Fatty Liver Disease with Dr. Hotze and Dr. Ellsworth

September 20, 2023

In this podcast transcription and video, Dr. Steven Hotze and Dr. Donald Ellsworth discuss fatty liver disease, its causes, the importance of the liver for optimal health and our New Fatty Liver Program.

Podcast Highlights:

1:50: We actually critically require good liver function for our immune system to work right.

2:30: And then another very important substance, coenzyme Q10, is produced by the liver, and so the body produces cholesterol. It wouldn’t produce cholesterol if we didn’t need cholesterol.

2:56: Cholesterol…it surrounds every one of our cells. It lines our nerves in the myelin sheath, it’s very prominent in the brain and brain function. It’s the building block for vitamin D, which is a hormone.

3:31: Think about your liver. It’s a detoxifying organ and what does it detoxify? Well it detoxifies the chemicals that we come in contact with.

4:09: Unfortunately, some of the drugs that the pharmaceutical companies recommend and doctors recommend such as statin drugs can damage the liver, damage the production of coenzyme Q10. Tylenol as well.

4:49: Hepatitis, there’s a hepatitis A, B, C, D, E, but particularly B and C worldwide and including in the US have been major causes of liver disease.

5:13: But interestingly, over time we started seeing more and more of this condition that looked a lot like alcoholic liver disease, but in non-drinkers or those who drink very little and its name reflects that, it’s called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease or steatohepatitis, steato fat, hepatitis liver inflammation.

5:57: …it’s amazing how rapidly this non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, let me just call it fatty liver disease, to be brief, is increased up to a billion, with a B, people around the world who have this condition.

7:00: So that means we’ve got 35 or 40% of the people obese in the country, which means that they have, most of them have type 2 diabetes, they’ve got metabolic syndrome and they have fatty liver disease.

7:14: And most people who have at least early issues with fatty liver don’t know they have it because you’re only going to know about it when you get a blood test or an imaging study that shows it because there’s really no symptoms early on.

8:22: …if you’re not taking any drugs and you’ve got elevated liver enzymes, well then we’d want to take a look at your liver either by MRI or by an echogram or sonogram of the liver and see if we have a problem there.

9:46: …we’ve learned this from Dr. Berkson, who’s out in New Mexico, who for decades has used alpha lipoic acid to treat end-stage liver disease. And he’s had remarkable success in that.

10:33: Lipoic acid fortunately can be given IV in a more intensive form. And that’s the way Dr. Berkson has used it.

10:43:  …we are now offering that service where intravenous alpha lipoic acid is used, and what we find is that when it’s given regularly, for example, twice a week, three times a week for a series of weeks, often 12 weeks, it depends on the stage, but we’ll find that you’ll see a remarkable improvement.

12:06: But as insulin goes up, it starts pushing hard on getting fat in the wrong places, including the liver and fat in the liver doesn’t just sit there. In fact, that’s one of the issues with fat that we didn’t really appreciate a while back – we used to think of it as just being kind of inert and just sitting there doing nothing, but it’s inflammatory.

12:25: And that’s what causes the damage, is the fat activates the white cells around the liver, the macrophages, and that causes inflammatory signals to go out, which causes inflammation.

14:25: …the number one cause of problems if you have liver disease is not death from liver failure. It’s actually…heart disease…and number two is cancer.

16:22: So if you are overweight, if you have type 2 diabetes, you’ve got insulin resistance…if you’ve got high triglycerides and you’re just not feeling well, you need to see someone who can evaluate you to see if you have fatty liver disease.

16:51: And if you have elevated liver enzymes, you have a study, a MRI or a sonogram that indicates you’ve got liver disease and we can determine how bad it is, there is something that can be done. And you should take proactive measurements to heal your liver.

18:19: …our plans are to be able to help anybody and everybody who’s got liver disease, whether it’s fatty liver disease or alcoholic liver disease, or you have severe liver disease due to hepatitis, we’re going to treat it with IV alpha lipoic acid. The same protocol that Dr. Berkson uses.

18:49: And so the very process that causes this issue, the insulin resistance, the development of fat deposition in the liver, the fibrosis and scarring that goes on, all those steps are actually reduced with lipoic acid, which is quite the blessing because this can be a really problematic disease. And there’s follow-up supplements that we will use as well.

Podcast Transcription:

Dr. Steven Hotze: Hello, I’m Dr. Steve Hotze and welcome to today’s program. I have with me my fellow colleague here at Hotze Health & Wellness Center, Dr. Don Ellsworth, and we’re going to discuss a very, very important medical issue and an amazing treatment that we have here at the Hotze Health & Wellness Center that can help solve the problem. We’re going to talk about liver disease.

So Dr. Ellsworth, why don’t you start us off. Tell us about what are the causes of, first, let’s talk about what the function of the liver is. What purpose does the liver serve in our body?

Dr. Donald Ellsworth: Well, anything with the word live in it, you know it’s got to be important. It’s a key part of our body. And if you’ve ever, hunters know when you actually see the liver in real life, it’s big and it’s big for a reason. It does a lot of work. It’s actually a big part of our detoxification pathway. And without the liver, we can’t get rid of things that accumulate in our body.

Some of the things we actually make, and they’re breakdown products that need to be eliminated. Sometimes they’re from outside, but detoxification is a huge role. We also make bile acids for digestion. The gallbladder stores it and releases it, especially with fatty foods, we have to have bile. It’s important for making a lot of key proteins that our body needs. The clotting factors…

Dr. Steven F. Hotze: Right.

Dr. Donald Ellsworth: Albumin, another one. Parts of…

Dr. Steven F. Hotze: By the way, albumin is the liquid that our blood cells float in. That’s very important.

Dr. Donald Ellsworth: Exactly. And the immune function. We actually critically require good liver function for our immune system to work right. It’s a storage for a lot of things, like B12 is stored in the liver. And we also see…

Dr. Steven F. Hotze: Vitamin A.

Dr. Donald Ellsworth: Vitamin A.

Dr. Steven F. Hotze: Vitamin B.

Dr. Donald Ellsworth: Vitamin D. And another interesting thing is the liver stores glycogen. In fact, if someone’s fasting and doesn’t eat for a couple of days, they’re still likely burning sugar for fuel because they break down glycogen and that converts into glucose. So it serves a big storage function. It’s also important for lipid metabolism and the different fats get regulated and shipped around through the liver.

Dr. Steven F. Hotze: Particularly it produces cholesterol.

Dr. Donald Ellsworth: Right.

Dr. Steven F. Hotze: And then another very important substance, coenzyme Q10, is produced by the liver, and so the body produces cholesterol. It wouldn’t produce cholesterol if we didn’t need cholesterol. There’s been a huge emphasis by pharmaceutical companies to try to demonize cholesterol, when in fact cholesterol is a very important molecule that the body produces.

Cholesterol…it surrounds every one of our cells. It lines our nerves in the myelin sheath, it’s very prominent in the brain and brain function. It’s the building block for vitamin D, which is a hormone. Sunlight enters the skin, UV lights and it transforms cholesterol into vitamin D, a hormone which is essential for good health. So the liver does play a very extremely important role. And I want to go back to the detoxification. Think about your liver. It’s a detoxifying organ and what does it detoxify? Well it detoxifies the chemicals that we come in contact with.

One of the chemicals is the drugs that the pharmaceutical companies give us. First chapter when I went to medical school was in pharmacology. First chapter in the book was detoxification. Toxins are poisons. And so drugs are poisons. They have to be detoxified. Also, alcohol has to be detoxified in our body. And then we come in contact with all kinds of chemicals in the environment that the liver has to detoxify. And that’s why it’s a very important organ and it’s a very important to keep it healthy.

Unfortunately, some of the drugs that the pharmaceutical companies recommend and doctors recommend such as statin drugs can damage the liver, damage the production of coenzyme Q10. Tylenol as well. Acetaminophen is very hard on the liver and can cause liver dysfunction as can numerous other of the drugs. And that’s why doctors oftentimes with certain drugs make you come back in for liver enzyme tests. But these are important functions that we see in the liver. And that’s why if the liver gets sick, we have some problems.

Dr. Donald Ellsworth: And historically, when people have worried about liver disease, one of the big concerns has been infections. Hepatitis, there’s a hepatitis A, B, C, D, E, but particularly B and C worldwide and including in the US have been major causes of liver disease. And I know that in my medical training we would almost equate liver disease and alcohol intake as being synonymous because…

Dr. Steven F. Hotze: Very common.

Dr. Donald Ellsworth: Back in the day, that was the leading thought. But interestingly, over time we started seeing more and more of this condition that looked a lot like alcoholic liver disease, but in non-drinkers or those who drink very little and its name reflects that, it’s called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease or steatohepatitis, steato fat, hepatitis liver inflammation. And that’s what we’re going to talk about largely today.

But just to round things out, you can also get liver disease from things like, oh, there’s certain parasite infections. Like schistosomiasis. You can have problems with too much iron, hemochromatosis, too much copper called Wilson’s disease, and there’s an autoimmune condition called autoimmune hepatitis. So all these things are possible, but it’s amazing how rapidly this non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, let me just call it fatty liver disease, to be brief, is increased up to a billion with a B people around the world have this condition.

And it’s often divided into being the more progressive form versus the less progressive form. And when it’s more rapidly associated with inflammation, they usually categorize that as NASH, the non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. And NASH is becoming one of the greatest concerns that we have in the health world. But again, this was almost unheard of back in the day. Thirty years ago, very uncommon. In fact, it was generally, it was hepatitis and alcohol intake, practically speaking that were the main issues.

Dr. Steven F. Hotze: Well, we have to say it correlates with the dramatic weight increase that Americans have experienced and the weight increase, we’ve got 70% of the population overweight, half the people overweight are obese. So that means we’ve got 35 or 40% of the people obese in the country, which means that they have, most of them have type 2 diabetes, they’ve got metabolic syndrome and they have fatty liver disease.

Dr. Donald Ellsworth: Exactly. And most people who have at least early issues with fatty liver don’t know they have it because you’re only going to know about it when you get a blood test or an imaging study that shows it because there’s really no symptoms early on.

Dr. Steven F. Hotze: What imaging tests?

Dr. Donald Ellsworth: Ultrasound, CT, MRI, and sometimes they’re looking at something else. They were looking maybe to check out the abdominal area because you had abdominal pain and it’s actually not the cause of your abdominal pain, but they see fatty liver. And frequently, by the way, if you went into your doctor and you had another issue, they might not even highlight the fact that they saw fatty liver in the liver because it’s so common and if they were looking for something else. But fatty liver is often just incidentally picked up, but it…

Dr. Steven F. Hotze: It’s really, you would normally see it or see if it’s causing a problem by the routine blood test.

Dr. Donald Ellsworth: Right.

Dr. Steven F. Hotze: And you get a liver enzyme, you have elevated liver enzymes. If you’re on a drug, a statin drug, oftentimes I’ll just take our guests off of statin drugs, if they were on them. We don’t put them on them, but if they were on them, have elevated liver, we’ll say, let’s get off your statin drug, get on milk thistle and we’ll just see how you do. And usually that resolves, but   if you’re not taking any drugs and you’ve got elevated liver enzymes, well then we’d want to take a look at your liver either by MRI or by an echogram or sonogram of the liver and see if we have a problem there.

Dr. Donald Ellsworth: And for those who are already doing everything they can, they’re trying to eat healthy and they see their liver going the wrong direction, the liver enzymes, the AST, the ALT may be climbing, platelet count sometimes starts dropping. Albumin can eventually drop. And you can do these calculations called a FIB-4 calculation just with the simple things like the liver enzyme, the platelet count and age. And if you have a great FIB-4 score, meaning it’s in the low side, less than 1.7, then you generally don’t have a problem.

But if you start getting higher, you definitely want to start looking into the fact of intervening and at least starting to do some things with diet and some essential supplements, which would include milk thistle. What is amazing though is we have some newer tools that can be used to modify the process. And, heretofore, we have not had something that would be as effective for more severe and rapidly progressing disease. And alpha-lipoic acid has emerged as an interesting tool in this realm.

Dr. Steven F. Hotze: And really the guy that led, we’ve learned this from Dr. Berkson who’s out in New Mexico who for decades has used alpha lipoic acid to treat end-stage liver disease. And he’s had remarkable success in that. He’s getting older and his practice is booked out for one to two years. And we have had numerous patients contact us about fat liver disease and they’re concerned about it and they want to know if we provide this type of care which we are now providing.

Dr. Donald Ellsworth: Right. And as a result of the interview you did with Dr. Berkson, we did notice that there was a huge demand for that type of a process where they could receive more intensive therapy with alpha lipoic acid. Lipoic acid fortunately can be given IV in a more intensive form. And that’s the way Dr. Berkson has used it. And he’s been kind enough to collaborate with us and we are now offering that service where intravenous alpha lipoic acid is used, and what we find is that when it’s given regularly, for example, twice a week, three times a week for a series of weeks, often 12 weeks, it depends on the stage, but we’ll find that you’ll see a remarkable improvement. Dr. Berkson found that even severe liver disease would…

Dr. Steven F. Hotze: End stage liver disease.

Dr. Donald Ellsworth: …frequently respond not 100%, but it wasn’t far from it, responded to that. And that’s simple. It’s a simple intervention along with some supplements that make a big difference. But lipoic acid has some amazing properties. It actually addresses the problem from several angles.

One is it actually helps with the glucose metabolism works better. There’s something called a GLUT4 receptor in our cells. It actually prompts the receptor to move to the cell surface so it can grab the glucose and bring it in. So I mean, that’s one of the core issues you see with this problem is the glucose metabolism is off.

And by the way, what happens is your body really has to have glucose. So we have insulin which sends glucose from the bloodstream into our cells. Now, if we have insulin resistance, which most people with fatty liver disease have, insulin’s not working as well, and the body says, well, I’ll just make a little more to try and drive that glucose into the cells, and it indeed does that.

But as insulin goes up, it starts pushing hard on getting fat in the wrong places, including the liver and fat in the liver doesn’t just sit there. In fact, that’s one of the issues with fat that we didn’t really appreciate a while back – we used to think of it as just being kind of inert and just sitting there doing nothing, but it’s inflammatory. And that’s what causes the damage, is the fat activates the white cells around the liver, the macrophages, and that causes inflammatory signals to go out, which causes inflammation.

And by the way, a brief course of inflammation is how your body heals. We get inflammation when we cut ourselves, but chronic inflammation results in this ongoing process of injury and the body’s trying to repair. And you get scarring, which shows up on the imaging studies as fibrosis. That fibrosis is what really causes the liver to start diminishing its function.

You start seeing more and more of, the liver actually starts changing its appearance, it gets lumpy. You see these fibrotic streaks in the liver. And if there was nothing you could do, it would be sad. But thankfully now we have some interventions that can…there’s a process that ends with cirrhosis. And once you get to cirrhosis, you’re really, I mean the body cannot live without…

Dr. Steven F. Hotze: Without a liver.

Dr. Donald Ellsworth: …liver function.

Dr. Steven F. Hotze: Without liver function.

Dr. Donald Ellsworth: And so that’s where people get on transplant lists when they develop end stage liver disease. You don’t want to be there. And there’s some lifestyle things you can do by the way that are important that I want to mention. And one of those would be is of course, avoiding the simple sugary starchy foods.

Dr. Steven F. Hotze: Right.

Dr. Donald Ellsworth: Eating less hours. It’s interesting. Autophagy, which is where you break down the junk in our cells, actually is stimulated when we don’t eat. And one of the advantages of at least giving your body a 12-hour break from eating is the autophagy increases. And that definitely helps with fatty liver.

And it turns out it, it’s best not to eat late at night. If you can finish eating by 6:30, that might be the ideal because we get in sync with the sun and when we eat late, we’re starting to make more insulin because the body is more thinking, hey, this is time for recovery. And insulin at nighttime actually helps the body recover. But if you’re eating and have a high insulin level, it’s going to shove that fat into the liver. And it’s interesting, the number one cause of problems if you have liver disease is not death from liver failure. It’s actually…

Dr. Steven F. Hotze: Heart disease.

Dr. Donald Ellsworth: …heart disease.

Dr. Steven F. Hotze: And cancer.

Dr. Donald Ellsworth: …and number two is cancer.

Dr. Steven F. Hotze: So that tells you how important the liver is really in the functioning of the body. And when the liver breaks down, then you get a host of other problems.

Dr. Donald Ellsworth: That’s right. You want a good heart, you want a good liver, you want a good immune system, you want a good liver. But we also need to really think about avoiding processed foods when we want a healthy liver because processed foods often will contain the bad oils and vegetable oils, which were by the way advertised as something that was good for our heart.

Dr. Steven F. Hotze: Terrible.

Dr. Donald Ellsworth: They’re horrible. Those seed oils like corn, safflower, anything that…

Dr. Steven F. Hotze: Any vegetable oil.

Dr. Donald Ellsworth: Right. Just stay away from the vegetable oils.

Dr. Steven F. Hotze: They’ve all been hydrogenated and they’re very terrible for you. That’s why you need to use olive oil.

Dr. Donald Ellsworth: Exactly. Butter.

Dr. Steven F. Hotze: Butter is good for you. And they’re all, you can use walnut oil, any kind of natural oil that hasn’t been processed.

Dr. Donald Ellsworth: And it’s amazing the processing part of it is we actually spray glyphosate roundup on wheat. We don’t, but it’s done in the agricultural world to facilitate the ease of just harvesting the crop. But you can’t get that out of the wheat. And glyphosate is part of the problem. And there’s a lot of issues that go along with it.

And intake of sugar, fructose, artificial sweeteners. And during the same timeframe that we’ve seen fatty liver rise, we’ve done some crazy things. We’ve been doing the genetically modified foods, we’re spraying things in the air. We’ve increased the vaccine schedule, so kids are getting more and more vaccines. We really don’t know which are the major players here, but we do know that they match in time. And all of these have experimental studies suggesting that they are a part of the problem.

Dr. Steven F. Hotze: So if you are overweight, if you have type 2 diabetes, you’ve got insulin resistance…if you’ve got high triglycerides and you’re just not feeling well, you need to see someone who can evaluate you to see if you have fatty liver disease. If you drink on top of it, you sure need to get that checked. And so that can be checked.  16:51: And if you have elevated liver enzymes, you’ve got a study, a MRI or a sonogram that indicates you’ve got liver disease and we can determine how bad it is, there is something that can be done. And you should take proactive measurements to heal your liver.

And that’s by getting alpha lipoic IV treatment. And we offer that here at Hotze Health & Wellness Center. And if you want to get on that path of health and wellness, all you have to do is contact us at 281-698-8698 and contact one of our new guest consultants and just ask them how you can get set up. Now, I’m going to tell you treatment is at least two times a week with IV alpha lipoic acid for 12 weeks.

Dr. Donald Ellsworth: About 12 weeks. Yes.

Dr. Steven F. Hotze: So that’s three months. So if you’re out of the area, you either need to find a friend or somebody to put you up here in town or just plan on, you’re going to stay here for three months. You’re going to be in a hotel. And you have to say, well, gosh, that’s hard to do. Maybe there’s somebody near you, I don’t know. But we offer it, and I know Dr. Berkson has just been covered up. And so we’ve decided that we’re going to help provide the needed treatment for those that can’t get in to see Dr. Berkson. He’s the expert in it, but we’re following his protocol. And our plans are to be able to help anybody and everybody who’s got liver disease, whether it’s fatty liver disease or alcoholic liver disease, or you have severe liver disease due to hepatitis, we’re going to treat it with IV alpha lipoic acid. The same protocol that Dr. Berkson uses.

Dr. Donald Ellsworth: Exactly. And it’s interesting that we know from the studies that fibrosis is actually reduced with the lipoic acid. 18:49:  And so the very process that causes this issue, the insulin resistance, the development of fat deposition in the liver, the fibrosis and scarring that goes on, all those steps are actually reduced with lipoic acid, which is quite the blessing because this can be a really problematic disease. And there’s follow-up supplements that we will use as well. And alpha lipoic acid can be taken orally, but Dr. Berkson has not seen the oral form able to do the same things as the…

Dr. Steven F. Hotze: Same thing as the IV.

Dr. Donald Ellsworth: …IV therapy for really sick people. And we’re talking about generally people who are coming to see us for this type of therapy, who have a serious problem with their liver, that requires some significant intervention. But lipoic acid is available now, it’s a natural substance.

In fact, every cell of our body, aside from red blood cells, which don’t make much, make alpha lipoic acid. And the interesting thing is that lipoic acid does drop with age. And even though you can make some and you can get even some lipoic acid from food, the levels that you get from supplementation and especially IV therapy are more in the therapeutic range to reverse disease. And it’s interesting. It’s an antioxidant. It can get in fat, it can get into non-fat tissue, and that’s a kind of a unique property. Most substances tend to go one way or the other. It can cover both.

Dr. Steven F. Hotze: It’s both water and fat soluble. So we’re here to provide you with the opportunity to get on a path of health and wellness naturally. I believe everybody needs a physician and a staff of professionals like Dr. Ellsworth, myself and our team here at Hotze Health & Wellness Center, who have the know-how, the wherewithal, the expertise and the experience to get you on that path of health and wellness, so as you mature, you have energy and you have vitality, and you have enthusiasm for life. And you want to be enthusiastic, you’ve got to have a clean liver, and we want to help you get that liver healthy.

So don’t hesitate to give us a call here at the Hotze Health & Wellness Center. Visit with one of our new guest consultants at 281-698-8698. And by the way, you can ask them, when you call, for a copy of my book, Hormones Health, and Happiness.

And many people have problems. If they have liver problems, I’ll assure you they’ve got some other health problems going on as they mature. And we address those in our 8-Point Treatment Regimen here at the Hotze Health & Wellness Center. And if you call and simply ask for this book, we’ll be glad to send it to you. We’ll also send you a copy of Dr. Berkson’s book, The Alpha Lipoic Acid Breakthrough. We’ll be glad to send you that free of charge. So give us a call at 281-698-8698. Thanks, doctor, for being with us today.

Dr. Donald Ellsworth: Thank you.

Dr. Steven F. Hotze: And thank each one of you for being with us today. God bless you.

CONTACT US TODAY!

To learn more about our Fatty Liver Program at the Hotze Health & Wellness Center, contact our Wellness Consultants at 281-698-8698 for a complimentary consultation. It will be our privilege to serve you!

Click here to subscribe to Dr. Hotze’sWellness Revolution Podcast!

Written By: Steven F. Hotze, M.D.

Steven F. Hotze, M.D., is the founder and CEO of the Hotze Health & Wellness Center, Hotze Vitamins and Physicians Preference Pharmacy International, LLC.

 

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Since 1989, Hotze Health & Wellness Center has helped over 33,000 patients get their lives back using bioidentical hormones that restore hormones to optimal levels, strengthen immune systems, and increase energy levels. Our treatment regimen addresses the root cause of hypothyroidism, adrenal fatigue, menopause, perimenopause, low testosterone, allergies, and candida.

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