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Liver function tests – what do they mean?

Liver Function Tests

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:

Liver Enzymes

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.

Question:
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.

Total Bilirubin
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.

Blood Proteins
These are manufactured by the liver and include such proteins as albumin and globulins.
Total protein
Normal range is 60-80 g/L (6 – 8g/dL).
Serum albumin
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.

Your results
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

19 comments

  1. Sir my LFT is 250 and want it to be decreased to 50-100 what should you recommend me doctor.

  2. Total WBC Count 14800
    bilirubin total 1.0 mg/dl
    bilirubin direct 0.3 mg/dl
    ast 30.7 IU/L
    alt 42.0 IU/L
    GGT 24.6U/L
    Globulin 3.1 g/dl

    Are these results are in normal range?

    Thanks,

    • Hi Naveen,

      Dr Cabot says that the white blood cell count is elevated, we suggest you see your doctor to check for an infection in your body.

      Kind Regards,
      Jessah Robinson
      Nutritional Consultant at Liverdoctor.com

  3. After couple of years of symptoms, I was diagnosed with Liver Flukes (Fasciola Hepatica). They were treated (twice) through a single dose of Egaten (both the times). Fasciola Hepatica then came negative in the Blood Counts for couple of years post that. Although I did have a Eosinophilia (and connected symptoms/issues) for an year in between, but no one could find the root cause (Liver Flukes were negative in Blood reports).
    Now we weeks back I suddenly got high fever with chills, post my blood tests, they found elevated SGOT 52, SGPT 81, CRP 9 (rest counts in LFT were normal). Fasciola Hepatica counts came to be 1/320 (IHA).
    I am now a bit stressed and confused, Doctors are off/taking time to get back to me. I am just concerned that any delay in treating the issues should not harm my Liver, especially since I have this for years now.
    Can you advise with your understanding of the potential issues, risks and proposed next steps?

    • Hi Berry,

      Egaten (also known as triclabendazole) is the best drug for liver fluke infection. To be careful, Dr Cabot recommends another course of Egaten for you to be taken as soon as possible.

      Kind Regards,
      Jessah Robinson
      Nutritional Consultant

  4. Please i need help
    my liver test
    AST 37
    ALT 82
    ALP 57
    Total BILI 2.10
    Albumin 4.60
    Total Protein 6.90
    Globulin 2.30
    Albumin/Globulin Ratio 2.00

  5. TOTAL BILIRUBIN= 0.1- 1.0mg/dl
    SGOT= <40IU/L
    SGPT= <40IU/L
    ALK, Phosphatase= 50-150U/L

    Is this okay?

  6. Hi!
    An ayurveda doctor says to my sis that she is suffering from white jaundice then we have done a lft test in that everything is normal but still the ayurveda Dr. Is saying that in lft the white jaundice will not detect inspite of lft is normal the Dr. Is saying that my sister is suffering from white jaundice is that correct plz reply me fast

    • Hi Ismail,

      White jaundice is the old name for jaundice and this is usually shown by an increase in the bilirubin test of the Liver Function Tests.

      Your sister went to see the Ayurveda doctor because she is not well and even if the name of the condition does not fit with western medicine tests, the treatment may still be effective.

      Dr Cabot recommends she begins taking

      Livatone Plus – 2 capsules twice daily, to improve liver function.

      N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC 600mg) – 2 capsules twice daily well away from food, if any upset occurs take at the beginning of your meals. This supplement works well with Livatone Plus to get your liver better faster. This supplement hastens liver healing. This supplement is the precursor nutrient of glutathione; the body’s strongest anti-oxidant.

      You may purchase these supplements at http://shop.liverdoctor.com/supplements.html

      Kind Regards,
      Jessah Robinson
      Nutritional Consultant

  7. Mine everything is normal only sgpt (alt) is 57. Do i need to be really worried?

    • Dear Hamzah,

      Try not to worry. Livatone Plus helps to lower liver enzymes. You should take 1 cap twice daily for 2 weeks and then increase to 2 caps twice daily.
      These can be purchased from http://www.liverdocotor.com.

      Kind Regards,
      Jessah Robinson
      Sales & Nutrition Consultant

  8. Bilirubin total- 5.69
    Bilirubin(direct)- 4.23
    SGOT- 240U/L
    SGPT- 150U/L
    Albumin- 3.3gm/dl
    Globulin- 4.1
    ALB- 0.8
    Alkaline Phosphatase- 188IU/L
    GGTP- 919IU/L

    • Dear Trishna,

      There are several abnormalities in this test result. Has your doctor diagnosed the cause?

      Kind Regards,
      Jessah Robinson
      Sales & Nutrition Consultant

  9. mukesh August 16, 2016 at 9:16 am
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    serum bilirubin total 5.0 mg/dl
    alkaline phosphate 525 u/l
    ast 250 u/l
    alt 255 u/l
    is it possible to become B.T 0.5 mg/dl
    alkp 92 u/l
    ast 23 u/l
    alt 21 u/l
    after 15 days treatment with medicine

  10. serum bilirubin total 5.0 mg/dl
    alkaline phosphate 525 u/l
    ast 250 u/l
    alt 255 u/l
    is it possible to become B.T 0.5 mg/dl
    alkp 92 u/l
    ast 23 u/l
    alt 21 u/l
    after treatment with medicine

    • Hi Mukesh,

      The best thing to do would be to show these results to your healthcare practitioner and see what they have to say.

      Kind Regards,

      Jessah

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