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Category: Infectious Diseases
Individuals who are worried about the state of their liver health because of a possible hepatitis C infection can take a lab test to help measure the level of organ damage. Results may help guide their treatment decisions. However, according to new research from University of North Carolina Health Care, the herbal supplement milk thistle is not a suitable option.
This conclusion is based on a study of 154 hepatitis C patients who underwent unsuccessful courses of interferon-based treatment. They were divided into three groups: one received placebos, while the other two took 420- and 720-milligram formulations of milk thistle. Regimens were for three times a day for 24 weeks.
By the end of the study, there were no differences in response among the three groups. Results showed that only two patients in each group experienced a normalization in levels of serum alanine aminotransferase, a compound that is indicative of liver damage.
"Patients ask me about milk thistle all the time," said researcher Michael Fried, M.D. "Now I can tell them with great confidence that taking milk thistle, unfortunately, won't help for chronic hepatitis C. I think this information is very important to help patients focus on other ways to maintain liver health and not rely on ineffective remedies."
A lab test can help individuals gauge how well their treatments are working.
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