Fatty liver is a condition in which excessive levels of fat accumulate in the liver. In and of itself, fatty liver isn't a disease, but it is a condition that can eventually lead to inflammatory complications and thus pose a serious health threat. Although small-scale animal studies indicate that flavonoids in chamomile tea may have liver-protective effects, the website Medline Plus says that scientific evidence to confirm chamomile’s hepatoprotective properties is thus far insufficient.

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If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Causes of Fatty Liver

Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, is the form of fatty liver disease that occurs in people who drink little or no alcohol. Although 10 to 20 percent of all Americans have elevated levels of fat in their livers, only 2 to 5 percent suffer from NASH, which can lead to cirrhosis and cause permanent liver damage, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. NASH most often occurs in people who are middle aged and overweight or obese. Other risk factors for NASH include:

  • oxidative stress involving the deterioration of liver cells
  • insulin resistance,
  • the release of inflammatory proteins
  • or cytokines
  • by fat cells
  • Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, is the form of fatty liver disease that occurs in people who drink little or no alcohol.

Types of Chamomile Tea

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Although they belong to different species, two plants are generally referred to as chamomile and have virtually identical medicinal properties. German chamomile is known scientifically as Matricaria recutita, while the scientific name of Roman chamomile is Chamaemelum nobile, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center website 13. Tea can be made by steeping the flowers of either plant in boiling water.

Ukrainian Study

Two researchers at Ukraine’s Kharkov Karazin National University conducted an animal study to assess the liver-protective effects of flavonoids in German chamomile against potential damage from substances known to be toxic to the liver 3. Specifically, the researchers sought to determine how chamomile flavonoids -- present in chamomile tea -- affect sphingolipid and ceramide metabolism in the livers of laboratory rats in which damage was induced by the introduction of carbon tetrachloride and/or ethanol. Dosing the laboratory animals with chamomile normalized sphingolipid and ceramide metabolism, which prevented the death of liver cells that might otherwise be caused by such toxins. Results of this study were published in the 2008 issue of “Lipids in Health and Disease. 4

Review of Hepatoprotective Herbs

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Researchers at the Himalayan Pharmacy Institute in Sikkim conducted a review of the scientific literature on herbs with liver-protective properties. In an article published in the April 2010 issue of the “International Journal of Research in Pharmaceutical Sciences,” they cite a 2006 study showing that an extract of chamomile effectively protected liver cells from inflammatory damage caused by paracetamol, known in the United States as acetaminophen.

No Definitive Proof of Efficacy

However, the agency says that the absence of adequate documented evidence of the herb’s effectiveness makes it impossible to recommend its use as a therapeutic application.