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NAC vs. Milk Thistle

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Anyone have any anecdotal evidence or just plain opinions about which is superior for liver protection?   

I have given NAC (N-acetyl-L-cysteine) a fair amount at the hospital for acetaminophen (Tylenol) overdoses, and recently started giving it to folks undergoing procedures involving IV contrast dyes (for renal protection).

Used to take milk thistle years ago and have heard of docs at UC-San Francisco giving it for Amanita ("Deathcap") mushroom poisoning.

Or am I just pissing away my money altogether?


Hi John,

my doctor who is both an immunologist and a phytotherapy specialist has been giving me a variety of plant based things.

 Milk thistle is part of a liquid medication called Cholarest (in Italy) that also contains artichoke (depurative), fumaria (depurative and anti viral) and Macis (digestive helper) - this I take for lowering cholesterol levels

The foremost liver protector I have used is called Desmodium; I believe you can find it in liquid and solid forms. It detoxyfies the liver.

Aside from this and because I tend to believe in the fact that the food you eat can help heal your problems, I eat artichoke, black radish and other veg that our grand mothers knew were good for a weak liver.

hope this helps,


Matty the Damned:
It detoxyfies the liver.

Not wanting to doubt the efficacy of milk thistle nor the wisdom of anyone's grandmother, tell me how does one "detoxify" the liver? Given the role and purpose of the liver, the notion of "detoxifying" it sounds slightly ridiculous to me.

(Who didn't believe Sandra Cabot when she spouted off about this either)

Hi all,

"detoxify" is probably not the right term, you are right; apologies for this lack of accuracy but english is not my mother language.

Here are a few details re: Desmodium Ascendens. More info can be found on sites related to hepatitis.

BOTANIC NAME Desmodium ascendens
FAMILY Papillonaceae
PARTS USED Non flowering parts, stems and leaves, harvested after flowering.
HABIT Southern Sierra-Leone, North of Liberia in the equatorial forests of Africa.
# hepatoprotective
# hepatorestorative
# antihepatotoxic
# antiallergic
# antiinflammatory
# Viral hepatitis
# toxic hepatitis - accidental or due to drug addiction
# hepatic lesions of alcoholic origin
# hepatic lesions due to chemotherapy
# autoimmune diseases - asthma, allergies
# cirrhosis prevention
# nausea
# fatigue
# loss of appetite 
# rapid disappearance of icterus and asthenia (between 2 and 7 days)

Desmodium without any toxicity, does not work by antiviral action, but by regenerating and protecting the hepatic cells. It has a protective effect against lysis of the hepatocyte. It can lead to the normalisation of transaminases and the prevention of cirrhosis by alleviating antiinflammatory attacks.
Toxic hepatitis generated by carbon tetrachloride is much better tolerated when Desmodium ascendens is administered.


Now, and this is probably due to cultural differences, I am not aware of Sandra Cabot... could you enlighten me?


PS I LOVE the parrots!!

NAC: no question that it's a hepatoprotectant (after all, it's used to treat acute liver poisoning caused by acetaminophen). But whether the product you buy is pure enough or of pharmaceutical grade, and what doses are needed, or whether it works outside the clinical setting, I don't know. A useful summary of research:

Fewer rigorous studies of silymarin, unfortunately, though lots of promising data. The jury (as comprised by the FDA and liver specialists) is still out, though that may simply be because of poor clinical study design.

Maybe some people who actually use one or both of these supplements should chime in? Or those with Hep B or Hep C?



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