Silymarin, an extract of milk thistle (Silybum marianum) was tested for the ability to improve liver function in chronic hepatitis C. This was a pilot study of 55 people that evaluated the benefit and safety of silymarin in people with hepatitis C. They were treated for 24 weeks, and liver function blood tests were done.
A previous study in Egypt using 420 mg/day of silymarin showed no improvement in liver function. The current study was designed to use silymarin 630 mg/day, and blood testing for liver enzymes was done before and after treatment. Liver fibrosis testing was also done.
Liver tests showed improved liver functioning after the 24 weeks treatment with silymarin at the high dose of 630 mg/day, and markers of fibrosis showed improvement in those who had fibrosis. The cause of the improvement was not known. Milk thistle treatment has been shown to be safe in many previous studies.
CONCLUSION: This study confirms that people with chronic hepatitis C are likely to benefit from treatment with silymarin at a dose of 630 mg/day.
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