A blood test for your liver checks the following:
• The function of the liver, which will show if the liver is manufacturing enough protein for the body to function normally
• The amount of bile pigment in the blood – this can be elevated if there is a blockage in the bile ducts or if there is a deficiency of a liver enzyme that processes bile; bile pigment is known as bilirubin
• The level of your liver enzymes – if these are elevated this means that your liver cells are inflamed or slightly damaged which can be from various causes.
Your blood test for liver function will be processed by an automated multi-channel analyzer and is extremely accurate; it will check the blood levels of the following:
AST – (aspartate aminotransferase), which was previously called SGOT. This enzyme can also be elevated in heart and muscular diseases and is not liver specific.
Normal range of AST is 5-45 U/L.
ALT – (alanine aminotransferase), which was previously called SGPT and is more specific for liver damage.
Normal range of ALT is 5-45 U/L.
AP – (alkaline phosphatase) is elevated in many types of liver disease but also in non-liver related diseases.
Normal range of AP is 30-120 U/L.
GT – (gamma glutamyl transpeptidase) is liver specific. GT is often elevated in those who use alcohol or other liver toxic substances to excess.
Normal range of GT is 5- 35 U/L.
Why do all or some of these enzymes become elevated in cases of liver dysfunction or disease?
Answer: Normally the liver enzymes are contained inside the liver cells (hepatocytes) where they perform their metabolic functions for the cells. These enzymes only leak into the blood stream when the liver cells are damaged. The higher the liver enzymes are above the normal range, the greater the degree of liver inflammation will be. When we repair the liver cells, the liver enzyme blood levels come back into the normal range.
Thankfully of all the organs in the body, the liver is most able to repair and regenerate itself.
Normal range is 3 – 18 umol/L (0.174 – 1.04mg/dL)
The most common cause of slightly elevated bilirubin is an inherited enzyme deficiency called Gilbert’s Syndrome and this is not a serious problem.
These are manufactured by the liver and include such proteins as albumin and globulins.
Normal range is 60-80 g/L (6 – 8g/dL).
Normal range of albumin is 30-50 g/L (3 -5 g/dL).
Serum albumin is a good guide to the severity of chronic liver disease. A healthy liver manufactures the protein albumin, and falling levels show deteriorating liver function. Gamma globulin protein levels may be abnormal in chronic liver disease. Elevated levels of gamma globulin proteins indicate that your immune system and liver are fighting something – such as a chronic infection, chronic inflammation or a hidden cancer.
Liver function tests may be normal in cases of mild liver dysfunction or disease; in other words, if you feel unwell or have many of the symptoms of liver disease, it is still a good idea to see your doctor for other tests, including an ultrasound scan of your liver.
If your liver function tests show elevated liver enzymes, we suggest that you improve your diet and lifestyle and take a powerful liver tonic and have this test repeated in 3 months time.
The most common causes of elevated liver enzymes are:
• Fatty liver which is due to poor diet = consumption of excess dietary carbohydrates, lack of raw vegetables and fruits and lack of first class protein.
• Liver inflammation due to excess alcohol
• Liver inflammation due to recreational drug use
• Liver inflammation due to adverse reactions to prescription drugs
• Infection with hepatitis C or B viruses
• Build up of excess iron in the liver
For more information:
Call our Health Advisory Service on 623-334-3232 if you are in the USA, or 02 4655 8855 if you are in Australia, to speak to a naturopath
See Dr Sandra Cabot’s books:
The Healthy Liver and Bowel Book
The Liver Cleansing Diet Book