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Silymarin does not affect virus activity or ALT levels in
Date:2/1/2008

In a survey of patients with chronic hepatitis C who participated in a National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases-sponsored long-term treatment trial for patients who had failed to respond previously to antiviral therapy, approximately 40% acknowledged to interviewers at the time of enrollment that they were currently using or had in the recent past used herbal products for health purposes. This information was somewhat surprising because these were patients with advanced liver disease who were clearly committed to conventional antiviral treatment for chronic hepatitis C, having been so treated previously, some on more than one occasion, but because they had failed to respond, were now willing to accept treatment again with pegylated interferon for another 3 and a half years. Among those who were or had used alternative therapies, silymarin (milk thistle) was the product of choice either on its own or together with other herbal products, representing 72% of all the herbals taken.

These findings are in the February issue of Hepatology, a journal published by Wiley & Sons on behalf of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD). The article was also available online at Wiley Interscience (http://www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/hepatology).

These results do not come from a rigorous scientific study because the products used were self-administered by the patients who entered the trial and no information was obtained on the duration or dose of the herbal taken. Still, in comparing users with non-users, while no difference was found for blood ALT or HCV levels between the two groups, the herbal users did report somewhat fewer symptoms and a better quality of life.

The current recommended treatment for patients with HCV infection is combination therapy with pegylated interferon and ribavirin. However, it leads to a sustained vir
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Contact: Amy Molnar
amolnar@wiley.com
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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