Milk Thistle

Botanical  Information

Native to the Mediterranean region, milk thistle preparations are derived from the seed, pod or fruit of the plant. Milk thistle gets its name from the milky white fluid that comes from the leaves when they are crushed. The active ingredient in milk thistle is Silymarin. Silymarin is a group of flavonoids thought to help repair liver cells damage by alcohol or other toxic substances. The available forms are capsules of standardized dried herb, liquid extract, and a Silymarin phosphatidylcholine complex.

Features & Benefits

  • Improves liver function and increases survival in people with cirrhosis or chronic hepatitis
  • Milk thistle has been used an emergency antidote to poisoning by deathcap mushrooms. Milk thistle extract can counteract the toxic effects of the mushroom when given within 10 minutes of ingestion. If given within 24 hours, it significantly reduces the risk of liver damage and death.
  • Studies conducted on patients with Hepatitis C found milk thistle use was associated with fewer and milder symptoms of liver disease and better quality of life
  • Silymarin helps to reduce inflammation and is a strong antioxidant

Suggestions & Precautions

  • Most supplements are standardized preparations made from the seed of the plant, standardized to contain 70-80% of silymarin
  • Side effects are usually mild and may involve stomach upset and diarrhea. Touching the plant may cause a rash.
  • Those with a history of hormone-related cancers, including breast, uterine and prostate cancers, should not take milk thistle
  • Individuals taking medications should consult with a health care professional prior to use as milk thistle can cause poor interactions with many medications

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