Chinese herbal medicine in the treatment of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease


Chinese herbal medicine has developed new therapies for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) based on its unique theory system and substantial herb remedies. In this review, 21 traditional Chinese herbs were introduced for their potential benefit in the treatment of NAFLD. Majority of them are evaluated by experimental studies and few by multicenter clinical trials. Herbal monomers as berberine and resveratrol, extracts from Polygonum hypoleucum Ohwi, and Artemisia sacrorum Ledeb., and formulae including Yinchenhao Decoction (茵陈蒿汤, YCHD), Qushi Huayu Decoction (祛湿化瘀汤, QSHYD), and Danning Tablet (胆宁片) were discussed in detail on their therapeutic potentials. Most of these herbal medicines were proved to improve biochemical and histological changes of NAFLD both in vitro and in vivo. Also, their therapeutic activities were associated with inhibiting lipid accumulation through adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase activation or upregulating low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) expression, alleviating lipid peroxidation, and reducing the production of inflammatory cytokines. Although the efficacy and safety of these herbal medicines needed to be evaluated in multicenter large-scale clinical trials, Chinese medicine is promising and effective for preventing and treating NAFLD disease.

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Correspondence to Fu-er Lu 陆付耳.

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Supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 30772853, 30801492)

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Dong, H., Lu, F. & Zhao, L. Chinese herbal medicine in the treatment of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Chin. J. Integr. Med. 18, 152–160 (2012).

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  • nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Chinese herbal medicine