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Am J Gastroenterol. 2005 Nov;100(11):2583-91.

Milk thistle for alcoholic and/or hepatitis B or C liver diseases--a systematic cochrane hepato-biliary group review with meta-analyses of randomized clinical trials.

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1
Copenhagen Trial Unit, Center for Clinical Intervention Research, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University Hospital, Denmark.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

Our objectives were to assess the beneficial and harmful effects of milk thistle (MT) or MT constituents versus placebo or no intervention in patients with alcoholic liver disease and/or hepatitis B and/or C liver diseases.

METHODS:

Randomized clinical trials studying patients with alcoholic and/or hepatitis B or C liver diseases were included (December 2003). The randomized clinical trials were evaluated by components of methodological quality.

RESULTS:

Thirteen randomized clinical trials assessed MT in 915 patients with alcoholic and/or hepatitis B or C liver diseases. The methodological quality was low: only 23% of the trials reported adequate allocation concealment and only 46% were considered double blind. MT versus placebo or no intervention for a median duration of 6 months had no significant effects on all-cause mortality (relative risk (RR) 0.78, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.53-1.15), complications of liver disease, or liver histology. Liver-related mortality was significantly reduced by MT in all trials (RR 0.50, 95% CI 0.29-0.88), but not in high-quality trials (RR 0.57, 95% CI 0.28-1.19). MT was not associated with a significantly increased risk of adverse events.

CONCLUSIONS:

Based on high-quality trials, MT does not seem to significantly influence the course of patients with alcoholic and/or hepatitis B or C liver diseases. MT could potentially affect liver injury. Adequately conducted randomized clinical trials on MT versus placebo may be needed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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