Silymarin as Supportive Treatment in Liver Diseases: A Narrative Review.
Adv Ther. 2020 Feb 17. Epub 2020 Feb 17. PMID: 32065376
Silymarin, an extract from milk thistle seeds, has been used for centuries to treat hepatic conditions. Preclinical data indicate that silymarin can reduce oxidative stress and consequent cytotoxicity, thereby protecting intact liver cells or cells not yet irreversibly damaged. Eurosil 85is a proprietary formulation developed to maximize the oral bioavailability of silymarin. Most of the clinical research on silymarin has used this formulation. Silymarin acts as a free radical scavenger and modulates enzymes associated with the development of cellular damage, fibrosis and cirrhosis. These hepatoprotective effects were observed in clinical studies in patients with alcoholic or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, including patients with cirrhosis. In a pooled analysis of trials in patients with cirrhosis, silymarin treatment was associated with a significant reduction in liver-related deaths. Moreover, in patients with diabetes and alcoholic cirrhosis, silymarin was also able to improve glycemic parameters. Patients with drug-induced liver injuries were also successfully treated with silymarin. Silymarin is generally very well tolerated, with a low incidence of adverse events and no treatment-related serious adverse events or deaths reported in clinical trials. For maximum benefit, treatment with silymarin should be initiated as early as possible in patients with fatty liver disease and other distinct liver disease manifestations such as acute liver failure, when the regenerative potential of the liver is still high and when removal of oxidative stress, the cause of cytotoxicity, can achieve the best results.