You might have heard about milk thistle, a prickly herb whose leaves have white veins. It can help your liver flush out toxins after a night of drinking. It is widely available as a supplement and is available in powder, capsules, and extract forms.
Milk thistle is a weed-like plant native to the Mediterranean region that blooms purple. The fruit extract has the same health benefits as the seed extract.
Milk thistle has long been used as a natural remedy for liver health and the plant is also claimed to have other benefits for your health. Why is that? Silymarin is the main active ingredient in milk thistle dried fruit, which is a flavonoid complex. The antioxidant properties of silymarin may help prevent the oxidation of healthy cells. Silymarin is a flavonoids complex composed of silibinin, silidianin, and silicristin. It is thought to help fight free radicals in the liver due to its powerful antioxidant properties. Thistle benefits are attributed to the active ingredient Silymarin, which is found in milk thistle.
Here's a look at the science behind these claims to see if there is a reason to boost your confidence in this supplement.
Helps Reduce Cholesterol (5)
A high level of cholesterol can have a negative effect on heart health as well as increase a person's chances of suffering a stroke. There has been some research suggesting that milk thistle can reduce blood cholesterol levels, although there is no conclusive evidence to support this.
According to one study published in 2006, provides evidence that milk thistle may contribute to lowering cholesterol levels. The study found that people taking milk thistle to treat diabetes had lower cholesterol levels than those taking a placebo.
Promotes Liver Health (3,4)
Milk thistle is known for supporting the liver and protecting it against harmful free radicals. A powerful antioxidant compound, silymarin, is believed to protect the liver from free radical damage. A study done in 2006 confirmed the potential benefits of milk thistle in improving diet-induced liver damage. One of the largest organs in the body, the liver is responsible for detoxifying toxic substances. It protects the liver's numerous hepatic cell membranes and slows toxins from being absorbed into the liver. Milk thistle may protect your liver from various effects of alcohol.
Helps Controls Diabetes (1)
The milk thistle is an herbal remedy that can assist you in managing diabetes on a complimentary basis. Milk thistle contains several plant compounds proven to improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels. The silymarin compound in milk thistle reduces fasting blood sugars and maintains a normal HbA1C level. Furthermore, milk thistle has a powerful antioxidant effect that reduces the risk of diabetic kidney disease. According to a study published in 2014 that looked at both animal and human studies, milk thistle has "demonstrated beneficial effects on diabetic complications, including diabetic neuropathy, diabetic nephropathy, and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, due mostly to its anti-oxidant properties.
Promotes lactation (2)
In lactating women, milk thistle is a proven natural remedy for increasing milk production. According to two reviews, milk thistle (and fenugreek) is recommended for use as galactagogues for milk production. Traditional methods for administration include taking 1- 3g of the crushed seeds (encapsulated) or crushing the seeds and preparing tea from them. A single study has been conducted using 420mg of micronized Silymarin which increased milk production by 64% on day 30 of supplementation compared to 22% in the placebo group, with increased measurements on day 63 of 86% and 32%. Thus, it has shown to help improve the lactation and that is why it is also known as a galactogogue.
HealthyHey Milk Thistle Extract supplies a standardised 25:1 extract, yielding 80% total flavonoids which neutralizes toxins and improves your liver health. The recommended dosage is 2 capsules daily before a meal.
In summary, this herb is nothing short of a miracle when it comes to the benefits it has to offer when comes to both health and beauty. The next time you are searching for an herbal remedy, you should consider adding milk thistle to your herbal arsenal.
- Kazazis, C. E., Evangelopoulos, A. A., Kollas, A., & Vallianou, N. G. (2014). The therapeutic potential of milk thistle in diabetes. The review of diabetic studies : RDS, 11(2), 167–174. https://doi.org/10.1900/RDS.2014.11.167
- Peila, Chiara & Coscia, Alessandra & Tonetto, Paola & Spada, Elena & Milani, Silvano & Moro, Guido & Fontana, Carlotta & Vagliano, Liliana & Tortone, Claudia & Bella, Elisa & Bertino, Enrico. (2015). Evaluation of the galactogogue effect of silymarin on mothers of preterm newborns (. La Pediatria Medica e Chirurgica. 37. 10.4081/pmc.2015.105.
- Mulrow C, Lawrence V, Jacobs B, et al. Milk Thistle: Effects on Liver Disease and Cirrhosis and Clinical Adverse Effects: Summary. 2000. In: AHRQ Evidence Report Summaries. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); 1998- 2005. 21. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK11896/
- Abenavoli, L., Capasso, R., Milic, N., & Capasso, F. (2010). Milk thistle in liver diseases: past, present, future. Phytotherapy research : PTR, 24(10), 1423–1432. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.3207.
- Huseini, H. F., Larijani, B., Heshmat, R., Fakhrzadeh, H., Radjabipour, B., Toliat, T., & Raza, M. (2006). The efficacy of Silybum marianum (L.) Gaertn. (silymarin) in the treatment of type II diabetes: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical trial. Phytotherapy research : PTR, 20(12), 1036–1039. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.1988