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Cathy Wong, ND

Milk Thistle May Ease Chemotherapy Side Effects

By December 30, 2009

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Milk thistle may help curb liver inflammation in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, according to a recent study. An herb rich in the antioxidant silymarin, milk thistle has long been used in herbal medicine to treat liver disorders.

For 28 days, 50 children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (a type of cancer of the white blood cells) were given milk thistle or a placebo. All of the children experienced chemotherapy-related liver problems prior to the study's start.

In liver-function tests performed 28 days after the treatment period, children who had received milk thistle showed improvements in their liver enzymes compared with children who had received the placebo. Those taking milk thistle were also less likely to have to lower their chemotherapy doses. What's more, milk thistle did not appear to interfere with the chemotherapy's beneficial effects.

In past research, milk thistle has been found to benefit people with fatty liver disease and gallstones.

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