Herbal Tea Break May Protect Liver

Using data from the Rotterdam Study researchers determined that frequent coffee and herbal tea consumption were inversely related with liver stiffness but not steatosis in the general population. Credit: L. Alferink and S. Darwish Murad

Taking a herbal tea break may prevent hardening of the liver, according to researchers at Erasmus MC University Medical Centre, Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

Frequent consumption of herbal tea—or coffee—was inversely related with liver stiffness, the researchers wrote in a study published in the Journal of Hepatology and reported on by Science Daily.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has become common today in part because of consumption of a “happy diet” rich in artificial sugars and processed foods that lack nutrients, said lead author Dr. Louise J.M. Alferink, of the university’s Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

The study participants were divided into three groups based on their coffee and tea consumption. The researchers also noted what type of tea the people drank, including herbal, green, or black, HealthDay reported. “They found that frequent coffee drinkers had significantly lower risk for liver stiffness and less scarring regardless of their lifestyle and environment. Overall, frequent herbal tea and coffee drinking appeared to have a protective effect on the liver and prevent scarring among those who had not yet developed any obvious signs of liver disease,” researchers said.

“When researchers looked at the whole range of liver stiffness values, they found that both frequent coffee and any herbal tea consumption, even in small amounts, were significantly associated with lower liver stiffness values,” according to the HealthDay article.

While no direct association was found between either coffee or tea and the presence of fat accumulation in the liver (NAFLD) per se, “the effect of coffee on lowering the liver stiffness was significant in both the group with and without liver fat. The authors therefore concluded that frequent coffee and herbal tea [consumption] seem to have beneficial effects on preventing liver scarring even before overt liver disease has developed,” the article said.

The study has limitations, the authors admitted. Most of the 2,424 participants in the study were older and white.

Sources: Science DailyScience Daily, HealthDay