Silymarin derived from silybum marianum (milk thistle), a flowering member of the daisy family, may benefit liver function in people infected with the hepatitis C virus. The aims of this pilot study were to assess the efficacy and safety of silymarin on serum hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA, serum aminotransferases (ALT, AST) levels, liver fibrosis and well-being in patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC).
This prospective self-controlled trial study was conducted from March to September 2006 at Department of Gastroenterology, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran. 55 patients with HCV (10 female and 45 male) with a mean age of 31.8 ± 6.4 years (10-67 years) were participated in the study. Patients received 24 weeks of silymarin (630 mg/day). Baseline virological biochemical, liver fibrosis (by a serum fibrosis markers, including YKL-40 and Hyaluronic acid), and SF-36 questionnaire were performed with biochemical tests repeated at the end of the treatment period.
There was statistically difference in mean of ALT (108.7 ± 86.6 vs 70.3 ± 57.7) before and after the treatment (p < 0.001). The means of AST were 99.4 ± 139.7 and 59.7 ± 64.32 before and after the treatment with statistically differences (p = 0.004). After the treatment, nine patients were found with negative HCV-RNA (p = 0.004) and statistically significant improvement in results of liver fibrosis markers were found only in fibrosis group (p = 0.015). Quality of life was improved significantly (p < 0.001).
This study indicated that in patients with CHC performing silymarin (650 mg/day) for 6 months, improved serum HCV-RNA titer, serum aminotransferases (ALT, AST), hepatic fibrosis and patient’s quality of life. More future studies are warranted.