Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.

Does Silybum Marianum Aid Liver Health?

Monday, 19 July 2010 09:21 AM

Question: Does silybum marianum, available in milk thistle or Liv-52, aid liver health?

Dr. Hibberd's Answer:

No. There is no convincing evidence to support the safe and effective use of products like milk thistle to promote liver health or function. Save your money. Milk thistle has been used in the past for liver cirrhosis and is presently regarded as "possibly" effective at best. There is some question regarding chronic Hepatitis C, but its effectiveness is unclear.
I know of no hepatologists in the USA who recommend these products to their patients.

Milk thistle is used in Europe to treat amanita mushroom poisoning, but the FDA has not approved it for that use in this country.

Now, do not misunderstand me. There are many products that may not be regulated by the FDA that have clinical benefits, but you need to be alert to purity, efficacy, risk/benefit ratios, contamination, and adverse side effect information not divulged by manufacturers. The FDA exists to protect us against charlatan products and contaminated/adulterated drug products. It insists on rigorous effectiveness, purity, and safety data before drugs are approved for human use. If you wish to bypass this safety net, I wish you well.

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