Silymarin (milk thistle) for liver support

NYBC provides this description of the botanical Silymarin, also known as milk thistle:

Milk Thistle: Silymarin (Silybum Marianum). A potent liver-strengthening herb, it stimulates the liver to regenerate itself by producing new liver cells as well as having strong antioxidant action to help prevent lipid-peroxidation of cell membranes. Given to seven patients receiving tuberculosis drugs (INH and ethambutol), a standardized silymarin extract normalized elevated liver enzymes after three months treatment. Many people with hepatitis C use milk thistle. It is extremely safe. Some studies suggest it may help to reverse the scarring known as fibrosis. Chilean researchers have discovered that silymarin increases glutathione [a key intracellular antioxidant] in the liver, stomach and intestines by over 50%, although it was not shown to increase glutathione levels in other organs. Milk thistle may interact with cytochrome P450–specifically the 3A4 enzyme. This is important since it is the same pathway used by many AIDS drugs. A study by Piscitelli, et al., happily, found no effect of silymarin on the plasma level of indinavir (Crixivan). Now we need a study evaluating the potential benefit against the liver toxicities of drugs like nevirapine and ritonavir (Norvir). Anecdotal reports suggest that it may delay CD4 increases with ARV.

See also entries on Dandelion Root as well as Hepato-C, Hepato-Detox and Ecliptex (Chinese Herbal Formulas).

Note: NYBC stocks Milk Thistle/Silymarin 80% (Jarrow) [150mg/200 Caps]. Each capsule contains 150 mg of Milk Thistle standardized for 120 mg of Silymarin. This brand has smaller capsules since they do not use a turmeric base. Some find this more convenient to use. PWHIV and PWHCV use 3-6/day.

Suggested Usage: Take 1 to 3 capsules daily, or as directed by your qualified health consultant.

Milk Thistle in Latin is Silybum marianum. This 30:1 concentrate is standardized to contain 80% Silymarin from Milk Thistle seeds.

Silymarin is composed of three flavonoids: primarily Silybin and minor amounts of Silydianin and Silychristin, which support liver function by raising protective glutathione levels.

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