Milk thistle has long been used as a treatment for, and preventative for, a variety of health conditions. Native to the Mediterranean region, this plant is also known as Silybum marianum. Let’s explore, The Benefits of Milk Thistle.
According to a study conducted in 2002, milk thistle may even be effective in treating certain types of cancer. The most common health benefit of milk thistle is the protection of the liver against damage caused by harmful agents.
This property helps in preventing cirrhosis, liver failure, and various other problems related to liver function.
Also see 9 Incredible Benefits Of Cayenne Pepper, Plantain Banana Nutrition, and Most Common Vitamin Deficiencies.
Helpful In Cancer Treatment
Silybin is the main active constituent of milk thistle and has been found to possess anti-cancer properties. It has been studied for its anti-cancer effects in the case of prostate and breast cancers. Through a series of experiments, it was found that silybin can improve the effectiveness of certain chemotherapy drugs.
In fact, some studies state that silybin can synergize with conventional cancer treatments such as cisplatin, tamoxifen, and 5-fluorouracil. Improvement is possible because of chemotherapy. In other words, most drugs and treatments used for cancer are designed to slow down or stop the production of abnormal cells. There is also evidence that they can induce cancer cell death.
Help in Weight Loss
Scientific research is mixed on the weight-loss powers of silymarin, the active compound in milk thistle. Some studies suggest that it can help trigger weight loss, while other research suggests that it doesn’t actually help people shed pounds.
A 2013 review published in the Journal of Medicinal Plants Research notes that some clinical studies do show a link between using silymarin and overweight individuals experiencing a reduction in fat mass, but such research is limited to animals.
Silymarin has also been linked to an improvement in insulin resistance and blood sugar levels among those with diabetes, but only one study including humans (not lab animals) has connected the compound with this benefit. Read More Here.
Can Help To Strengthen Bones
Osteoporosis is a disease that causes weak and fragile bones which break easily after minor falls. This bone fragility increases the risk of fractures and the most common type of fracture worldwide is hip fracture.
Milk thistle is an herb that has recently been gaining attention for its potential in promoting healthy bones. Milk thistle contains silymarin, which has been the focus of several medical studies, along with the use of this natural herb for promoting healthier bones and joints.
Research confirms that drinking milk thistle daily can help to improve bone density, preventing osteoporosis and other bone-related diseases. See 9 Ways To Improve Bone Health Naturally.
Use in Promote Brain Health
Some studies suggest milk thistle may be effective in treating multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. Silymarin, one of milk thistle’s active compounds, is being studied as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease because it suppresses amyloid beta-protein, a known risk factor.
Several studies point to milk thistle’s role in preventing age-related brain ailments, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Although more research is needed in order to draw conclusions, some studies also show milk thistle may aid in the treatment of anxiety and depression. See Vegan Brain Booster Foods To Consume.
Can Improve Allergic Asthma
Silymarin is a flavonoid, which is a natural antioxidant compound found in plants. Silymarin is the active ingredient in milk thistle and it has been studied in humans and animals as a treatment for allergic asthma. In an animal study, silymarin appeared to prevent inflammation in the lung tissue of mice with allergic asthma by reducing immune system over-reactions.
There was also evidence that silymarin could help to control symptoms of asthma by regulating immune responses. The medical community requires more research to evaluate if silymarin can help allergy-related inflammation in the lungs of humans with asthma.
Increase Breast Milk Production
Lactation consultants have reported anecdotally that milk thistle supports regular breast milk production in nursing mothers. Scientists think it accomplishes this by increasing the hormone prolactin.
Although findings are limited, one randomized controlled study found that administration of 420 mg of silymarin to lactating mothers over 63 days resulted in a 64% increase in milk production compared to controls.
The evidence that is available is limited to this single clinical study. Future research should provide more information about the risks and benefits of milk thistle for breastfeeding mothers.
Can help Immunity & Control Allergies
Research studies have revealed milk thistle’s ability to increase immune functions and ward off infections due to its stimulatory effects. The herb also improves liver functioning, which also helps the immune system—the two are closely interconnected.
Allergies are a huge problem that millions of people face causing a number of unpleasant effects. While antibiotics increase the risk of allergies, milk thistle has the potential to treat allergies naturally by giving a helping hand to our immune systems.
There is growing proof that milk thistle can be a useful treatment for skin conditions such as eczema. It can also reduce the itching, swelling, and redness caused by this condition. Milk thistle can also help clear your nose if it is congested.
Improves Digestive System
Millions of people use milk thistle due to its positive effects on the digestive tract. It is used in the treatment of gallstones, infections, and cirrhosis of the liver. People suffering from food poisoning and damage to the stomach can also benefit from taking this herb.
The use of milk thistle for digestive support has been well known for centuries and backed by numerous clinical trials. Studies show that the herb improves enzyme production and the creation of bile, resulting in improved digestive health.
Plus, given its anti-inflammatory properties, it also soothes the mucous membranes in your gut. We have much evidence from both ancient and modern medicine that milk thistle is a helpful aid in treating many gastrointestinal issues. See How Long Does It Take To Digest Food?
Beneficial for the Heart
Milk thistle has been shown to effectively lower LDL cholesterol, also known as bad cholesterol. This reduction in LDL cholesterol may help decrease your risk of heart disease by lowering inflammation in the heart.
This herb prevents the oxidation of cholesterol and inhibits a key enzyme that causes damage to the arteries. It also prevents the depletion of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that combats oxidative stress and protects the heart.
A number of studies have indicated that milk thistle may help to protect the heart through a variety of different mechanisms. Milk thistle has also been shown to modulate the blood pressure response by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation that often occurs in patients with hypertension. See How To Prevent Heart Disease?
Can Delay the Aging Process
According to various studies, one of the best ways you can delay the aging process is by consuming milk thistle. Antioxidant-rich herbs are commonly used in supplements. Milk thistle, which is known for its antioxidant properties, helps protect against free radicals.
Antioxidants can protect the skin’s surface and internal organs from damage caused by aging. Research shows that a balanced amount of milk thistle in the diet can reduce symptoms of aging, including wrinkles, dark spots, and fine lines. This can help delay aging by preventing muscle aches and improving vision.
Milk Thistle Protects the Liver
The liver is one of the most important organs of the human body. Every day, your liver performs thousands of tasks and protects you from hundreds of diseases. However, most people don’t appreciate the importance of their liver until it’s too late.
Most of us are aware that certain bad habits such as alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs can lead to liver problems. A chemical compound called “silymarin” is the active ingredient in milk thistle. Silymarin is derived from this compound and has been used for thousands of years as one of the most effective and natural liver treatments.
Today, silymarin is still used to treat liver diseases and improve liver function. The principal active ingredients in milk thistle are flavonolignans derived from silymarin. These compounds are believed to be responsible for enhancing liver cells’ ability to regenerate and thus protecting them from injury.
Useful in Treatment of Acne
Acne is characterized by the appearance of inflammatory lesions on the skin. It can cause pain and it is, therefore, important to prevent outbreaks and to find effective treatments. People may spend a lot of money on anti-acne solutions that don’t work.
While there are few proven treatments, milk thistle may prove useful. One study showed that it can help with acne and further studies have not contradicted this result. Small clinical studies showed that a daily dose of 210 mg for 8 weeks resulted in a 53% reduction in acne lesions. As this was only one study, larger-scale research is needed. See also, Dandelion Benefits.
Protects Kidneys & Gallbladder
The kidneys are the two bean-shaped organs located immediately below the rib cage. They are hard-working organs that work to filter excess water and waste from the blood as well as produce hormones, enzymes, and proteins.
Milk thistle is highly beneficial for the kidneys. It can help prevent gallstone formation and gallbladder problems, as well as promote proper kidney function. Milk thistle can also protect kidney cells from damage and support the detoxification process of the kidneys and gallbladder. It also helps to protect against diabetic neuropathy and supports healthy kidney functioning.
Helpful in Diabetes
Research has shown that milk thistle may be effective in the treatment of diabetes, particularly when combined with a traditional diabetes-management regimen. Also known as silymarin, milk thistle’s active ingredient appears to improve insulin resistance and reduce blood glucose levels.
The milk thistle plant also contains a secondary compound called silybin, which has been shown to help treat diabetes complications in studies. Additionally, research suggests that milk thistle’s antioxidant properties may have positive effects on the liver. And since the liver also plays a role in releasing insulin into the bloodstream, milk thistle could help diabetics with this as well.
Silymarin is a compound found in the seeds and fruit of the milk thistle plant that helps this crucial organ to regenerate itself naturally. But years of exposure to environmental toxins can slow the process. Silymarin, an extract from the milk thistle plant, stimulates protein synthesis in the liver.
This action encourages efficacy by rapidly replacing aged or damaged liver cells with healthy new ones. As a result, the liver can continue to perform its many essential functions. Due to the prevalence of toxins in our daily lives, milk thistle is a useful weapon in the body’s fight against harmful substances.
The silymarin in milk thistle repairs and improves damaged liver cells, and it acts as a shield against further damage caused by toxins.
Milk Thistle extract possesses significant health benefits. It is potentially effective in treating cancer, diabetes, ulcerative colitis, hepatitis, cirrhosis, and congestive heart failure. It also helps reduce the effects of chemotherapy and other toxins.
Milk thistle has a high antioxidant activity that can help treat inflammatory bowel diseases, heart diseases, stomach diseases, fatigue, and menopause symptoms. So, we can conclude that milk thistle is scientifically proven to be an effective medication that can help boost your overall health.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does Milk thistle work?
Milk thistle seed has been used in herbal medicine to protect the liver from toxic chemicals and certain drugs. Studies also indicate that it can lower blood sugar levels and reduce oxidative stress in the liver, as well as reduce liver inflammation.
Is Milk Thistle Safe?
Milk thistle is generally considered safe at recommended doses, with reported effects occurring in less than one percent of the people taking it over long periods. The most common side effects are stomach distress and diarrhea.
How much amount of milk thistle is beneficial?
Research indicates that 420-600 mg of silymarin might be beneficial for people with liver disease or abnormal liver function. However, long-term use of silymarin has also been shown to improve chronic liver disease, even in patients who do not respond to shorter treatments.
Who should not use milk thistle?
Women should not use milk thistle when pregnant or breastfeeding. Individuals with a history of hormone-related cancers, including those of the breast, uterus, and prostate, should not take it. People with allergies to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, chamomile, and yarrow should avoid it.
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I have taken Milk Thistle casually on and off over the years but the information you presented makes me think I need to take it on a daily basis because of the benefits mentioned. Thank you for sharing.
The article is very interesting
Thank you Jackie, I’m happy you found it interesting.
Years ago i was told my liver was plugged. I was told to use a product called It is a health store supplement made of milk thistle and dandelion. It works very well for getting your liver going again. I would like to know if milk thistle grows wild in the midwest? how to prep and use it? And either wild or supplement……..can you take it daily or should you cycle it with breaks of days or weeks between taking again?
Thanks. (PS: Loved your article on ground cherries…..this was my first year growing and eating)
Thanks Rob, milk thistle grows well in zone 5-9. Most of the plant is edible, including root, shoot, stems and leaves except the thorns. The midrib tastes like celery stalks. Contraindication for women who are breast feeding or pregnant. May interfere with drugs such as allergy drugs, anti-anxiety, antipsychotics, seizure medications, anticoagulants. Refer to a healthcare provider before taking milk thistle. Check out You Tube video on How to Eat Thistle!