World Hepatitis Day take places every year on 28 July and brings the world together under a single theme to raise awareness of the global burden of viral hepatitis and to take actions in preventing and treating hepatitis.
Viral hepatitis is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. It is accounting nearly 1.34 million death yearly, which is trending to HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis or malaria. It is a truly global epidemic that affects millions of people without even being aware; as it is not found in just one location nor amongst one set of population. Averagely 8 out of 10 people are living with hepatitis B and C that not aware of their hepatitis condition. This can result in the real development of end-stage liver disease at some point in their life; as well as transmitting the infection to others. Viral hepatitis is often caused by virus infection. They are transmitted through contaminated food and drink with fecal matter from an infected person or transmitted through the blood of an infected person. Some even get the infection through the sexual contact4. Besides, hepatitis can also be caused by non-virus factors such as alcohol use, certain medications, toxins, autoimmune disease and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.
People often do not know they are infected as it might not have any symptoms. If symptoms appear like a headache, fever, muscle pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dark urine and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes), it is recommended to get testing and to receive treatment as soon as possible. People diagnosed with chronic hepatitis is normally treated with antiviral medications and a liver transplant will be considered for severe cases of liver damage. Other than those conventional medications, one of the alternative remedy known as a high strength milk thistle extract is proven effective in managing the hepatitis infection.
Milk thistle fruit and seed extracts are the essential herbal remedies for the liver due to its most prescribed natural compound, silymarin. Silymarin is a potent antioxidant composed of at least 7 flavonolignans (silibinin, isosilibinin, silychristin, isosilychristin, and silydianin) and 1 flavonoid (taxifolin). Among these, silibinin which is also known as silybin, is the primary active ingredient in silymarin complex with regards to its antioxidant and hepato-protective properties. These two properties are very important in maintaining liver health and aiding liver detoxification.
Silybin is well known for its ability to stabilize cell membranes, thereby preventing toxic chemicals from entering the cell. It can also act as a free radical scavenger through increasing the activity of superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase (important antioxidant enzymes) that aid in neutralizing harmful effects of toxins. In addition, silybin has been shown to enhance protein synthesis which stimulates the regeneration and repair of liver cells. Moreover, silybin plays a role in hepato-protection by possessing anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-fibrotic properties.
As a complementary treatment for liver disorders, one can opt for a higher strength of milk thistle with 80% standardized silybin extracts. Clinical studies have revealed that supplementation with milk thistle has been associated with improved liver function and decreased liver enzyme activity.