In April of 2018, the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism reported on the use of the thyroid hormone to lower fat levels in the liver of participants who had been diagnosed with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and Type 2 diabetes. Non-alcoholic liver disease or NAFLD is the generic term used when describing a condition that brings about a buildup of fat in the liver. NAFLD is a condition commonly occurring in overweight or obese people including anyone who has been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

Investigators at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore and various other research facilities throughout the world treated men with Type 2 diabetes and non-alcoholic liver disease with low doses of the thyroid hormone. They measured the amount of fat in each of 20 livers with ultrasound …

  • liver fat went down 12 to 26 percent.
  • slight decreases in body mass index (BMI) were seen without any changes in blood sugar levels or blood fats.

From these results, the researchers concluded low doses of thyroid hormone could be helpful for treating non-alcoholic liver disease.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is most common in people in their 40's and 50's with Type 2 diabetes and obesity. It is also seen frequently in the metabolic syndrome, which includes …

  • raised levels of belly fat,
  • insulin resistance,
  • high blood pressure, and
  • high blood fats.

Other risk factors include …

  • high cholesterol levels,
  • high levels of triglycerides in the blood,
  • polycystic ovary syndrome,
  • sleep apnea,
  • underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), and an
  • underactive pituitary gland (hypopituitarism).

Signs and symptoms of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease include …

  • an enlarged liver – upper right part of the abdomen,
  • pain in upper right part of the abdomen,
  • swelling with through the abdominal area,
  • tiredness,
  • enlarged blood vessels below the surface of the skin,
  • enlarged breasts in males,
  • enlarged spleen on the left side of the abdomen,
  • reddened palms, and
  • yellowing of the whites of the eyes and skin (jaundice).

The condition can lead to scarring, or cirrhosis of the liver, and even death if allowed to progress. If you are given a diagnosis of NAFLD, consider …

  • having thyroid hormone hormone measured.
  • if they are low, then replacement is indicated.

If they are low, consider discussing with your doctor, the addition of small levels of the thyroid hormone.

Prevention includes …

  • eating a healthy diet containing healthy fruit, vegetables and healthy fats (liquid, such as olive oil, or the fats found in avocados.
  • physical activity is also helpful, so find an activity you will keep up.

See your doctor for an exercise plan if you have been sedentary for any significant period.