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

ological response in only a third to a half of all patients with the predominant form of the infection in the U.S., namely genotype 1, and it can cause unpleasant and sometimes serious side effects. The NIH study, referred to as the Hepatitis C Antiviral Long-Term Treatment against Cirrhosis (HALT-C) Trial, was designed, therefore, to treat persons with advanced chronic hepatitis C who had failed previous antiviral therapy with the hope that the long-term treatment would reduce progression of the chronic liver disease even if it did not affect the virus itself. The reason for interviewing enrollees in the trial was to determine the extent of use of alternative therapies in this committed group, since the popularity of herbal products has increased in the U.S., many HCV patients choosing to supplement, or even replace, the standard treatment with herbals. Silymarin (milk thistle extract) has been the most popular option for people with liver disease. Although it is the most frequent product utilized, silymarin has not been rigorously studied using accepted scientific approaches, and therefore such studies are clearly required and warranted.

For the present survey, researchers interviewed all HALT-C participants on past and current use of all prescription and non-prescription drugs, including herbal medications, dietary supplements and other botanical products. Of 1145 study participants, 56 percent said that they had never used herbal products, while 23 percent were using them currently, some 60 different varieties. Silymarin was by far the most common. Usage was higher among men, among non-Hispanic whites, and among the more highly educated. Interestingly, the researchers also found geographic disparities in silymarin usage. It was most popular in Colorado, Michigan and Southern California and least popular in Maryland and Massachusetts.

In comparing the clinical data of silymarin users and non-users, the researchers found that the levels of HCV
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Contact: Amy Molnar
amolnar@wiley.com
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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