Skip to main content

NCCIH Clinical Digest

for health professionals

Hepatitis C and Dietary Supplements

June 2019
Milk Thistle
© Thinkstock

Several dietary and herbal supplements have been studied for hepatitis C, and substantial numbers of people with hepatitis C have tried herbal supplements. The most commonly used supplement for hepatitis C is silymarin (an extract from milk thistle). However, no dietary supplement has been shown to be efficacious for hepatitis C.

This issue provides information on what the science says about several dietary supplements studied for hepatitis C.

What the Science Says: 
Hepatitis C and Dietary Supplements

Condition and Summary of Current Evidence

Current research suggests that milk thistle is no better than placebo as a treatment for hepatitis C.

Read more about milk thistle (silymarin) for hepatitis C

Only a few studies have examined the effects of probiotics on hepatitis C, and of those studies, there isn’t any clear evidence that probiotics are helpful in people with hepatitis C.

Read more about probiotics for hepatitis C

Preliminary studies, most of which were conducted outside the United States, have found that zinc supplements might help to correct zinc deficiencies associated with hepatitis C, reduce some symptoms, or improve patients’ response to treatment, but the evidence for these possible benefits is limited. 

Read more about zinc for hepatitis C

There is currently insufficient evidence to determine if glycyrrhizin is efficacious for hepatitis C.

Read more about glycyrrhizin for hepatitis C

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

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health 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 NCCIH’s Clearinghouse toll-free at 1-888-644-6226, or visit the NCCIH website at NCCIH 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 Integrative Health as the source. All copyrighted material is the property of its respective owners and may not be reprinted without their permission.