Liver cysts are very common. Do you know if they are dangerous? Do you know how they should be treated?

Liver cysts are also known as hepatic cysts. They are thin walled sacs filled with fluid, air, or semi-solid material. People with a fatty liver sometimes have fat-filled cysts in their liver.

Most cysts are benign, which means they are not cancerous. In the majority of cases liver cysts don’t cause any symptoms. You wouldn’t know you have one unless you happen to have a scan of your liver. Therefore if a doctor diagnoses you with a liver cyst, they will probably tell you it doesn’t require treatment. However, a small percentage of liver cysts are big enough to cause discomfort or pain. This is felt in the liver region, which is the right upper part of the abdomen.

Liver cysts are diagnosed via ultrasound or a computerized tomography (CT) scan. Small cysts are left alone, but if a large cyst is causing discomfort it can be surgically removed or drained.

Types of liver cysts

  • Simple cysts. These are fluid-filled sacs that form in the liver. They're benign growths, meaning they aren't cancerous.
  • Polycystic liver disease. This is an inherited condition that occurs in 0.6 percent of people. In this genetic disorder multiple cysts form inside the liver. These cysts may cause pain, but usually don’t impair liver function unless severe. Polycystic liver disease is more prevalent in women and can occur with polycystic kidney disease.
  • Cysts caused by parasites. An example is hydatid disease, which you can read about here.
  • Cysts associated with liver cancer. Simple liver cysts are not cancerous, but cystic tumors in the liver may become malignant eventually, if nothing is done about the condition. Cystic tumors in the liver contain a mixture of liquid and solid material and should be removed surgically because the solid material may eventually become cancerous.

Why do liver cysts form?

Cysts can form when a small area of liver cells dies or degenerates. The most common cause of this is an unhealthy diet and lifestyle, as well as old age. How would you know if your liver cells are dying? You may have elevated liver enzymes on a blood test. Here is some information explaining this test. Other times, your blood test results may be normal, but you’ll have symptoms of liver dysfunction, such as these. If you know your liver isn’t as healthy as it should be, it’s important to do something about it, before a structural problem like a cyst can manifest.

What can be done about liver cysts?

In the majority of cases it is easy to dissolve a simple liver cyst with nutritional medicine. This is what I recommend:

  • Follow the eating guidelines in my book Fatty Liver: You Can Reverse It. Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with a fatty liver, the diet guidelines in this book will help to keep your liver healthy. If your liver cysts are filled with fat, the guidelines in this book should dissolve them.
  • Minimize your consumption of dairy products and sugar, as they both encourage growth of cysts in the body.
  • Make sure you have enough iodine, selenium and vitamin D. These three nutrients are critical for helping to prevent cysts anywhere in the body. Very few people get enough of these nutrients in their diet, which is probably one explanation for why cysts are so common now. These nutrients are all combined in these capsules.
  • Take a good quality liver tonic like Livatone Plus. It contains the nutrients your liver cells need in order to carry out their functions, and antioxidants to protect liver cells from damage.
  • Additional n-acetyl cysteine is required in most cases. N-acetyl cysteine is used by your body to produce the powerful antioxidant called glutathione. It helps to reduce inflammation throughout your entire body, and protects liver cells from damage.
  • Minimize your exposure to known liver toxins such as alcohol, recreational drugs, environmental pollutants and chemicals in personal care products and cosmetics.
  • If you have a gallbladder problem, or have had your gallbladder removed, you would benefit from an ox bile supplement. It helps to make the bile thinner and this reduces congestion inside the liver. If thick bile has to travel through bile ducts within the liver, this aggravates liver cysts.

The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.