Silibinin, a medication derived from the milk thistle plant, lowered
hepatitis C virus (HCV) levels in patients awaiting liver
transplantation in a pilot study, which may help reduce the risk of HCV
recurrence in the new liver, Spanish researchers reported in the March
2013 Journal of Hepatology.
Over years or decades chronic hepatitis C can lead to advanced liver
disease including cirrhosis or hepatocellular carcinoma, which may
necessitate liver transplantation. Unfortunately HCV almost always
reinfects the new liver, typically within months. Interferon, ribavirin,
and recently approved direct-acting antivirals have side effects that
people with severe liver damage may be unable to tolerate, and their
success is limited in this population.