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Re: [GIWorld-Hepatitis] silymarin/Milk Thistle: Miracle or Malarky?

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  • claudine intexas
    From Hepatitis Neighborhood http://www.hepatitisneighborhood.com/ Milk Thistle: Miracle or Malarky? Herbs are selling like hotcakes these days; and why
    Message 1 of 4 , Jul 1, 2002
      From Hepatitis Neighborhood

      Milk Thistle: Miracle or Malarky?

      Herbs are selling like hotcakes these days; and why
      shouldn't they be? In an age of modern medicine,
      modern conveniences, and modern lifestyles, something
      inside all of us longs to find answers buried deep
      within ancestral secrets. Searching for the cure
      ourselves feels like a relentless and passionate
      pursuit...especially when "they" are telling us there
      is just no cure. The burning question for all of us
      remains: is milk thistle one such miracle herb, or
      just more hype from suppliers who are seeking consumer

      Milk Thistle: Miracle or Malarky?
      By Heidi Genarro, RD, Your Hepatitis Neighborhood

      ...Milk thistle is one such herbal remedy touted as a
      liver disease wonder drug.

      But is it really? In Germany they think so. In fact,
      the rather tall and prickly-leaf plant has been used
      for centuries to treat liver ailments up until about
      the twentieth century. According to Varro Tyler, PhD,
      noted American authority on herbal remedies, and
      author of The Honest Herbal and Herbs of Choice, it
      was German scientists who began an intensive study of
      the fruits of this plant just 25 years ago. What they
      discovered was a mixture of three different
      flavonolignans as the active ingredient, which they
      collectively named silymarin.

      Silymarin was found to exert potent liver protectant
      properties. One such property is liver cell membrane
      protection from the entry of toxic substances. In
      other words, silymarin acts like a potent antioxidant,
      preventing free radical and toxic damage to the liver
      (see Food Market nutrition article, Aisle 1). In fact,
      the silymarin in milk thistle is many times more
      potent than Vitamin E in terms of protective
      antioxidant activity!

      The second most exciting property of silymarin is the
      regeneration of new liver cells. What that means is
      that there is an increase in production of new liver
      cells to replace the old damaged ones. Today, because
      of this research, milk thistle is often prescribed by
      German doctors as a supportive treatment for
      hepatitis, usually along with interferon.

      As far as human study trials go, silymarin has
      demonstrated positive health effects in people
      suffering from chronic hepatitis, as well as
      cirrhosis, fatty liver infiltration, liver damage
      resulting from alcoholism of exposure to liver toxic
      chemicals, and bile duct inflammation. In fact, the
      only antidote for poisoning from the deadly mushroom
      called Amanita (death cap) is silymarin.

      Many of these studies were conducted by European
      scientists, and have passed the scrutiny of American
      scientists as well. According to Stephen Piscitelli,
      MD, despite a few study limitations, such as small
      sample sizes, "silymarin does appear to be more
      effective than placebo for viral hepatitis, as well as
      hepatitis caused by toxins and alcohol."

      That's the good news. What is the downside to taking
      milk thistle? First, the assurance that what you buy
      from your local health food store, pharmacy, or
      grocery store really contains what it claims on the

      Unfortunately, because of loose government
      regulations, many are getting away with selling
      supplements that don't contain any or all of the
      �marker compound" that makes the herb effective (in
      regard to milk thistle, it must contain 70% to 80% of
      silymarin). Some supplement brands have been tested in
      independent laboratories and found to contain none of
      the herb or marker compound! That's scary. Know what
      brands you can trust.

      According to a July 1999 article in Environmental
      Nutrition, their thorough research and discussion with
      experts allowed them to compile the following list for
      reputable herbal supplements: Celestial Seasonings;
      Eclectic Institute; Enzmymatic Therapy/Phyto Parmica;
      Gaia Herbs, Inc.; Herbalist & Alchemist; Herb Pharm;
      Indena; Lichtwer Pharma; Nature's Herbs (Twin Lab);
      Nature's Way; Pharmaton; Warner-Lambert;
      Whitehall-Robins (American Home Products). I highly
      recommend also that you check with www.consumerlab.com
      to find out the results of their independent
      laboratory tests on various herbs and supplements
      before you buy.

      Another downside is possible mild allergic reaction to
      milk thistle. According to Nurses Drug Alert,
      23(7):51, 1999, M.J. Powers & Co. Publishers, a 57
      year-old woman was found for two months to be
      suffering from weakness, watery diarrhea, nausea, and
      abdominal pain shortly after she would take her
      self-prescribed capsules of milk thistle. The symptoms
      stopped after she stopped taking the herb. Whether or
      not it was an allergic-type reaction, a contaminant in
      the supplement, or the side-effect of the herb itself
      is not known. No serious side effects of deaths have
      ever been reported with humans taking milk thistle. A
      few cases of intestinal upset with larger doses has
      also been reported.

      Can milk thistle interfere with other drugs?
      Unfortunately, that question remains unanswered. At
      this present time, no negative interactions have been
      reported. Other herbs such as St. John's Wort, willow
      bark, dandelion, ginseng, yohimbe, chamomile, gingko,
      ma haung, natural licorice, and more have reported
      drug-herb interactions with certain medications. As
      always, your best bet is to inform your physician of
      any and all herbs and dietary supplements you may

      What's the final fair wind on milk thistle? It's
      probably safe to take, and can likely work along with
      your primary treatment for hepatitis as a supportive
      treatment. Just be sure you purchase milk thistle from
      a reputable source. Above all, remember to avoid the
      temptation into "magical thinking�. Milk thistle is
      NOT a cure for hepatitis C. However, it does appear to
      be another good weapon in the fight.

      --- "JeeKim.com" <ung@...> wrote:
      > Doesn't milk thistle extract protect liver?

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