Its traditional use dates back over 2000 years, when it was used to treat mushroom poisoning and snake bites, and it remains to be one of the health shops bestsellers to this day. The modern use of Milk Thistle began in 1949 when animal studies confirmed that it could protect the liver from toxic effects of certain chemicals. In 1968, an active compound was isolated and called Silymarin. Since then, Milk Thistle has been the subject of over 100 clinical trials, mainly for liver disease. Silymarin blocks certain liver damaging factors and stimulates the growth of new liver cells in place of damaged ones. It has been shown to have positive effects in treatment of several types of liver disease, such as cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis, fatty liver, sub-clinical cholestasis of pregnancy, etc. It also helps to improve skin conditions, which caused by inappropriate liver function, such as acne, psoriasis and eczema. Recently, Milk Thistle has been used as a common emergency treatment of amanita mushroom poisoning.
What it does:
Cholesterol: Milk Thistle increases fat metabolism in liver, reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol and total triglycerides.
Hepatitis B and C: Silymarin and Silibinin accelerate the rate of protein synthesis in the liver, leading to faster cell regeneration. Combined with phosphatidylcholine, milk thistle reduces the markers of oxidative stress in the treatment of chronic hepatitis B. It has also been found that a combination of milk thistle with PPC, SAMe and selenium improves the outcome of patients treated from hepatitis C. This combination also decreases the side effects 0f conventional antiviral therapy.
Liver detoxification and weight control: Milk Thistle enhances liver function through its ability to prevent toxin-induced damage and by stimulating the growth of new liver cells to replace old, damaged cells, without stimulating malignant tissue (tumors). Silymarin has been shown to stimulate the production of Glutathione by over 35%. Increased glutathione levels raise the liver’s ability to handle a wide range of hormones, drugs and chemicals. One human placebo controlled study has demonstrated the effectiveness of Milk Thistle in protecting the liver from toxins such as solvents, paints, and glues. The study showed the decrease in certain harmful liver enzymes and bilirubin in the group that took Milk Thistle, while there was no improvement in placebo group.
Milk Thistle does not cleanse the liver, but it increases the production of bile, which helps to reduce fatty deposits in the liver, aiding detoxification and weight control. Taken for a couple of months, Milk Thistle will improve fat metabolism in the liver. This will also stimulate weight loss. Milk Thistle is also a bitter herb that assists the digestion of fats. It helps digestive discomforts caused by overeating, such as nausea and indigestion. It is one of the most popular remedies sold in health food shops during Christmas. Everyone who drinks alcohol, take recreational drugs, indulge in fatty foods and taking medicines such as painkillers on a regular basis, should take Milk Thistle. It is a wonderful anti-hangover remedy too. Taken before and after drinking, Milk Thistle helps to alleviate hangover symptoms and helps to detoxify the liver.
PMS: Liver breaks down excess hormones such as estrogen, but sometimes it is not degrading estrogen properly, which causes or increases hormonal imbalance. In addition, period can be heavy because the liver does not detoxify the bloodstream properly, leading to accumulation of toxins. This also results in outbreaks of acne in females. Healthy liver function may contribute to a better hormone balance, thus helping to alleviate PMS symptoms and clear the skin in cases on hormonal acne. Taking milk thistle prior to period can help to lighten it and reduce the discomfort.
Skin: Liver cleanses the bloodstream and encourages good bowel function through the production of bile. Maintaining these processes is of prime importance for a good skin condition, free of acne, eczema and psoriasis. Silymarin reduces excessive proliferation of skin cells, reduces inflammation and significantly improves liver function, which is often impaired in psoriasis sufferers.
Milk thistle (silymarin) a flowering herb related to the daisy and ragweed family.