Much of the following information has been gathered from various sites about the internet as well as various newsgroup articles, emails and personal documents. As such, I am unable to verify the accuracy of all of the information so be wary of what one takes from these pages. Please consult with a professional health care provider before doing anything suggested or implied.

Treatment: Milk Thistle (Silymarin)
This is one of the most common herbal treatments for hepatitis. It is non-toxic, with few reports of any side effects. It is known to reduce ALT levels and has been shown to be effective in protecting the liver against damage by certain toxins

Milk Thistle (Silymarin) is reported to be an anti-inflammatory and mast cell stabilizer that helps protect the liver against toxin, drugs, and the affects of alcohol (Better Nutrition for Today's Living, March 1993).I . Two capsules of 100mg extract of milk thistle (Silybum marianum) containing 70% silymarin (ie 140mg of silymarin) are normally taken twice or three times a day. European research shows that it stimulates regeneration of liver cells and protects them from toxic injury. It is usually stocked in health food stores under the names milk thistle, silybum, or silymarin.

In Germany, Milk Thistle is frequently prescribed to those on interferon. So far, animal studies on Milk Thistle have not shown any signs of toxicity or allergic effects.

Milk Thistle appears to work since:

  • It is a powerful antioxidant and free radical scavenger similar to the mechanism used by vitamins A,C, E, and selenium.
  • It increases glutathione content of the liver which helps detoxify drugs and chemicals.
  • The active ingredient, silymarin, inhibits the formation of leukotrienes. Leukotrienes can cause damage to the liver.
  • It can stimulate protein synthesis which results in the production of new liver cells to replace damaged ones.


Various Sources

Alarcon de la Strada C, et al. Gastric anti-ulcer activity of silymarin, a lipoxygenase inhibitor, in rats. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, 1992;44:929-931.

Altorjay I, et al. The effect of silibinin (Legalon?) on the free radical scavenger mechanism of human erythrocytes in vitro. Acta Physiologica Hungarica, 1992;80:375-380.

Bartholomaeus AR, et al. Inhibition of rat liver cytosolic glutathione S-transferase by silybin. Xenobiotica, 1994;24:17-24.

Carini R., et al. lipid peroxidation and irreversible damage in the rat hepatocyte model. Biochemical Pharmacology, 1992;43(10):2111-2115.

Comoglio A, et al. Scavenging effect of silipide, a new silybin-phospholipid complex, on ethanol-derived free radicals. Biochemical Pharmacology, 1994;50(8):1313-1316.

Culpepper N. Culpepper's Complete Herbal & English Physician Enlarged. Glenwood, Ill.; Meyerbooks; pp. 180-181, 1990. Facsimile of an 1814 edition published by Richard Evans, London, England, from the original edition of ca. 1610.

De Matteis, Tortora M. Some plants described by Dioscorides for the treatment of renal diseases. American Journal of Nephrology, 1994;14:418-422.

Ferenci P, et al. Randomized controlled trial of silymarin treatment in patients with cirrhosis of the liver. Journal of Hepatology, 1989;9:105-113.

Gatti G, Perucca E. Plasma concentration of free and conjugated silybin after oral intake of a silybin-phosphatidylcholine complex (silipide) in healthy volunteers. International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 1994;32(11):614-617.

Grieve M. A Modern Herbal. New York; Dover Publications; pg. 797, 1971. Originally published in 1931 by Harcourt, Brace & Co. Guyton AC. Textbook of Medical Physiology. 8th Edition. Philadelphia; WB Saunders, 1991.

Hobbs C. Milk Thistle. The Liver Herb. 2nd edition. Capitola, CA; Botanica Press, 1992.

Mira L, et al. Scavenging of reactive oxygen species by silibinin dihemisuccinate. Biochemical Pharmacology. 1994;48:753-759.

Mowrey DB. Milk thistle-new hope for liver health. Salt Lake City; American Institute of Health and Nutrition, 1989.

Muriel P, et al. Silymarin protects against paracetamol-induced lipid peroxidation and liver damage. Journal of Applied Toxicology, 1992;12(6):439-442.

Muzes G, et al. Effect of the bioflavonoid silymarin on the in vitro activity and expression of superoxide dismutase. Acta Physiologica Hungarica, 1991;78:3-9.

Salmi HA, and Sarni S. Effect of silymarin on chemical, functional, and morphological alterations of the liver. a double-blind controlled study. Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, 1982;17(4):517-521.

Sonnenbichler J, Zetl I. Biochemical effects of the flavonolignan silibinin on RNA, protein, and DNA synthesis in rat livers. In: Biochemical, pharmacological, and structure-activity relationships. pp. 319-331. (Symposium. Buffalo, 1985). New York: Alan R. Liss Inc.; 1986.

Valenzuela A, et al. Silymarin protection against hepatic lipid peroxidation induced by acute ethanol intoxication in rats. Biochemical Pharmacology, 1985;34(12):2209-2212.

Valenzuela A, et al. Selectivity of silymarin on the increase of the glutathione content in different tissues of the rat. Planta Medica, 1989;l55:420-422.

Weyhenmeyer R. et al. Study on dose-linearity of the pharmacokinetics of silibinin diastereomers using a new stereospecific assay. International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 1992;30:134-138.

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