Hepatitis C treatment: Are herbal remedies effective?

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Hepatitis C treatment: Are herbal remedies effective?

Question

Are there any herbal treatments for hepatitis C?

George
California

Answer

A number of herbal products have been touted as effective hepatitis C treatments. Perhaps the most widely promoted herbal hepatitis C treatment is milk thistle (silymarin). Unfortunately, despite some early clinical trials that suggested improved liver function in people with hepatitis C, recent trials of milk thistle have not shown a significant benefit.

St. John's wort also enjoyed a period of popularity as a potential hepatitis C treatment. Yet, a clinical trial found no evidence of benefit.

However, the dietary supplement lactoferrin — although not an herb — has shown a bit more promise as a treatment for hepatitis C. A few small studies suggest lactoferrin may reduce levels of hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the blood and improve liver function. Also, the combination of lactoferrin and phosphatidylcholine, another dietary supplement, has been shown to reduce liver enzymes. Although intriguing, these results indicate the need for more definitive studies to determine what role, if any, lactoferrin may play in the treatment of hepatitis C.

Last Updated: 02/19/2007
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