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Viral Hepatitis

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Alternative Therapies--Milk thistle

for Veterans and the Public

Milk thistle

Milk thistle, sold as capsules and tablets, belongs to the same family of plants as ragweed, chrysanthemum, marigold, and daisy. It contains a substance called silymarin, found in the fruit, which is believed to be responsible for any medicinal properties.

So far scientific studies have found no clear-cut evidence that milk thistle helps in treating hepatitis C. Some studies found a benefit, other studies didn't. Currently, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is sponsoring a clinical trial to look at possible benefits of milk thistle in people with hepatitis C. Until these study results are published, we won't know whether milk thistle offers benefits that we can measure.

Milk thistle is generally considered safe to use, but it can have a laxative effect and cause nausea, diarrhea, and bloating in the abdomen. People who are allergic to plants in the same family as milk thistle, such as ragweed, may experience allergic symptoms to milk thistle as well.