical use of pancreatin dates back to the 1800s at least. It now appears on the World Health Organization (WHO)’s List of Essential Medicines, which evaluates the effectiveness, safety, and cost-effectiveness of various medicines, then determines which should be considered essential to health care systems around the globe. Pancreatin is currently available both by prescription and as a supplement—in 2019, more than one million prescriptions were written in the United States alone.

5 Questions About Pancreatin, Answered

4 Proven Uses for Pancreatin

Studies support the use of pancreatin for a number of medical conditions, all of which somehow affect either the pancreas or fat digestion.

1. Pancreatic Insufficiency

The most common use for pancreatin is to treat digestive problems related to disorders of the pancreas. This is sometimes referred to as pancreatic insufficiency.

According to an article published in BMC Medicine in 2017, the most common causes of pancreatic insufficiency are:

  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • History of extensive necrotizing acute pancreatitis
  • Pancreatitis (swelling of the pancreas)
  • Pancreas removal

Researchers have conclusively determined that taking pancreatin improves the absorption of fat and protein and raises energy levels.

Pancreatic enzyme treatments historically had varying levels of efficacy, but since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) put regulations in place for all prescription formulations in 2010, they have become quite reliable. Studies show they can treat abdominal pain, malnutrition, steatorrhea (pale, oily, foul-smelling stools), and weight loss, and that they may even be able to improve an individual’s overall quality of life.

2. Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a condition characterized by the accumulation of fat in the livers of individuals who drink little or no alcohol. In some cases, this condition develops after individuals have the pancreas removed. Studies indicate that taking pancreatin may help to treat or prevent NAFLD in those individuals.

Findings published in the Journal of Hepato-Biliary-Pancreatic Sciences showed that treatment with pancreatin could significantly improve liver fat levels among patients who developed NAFLD after having their pancreases removed. Analysis also revealed improvements to liver function, digestion, and blood levels of proteins, albumin, and cholesterol.

3. HIV/AIDS

Individuals with HIV and AIDS sometimes have difficulty digesting fat. Preliminary findings indicate that taking pancreatin might improve fat digestion for those individuals.

According to a retrospective analysis published in HIV Medicine, 104 out of 233 patients showed signs of pancreatic insufficiency. Pancreatin proved to be an effective treatment for symptoms of pancreatic insufficiency, such as steatorrhea, in a majority of patients.

4. Pancreatic Cancer

Issues with digestion can occur for certain individuals with pancreatic cancer, resulting in unwanted weight loss. According to some studies, pancreatin can lead to beneficial weight gain for individuals with pancreatic cancer. Other studies, however, were unable to locate any evidence that pancreatin leads to weight gain, improved nutritional status, or increased rates of survival for pancreatic cancer patients.

These divergences may be because pancreatin only helps individuals with underlying pancreatic enzyme issues, which can be difficult to differentiate from the physiological manifestations of pancreatic cancer as well as the side effects of pancreatic cancer treatments.

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) recommends that patients experiencing signs of pancreatic insufficiency discuss the use of pancreatin with their medical team. Those symptoms include:

  • Indigestion
  • Stomach cramps after eating
  • Gas
  • Frequent, loose stools
  • Weight loss

Best Practices for Taking Pancreatin

When discussing the use of pancreatin with your doctor, be sure to disclose if you have allergies to pork proteins. If you have any other allergies, asthma, or gout, that’s also important information for your doctor to have.

The FDA has classified pancreatin in pregnancy category C, meaning it’s possible it may have an adverse effect on a fetus, but the potential benefits might outweigh the risks. Pregnant women should be sure to seek medical advice about possible side effects from a trusted source before taking pancreatin. Since it’s also possible pancreatin can pass into breast milk, nursing mothers should do the same.

General Dosing Recommendations

Be sure to follow the instructions given by your doctor or provided on the label for the pancreatin product you chose. If your doctor adjusts your dose, stick to that dosage and be sure to discuss any desired changes with your doctor rather than trying them out on your own.

That said, scientific research on the use of pancreatin can be used to extrapolate some general guidelines, which vary based on the targeted condition.

For pancreatic insufficiency, doses are measured in units of lipase—one of the enzymes in pancreatin that’s required for proper metabolism. A typical starting dose would be between 500 and 1,000 lipase units per kilogram (kg) of body weight, taken with each meal. The high end of the range would be 2,500 lipase units/kg at each meal. Amounts in excess of that should only be taken if a physician has deemed it medically necessary.

For NAFLD, the most studied option is a specific, delayed-release prescription pancreatic enzyme drug that’s sold in the United States under the brand name Creon. Research supports the use of a daily 1,800-milligram dose for a duration of 6-12 months.

Expert Tips to Minimize Side Effects and Maximize Results

Experts advise always taking pancreatin with food (either meal or snack will work), in part because doing so mimics the way the body naturally releases endogenous pancreatic enzymes. It’s advisable to drink an entire glass of water with your dose of pancreatin too.

Always take pancreatin tablets whole. Do not pulverize the tablets, break them into pieces, or chew them. Swallow each tablet promptly and avoid holding it in your mouth, as that may cause irritation to the sensitive tissues there.

Plan ahead to avoid running out of this important medication—call in for a prescription refill before you take your last dose. If you do miss a dose, take that dose as soon as you realize you missed one. If it’s nearly time to take your next dose, refrain from making up the dose missed previously. Never take a double dose.

If you’re using prescription pancreatin, keep in mind that changes to the brand, strength, or type may affect the dose you take. Be sure to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about any questions you have related to medication changes.

Pancreatin does not need to be refrigerated. It should be stored at room temperature in a cool, dry location.

Unless instructed to do so by your prescribing physician, do not take any other digestive enzymes while using pancreatin. You should also refrain from taking antacid medications both an hour before and an hour after each dose of pancreatin.

5 Expert Tips to Get the Most from Pancreatin

Watch for These Possible Side Effects of Pancreatin

The FDA has determined the oral use of pancreatin to be “likely safe” when supervised by a health care provider. That said, it can cause side effects.

Common side effects include:

  • Dizziness
  • Changes to blood sugar levels (both increases and decreases)
  • Stomach pain
  • Gas
  • Unusual bowel movements
  • Nausea
  • Minor skin rash

However, the FDA has categorized taking pancreatin in doses that exceed those prescribed by your doctor as possibly unsafe, in part because it appears doing so makes you more likely to develop a rare bowel disorder.

If you experience more severe side effects, you should contact your doctor immediately. Watch for:

  • Intense nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Joint pain and swelling
  • Pronounced changes to baseline symptoms

If you show signs of an allergic reaction, you should seek immediate medical help by calling 9-1-1 or going to the emergency department at the nearest hospital. Indicators of an allergic reaction include:

  • Labored breathing
  • Facial swelling
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat
  • Hives

What You Should Know About Pancreatin Side Effects

Be Aware of These Potential Drug Interactions

As is true of nearly every bioactive substance you ingest, it’s possible for pancreatin to interact with other prescription and over-the-counter medicines as well as vitamins, supplements, and herbal products. If you’re taking prescription pancreatin, be sure to discuss with your doctor all other medicines, vitamins, or supplements you currently take.

One drug that’s known to interact poorly with pancreatin is acarbose (sold under the brand names Precose and Prandase). This drug helps to treat type 2 diabetes by slowing the rate at which the body metabolizes food. Because pancreatin helps the body break food down more efficiently, it can decrease the efficacy of acarbose.

Conclusion

Pancreatin is a mixture of digestive enzymes—specifically, amylase, lipase, and protease. It has a well-established history of use as a treatment for pancreatic insufficiency, a condition that can be caused by cystic fibrosis, chronic pancreatitis, and pancreatic cancer, among other health disorders.

Studies show that taking pancreatin addresses symptoms of pancreatic insufficiency such as:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Malnutrition
  • Steatorrhea (pale, oily, foul-smelling stools)
  • Weight loss

By doing so, it can significantly improve an individual’s overall quality of life.

Pancreatin is available as prescription and over the counter. It’s important to follow the dosing instructions provided by your doctor or on the label of the product you chose. If you experience severe side effects, contact your health care practitioner immediately. If you show signs of an allergic reaction, seek emergency medical attention.

Because pancreatin can interact with other medications—prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal—it’s important to speak with a doctor to avoid unforeseen interactions.

Recognizing Cachexia: Unintended Weight Loss, Falling Energy Levels, Temporal Wasting and Other Signs to Look For

Treating cachexia, a frequently irreversible side effect of many major illnesses, requires a separate, multilevel approach. This is, in part, because diagnosing it can be quite tricky, as symptoms such as temporal wasting overlap with those of the underlying conditions. In addition to lifestyle-related shifts such as eating small, frequent meals, supplementing with amino acids has been shown to slow the rate of muscle mass loss as well as the fatigue caused by cachexia.

One way to think about cachexia is as the last illness. This metabolic disorder causes muscle wasting and involuntary, extreme weight loss, as well as temporal wasting. Cachexia occurs in the final states of almost every serious disease, including cancer, heart disease, HIV, and multiple sclerosis.

According to experts, approximately 9 million people around the world have cachexia. A 2016 estimate placed the number of cachexia diagnoses among individuals admitted to hospitals in the United States at 160,000 per year. Despite the staggering number of individuals affected by cachexia, doctors have historically focused on treating the underlying disease, rather than cachexia itself.

However, as we entered the twenty-tens, scientists began to examine cachexia as not just a symptom, but a condition that could itself be treated. Early studies showed that inflammation and metabolic imbalances drive cachexia, pointing the way to potential treatment approaches.

One of the challenges in treating cachexia is that it can be challenging to diagnose, particularly in the early stages when interventions are most likely to result in increased quality of life.

In this article, we’ll cover what causes cachexia, how to recognize temporal wasting and other symptoms of cachexia, and available treatments for cachexia such as targeted amino acid supplementation.

What Causes Cachexia?

Cachexia is a complex condition with no single cause. The term comes from the Greek words “kakos,” meaning bad, and “hexis,” meaning condition—and indeed, those with cachexia are in overall bad condition. This makes it challenging not only to tease out the factors that cause cachexia, but also to define the condition clinically. Though Hippocrates is widely acknowledged as the first to describe cachexia, a formal medical definition—which includes the loss of 5% or more of a person’s bodyweight over the course of a year as well as declining muscle strength—was not developed until 2006.

Scientists do know that in addition to altered levels of key bioactive substances, a primary force behind the development of cachexia is increased muscle protein breakdown which, in conjunction with decreased muscle protein synthesis, results in muscle atrophy, or muscle loss.

Other processes known to contribute to cachexia include systemic inflammation and elevated energy expenditure.

A number of factors contribute to cachexia, including the levels of these substances, the conditions that cause them, and the reaction they provoke from the body.

Who’s at Risk of Developing Cachexia?

As touched on in the introduction, cachexia commonly develops during the last stages of serious diseases. That means individuals with the following conditions are all at risk of developing cachexia as their diseases progress:

If you or a loved one has one of the conditions listed above, consider having a conversation with your doctor about preventative steps you can take to avoid cachexia and safeguard your quality of life.

9 Conditions That Put You at Risk of Developing Cachexia

Recognizing Temporal Wasting, Unintended Weight Loss, and Other Symptoms of Cachexia

Many of the symptoms of cachexia overlap with the symptoms of other conditions, including the very conditions that cause cachexia to develop. This can make it difficult to differentiate between true cachexia and other issues.

Some telltale indicators of cachexia include:

  • Muscle wasting: The core symptom of cachexia is muscle wasting. It’s important to note, however, that particularly in the early stages, individuals may be experiencing ongoing muscle loss without visibly appearing malnourished. In individuals who are overweight, this can make it even more unlikely that doctors will spot cachexia.
  • Unintentional weight loss: This refers to weight loss without conscious intent, and with the consumption of an adequate number of calories to maintain body weight or even a high enough caloric intake to result in weight gain under normal circumstances.
  • Loss of appetite: Known clinically as anorexia (and not to be confused with anorexia as an eating disorder), the loss of appetite experienced by those with cachexia is pronounced and consistent. They cease to find food appealing and lose the desire to eat it.
  • Decreased functional ability: Cachexia often results in fatigue, low energy levels, and malaise, which can make it difficult for a person to carry out daily activities. They may find even simple tasks such as brushing their teeth to be exhausting.
  • Edema: Cachexia causes protein levels in the blood to decrease, which in turn causes excess fluid to accumulate in the tissues of the body. As it builds up, it causes swelling.
  • Temporal wasting: The wasting of the temporal muscles and subcutaneous fat in the temporal region occurs with serious nutritional deficiencies and severe catabolism (meaning when muscle protein breakdown massively outpaces muscle protein synthesis).

6 Symptoms of Cachexia

Why Is It Challenging to Diagnose Cachexia?

Many of the symptoms of cachexia overlap with the symptoms of other conditions, including the very conditions that cause cachexia to develop. This can make it difficult to differentiate between true cachexia and other issues.

To further complicate matters, doctors don’t agree on the threshold at which muscle wasting becomes extensive enough to be considered cachexia. The definition of cachexia settled upon in 2008—”a complex metabolic syndrome associated with underlying illness and characterized by loss of muscle with or without loss of fat mass”—largely hinges on presence of muscle loss either in the absence of, or that outpaces, fat loss.

Even mild muscle loss, which commonly accompanies the aging process, produces some feelings of increased weakness and fatigue. It can also make it more difficult for individuals to carry out the activities of daily life.

Most experts concur that the best approach for determining when muscle wasting has become significant enough to constitute cachexia involves quantifying:

  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Change to muscle strength
  • Degree of decrease to muscle tone

In the early 2010s, some researchers proposed that imaging techniques like MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) could be valuable tools for diagnosing cachexia.

At this time, doctors continue to use a variety of criteria for diagnosing cachexia. The most common lists the following diagnostic points:

  • Inadvertent loss of over 5% of overall body weight in a span of 6 to 12 months
  • Body mass index (BMI) of under 20 for individuals younger than 65 and under 22 for individuals age 65 and older
  • Less than 10% of body mass accounted for by body fat

The Importance of Early Recognition

Because loss of muscle strength and muscle mass often occur slowly and in tandem with chronic diseases and/or the aging process, cachexia diagnoses tend to happen once widespread muscle wasting has transpired. This eliminates the best window of opportunity for halting the progression of cachexia and securing an improved long-term quality of life.

Unfortunately, the patients under the closest medical observation often fare the worst, as hospitalization can instigate or exacerbate malnourishment, which in turn furthers the progression of cachexia. When a patient’s nutrient intake declines, longer hospital stays and worse outcomes tend to follow.

Conventional medical treatment plans are not designed to encourage the recognition of early signs of muscle wasting. The more pronounced the wasting becomes, the lower the efficacy rate for interventions.

In an effort to combat this, researchers developed guidelines for a condition termed “pre-cachexia,” which are as follows:

  • Presence of an underlying chronic disease
  • Unintentional weight loss less than or equal to 5% of typical body weight during the last 6 months
  • Systemic inflammation
  • Loss of appetite and related symptoms

Hopefully, the establishment of these guidelines will lead to greater recognition of early signs of muscle wasting. Even minor changes to body mass or appetite among those with chronic diseases can be indicators that something has gone awry, and should, therefore, be taken seriously. The sooner these symptoms are noted and addressed, the better the treatment results will be.

Diagnostic Criteria for Pre-Cachexia and Cachexia

Complications Associated with Cachexia

As cachexia progresses, it can seriously impact a person’s overall health. Muscle wasting, in particular, can significantly decrease longevity. According to a 2017 study, cachexia correlates strongly with survival and has been found to contribute to 20% of cancer fatalities.

In general, complications associated with cachexia include:

  • Impaired quality of life
  • Inability to live independently
  • Compromised immunity
  • Exacerbated symptoms of underlying disease
  • Shortened lifespan

How to Treat Cachexia

Because so many separate factors coalesce to cause cachexia, treatment typically involves multiple types of therapy. While it can be tempting to believe that simply encouraging a person to eat more, or to change the foods they eat, will halt the loss of body mass caused by cachexia, that will not produce the desired results.

According to doctors, dietitians, and other experts, the following steps can be valuable parts of a cachexia treatment plan.

  • Adopt an eating approach centered on small, frequent meals. While an increased caloric intake alone will not cure cachexia, it’s vital that individuals with cachexia consume as many nutrient-dense calories as they can tolerate. Most find it preferable to eat small portions of high-calorie meals throughout the day rather than three larger meals. It can also be helpful to add nutritional supplement drinks as between-meal snacks.
  • Emphasize the social elements of eating. Even if eating itself holds little attraction, individuals with cachexia can still draw enjoyment from gathering together to eat a meal. Encouraging a person with cachexia to focus on mealtime socialization can help recalibrate the relationship to food.
  • Educate the emotional support system. As cachexia and the underlying diseases associated with it progress, patients may entirely lose the desire to eat. This can be upsetting for family and friends, who may feel strong urges to compel them to eat. It’s important to understand that eating will not halt muscle wasting and weight loss. When patients reach this stage, prioritize their overall quality of life rather than caloric intake.
  • Try appetite stimulant medications. Certain drugs—for example, dronabinol, megestrol, and glucocorticoids—can stimulate the appetite. Again, keep in mind that eating more will not change the progression of the disease. However, it can be beneficial in that patients feel more integrated into familial and social interactions, which in turn improves mental health.
  • Engage in light exercise. If a person has the energy to do so, some believe that light exercise can help build muscle mass. That said, this hypothesis has yet to be fully substantiated.

Incorporating Amino Acids into a Cachexia Treatment Plan

Researchers have found that certain nutritional interventions can help to both treat and prevent muscle wasting. Given the paramount importance of amino acids for muscle growth, it should come as no surprise that strong evidence indicates that whey protein, as well as glutamine, arginine, and leucine, can help individuals with cachexia maintain and even increase their muscle mass.

Studies support the use of whey protein to build muscle. Whey, considered to have one of the best amino acid profiles of any natural protein, provides a wealth of amino acids that play active roles in muscle synthesis, including all three branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs): leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Multiple studies have shown that supplementing with whey protein can result in increased protein synthesis. Furthermore, the increases associated with the use of whey protein are greater than those linked to the use of casein or soy. That said, it’s not uncommon for these studies to have participants enroll in an exercise program, making it somewhat unclear whether the muscle mass increases stem from the whey protein, the exercise program, or the combination of the two.

Interestingly, carnitine, an amino acid derivative, can not only stimulate muscle protein synthesis but also increase energy production, thereby alleviating the ill effects of cachexia on two levels. Several studies have found that cancer patients with cachexia tend to have low levels of carnitine, and that supplementing with 2 to 6 grams of carnitine can help reduce fatigue and increase lean body mass.

A 2006 study conducted by an Italian research team found that taking 2 grams of L-carnitine 3 times each day for a month led to an average muscle mass gain of 4.4 pounds, significantly decreased fatigue, and markedly improved quality of life. Other studies done with cancer patients also found that supplementing with carnitine led to increased muscle mass and decreased fatigue.

As you may be aware, amino acids work in concert to orchestrate myriad essential physiological functions, including protein synthesis. Thus, while certain amino acids have been shown to be uniquely beneficial for the treatment of cachexia, it appears that supplementing with well-balanced blends of multiple amino acids produces better results than supplementing with a single amino acid.

For instance, the use of leucine in combination with glutamine and arginine can bring about lean muscle mass gains in individuals with muscle wasting. A study published in The Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition showed that a mixture of leucine, glutamine, and arginine given in two divided doses each day led to an average weight gain of 5.6 pounds of lean muscle mass compared to an average weight loss of 1.5 pounds of lean mass for those taking the placebo. Study participants, all of whom had HIV and documented weight loss of at least 5% of body mass over the previous 3 months, were randomly assigned to receive the amino acid mixture or the placebo. The study authors tracked their body weights, lean body mass, and fat mass using air displacement plethysmography and computerized tomography (CT). After 8 weeks, the researchers found that supplementing with the amino acid blend could “markedly alter the course of lean tissue loss” as well as improve immune status.

Studies done with cancer patients and other populations found similar results in terms of muscle mass gains.

How to Treat Cachexia

Research supports the idea that the use of amino acids to treat cachexia should include a well-formulated blend of essential amino acids. This ensures the body has all the raw materials necessary to carry out muscle protein synthesis at the highest rate possible. Only a small amount of amino acids—say, a 3-gram dose—is needed to bring about this effect.

Conclusion

Cachexia, a frequently irreversible side effect of many major illnesses, causes severe muscle wasting. The accompanying rapid loss of muscle mass can undermine a person’s overall health and even shorten their lifespan. Diagnosing cachexia is quite tricky, as symptoms such as temporal wasting overlap with those of the underlying conditions associated with it. Furthermore, it often accompanies the end stage of those diseases.

Cachexia is complex condition, and though it is intimately intertwined with the progression of the underlying disease, treating it requires a separate, multilevel approach. In addition to lifestyle-related shifts such as eating small, frequent meals, supplementing with amino acids has been shown to slow the rate of muscle mass loss as well as the fatigue caused by cachexia.

The Truth Behind the Apple Cider Vinegar Fatty Liver Detox, Plus Science-Based Advice on Improving Liver Health

Advocates claim that conducting a cleanse with apple cider vinegar helps to flush toxins from the body, regulate blood sugar levels, and encourage healthy weight loss, all of which can improve liver health. However, there’s little scientific support for these claims. Read on for clear, evidence-based information about fatty liver disease, why some people believe apple cider vinegar can effectively treat this condition, and what steps to take to protect and improve your liver health.

Given that pharmaceutical companies have yet to devise a drug to treat fatty liver disease, it’s hardly surprising how much interest there is in natural remedies for this condition. One popular example of this type of home remedy is the apple cider vinegar fatty liver detox. Advocates claim that conducting a cleanse with apple cider vinegar helps to flush toxins from the body, regulate blood sugar levels, and encourage healthy weight loss, all of which can improve liver health. However, there’s little scientific support for these claims.

Read on for clear, evidence-based information about fatty liver disease, why some people believe apple cider vinegar can effectively treat this condition, and what steps to take to protect and improve your liver health.

What Is Fatty Liver Disease?

Before describing fatty liver disease, let’s establish what normal, healthy liver function looks like. The liver, the largest of the internal organs, carries out a host of absolutely vital functions, such as:

  • Cleansing toxins from the bloodstream
  • Metabolizing nutrients
  • Processing lipids and amino acids

When you consume foods that contain protein, your liver uses enzymes (specifically, deaminases and transaminases) to convert the amino acids your body absorbs from the protein into the most bioavailable, utilizable forms. The liver also converts excess carbohydrates into fatty acids and other substances that the body can use as energy sources or store as fat to be used at a later date. A small percentage of those fat molecules get stored in the liver itself.

Factors such as chronic alcohol abuse, long-term drug use, nutritional deficiencies, and metabolic disorders can all interfere with your liver’s ability to fulfill its many essential functions. One of the ways this manifests is that the liver begins to increase the amount of fat stored in its cells. At the moment the amount of fat stored in the liver reaches the threshold of 5% to 10% of total liver volume, an official diagnosis of fatty liver disease (or hepatic steatosis) can be made.

The Two Main Types of Fatty Liver Disease

Though the physical effects of fatty liver disease remain consistent across types, it’s valuable to have an understanding of the different pathophysiologies, as that influences how the body responds to treatment.

There are two primary types of fatty liver disease: alcoholic fatty liver disease and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

As the name indicates, alcoholic fatty liver disease arises due to long-term alcohol abuse. Scientists have known for centuries that over-consumption of alcohol leads to liver disease. The majority of the metabolization of alcohol transpires in the liver, making it quite susceptible to alcohol-related injury.

In the first stage of alcoholic liver disease (also called alcoholic steatohepatitis), the liver begins to struggle to break down fatty acids. This can result in high serum triglyceride levels, inflammation of the liver (alcoholic hepatitis), and the development of scars in the liver tissue (cirrhosis).

Early intervention can, in some cases, allow the liver to cleanse itself, thereby naturally reversing the buildup of fat. Subsequently, it can function normally once more. Refraining from the consumption of all types of alcohol for a 2-week period can be sufficient, if this step is taken shortly after liver dysfunction sets in.

The longer the accumulation of fat in the liver goes on, the more extensive the related damage, and the greater the likelihood of long-term impairment of liver function, permanent scarring, and liver failure.

Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease 

Alcohol consumption is not the only risk factor for the development of liver disease. Other health considerations can also cause fat to build up in the liver, such as:

  • Family history of type 2 diabetes
  • Aging
  • Increased body weight, particularly the development of deposits of belly fat

These can also interfere with the body’s insulin sensitivity, and when the body does not properly register the presence of insulin, it responds to the perceived deficit by accelerating its innate insulin production process. This results in elevated insulin levels, which can set off a cascade of ill-effects, including high blood pressure, elevated serum triglyceride levels, and—you guessed it—the accumulation of fat in the liver.

Nonalcholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) can be limited to the presence of excess fat in the liver, with very little inflammation and liver damage apart from that, or it can progress to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which involves both liver inflammation and damage. As is the case for liver disease stemming from alcohol abuse, NAFLD and NASH can progress to cirrhosis and liver failure. Experts estimate that between 80 and 100 million Americans have NAFLD, though many of them are not aware of that due to the fact that it’s largely asymptomatic.

14 Symptoms of Fatty Liver Disease

Diagnosing Fatty Liver Disease

Because the early stages of fatty liver disease are often unaccompanied by clear physical indicators, many people do not realize they have the condition until it’s progressed to a more advanced stage or until unrelated medical tests reveal liver dysfunction.

The challenge of detecting fatty liver disease is increased by the fact that blood tests, one of the most common methods of screening for chronic diseases, do not always accurately reflect the health of the liver. Fatty liver disease can cause liver enzyme levels to become elevated, but it’s also entirely possible for individuals with liver disease to have entirely normal enzyme levels, even when the disease progresses to the point of cirrhosis.

Ultrasound may be a more reliable way to diagnose fatty liver, according to a 2018 hospital-based, cross-sectional study published in the Journal of International Medical Research. The authors state that ultrasound’s “sensitivity and specificity in detecting moderate to severe fatty liver are comparable to those of histology [liver biopsy],” a far more invasive procedure. Ultrasound offers doctors a non-invasive way to screen for liver disease in individuals who do not show signs of the disease but may nevertheless be at risk, thereby ensuring they get earlier access to treatment.

Signs and Symptoms of Fatty Liver Disease

As fatty liver disease advances and liver function becomes increasingly poor, signs and symptoms do begin to appear. One clear indication of liver disease is altered amino acid metabolism—because of this, supplementing with amino acids (particularly, branched-chain amino acids) can significantly enhance liver health. We’ll share more on that later in the section on proven treatments for fatty liver disease, but first, let’s go over other indicators of liver disease.

Clinical evidence indicates that the following symptoms may point to the presence of liver disease.

  • Pain and tenderness in the upper-right abdomen, due to liver enlargement
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Weakness
  • Itchiness
  • Nosebleeds
  • Spider veins (clusters of blood vessels that resemble spider webs)
  • Confusion and difficulty focusing
  • Ascites (abdominal pain and swelling)
  • Edema (swelling of the legs)
  • Gynecomastia

What Is the Apple Cider Vinegar Fatty Liver Detox?

If you’re serious about improving the health of your liver, you have likely looked into various liver cleanses. There’s little data to support the supposed beneficial effects associated with several players in this realm, including lemon juice, green tea, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar (ACV).

Made from apples that have been mashed, distilled, and fermented, apple cider vinegar has been rumored to have detoxifying properties for centuries. As scientists have analyzed apple cider vinegar’s efficacy as a treatment for a wide range of conditions, they’ve concluded that the high levels of acetic acid and other compounds it contains may indeed influence human health, though exactly how they do so remains somewhat obscure.

Advocates of the detoxifying properties of apple cider vinegar claim that it can:

  • Flush toxins from the body
  • Facilitate weight loss
  • Bring the body’s pH into balance
  • Even out blood sugar levels
  • Drop high cholesterol into the healthy range

Given that, it’s understandable why those same advocates would believe you can use apple cider vinegar to treat fatty liver disease.

4 Safety Tips for Those Interested in Trying the Apple Cider Vinegar Fatty Liver Detox

Scientific Studies on Apple Cider Vinegar and Liver Health

Researchers have confirmed that the substances we eat and drink can both improve and undermine the body’s natural detoxification processes. What’s less clear, however, is whether apple cider vinegar specifically has a beneficial impact on liver health.

Some research has been conducted on proposed ACV benefits relevant to liver health, but the results are far from conclusive.

Weight Loss

This is perhaps the most hyped benefit of apple cider vinegar. Much of the excitement surrounding ACV’s weight-loss benefits can be traced back to a 2009 study done by a Japanese research team. The researchers found that daily consumption of vinegar resulted in modest reductions to:

  • Body weight
  • Visceral and subcutaneous fat mass
  • Serum triglyceride levels

However, the study did not look at the use of ACV in particular (though the researchers did cite ascetic acid and previous animal studies on its benefits).

A very small study from 2007 looked at the effect of apple cider vinegar on gastric emptying rate (GER) for 10 individuals with type 1 diabetes. They found that participants who paired a cup of water with 2 tablespoons of ACV mixed in with their serving of pudding had slower rates of gastric emptying than those who simply drank a cup of water. Slower gastric empyting can correlate with increased fullness, which can in turn led to weight loss. However, as the study authors themselves noted in their conclusion: “Clearly, a larger, randomized trial involving a greater number of patients would be needed to validate the findings of this pilot study.”

All in all, the enthusiasm about apple cider vinegar’s ability to encourage weight loss has yet to be corroborated by hard facts.

Cholesterol Levels

As we touched on in the previous section, the 2009 study did find some improvements to cholesterol levels, specifically, to serum triglyceride levels. However, that was not the primary focus of the study.

A small Iranian study that enrolled 19 participants with hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol levels) found that 8 weeks of apple cider vinegar consumption “significantly reduced harmful lipids, i.e., total cholesterol, LDL, and triglyceride, in blood samples of hyperlipidemic individuals who had never used any lipid-lowering drugs.”

While those are certainly promising results, further studies with larger and more diverse enrollment need to be conducted before arriving at firm conclusions about ACV’s impact on cholesterol levels.

Blood Sugar Regulation

There’s some evidence to suggest that drinking apple cider vinegar can prevent blood sugar spikes associated with carbohydrate consumption. Controlling blood sugar levels is of paramount importance for individuals with diabetes, who also face a higher risk of developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

A small study that enrolled four men and seven women with type 2 diabetes (all of whom were not taking insulin to control their condition) found that ingesting apple cider vinegar before bedtime had a favorable effect on waking glucose levels. However, as is true of the studies on the benefits of ACV cited in the earlier sections, the findings are limited by the study’s small sample size.

Negative Side Effects Associated with the Apple Cider Vinegar Fatty Liver Detox

Given that there’s no conclusive evidence to support the use of apple cider vinegar to treat fatty liver, those interested in trying this treatment should carefully weigh the potential negative side effects against the benefits they hope to achieve.

One of the most common issues associated with apple cider vinegar consumption is the erosion of tooth enamel. A 2014 study designed to evaluate the effects of different types of vinegar on tooth enamel found between 1% and 20% mineral loss (depending on the pH of the vinegar) after 4 hours of exposure. However, this study was done in a laboratory, so it’s not entirely clear how those results would translate into real-life scenarios.

To be safe, those interested in adding ACV to their wellness routines should put one or more of following precautions in place:

  • Carefully monitor the amounts consumed
  • Mix with a glass of water
  • Rinse mouth after drinking
  • Use a straw

Because of its acidic nature, ACV has also been known to upset stomachs, yet another reason to dilute it in water. If you have a sensitive stomach, be sure to pair your doses of ACV with food.

It’s also important to note that apple cider vinegar can interact with certain medications, such as insulin, digoxin, and diuretics. If you currently take prescription drugs, it’s best to consult a doctor before taking ACV.

4 Proven Ways to Treat Fatty Liver Disease

While the evidence backing the use of the apple cider vinegar fatty liver detox can be characterized overall as weak, there are other natural methods for supporting and restoring liver health with much more robust scientific backing.

The best method for you will depend on the factors that have compromised your liver health, but it’s likely to involve shifts to your diet, increased physical activity and, potentially, weight loss. There are also some supplements that have been shown to produce measurable improvements to liver health.

1. Diet

Research has shown that diet has a strong impact on your risk of developing many health conditions, including fatty liver disease. Certain foods can hinder liver health, such as:

  • Trans fats
  • Simple sugars
  • Red meat
  • Salt
  • Fried foods
  • Processed foods

Eating other foods, though, can bring about significant health benefits. In general, a good fatty liver diet will include plenty of high-fiber plant foods and very minimal amounts of sugar, salt, and both trans and saturated fats. Even if alcohol is not the root cause of your liver problems, it’s essential to cut it out of your diet once your liver function has been harmed.

Those already dealing with liver problems, or interested in avoiding liver problems altogether, should be sure to include the following foods in their diets.

  • Green vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and broccoli, which studies found prevented fat from accumulating in the liver
  • Tofu, because soy protein has been shown to decrease fat buildup in the liver
  • Omega-3 rich fish, like salmon, trout, and tuna, since scientists have discovered polyunsaturated fatty acids substantially improve liver health on multiple levels
  • Nuts and seeds, especially sunflower seeds, which contain high levels of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant proven to combat oxidative stress and halt the progression of liver disease

2. Physical Activity

To date, studies have shown that physical activity plays an overwhelmingly positive role in treating fatty liver disease. Per a 2018 review of 30 randomized controlled trials, “Physical inactivity is related to the severity of fatty liver disease irrespective of body weight.” After reviewing the 30 trials, the authors concluded that data supports the common-sense conclusion that increasing physical activity improves liver health. It appears that exercise affects the development of fatty liver disease across multiple pathways.

Exercise has been shown to:

  • Decrease insulin resistance
  • Reduce excessive transport of fatty acids and glucose to the liver
  • Increase fatty acid oxidation
  • Decrease fatty acid synthesis
  • Stymie the release of molecules that cause mitochondrial and hepatocellular damage

Both aerobic exercise and resistance exercise produce these positive effects.

3. Weight Loss

Carrying around excess body fat does elevate your risk of developing fatty liver disease. And conversely, losing even a small amount of weight can translate to major liver health improvements. According to a 2016 study, weight loss as achievable as 3% to 6% can decrease liver fat by between 35% and 40%.

4. Supplements

While lifestyle changes involving diet and physical activity produce the most profound effects on liver health, certain supplements do have scientifically validated liver health benefits. Three options we consider to be worthwhile are: milk thistle, turmeric, and amino acids.

Milk Thistle

This herbal remedy for fatty liver disease has potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antifibrotic (meaning, it reduces the formation of scar tissue) properties.

According to a study done by an Italian research team, silybin, the primary active compound found in milk thistle extract, has “a remarkable biological effect.” It can reduce liver damage associated with chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. It has also been shown to increase cellular vitality and decrease the accumulation of liver fat, oxidative stress, insulin resistance, and mitochondrial dysfunction.

Turmeric

According to a systematic review published in 2019, turmeric and its active compound curcumin may decrease the severity of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. However, the authors note that all the trials they analyzed had small sample sizes, leading them to deem turmeric a “promising, but not proven” treatment for NAFLD.

A study published in Integrative Medicine Research in that same year looked specifically at the findings of randomized controlled trials on the use of turmeric and curcumin supplementation on NAFLD in adult patients. The primary outcomes analyzed were levels of two specific liver enzymes, alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST). The meta-analysis, which included results from a combined total of 228 subjects, found a significant reduction of ALT concentrations among participants who took at least 1,000 milligrams of curcumin daily. This lead the researchers to conclude that high doses of curcumin appear to have a favorable effect on NAFLD, though further large-scale, high-quality studies should be done to confirm that effect.

Amino Acids

A wealth of research supports the benefits of regular amino acid supplementation for individuals who have fatty liver, or who are at risk of developing the condition.

According to a 2018 study, taurine (a sulfur-containing amino acid) can prevent the accumulation of fatty acids in the livers of mice fed high-fat diets. Taurine also prevented oxidative damage and negative changes to liver enzyme levels. These effects led the study’s authors to conclude that taurine could have “therapeutic value” for the treatment of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

A 2012 study, also done with mice, looked at the use of the three branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) leucine, isoleucine, and valine. The researchers found that supplementing with BCAAs in the early stages of fatty liver disease can slow the progression of the disease—specifically, by decreasing liver fibrosis as well as liver cell death.

Another sulfur-containing amino acid, cysteine—available in supplement form as N-acetylcysteine (NAC)—has antioxidant properties to rival those of taurine. Per a 2010 clinical trial, participants who received NAC had significantly improved results in terms of levels of alanine aminotransfrase, aspartate aminotransfrase, and alkaline phosphatase as well as fat buildup and other measurements of liver function. Based on the results achieved at the 3-month mark, the researchers concluded that NAC can improve liver function in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and that better results may be achievable with longer use.

Given what scientists have uncovered about the synergistic effects of amino acids, it’s likely that the positive results achieved via supplementation with single amino acids could be amplified when taken in concert with an amino acid supplement that contains all nine essential amino acids. The essential amino acids work together to facilitate the body’s biological processes, and providing a properly balanced supply of all the necessary building blocks not only safeguards and enhances the health of the liver, but also of the entire body.

Proven Methods for Treating Fatty Liver Disease

Conclusion

Unsurprisingly, the high level of interest in natural remedies for fatty liver disease has led to the proliferation of some less than verifiable claims about certain treatment approaches.

While there’s limited evidence to support the use of the apple cider vinegar fatty liver detox, the evidence that exists comes largely from studies done with animal subjects or with very limited enrollment. Plus, none of the studies focused specifically on the impact of ACV on liver health, but rather on effects related to linked health conditions such as excess body fat, high cholesterol levels, and poor blood sugar regulation.

It’s also important to note that the apple cider vinegar fatty liver detox can have adverse side effects, such as the erosion of tooth enamel, stomach upset, and dangerous interactions with prescription drugs.

Given all that, the wisest choice is likely to try a natural treatment for fatty liver that has more substantial scientific backing. Effectively addressing fatty liver disease will likely require adopting a fatty liver diet and increasing your physical activity level, and may necessitate losing weight too. Incorporating supplements proven to improve liver health, like milk thistle, turmeric, and amino acids, can also be a valuable part of a fatty liver treatment plan.

When It Comes to Early Treatment of Fatty Liver, Ultrasound Detection Could Be Key

Fatty liver disease poses a serious public health challenge, in part due to the fact that it remains largely asymptomatic until the later stages. This makes identifying a noninvasive method for early detection of fatty liver disease a top clinical priority. Read on to learn why experts agree ultrasound has many advantages as a method for screening the general population for fatty liver disease.

Experts estimate that approximately 100 million individuals in the United States meet the criteria for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, though most of them don’t know it. That’s because the early stages of fatty liver are often asymptomatic, meaning that a person has no indication they do not have a healthy, normal liver until the disease has progressed into more advanced stages. A key element of reversing this trend is finding ways to incorporate screening for fatty liver into routine clinical practice. Of the methods currently available for detecting fatty liver, ultrasound stands out as a noninvasive assessment option that efficiently and reliably detects the disease.

What Is Fatty Liver?

The liver, the largest internal organ, metabolizes nutrients and filters toxins from the bloodstream. It plays an especially active role not only in how your body digests fat, but also in how it produces and utilizes it. When the balance between those activities becomes skewed, fat builds up in the liver. As fat accumulates in the liver, it creates inflammation in the liver cells, which can lead to impaired liver function and scarring of liver tissue. If the disease is allowed to progress unchecked, it can ultimately progress to liver failure.

There are two primary types of fatty liver: alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD) and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The former refers to the development of fatty liver in individuals with high levels of alcohol use, and the latter refers to the disease when it develops without heavy alcohol consumption.

In the absence of excessive alcohol intake, the most common underlying cause of fatty liver is insulin resistance. A number of factors can impair the body’s sensitivity to insulin, such as:

  • Increased body weight
  • Aging
  • Family history of type 2 diabetes
  • Large fat deposits in the abdominal area

If the body cannot appropriately detect the presence of insulin, then it increases its own insulin production. Rising levels of insulin can cause other issues such as:

  • Increased blood pressure
  • High triglyceride levels
  • Accumulation of fat in the liver

Typically, individuals in the early stages of fatty liver disease have no perceptible symptoms. If the liver becomes sufficiently enlarged, they may begin to sense a mild ache or tenderness where it’s located in the upper-right abdomen.

The Link Between Insulin Resistance and Fatty Liver Disease

If individuals are able to address the insulin resistance that causes fat to build up in the liver, then it’s typically possible to restore full liver health without any lasting serious consequences. However, if the condition is not detected, then it can progress to a more serious form of fatty liver—non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). This is the stage at which inflammation of the liver as well as liver fibrosis (scarring) occur. This form of fatty liver can then cause cirrhosis and even liver failure.

What Happens When Fatty Liver Progresses to Cirrhosis?

As touched on above, fatty liver usually causes no noticeable symptoms. However, once it progresses from NAFLD to NASH to cirrhosis, symptoms begin to appear. Cirrhosis demarcates the point at which liver scarring becomes quite severe. Hallmark symptoms of cirrhosis include:

  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin)
  • Itchiness
  • Nosebleeds
  • Spider veins (clusters of blood vessels that resemble spider webs)
  • Confusion and difficulty focusing
  • Ascites (abdominal pain and swelling)
  • Edema (swelling of the legs)
  • Gynecomastia

In most  cases, cirrhosis develops because of a long-term viral hepatitis C infection or ongoing alcohol abuse. However, untreated NAFLD can also progress to cirrhosis.

If cirrhosis is not effectively treated, it progresses to end-stage liver disease, which will prove fatal if a liver transplant does not occur in time. While it’s not possible to reverse the scarring that occurs, you can minimize its impact and prevent future scarring from taking place. The key to doing so is taking every possible opportunity to cleanse your liver and support its health and functioning. To learn more about managing a cirrhosis diagnosis, read this article.

11 Symptoms of Cirrhosis

For Early Detection of Fatty Liver, Ultrasound Could Be Key

Studies show that ultrasound images offer a reliable, efficient method for diagnosing fatty liver. According to a 2018 hospital-based, cross-sectional study published in the Journal of International Medical Research, ultrasound’s “sensitivity and specificity in detecting moderate to severe fatty liver are comparable to those of histology [liver biopsy],” a far more invasive procedure.

Preventing NAFLD from progressing to cirrhosis and even liver failure requires effective risk stratification and the development of strategic treatment plans. In order to do that, doctors need to evaluate:

  • How much fat has accumulated in the liver
  • Whether the liver is inflamed, and if so, to what degree
  • Whether scarring is present, and if it is, how severe

Liver biopsy has historically been the preferred method for confirming a diagnosis of fatty liver and developing a treatment plan. However, non-invasive imaging methods like ultrasound allow doctors to screen individuals who do not yet show signs of liver disease, allowing those in the early stages of NAFLD to access treatment faster.

Both B-mode ultrasonography (US) as well as ultrasound elastography (USE) can be used for this purpose. Ultrasound elastography even allows doctors to evaluate degrees of inflammation and scarring, vital pieces of information relevant to disease progression and treatment selection.

Medical professionals have determined that imaging tests like liver ultrasound have multiple advantages over both liver biopsy and blood tests to measure serum biomarkers, such as:

  • Non-invasiveness
  • Evaluation of a greater volume of fat accumulation in the liver
  • Less variability
  • More quantitive data

Ultrasonography

Conventional ultrasonography (US) is widely available, affordable, and noninvasive. Because of this, it’s common for US to be the first method used to clinically evaluate fatty liver, particularly when doctors want to screen for suspected NAFLD.

Key features found on ultrasound images that indicate fatty liver disease include:

  • Hepatomegaly, meaning the liver is visibly enlarged
  • Increased echogenicity, indicating the surface bouncing the echo can reflect increased sound waves
  • Intrahepatic vascular blurring, referring to blurred images of blood vessels in the liver

Ultrasound Elastography

Ultrasound elastography (USE), like conventional ultrasound, is widely available and relatively inexpensive. It’s attracted a high level of interest due to utility as a noninvasive method of assessing liver stiffness.

The theory supporting its use is that tissue stiffness can be used as a measure of the presence and degree of liver fibrosis, which in turn indicates how far the disease has progressed.

Currently available USE methods can be divided into two general groups: first, transient elastography, an ultrasound-based technique that does not rely on images and second, and elastography techniques that do use images.

Diagnosing Fatty Liver Disease with Ultrasonography and Ultrasound Elastography

Conventional liver ultrasound and ultrasound elastography can be seen as complementary screening measures as they provide different data points, all of which can be combined to form a diagnosis and treatment plan.

Research on the Use of Ultrasound to Detect Fatty Liver

The Journal of International Medical Research study cited earlier drew its findings from the analysis of 390 health histories, 226 from patients who were diagnosed with fatty liver after master health checkups and 164 who were not. The goal was to determine whether the diagnoses of fatty liver made using ultrasound findings correlated to laboratory blood test parameters for the disease. This, then, would show whether it’s valuable to include ultrasound screening for fatty liver in routine health checkups.

Patients whose ultrasound examinations showed fatty liver were classified as cases and those whose ultrasounds did not were classified as controls. Diagnostic findings from blood tests—lipid profiles [total cholesterol, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein (HDL), and low-density lipoprotein (LDL)], serum GOT [aspartate transaminase (AST)], serum GPT [alanine transaminase (ALT)], and HbA1c levels—were obtained for both cases and controls when available. HbA1c levels were available for 311 patients, serum GPT levels for 266, and serum GOT for 261.

The authors found that lipid, liver enzyme, and HbA1c levels were all substantially elevated for cases compared to controls. Overall, the findings were consistent with previous studies in that they showed NAFLD to be the most common cause of high blood levels of GPT and GOT. The authors note, too, that NAFLD should not be viewed as “an isolated or random event in metabolic syndrome,” but instead treated as a component of the condition. Furthermore, they state that NAFLD should be regarded as a risk factor for the development of:

They note, too, that ultrasound can help to diagnose fatty liver in patients where it could otherwise be easily overlooked due to an absence of clinical markers that would raise suspicion. For instance, individuals from South Asian countries who develop fatty liver disease often maintain lower body mass indexes than those in European and American countries with the disease. This can cause the results of blood pressure tests to be misleading, as they may show normal levels despite the presence of increased liver fat. Ultrasound screening can be used for mass screening that will identify patients who might otherwise slip through the diagnostic cracks.

Because fatty liver disease tends to be asymptomatic, developing reliable screening methods to identify high-risk NAFLD patients is of paramount importance to managing the disease. Liver biopsy is reliable for diagnostic purposes, but impractical as a screening tool. Ultrasound, however, appears to be near-equal in terms of reliability and it’s far better suited for screening purposes.

How to Prevent, or Treat, Fatty Liver Disease

At this time, no medications exist for the treatment of fatty liver disease. However, it can be both prevented and treated with lifestyle changes. Depending on the underlying cause of the disease as well as a person’s overall health, doctors may recommend adjustments such as:

  • Limiting alcohol consumption
  • Eating more nutrient-rich foods and avoiding highly processed ones
  • Increasing physical activity

For individuals at risk of developing NAFLD, as well as those with NAFLD, adopting a fatty liver diet will be a crucial part of an effective treatment plan. Unsurprisingly, a central tenet of this diet is limiting consumption of both saturated and trans fats. It also involves completely cutting out alcohol, limiting salt and sugar, eating plenty of high-fiber plant foods, like whole grains and legumes, and upping your intake of fruits and vegetables.

Experts recommend the following foods as ideal components of a fatty liver diet:

  • Green vegetables: Broccoli, spinach, kale, and other green vegetables can help prevent liver fat buildup while supporting weight loss and enhancing your overall health.
  • Fish: Salmon, trout, tuna, and sardines contain omega-3 fatty acids that can actually lower liver fat levels and decrease liver inflammation.
  • Walnuts: Like fish, walnuts contain concentrated amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which can improve your liver disease prognosis, liver function, and health.
  • Dairy: Studies show that whey protein can protect liver cells from damage linked to NAFLD.
  • Olive oil: This staple of the Mediterranean diet can lower liver enzyme levels and bodyweight, perhaps due to the omega-3 fatty acids it contains.
  • Green tea: Research indicates green tea can enhance liver function and decrease liver fat storage.
  • Coffee: This popular beverage can prevent liver damage associated with fatty liver disease as well as lower levels of liver enzymes.
  • Tofu: Soy proteins found in tofu can reduce the accumulation of fat in the liver.

There’s also some evidence to support the use of certain supplements, including vitamin E, to prevent or treat fatty liver disease. Studies indicate that milk thistle, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, can have a positive effect on liver health. And turmeric, a potent antioxidant, can quell inflammation throughout the body, which can help to reduce your risk of liver disease as well as manage liver disease. To learn more about natural methods for detoxifying the liver, read this article.

Perhaps the most consequential choice you can make to protect or improve your liver health is to supplement with amino acids. According to the work of a team of scientists based in Kyoto, Japan, taking branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) can slow, and potentially halt, the progression of chronic liver disease. After 11 weeks, blood samples showed that rats given BCAAs had liver enzyme levels that were 22% lower than the control group. The researchers also found that levels of the CTGF protein, which correlates to liver fibrosis, were an average of 75% higher in the control group. Even more significantly, markers that indicate rates of cell death, an enzyme called caspase 3 and a protein called albumin, were 100% and 80% higher in the control group.

Studies done with human subjects support the conclusion that amino acid supplements are an effective natural method for treating liver disease.

How to Treat and Prevent Fatty Liver Disease

Key Takeaways About Fatty Liver Disease and Ultrasound

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is becoming an ever more pressing public health challenge, in part due to the fact that it remains largely asymptomatic until the later stages of the disease, and the determinants of the disease have yet to be fully understood. Once the disease reaches the later stages, in which liver fibrosis progresses toward cirrhosis, severe complications can ensue. This makes identifying a noninvasive method for detecting fatty liver disease a top clinical priority. Ultrasound has many advantages as a method for screening the general population for fatty liver disease. It’s efficient, widely available, and has been shown to be as accurate as biopsies, the gold standard for diagnosing liver disease.

Protein Replacement Therapy: A Promising Medical Treatment Approach

Protein replacement therapy is a method for treating diseases and disorders by replacing missing proteins in diseased cells. Clinical trials show it can help to treat rare diseases, like recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa, as well as common conditions such as heart disease. Here’s what you should know about the science behind protein replacement therapy as well as its potential applications.

Most laypeople haven’t heard of protein replacement therapy, but the world of molecular medicine is abuzz with interest in this promising medical treatment. A chief aim for those working in the field of molecular medicine is to develop an efficient way to reliably replace missing proteins in diseased cells. Gene therapy is one possible method for achieving that, but according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, a database overseen by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), this experimental approach comes with considerable risks and significant advances will need to be made before it becomes safe. Other methods of protein replacement therapy, however, do not require the transfer of genetic material into cells, which eliminates some of the most significant issues that arise with gene therapy while still allowing for the delivery of missing or deficient proteins.

Read on to learn more about protein therapy and its potential treatment applications.

The Science of Protein Replacement Therapy

So far, most of the research into protein replacement therapy has been focused on its use for the treatment of rare monogenic diseases. These conditions occur because of a single defect in a single gene found in human DNA. Though these diseases are considered rare, experts estimate there are over 10,000 of them and that they affect millions of individuals around the globe.

Supporting Research Into Treatments for Rare Diseases

Developing treatments for rare diseases can be quite challenging, in part because companies are less likely to make a profit off such treatments, and therefore less likely to fund research into potential treatments and cures. In an effort to address this, several countries have passed legislation to encourage companies to develop drugs to treat “orphan diseases,” a classification applied to “diseases with a prevalence of less than 200,000 affected individuals in the United States and less than approximately 250,000 affected individuals in the European Union (EU),” per an article titled “Protein Replacement Therapies for Rare Diseases: A Breeze for Regulatory Approval?” that was published in Science Translational Medicine in 2013.

The U.S. Orphan Drug Act, passed in 1983, extends regulatory, commercial, and tax incentives to companies investigating drugs designed to treat orphan diseases. In 2000, the EU passed a similar piece of legislation and multiple other countries have since followed suit. Currently, genetic diseases (along with rare types of cancer and drugs with pediatric indications) rank among the top three in terms of approved orphan drug treatments. And protein replacement therapies for monogenic diseases is a popular subcategory within that realm.

Justifying the Use of Monogenic Protein Replacement Therapies

Blood factors and enzyme replacement therapies for lysosomal storage disorders were two of the first monogenic protein replacement therapies (MPRTs) to receive regulatory approval with orphan drug classification in the United States and EU. When these drugs went to market, manufacturers introduced what’s known as “orphan pricing,” a system in which high premiums are charged to compensate for limited demand. According to the Science Translational Medicine article, the cost of MPRTs, a category that includes drugs like Fabrazyme, Elaprase, and Naglazyme, tops $200,000 annually while sales come in at over $100 million.

Given those numbers, it’s hardly surprising how much attention has been paid to the prices charged for orphan drugs, and, subsequently, the difficulties faced by health care systems when it comes to reimbursement. Determining which patients should be approved for these costly treatments requires complicated calculations, and not everyone agrees on which criteria should be used.

The paradigm so far has been that the use of MPRTs can be reimbursed in the United States, most member countries of the EU, and Japan. It’s also common practice for these drugs to be provided at no cost in countries with low average household income levels and underdeveloped health care systems.

The authors of the Science Translational Medicine article argue that in order to justify the high prices charged for orphan drugs and the rates at which health care systems reimburse for their use, manufacturers must demonstrate that they are, in the long-term, cost-effective treatments. While clinical trials have shown that long-term use of MPRTs can be safe, clinically effective, and lead to health-related improvements in terms of quality of life, more research is needed to conclusively prove that their use leads to net reductions in health care costs.

13 Vital Facts About Protein Replacement Therapy

Potential Applications for Protein Replacement Therapy

Clinical trials have investigated the use of protein replacement therapy for a variety of conditions, including:

Two of the most promising applications to date are for the treatment of recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa and heart failure.

Protein Replacement Therapy for Recessive Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa

Studies conducted on the use of protein replacement therapy to treat recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa have yielded highly promising results.

This disease belongs to the epidermolysis bullosa family, a collection of genetic disorders related to structural proteins in the skin. Individuals with these disorders have atypically fragile skin and mucous membranes that are prone to splitting and blistering. To compound matters, the underlying gene defect compromises wound healing. If wounds do manage to heal, extensive scarring is typical.

Recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (RDEB), one of the most severe iterations, happens when the gene coding for type VII collagen protein either does not function properly or is absent. This protein helps the two primary layers of the skin—the epidermis and the dermis—adhere to each other. Without it, the skin often separates, leading to blisters and a higher risk of infection.

The NIH’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases highlighted research done with mice that indicated protein replacement therapy could be the key to treating this debilitating genetic condition.

The research, published in Molecular Therapy and the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, examined two techniques for replacing absent or defective type VII collagen with the goal of improving wound healing and reversing both structural and molecular defects in the skin of individuals with RDEB.

The first technique involved topically applying human recombinant type VII collagen (rC7) to the backs of mice with normal collagen genes. After 2 weeks, the team of researchers led by David T. Woodley, M.D., and Mei Chen, Ph.D., of the University of Southern California discovered that the rC7 had been stably incorporated and sped up the skin’s healing process. It also decreased scarring compared to untreated mice. The beneficial effects lasted for 2 months.

Next, the researchers tried topical applications of rC7 on RDEB skin grafts attached to the backs of mice. When rC7 was applied to broken skin, it was successfully incorporated and improved wound healing. However, when it was applied to intact skin, it was not incorporated. The researchers concluded that this limits the use of topical rC7 as it can only help to increase the rate of healing for existing wounds and cannot prevent the formation of wounds or blisters.

The second technique was intravenous administration of rC7. The research team began by wounding the skin on the backs of mice with normal collagen genes and injecting rC7 into their tail veins. They discovered that the rC7 traveled to the wounds where it was successfully incorporated. Again, it appeared to accelerate healing. They found no evidence of rC7 in healthy, wound-free skin or internal organs.

Subsequently, the team examined the effects of administering rC7 intravenously to mice with RDEB skin grafts. The injected rC7 traveled to the skin grafts where it “created new anchoring fibril structures, which hold the epidermis together.”

According to study authors Drs. Woodley and Chen, “Intravenous delivery of rC7 opens up new prospects for more systemic treatment of the disease. Our data suggest that intravenous rC7 not only improves the healing of multiple RDEB-related wounds simultaneously, but it can also prevent new blisters from developing in RDEB skin.”

Protein Replacement Therapy for Heart Failure

While much of the excitement about protein replacement therapy has to do with its use for the treatment of rare genetic disorders, it shows promise as a treatment for more common health conditions too.

Myocardial infarction (heart attack) and heart failure are among the top causes of death in the United States and other countries. A myocardial infarction occurs when blood flow to a segment of heart muscle drops below adequate levels. The greater the length of time before treatment to restore blood flow takes effect, the greater the loss of cardiac muscle cells, or cardiomyocytes. Because the adult heart has little capacity for regeneration, the cardiomyocytes lost in the aftermath of a myocardial infarction get replaced by different types of cells, resulting in scarring and, frequently, heart failure.

To develop an efficacious means of promoting heart regeneration, researchers must find solutions to a multitude of quandaries. It appears that protein replacement therapy utilizing modified mRNA (modRNA) may avoid many common pitfalls. “Modified mRNA (modRNA) is a safe, non-immunogenic, efficient, transient, local, and controlled nucleic acid delivery system,” noted the authors of a 2019 article published in Molecular Therapy.

Increased understanding of the molecular pathways and genes involved in heart disease has led scientists to believe protein replacement therapy could be used to target signaling pathways involved in heart disease progression. Per the Molecular Therapy article cited above, delivering replacement proteins to the myocardium (the muscle tissue of the heart) can encourage the regeneration of cardiomyocytes.

Gene Therapy

Some approaches have fallen into the subcategory of gene therapy, which involves placing a defined gene into a cell to either replace a defective gene or to increase the amount of a certain gene in a specific cell or tissue in order to increase production of a needed protein. Some examples of work in that vein included using viral vectors like adeno-associated virus (AAV) to mediate the delivery of either FGF1 and p38 MAP kinase proteins or periostin.

However, the use of viral vectors comes with the risk of viral genome insertions. While preclinical studies have returned encouraging results, namely, “robust and consistent gene expression,” there has also been evidence of adverse effects, including immune responses to the viral vectors.

Direct Delivery of Proteins

As experts continue probing how best to use gene therapy to treat cardiac disease, a consensus is growing that the most practical way to change the expression of a protein of interest is to deliver the corresponding protein directly to the myocardium. This circumvents problems associated with other delivery methods, such as the potential immune responses triggered by viral vectors. It’s also been linked to benefits such as:

  • Higher levels of protein expression
  • Improved dose regulation
  • Enhanced control

Direct protein comes with some issues of its own, however, including the short half-life and overall instability of injected proteins.

Modified mRNA Therapy

Unlike gene therapy and the direct delivery of proteins, mRNA-based therapies have proven to be highly promising methods of treating heart disease as well as other disorders. One reason for that is its overall safeness, because mRNA does not integrate into the genetic code.

The first successful use of direct mRNA transfer occurred in the late 1980s in mouse models. Then, in 2008, a team of researchers from the Department of Neurosurgery and Department of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, the Laboratory of RNA Molecular Biology at The Rockefeller University in New York, and the Department of Host Defense at the Research Institute for Microbial Diseases in Osaka discovered how mRNA therapy could be used in genetic and regenerative medicine. Essentially, by modifying mRNA with a naturally occurring modified nucleoside pseudouridine to produce modified mRNA (modRNA), researchers changed its structure so that the body was better able to utilize it to address issues related to protein defects or deficits.

According to the authors of the Molecular Therapy article, modRNA “allows rapid, transient, and efficient gene expression to a specific time window after cardiac injury.” They further state that modRNA protein replacement therapy could be “an excellent therapeutic agent to address experimental and clinical needs to induce cardiac regeneration and promote cardiac function in ischemic heart disease.”

Key Takeaways About Protein Replacement Therapy

Protein replacement therapy offers a way to treat diseases by transporting missing or deficient proteins to cells, thereby correcting the dysfunction that results in disease. Other techniques for doing this involve transferring genetic material into cells, which comes with a higher level of risk.

At this time, one of the most pertinent applications for protein replacement therapy is as a treatment for rare monogenic diseases, which fall into a category called “orphan diseases” because manufacturers are less likely to develop drugs to treat them due to the limited financial incentive for doing so. While some experts view protein replacement therapy as a much-needed option in a realm with a dearth of viable potential treatments, others feel manufacturers still need to do more work to show that using these treatments ends up being a cost-effective decision for health care systems.

It’s important to note, too, that the promise of protein replacement therapy is not limited to rare diseases. Clinical trials have shown it can also be used to overcome one of the central challenges of treating myocardial infarction and preventing heart failure.

As researchers continue to explore applications for protein replacement therapy, it seems likely that they’ll uncover an even broader swathe of diseases and conditions it can be used to treat.

Is It Possible to Reverse Liver Cirrhosis Naturally?

How serious is liver cirrhosis, what causes it, and is it possible to reverse? Find out about how to cope with liver cirrhosis naturally.

The liver is one of the most unique organs in our bodies, with an ability to heal in a way that other vital organs cannot. Damage done to the heart, for example, is damage that cannot be undone by your body or by medical technology; it can only be worked around. Likewise with the kidneys: ground lost in kidney functioning is ground that is permanently ceded. However, some people do require liver transplants, indicating that as much as the liver can recover from damage, it can’t completely regenerate after a certain point. Where is the line between reversible damage and irreversible damage? Can you reverse liver cirrhosis naturally, without medications or a transplant? This article explores that question.

Is it possible to reverse cirrhosis naturally?

What Is Cirrhosis of the Liver?

Your liver is the largest organ inside your body (your skin itself is the largest organ overall, but it’s on the outside). The liver’s function is to help digest your food, store energy substances, and detoxify your blood of any impurities, poisons, or toxins that are eaten or otherwise ingested.

You can aid a healthy liver in its detox duties by consuming a liver flush diet. But what can you do to help an already ailing liver? First, it’s important to understand what cirrhosis is and where it falls on the liver damage continuum. What follows are the stages of liver failure.

  • Stage 1: The first stage leading to liver failure is inflammation. The liver becomes inflamed and enlarged when it is overtaxed with too many toxins and cannot filter them out at a high enough rate. Common causes of liver inflammation include viral hepatitis infection, alcohol consumption, autoimmune hepatitis, or poisoning. Sometimes this stage arises without any noticeable symptoms.
  • Stage 2: Fibrosis of the liver is the second stage of liver damage, which involves the appearance of scar tissue on the liver. A little bit of scarring can be overcome, but chronic liver fibrosis is also known as the early stages of cirrhosis. Scarring inhibits liver functioning and starts to threaten a person’s survival rate.
  • Stage 3: Cirrhosis of the liver is the third stage of liver failure, an incredibly serious and life-threatening condition that may have symptoms like jaundice (a yellowing of the eyes and skin), muscle cramps, dry mouth, peripheral edema, abdominal fluid buildup (ascites), and compromised brain function (hepatic encephalopathy).
  • Stage 4: The fourth and final stage is end-stage liver disease. This is often the cause of death in those who are not treated quickly enough or who cannot receive a liver transplant. Blood tests determine who is healthy enough to even be included on the transplant list, and not everyone is eligible.

As you can see, cirrhosis is the last stop before potential end-of-life hospitalization. When scarring of the liver becomes so extensive that it eclipses healthy liver tissue and starts to interrupt blood flow, detoxification, and digestion, medical advice and treatment is an emergency necessity, but can cirrhosis be fixed?

Cirrhosis: Symptoms, Complications, and Prognosis

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases says that the most common underlying causes of liver scarring and cirrhosis are conditions like chronic hepatitis, long-term alcohol abuse, and cases of diet-induced nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Some of those conditions can be treated or avoided entirely by getting vaccinated, making diet and lifestyle changes, practicing safe sex, and drinking alcohol in moderation, but if the damage is not stopped in time, liver failure and liver cancer may develop, which could end a person’s life.

Cirrhosis Symptoms

It’s important to recognize the symptoms of cirrhosis and liver disease as soon as possible. Those symptoms include:

  • An itching sensation of the skin
  • Swelling in the extremities (edema)
  • Unexplained fatigue or listlessness
  • Lack of appetite
  • Stomach or muscle cramping
  • A tendency to bruise or bleed easily
  • Unusually dark urine
  • Tar-colored or pale stool
  • Cognitive disorientation or confusion
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Jaundice or yellowing of the skin or sclera of the eyes

Cirrhosis Complications

Regardless of how it comes about (hepatitis B, hepatitis C, alcohol abuse, fatty diet, or genetics), cirrhosis affects up to 10% of the population of the United States, according to the American Liver Foundation. The complications of cirrhosis quickly shorten the lifespan of those diagnosed with this disease. Complications include:

  • The creation of bile duct and gallstones
  • Portal hypertension, edema, and ascites, which can lead to the bacterial infection known as peritonitis
  • Hepatic encephalopathy, which leads to an accumulation of toxins in the brain
  • Diseases like type 2 diabetes and metabolic bone disease due to the interference in digestion and absorption of nutrients
  • Weakened immune system and spleen functioning
  • Higher risk of infection, kidney failure, and lung failure
  • Varices, which are enlarged blood vessels in the stomach or esophagus that may burst and cause deadly bleeding
  • A much higher risk of liver cancer

Cirrhosis Prognosis

Unfortunately cirrhosis isn’t curable, but it is treatable. Once you’re aware of the damage being done to the liver, the first priority is to treat and if possible cure the underlying cause, and then to stop the progression of cirrhosis and prevent deadly complications. For alcoholics that means sobriety is key. For those with hepatitis, disease management is the first priority. For those whose liver biopsy shows too much damage to overcome, a liver transplantation may be the only option, but for some, there are natural ways to help your liver cope with cirrhosis.

Is it possible to reverse cirrhosis naturally?

Can You Reverse Liver Cirrhosis Naturally?

As with scar tissue anywhere on or in your body, while you can’t reverse the damage, you may be able to minimize its impact on your life and live around it. What follows now are natural ways to cleanse your liver, support its health and functioning, and strengthen your body so you have the resources to cope with any complications that may arise.

1. Eat a Liver-Cleansing, Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Your liver detoxifies your body, so you can’t exactly detoxify it. What you can do, however, is to avoid poisoning it and provide it with the nutrients it needs to detox itself. That means avoiding alcohol intake entirely, only consuming medicine when you absolutely need to (avoid over-the-counter medications for mild aches and pains if possible), and eating a robust diet of nutrient-rich foods such as:

  • Dark, leafy greens like spinach and kale
  • Other steamed veggies like broccoli, carrots, and asparagus
  • Potassium foods like avocados, sweet potatoes, and bananas
  • Natural herbal supplements like ginger, turmeric, milk thistle, or dandelion and burdock root
  • Probiotics like Greek yogurt or sauerkraut
  • Citrus fruits and juices
  • Cold-pressed oils like coconut and extra virgin olive oil
  • Superfood supplements like wheatgrass, spirulina, and chlorella

Avoid overeating and abstain from unhealthy food substances like refined sugars and carbs, spicy and fried foods, alcohol, and caffeine. If you smoke, now is the time to quit to help preserve your liver function and quality of life.

2. Maintain a Healthy Body Weight

Obesity and fatty diet are huge contributors to liver disease in the Western world, and if those are the underlying causes of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and cirrhosis, they need to be addressed immediately.

Even if weight is not directly tied to cirrhosis (let’s say your cirrhosis is caused by a hepatitis infection), maintaining a healthy weight is still imperative. Obesity is closely linked to high blood pressure, which causes extra strain on your heart and increases your risk factors for diabetes and your cholesterol levels. By focusing on healthy, sustainable weight loss and eliminating obesity as a risk factor, you improve your liver’s health.

3. Guard Against Diseases and Toxins

The best defense is sometimes a good offense, and when it comes to liver disease and liver failure, that means reducing your exposure to toxins (household or industrial chemicals that can damage your liver cells), as well as to diseases like hepatitis (if you’re not already vaccinated, make it a top priority), and checking your medications for anything expired or unnecessary (ask your doctor about any prescriptions or take gentler alternatives to common over-the-counter drugs). By preventing toxins of any kind from reaching your liver, you preserve its remaining healthy tissue.

Managing a Cirrhosis Diagnosis

Cirrhosis cannot be reversed, as it’s the last stage of liver disease before hospitalization is required. However, the preceding stage, liver fibrosis (when scar tissue is still being accumulated), can be stopped before the damage becomes permanently debilitating. You can’t be too careful when it comes to the symptoms of liver damage: the sooner you catch it, the better diagnosis you’ll receive and the longer you’ll be able to live healthily.

Pulled Chest Muscle: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Chest pain could mean anything from a heart attack to a pulled chest muscle: learn the symptoms of muscle strain to better identify it, and discover the best ways to treat and prevent this injury in the future.

Straining a chest muscle can cause a sharp pain in your chest, a sensation that, if it’s anywhere near the heart, may well scare people into thinking they’re having cardiac issues. While a pulled chest muscle is not as serious as a heart attack, it is nevertheless painful and not as easy to pinpoint as, say, a pulled hamstring.

Your chest muscles are responsible for supporting your upper body and for helping you breathe properly, and can have a negative impact on the health of your back if they’re not in optimal working order. This article discusses the symptoms of a pulled chest muscle, common causes of the strain, and different treatments you can try to find the cure to what ails you.

The Muscles of the Chest

The major muscles of the chest are the appropriately named pectoralis majors, the fan-shaped muscles that go from your armpits to the center of your breast bone (sternum). These muscles help move your shoulders and keep your arms attached to your body.

The pectoralis minor muscles are smaller triangular muscles under each pectoralis major. They run along your upper ribs (just below your collarbone).

Then there are your intercostal muscles, which run between the ribs and help form the chest wall. They expand and contract your chest cavity to allow for the inflating and deflating of your lungs as you breathe. Straining muscles in this area may make breathing more laborious. As much as 49% of chest pain experienced by people comes from what is known as intercostal muscle strain.

Pulled chest muscle: signs, causes, and treatment.

Symptoms of a Pulled Chest Muscle

Muscle strains occur when any muscle is overly stretched or torn, and each one needs care and rest to repair itself. The symptoms of a pulled chest muscle may include:

  • Acute muscle pain (a sharp pull)
  • Chronic muscle pain (a dull ache)
  • Pain during breathing
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Muscle spasms
  • Difficulty moving the area

If this pain comes about suddenly due to strenuous activity or exercise, it’s recommended that you seek medical attention, as it may be more serious than just a strain.

Chest pain is an emergency if it is also accompanied by dizziness, fainting, sweating, a racing pulse, fever, sudden sleepiness, unexplained irritability, or difficulty breathing: these are signs of a heart attack and should be treated with the utmost seriousness.

Causes of a Pulled Chest Muscle

If your heart is not involved in the chest pain you’re experiencing, then you may well be looking at a strained or pulled chest muscle. This can come about from overuse, from heavy lifting, or from sports like tennis, rowing, golf, or gymnastics, which call for repetitive motions of the upper body. The other common causes of chest muscle strain include:

  • Lifting while twisting (like taking boxes on or off a shelf)
  • Reaching above your head for extended amounts of time
  • Repetitive sports motions
  • Skipping warm-ups before sporting activities
  • Contact injuries from sports, accidents, or falls
  • Muscle fatigue from overuse
  • Hard coughing or sneezing during illnesses

Keep in mind that certain people may be more at risk of straining their chest muscles. For example, older adults vulnerable to falling injuries have a corresponding higher risk of pulling a chest muscle. Athletes are at high risk due to the nature of competitive playing. Those involved in car accidents also have a higher rate of chest muscle injury, sometimes from the safety devices involved in a vehicle (like seatbelts and airbags in cars).

Children have the lowest risk of experiencing a pulled chest muscle because of their higher flexibility, which is why it’s always important for us non-children to stretch properly not just before sports, but before any strenuous activity. Basically, break out the yoga mat before you rearrange the living room furniture to repaint the walls: it might save you from being sore and achy the next day (or for the rest of the week).

Diagnosing Chest Pain

Since it’s easy to suspect pain in the chest area as a potentially life-threatening issue with your cardiovascular health, a visit to the doctor may be in order. Rest assured: it’s not a waste of anyone’s time, because depending on the severity of the injury, a pulled chest muscle could lead to chronic back pain and may need a physical therapist to fully remedy. A doctor may first rule out heart disease or other medical conditions (like broken bones, which may call for an X-ray) as the cause of your pain, and then conduct a physical exam to evaluate the severity of the sprain.

Other Possible Causes of Chest Pain

It’s important to seek medical advice when you’re experiencing chest pain, because other causes may include:

Pulled chest muscle: signs, causes, and treatment.

Acute vs. Chronic Muscle Strains

If your pain is indeed caused by a pulled muscle, the doctor will first evaluate whether your muscle strain is acute or chronic.

  • Acute: An acute muscle strain arises from direct injury or trauma due to an accident or fall.
  • Chronic: Chronic strains are those caused by repetitive motions, whether they’re movements from your job, from a sporting activity, or other tasks you perform regularly (like picking up your kids).

The doctor will then likely assign a grade to the strain according to the level of severity.

  • Grade 1: The first grade is the lowest one, affecting less than 5% of the muscle fibers.
  • Grade 2: This is a moderate-grade tear signifying partial muscle rupture or loss of strength.
  • Grade 3: A high-grade tear entails complete muscle rupture and may require surgery to properly repair.

How to Treat a Pulled Chest Muscle

The first and standard response to a muscle strain anywhere is RICE: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. How does that work for your chest?

  • Rest: Cease activity for at least 2 days after your injury, and if when you return to light activity you still feel pain, rest some more.
  • Ice: Apply an ice pack to the strained area for 20 minutes, 3 times a day to reduce swelling, inflammation, pain, and soreness.
  • Compression: If it’s possible, wrap an Ace bandage to stabilize the area, but be sure to leave it loose enough to allow for circulation.
  • Elevation: As you move around throughout the day your chest is already elevated, but what about at night? Sleeping on an incline (a soft wedge or stacked pillows) or in a recliner can help.

If your doctor sends you home with general advice, you may choose to use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen to help alleviate the pain. This should be fine as long as you follow the instructions and don’t mix them with any other medications—ask your doctor directly if you have any hesitations or questions about taking painkillers. Ask also about dietary supplements that can help you rebuild and heal muscle faster, like amino acid supplementation.

For chronic strains, better treatment may involve wearing braces at work or while sporting, attending physical therapy, or changing your exercise routine to build strength in the surrounding areas.

For severe tears, if surgery is suggested, discuss your care and concerns directly with your medical team and surgeon. While light strains may be brushed up with a little rest and self-care, chest injuries that limit your breathing could put you at greater risk of a lung infection, so breathing exercises may be advised and are easy to perform at home.

Puff up Your Chest with Pride

Depending on the severity of your injury, you may be able to return to physical activity quickly, right back to the bench press. However, if returning to normal activity continues to cause pain, you may need a longer recovery period for complete pain relief.

To prevent future muscle strains, be sure to warm up before exercise or strenuous activity, be careful when lifting heavy objects, climbing or descending stairs, or lifting weights, and above all listen to your body when it twinges or aches. No one knows your body and its limits like you do, and becoming aware of an injury before it becomes chronic can save you from a lifetime of pain and complications.

What Does It Take to Detox from Alcohol?

Find out when drinking becomes an addiction, learn the symptoms of severe alcohol withdrawal, and discover how to detox safely at home if you can’t afford inpatient treatment. 

When it comes to cases of chronic alcoholism, detoxing isn’t just a matter of quitting cold turkey. Long-term drinking recovery, though it can be done at home, may be far safer with professional help. Substance abuse alters the body’s functions, and sudden changes can actually endanger the life of the loved one you’re trying to save. Review this information on the detoxification process and the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome, and then decide if maybe a treatment program might be better for all family members involved.

When Is Drinking Alcohol Considered Alcoholism?

Alcoholism is distinct, clinically speaking, from moderate or even regular drinking. Some of the earliest warning signs of alcohol dependency include having an emotional attachment to drinking and craving it even when there’s no outside prompt, such as a party, a celebratory event that calls for champagne, or a nice anniversary dinner where a bottle of wine is shared.

Emotional dependency to alcohol can lead to a physical dependency. Addiction occurs when the physical and behavioral signs of alcoholism arise (shaking hands or isolating from family and commitments) and when the person cannot independently control his or her drinking.

The Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

Let’s say you want to stop drinking after an alcohol-heavy season, such as spring break or the holidays. You might feel a mild version of the detox process. Side effects like mood swings, body aches, and even some slight tremors usually cause overwhelming worry—a non-addict might even decide to stop drinking for their New Year’s resolution, and be successful at it.

The same is not always true for alcohol addicts, or dipsomaniacs as they used to be called in the 1800s, the Greek dipso– for “thirst” and –mania for “madness,” referring to those with a “morbid craving for alcohol.” Now known as alcohol use disorder or AUD, the symptoms of alcohol detox are still the same, and severe withdrawal can be life-threatening. For those who are trying to dry out after years of heavy drinking, they are at risk of all of these symptoms, from mild to serious:

  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Disorientation
  • Hallucinations
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Delirium tremens (also known as “the D.T.s”)

Keep in mind that the most severe symptoms involve recovery from damage done to the central nervous system, which is why in some cases a treatment center is the best option if it’s possible. Not only can inpatient treatment ensure there are medical professionals there to monitor high blood pressure and distribute appropriate amounts of withdrawal medications, but the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is combined for a reason: there may be underlying mental health issues that alcohol abuse has either hidden from knowledge or been used to “treat” (conditions like anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder). Other drugs and addictions may be at play as well.

Likewise underlying medical conditions can put people at greater risk too, like heart, lung, liver, or kidney conditions that may quickly worsen the impact of alcohol withdrawal.

Delirium tremens is the most severe form of withdrawal, and can encompass many of the above-listed symptoms and overwhelm the body to the point of cardiovascular collapse. It may not start the first day either: these symptoms could arise anywhere between 2 and 5 days after the addict’s last drink, as the body begins to process all the alcohol and then comes to find out there’s no more incoming.

Delirium tremens affects less than 5% of recovering alcoholics, so while it’s not an inevitable occurrence, it’s nevertheless still important to be aware of the risk in case your loved one is in that 5% and in need of professional substance abuse treatment to monitor their blood pressure and heart rate in a fully equipped treatment facility.

How to detox from alcohol.

How to Detox from Alcohol

Not everyone will have the resources for professional help when it comes to quitting alcohol, and while there are programs available to help, like the peer-counseling at Alcoholics Anonymous, keep in mind the AA’s Serenity Prayer, which asks for “the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” You or your loved one may be able to detox from alcohol at home, but if you can’t, it’s important to have the wisdom to know the difference.

That being said, here is how to detox from alcohol.

1. Taper Off

Quitting cold turkey means suddenly taking away a substance the body has learned to rely on, basically pulling the rug out from under oneself. A change like that means the body has to adapt all at once, and it may cause or exacerbate symptoms of withdrawal that needn’t have been felt with a careful tapering off of alcohol consumption.

While tapering can help slowly notch down physical alcohol dependence, an addict’s emotional attachment to alcohol and to drinking may get in the way. If you’re doing this on your own, you may backslide, and if you’re helping a family member, they may just be cheating and sneaking extra booze when you’re not looking. This is why a rehab center can be so valuable in cases of alcohol addiction, so that not only are the physical alcohol withdrawal symptoms met with medical supervision, but no interpersonal relationships are irreparably damaged in the process.

Long-term alcohol use means alcohol is the new normal for the addict’s body. Imagine how you feel when you try to quit sugar or caffeine, and know that it is much harder to quit drinking because alcohol is a much stronger drug.

2. Know Your Limits

To taper off, you must first start by being honest about how much alcohol you or your loved one drinks each day. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines 1 drink as either:

  • 1 bottle of beer: 12 ounces at 5% alcohol content
  • 1 glass of wine: 5 ounces at 12% alcohol content
  • 1 mixed drink: 1.5 ounces of liquor at 40% alcohol content

These numbers may not directly correlate with each brand of alcohol product, but they are a guideline to provide a rough estimation of just how many drinks are being consumed each day. Beer is most recommended for tapering off, as it tends to have a lower alcohol percent by volume than wine or spirits do.

3. Take Your Time

Tapering should involve:

  • Taking between 3 and 7 days to ween down, depending on how much the person is accustomed to drinking
  • Temporarily increasing alcohol consumption if withdrawal symptoms arise
  • Seeking professional addiction treatment by way of a detox program if you’re unable to stop drinking at home

At-Home Detox Tips

For the milder symptoms of alcohol detox, it is possible to treat them at home. Some tips to keep in mind include:

  • Water: Alcohol is a diuretic, and long-term alcoholics have probably been in a case of mild dehydration for a very long time. Staying hydrated can help reduce mental confusion, irritability, and fatigue.
  • Electrolyte drinks: With dehydration comes a loss of certain minerals like electrolytes. Having some sports drinks with electrolytes like potassium, sodium, and calcium will help the recoverer feel better faster.
  • Healthy diet: Alcohol is full of sugar, and many people in rehab discover that they have a maddening sugar craving when they quit drinking. However, trading booze for sugar won’t help anyone feel better at the end of the day, so try to concentrate on a diet that contains the proper amount of protein, carbs (also sugars), fats, minerals, and vitamins.
  • Hygiene: No, a hot shower won’t help you “sweat out” the alcohol dependency faster, and in fact, it could cause a dangerous change in your body temperature. However, a warm shower or bath can help relax your wrung-out muscles, distract you from the discomforts of withdrawal, and leave you feeling refreshed and more like yourself again.
  • Meditation and calming techniques: Controlled breathing techniques can help normalize your blood pressure and heart rate, while meditation can help clear and focus your mind. While you may not experience the severe symptom of hallucinations, many recovering addicts have overwhelmingly intense dreams as the higher parts of their brain come back online.

You Can Do This

Whether you’re attempting to detox with or without help, engage in as much self-care as possible: stock up on your favorite movies, cuddle up in blankets if you feel a chill, and slap on a cool, damp cloth if you feel too warm. Try to avoid taking medications as much as possible so you don’t overtax your detox organs (the liver and kidneys), and if you’re at all worried that withdrawal symptoms are getting too severe, seek help from a trusted medical professional. As bad as it feels, people have detoxed before and you can do it too, just do it safely, and be well.