Milk Thistle Bolsters HCV Treatment
Treating Hepatitis C is complex, and is most effective when approached by several different simultaneous angles. Choosing to side with just one strategy often results in disappointment with the outcome – either with a weakened immune system, higher than desired viral loads or continuation of liver damage. As is the case with overcoming many types of ailments, triumph over disease and achievement of health is best reached via a multi-faceted approach.
With the addition of two medications recently approved to augment combination therapy, treatment for Hepatitis C has dramatically improved in the past year. Thankfully, the likelihood of beating the Hepatitis C virus has risen from around a 1 in 2 chance to a 3 in 4 chance by taking triple therapy with either Incivek or Victrelis. Even with these increased odds, most individuals with chronic Hepatitis C could benefit by simultaneously supporting and protecting their liver with milk thistle.
By shunning supplemental approaches, chronic Hepatitis C sufferers do the equivalent of putting all of their eggs in one basket. This perspective is easy to recognize when considering how to handle an episode of back pain. Things that might help relieve back pain include taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, soaking in a warm Epsom salts bath, avoiding strenuous lifting, doing therapeutic stretching and strengthening, putting a warm pack on the affected area, rubbing on pain-relieving gel as well as receiving chiropractic, acupuncture or physical therapy treatments. Those determined to feel better soon will usually combine several if not all of these back pain relief approaches. Singling out just one back pain relief tactic to rely on leaves many opportunities for the pain to remain or recur.
Aside from being the most commonly used herb to help deal with Hepatitis C symptoms, relieve side effects from treatment and help protect the liver, milk thistle consistently demonstrates sufficient reason to be included in nearly every Hepatitis C treatment program:
- As published in the February 2011 edition of the journal Experimental and Clinical Transplantation, German researchers intravenously administered silibinin, the most active therapeutic constituent of milk thistle, to patients re-infected with Hepatitis C after a liver transplant. Besides the absence of any adverse effects, they found that silibinin helped normalize liver enzymes and caused a significant decline of Hepatitis C-virus-RNA both by itself and in unison with interferon-based treatment.
- As published in an April 2011 edition of the World Journal of Gastroenterology, American researchers evaluated treatment with Legalon-SIL, the trade name for silibinin, on those with Hepatitis C. They found that silibinin down-regulated Hepatitis C core protein and NS5A expression – markers of Hepatitis C viral elimination. The researchers concluded that silibinin may be a valuable alternative or adjunctive therapy for treating Hepatitis C.
- As published in the January 2011 edition of the journal Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, American researchers assessed the effects of silymarin (the extract of milk thistle) on liver disease progression in patients with Hepatitis C who had advanced fibrosis or cirrhosis and had failed prior peg-interferon plus ribavirin treatment. While no direct correlation was found between silymarin and viral eradication, the researchers did find that silymarin use reduced progression from fibrosis to cirrhosis.
- As published in the March 2010 edition of the journal Gastroenterology, French researchers examined silibinin’s ability to inhibit Hepatitis C enzymatic functions and replication. They found that silibinin inhibited Hepatitis C RNA-dependent RNA polymerase activity, information providing sufficient evidence to develop silibinin as a specific Hepatitis C antiviral medication.
- As published in the February 2010 edition of the journal Gastroenterology, American researchers sought to determine silymarin’s effects on immunity that could impact Hepatitis C infection. They found that silymarin had the ability to inhibit the proliferation and pro-inflammatory cytokine secretion of T cells. The researchers concluded that this capacity on immune function could lead to clinical benefit during Hepatitis C infection.
The five studies described above are all relatively recent, but they are not the only data connecting milk thistle’s effectiveness for Hepatitis C. By looking at trials going back a few more years, the evidence supporting milk thistle’s use for this virus is overwhelming. To learn of several more instances of published research encouraging milk thistle use with Hepatitis C, read “Four More Key Benefits of Milk Thistle” and search the US Library of Medicine’s listing of medical literature and journals at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/.
Doctors who advise approaching an illness from several different angles typically have patients experiencing better outcomes than those who adhere to a single perspective. Nonetheless, many medical professionals are trained to only endorse pharmaceutical solutions. However, the public’s demand for well-rounded approaches to health is inspiring more physicians to learn about supplemental methods – like taking milk thistle in unison with Hepatitis C therapy.
An increasing number of physicians treating Hepatitis C are expanding their repertoire outside of the pharmaceutical industry. As such, they are recognizing that supplementing with silibinin makes for a better Hepatitis C treatment outcome – via enhancing immune response, improving viral reduction rates and preventing liver damage. With this dual approach to treating Hepatitis C, the chances of eliminating this virus can only go up.
http://diabetes.emedtv.com/milk-thistle/milk-thistle-and-hepatitis-c-p2.html, Milk Thistle and Hepatitis C, Retrieved November 12, 2011, Clinaero Inc., 2011.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19782083, Silymarin inhibits in vitro T-cell proliferation and cytokine production in hepatitis C virus infection, Morishima C, et al, Retrieved November 12, 2011, Gastroenterology, February 2010.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19962982, Silibinin and related compounds are direct inhibitors of hepatitis C virus RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, Ahmed-Belkacem A, et al, Retrieved November 12, 2011, Gastroenterology, March 2010.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21083592, Silymarin use and liver disease progression in the Hepatitis C Antiviral Long-Term Treatment against Cirrhosis trial, Freedman ND, et al, Retrieved November 12, 2011, Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, January 2011.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21483629, Legalon-SIL downregulates HCV core and NS5A in human hepatocytes expressing full-length HCV, Mehrab-Mohseni M, et al, Retrieved November 12, 2011, World Journal of Gastroenterology, April 2011.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21605016, Treatment of hepatitis C-virus-reinfection after liver transplant with silibinin in nonresponders to pegylated interferon-based therapy, Eurich D, et al, Retrieved November 12, 2011, Experimental and Clinical Transplantation, February 2011.