Milk Thistle

Picture Of Milk Thistle

Milk Thistle

Milk Thistle Benefits

Milk thistle has been in use by herbalists for over 2,000 years in Europe.

It’s primary function is protecting the liver and treating liver and gallbladder problems. This herb is also used to lower cholesterol, treat diabetes and reduce cancer cells in the breast, cervix and prostate.

Many Herbalists recommend milk thistle for many types of cancer as it is a great blood detoxifier.

Milk thistle contains about 20% protein by weight and includes many important amino acids. It also helps with RNA synthesis.

Some studies suggest that this herb may be beneficial to people having type 2 diabetes, as it can decrease blood sugar levels and possibly improve insulin resistance.

Milk thistle also protects the liver from harmful substances like toxins, preventing them from penetrating liver cells. It can also promote the growth of new liver cells needed to repair a damaged liver. It also encourages the liver to clean itself of dangerous substances like pesticides and heavy metals,

Besides protecting the liver, the compounds in this herb may be beneficial to the kidneys and prostate gland as well. Milk thistle also contains antioxidants that protect the body’s cells from free radicals. It stimulates the liver to produce SOD, an excellent free radical scavenger.

This herb is often taken by people to reduce the risk of exposure to toxins, such as alcohol, pollution, environmental toxins and pesticides. It enhances the immune system to fight infection and sooth inflammation.

This herb is known as a protector of the kidneys as well. It is sometimes used for skin problems such as psoriasis, as it blocks inflammation and allergic reactions.

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Milk Thistle Uses:

  • Treat liver disease
  • Treat cancer
  • Treat seasonal allergies
  • Treat heartburn
  • Treat gallbladder disorders
  • Normalize blood sugar levels
  • Treat mushroom poisoning
  • Treat spleen disorders
  • Treat irritable bowel syndrome
  • Anti-aging
  • Treat alcoholic cirrhosis
  • Treat dyspepsia
  • Treat viral hepatitis
  • Treat swelling of the lungs
  • Treat malaria
  • Treat fibrosis
  • High cholesterol
  • Treat skin disorders
  • Treat acne
  • Treat psoriasis
  • Treat toxic poisoning
  • Treat menstrual problems
  • Treat diabetes
  • Treat indigestion
  • Treat stomach pain

Scientific Name

Silybum marianum

Common Names

Silymarin, Marian Thistle, Mediterranean Thistle, Mary Thistle

Where It Grows

Milk Thistle is native to Europe

Which Part Of The Plant Is Used


Picture Of Milk Thistle Seeds

Milk Thistle Seeds

How It Works

The chemical extracted from milk thistle seeds is called silymarin. Silymarin is a group of flavonoids comprised of silibinin, silicristin and silidianin. These helpful flavonoids help repair liver cells damaged by toxins and alcohol. Silymarin also protects healthy liver cells. It can reduce inflammation and works in the body as an antioxidant.

A report in the “World Journal of Gastroenterology” suggests that silymarin may have anti-cancer effects as well.

How It’s Used

An extract of the seeds is usually taken in capsule form.

Precautions and Side Effects:

Some possible side effects of taking milk thistle are diarrhea, bloating and nausea. Do not take if pregnant or nursing. Do not take if you are allergic to ragweed. Women who have fibroid tumors should not take this herb. Women having ovarian, breast or uterine cancer should not take this herb.

Description and History Of Milk Thistle

Milk thistle is native to the Mediterranean but can be found growing in many parts of the world. This plant likes sunny and dry areas. It has spiny stems and can grow up to ten feet tall. It has wide leaves that contain a milky sap. The plant has dark red/purple flowers.

This plant has a very long history of medicinal use as a folk remedy for liver and gallbladder problems.

Editors Comments

I have taken milk thistle capsules for its anti-aging and overall health benefits.

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University of Maryland – Milk Thistle Report
NCCAM – Milk Thistle at a glance
Science Daily – Milk Thistle Study



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