National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

NIH…Turning Discovery Into Health®

Follow NCCAM: Subscribe to our email update Subscribe to the NCCAM RSS feed Follow NCCAM on TwitterRead our disclaimer about external links Follow NCCAM on FacebookRead our disclaimer about external links


Help us improve our Newsletter, Please take our survey.

National Institutes of Health • National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

NCCAM Clinical Digest. For health professionals.

Hepatitis C and Dietary Supplements

May 2013
Hepatitis Awareness Month

Hepatitis C, a contagious liver disease, is caused by the hepatitis C virus. People can get hepatitis C through contact with blood from a person who is already infected or, less commonly, through having sex with an infected person. The infection usually becomes chronic. Chronic hepatitis C often is treated with drugs that can eliminate the virus. This may slow or stop liver damage, but the drugs may cause side effects, and for some people, treatment is ineffective.

Some people with hepatitis C also try complementary health approaches, especially dietary supplements. Several herbal supplements have been studied for hepatitis C, and substantial numbers of people with hepatitis C have tried herbal supplements. For example, a survey of 1,145 participants in the HALT-C (Hepatitis C Antiviral Long-Term Treatment Against Cirrhosis) trial, a study supported by NIH, found that 23 percent of the participants were using herbal products. Although participants reported using many different herbal products, silymarin (milk thistle) was by far the most common. However, no dietary supplement has been shown to be effective for hepatitis C.

This issue provides information on what the science says about the safety and effectiveness of milk thistle and some of the other dietary supplements studied for hepatitis C.

Read more about what the science says

TTT Tips: 5 Things You Should Know About Dietary Supplements for Hepatitis C

Scientific Literature

NCCAM Clinical Digest is a service of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, NIH, DHHS. NCCAM Clinical Digest, a monthly e-newsletter, offers evidence-based information on complementary health approaches, including scientific literature searches, summaries of NCCAM-funded research, fact sheets for patients, and more.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is dedicated to exploring complementary health products and practices in the context of rigorous science, training complementary health researchers, and disseminating authoritative information to the public and professionals. For additional information, call NCCAM's Clearinghouse toll-free at 1-888-644-6226, or visit the NCCAM Web site at NCCAM is 1 of 27 institutes and centers at the National Institutes of Health, the Federal focal point for medical research in the United States.



Content is in the public domain and may be reprinted, except if marked as copyrighted (©). Please credit the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine as the source. All copyrighted material is the property of its respective owners and may not be reprinted without their permission.

Follow NCCAM on:

Twitter Twitter at

Facebook Facebook at

YouTube YouTube at