OBJECTIVES: To determine whether ingestion of milk thistle affects the pharmacokinetics of indinavir. METHODS: We conducted a three-period, randomized controlled trial with 16 healthy participants. We randomized participants to milk thistle or control. All participants received initial dosing of indinavir, and baseline indinavir levels were obtained (AUC(0-8)) (phase I). The active group were then given 450 mg milk-thistle extract capsules to be taken t.i.d. from day 2 to day 30. The control group received no plant extract. On day 29 and day 30, indinavir dosing and sampling was repeated in both groups as before (phase II). After a wash-out period of 7 days, indinavir dosing and sampling were repeated as before (phase III). RESULTS: All participants completed the trial, but two were excluded from analysis due to protocol violation. There were no significant between-group differences. Active group mean AUC(0-8) indinavir decreased by 4.4% (90% CI, -27.5% to -26%, P=0.78) from phase I to phase II in the active group, and by 17.3% (90% CI, -37.3% to +9%, P=0.25) in phase III. Control group mean AUC(0-8) decreased by 21.5% (90% CI, -43% to +8%, P=0.2) from phase I to phase II and by 38.5% (90% CI, -55.3% to -15.3%, P=0.01) of baseline at phase III. To place our findings in context, milk thistle-indinavir trials were identified through systematic searches of the literature. A meta-analysis of three milk thistle-indinavir trials revealed a non-significant pooled mean difference of 1% in AUC(0-8) (95% CI, -53% to 55%, P=0.97). CONCLUSIONS: Indinavir levels were not reduced significantly in the presence of milk thistle.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur J Clin Pharmacol

Publication Date





1 - 7


Adult, Area Under Curve, Drug Interactions, HIV Protease Inhibitors, Half-Life, Humans, Indinavir, Male, Meta-Analysis as Topic, Milk Thistle, Plant Preparations