Milk thistle extract does not help liver disease
Popular supplement silymarin, a derivative from milk thistle, has been proved an ineffective treatment for liver disease. Around one third of people in the US with hepatitis C, a virus which causes liver swelling, have tried the over-the-counter extract with no effect.
A new study by the University of North Carolina found the extract was no better than a drug-free placebo at easing signs of the disease, in a test involving people who hadn’t responded to traditional remedies.
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The study looked at 154 people with chronic hepatitis C, who hadn’t got any better taking standard prescription drugs peginterferon and ribavirin. These people were randomly assigned to take either silymarin or a placebo three times a day for almost six months. Those taking the silymarin were given two different dosages: 420 mg or 700 mg, both of which are higher than the dosage found in traditional supplements.
After 24 weeks of treatments only six people – two in each silymarin group and two in the placebo group saw their liver enzymes return to normal or significantly drop.
Dr Michael Fried, the lead researcher from the research group told Reuters:"Taking (silymarin) would be unlikely to have any benefit for them. Focusing on keeping a healthy lifestyle to try to minimize liver damage - that's probably more important than taking these supplements."
Despite these findings proving milk-thistle to be an unreliable oral supplement, a fellow researcher believes that silymarin could have positive effects if administered intravenously.
Fried said the focus for people who don't respond to traditional liver drugs should be on improving their lifestyle:
"Avoiding things like alcohol and maintaining your ideal body weight will go a long way toward maintaining liver health in people with hepatitis C.”
Jvion launches AI-powered map to tackle mental health crisis
Clinical AI company Jvion has launched an interactive map of the US that highlights areas that are most vulnerable to poor mental health.
The Behavioral Health Vulnerability Map uses Jvion's AI CORE™ software to analyse public data on social determinants of health (SDOH) and determine the vulnerability of every US Census block group.
Vulnerability refers to the likelihood that residents will experience issues like self-harm, suicide attempts or overdoses. The map also identifies the most influential social determinants in each region, to show the social and environmental conditions that contribute to mental illness.
As an example, the map shows that Harrison County in Mississippi has a 50% higher suicide rate than the rest of the state. It also shows a high percentage of individuals in the armed forces at a time when active duty suicides are at a six-year high, along with a high prevalence of coronary artery disease, arthritis, and COPD, all chronic illnesses that are linked to a higher suicide risk.
The map also shows Harrison County has a high percentage of Vietnamese Americans, who studies suggest have high rates of depression and may be less likely to seek help from mental health professionals.
The map was built using the same data and analytics that Jvion used to create the COVID Community Vulnerability Map, which was launched towards the start of the pandemic.
With this new map, Jvion is aiming to tackle the growing mental health crisis in the US. “At a time when so many Americans are struggling with their mental health, we’re proud to offer a tool that can help direct treatment resources to the communities that need it most,” said Dr John Showalter, MD, Jvion’s chief product officer, who led the development of the map.
“For too long, the healthcare industry has struggled to address social determinants of health, particularly in the context of behavioural health. Our hope is that by surfacing the social and environmental vulnerabilities of America’s communities, we can better coordinate our response to the underlying conditions that impact the health and wellbeing of people everywhere.”