Common alternative treatment for liver disease is found to be ineffective

December 14, 2005

Results of high-quality randomized clinical trials have determined that milk thistle extract, a widely used alternative medication, may not have any significant influence on the course of patients with alcoholic liver disease or hepatitis B or C liver disease. These findings are published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology.

According to the previous studies, milk thistle extracts have been shown to possess properties that protect against various hepatotoxins, including the prevention of lipid perioxidation, which is frequent in all stages of liver damage in alcoholic and non-alcoholic liver disease.

"The ironic fact is," notes Christian Gluud of the Copenhagen Trial Unit, Center for Clinical Intervention Research at the Copenhagen University Hospital, "that even though milk thistle and milk thistle extracts have been widely examined, we are still not in a situation where we can exclude a potential beneficial or harmful effect."

In this study, researchers aimed to determine the exact benefits or harm in using milk thistle to treat affected patients. Over 900 patients with the aforementioned types of liver disease were studied in these trials over a period of six months, in groups treated with milk thistle versus placebo treatment. No significant effects were observed on mortality or complication of the disease. Further, milk thistle was not associated with any significant risk of adverse events.

"It would be logical to stop the use of milk thistle products, not to reimburse any use, to stop the information that milk thistle products may be used, and to support further trials," adds Gluud.
-end-
This article is published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology. Media who wish to receive a PDF of this article may contact medicalnews@bos.blackwellpublishing.net.

Christian Gluud, MD, Dr. Med. Sci., is a specialist in hepatology, gastroenterology, and internal medicine. He has written more than 300 peer-reviewed journal articles, most of them dealing with interventions for patients with liver diseases. Dr. Gluud can be reached for questions and interviews at 453-545-7175 or cgluud@ctu.rh.dk.

About The American Journal of Gastroenterology
The American Journal of Gastroenterology, the official publication of the American College of Gastroenterology, is THE clinical journal for all practicing gastroenterologists, hepatologists and GI endoscopists. With an impact factor of 4.716, it is the authoritative clinical source in the field of gastroenterology. With a broad-based, rigorous, interdisciplinary approach, the journal presents the latest important information in the field of gastroenterology including original manuscripts, meta-analyses and reviews, health economic papers, debates and consensus statements of clinical relevance in gastroenterology. The reports will highlight new observations and original research, results with innovative treatments and all other topics relevant to clinical gastroenterology. Case reports highlighting disease mechanisms or particularly important clinical observations and letters on articles published in the Journal are included.

About Blackwell Publishing
Blackwell Publishing is the world's leading society publisher, partnering with more than 600 academic and professional societies. Blackwell publishes over 750 journals annually and, to date has published close to 6,000 text and reference books, across a wide range of academic, medical, and professional subjects.

Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Related Liver Disease Articles from Brightsurf:

Fatty liver disease despite a normal weight
Researchers from the University of Tsukuba found significant differences in the clinical presentation of non-obese patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) based on their sex and body mass index.

Sobering reminder about liver disease
Alcohol's popularity and its central place in socialising in Australia obscures the dangers of excessive drinking and possible liver disease, Flinders University experts warn.

Giant leap in diagnosing liver disease
A collaborative team of Salk Institute and UC San Diego scientists have created a novel microbiome-based diagnostic tool that, with the accuracy of the best physicians, quickly and inexpensively identifies liver fibrosis and cirrhosis over 90 percent of the time in human patients.

Link between liver and heart disease could lead to new therapeutics
A newly published study of flies found that protecting liver function also preserves heart health.

Fatty liver disease is underdiagnosed in the US
According to an analysis published in Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is grossly underdiagnosed in the United States.

Possible new treatment strategy for fatty liver disease
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have identified a molecular pathway that when silenced could restore the normal function of immune cells in people with fatty liver disease.

Longevity protein SIRT6 also protects against fatty liver and fatty liver disease
SIRT6 regulates fat metabolism by activating another protein called peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPAR-alpha).

Fresh insights could lead to new treatments for liver disease
The fight against liver disease could be helped by the discovery of cells that cause liver scarring.

Better methods needed for predicting risk of liver disease
While blood samples can reliably identify people with a low risk of developing severe liver disease, better methods are needed in primary care for identifying people in most need of care.

Lab-on-a-chip may help identify new treatments for liver disease
Investigators have developed a 'lab on a chip' technology that can simulate different levels of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease progression.

Read More: Liver Disease News and Liver Disease Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.