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Milk Thistle (PDQ®): Complementary and alternative medicine - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Human / Clinical Studies


In a case series /phase I study, patients with HCV were treated with intravenous silibinin with and without PEG-interferon and ribavirin.[17] In the case series, 16 HCV nonresponder patients were administered intravenous silibinin in a dose of 10 mg/kg/day for 7 days. Subjects then began treatment with oral silibinin in combination with PEG-interferon and ribavirin for 12 weeks. At the end of the study period, all patients were positive for HCV RNA, but 5 of 13 completed patients had reductions in HCV RNA. Significance was not reported. In the same study, the authors presented results of a phase I study in which 20 patients were administered 5 mg/kg, 10 mg/kg, 15 mg/kg, or 20 mg/kg of silibinin for 14 days in combination with PEG-interferon and ribavirin (initiated on day 8). A significant drop in HCV RNA was observed on day 7 in patients administered the 10 mg/kg, 15 mg/kg, and 20 mg/kg doses of silybinin. Further declines were observed in HCV RNA with administration of PEG-interferon and ribavirin. Except for mild gastroenteritis, intravenous silibinin monotherapy was well tolerated.

In patients with chronic liver disease, a randomized, placebo-controlled study found normalization of serum AST, ALT, and bilirubin levels after 1 month of treatment with silymarin (140 mg 3 times a day) in comparison to treatment with a placebo.[18] In one of the largest observational studies involving 2,637 patients with chronic liver disease, 8-week treatment with 560 mg/day of silymarin resulted in reductions of serum AST, ALT, and gamma-glutamyltranspeptidase ([GGT], a marker of bile duct disease) and a decrease in the frequency of palpable hepatomegaly.[19]

Another published report describes the use of silybinin as the only effective antidote in patients with liver damage from Amanita phalloides (Fr.) Link poisoning.[20] Patients were administered doses of 35 to 55 mg/kg body weight, with no reports of adverse events. A recent retrospective review of the treatment for Amanita phalloides poisoning suggests that silymarin continues to be a promising drug in the treatment of this mushroom poisoning.[21] The beneficial effect of silymarin on liver histology suggests it has a role in the prevention of hepatitis and/or hepatocellular carcinoma; however, no clinical trials in humans have investigated these uses of silymarin.

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