People suffering from liver damage may have heard about the milk thistle benefits. It is one of the oldest herb used for detoxification of our body. It is widely used for anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which is helpful in removing toxins from our system. Milk thistle grow in California and it is native to Mediterranean countries, however, now a days milk thistle plant is grown globally.
Due to its wide range of health benefits, it is consumed in different ways. Milk thistle is mostly converted into tincture, tea or used for making supplements. As an herb, milk thistle benefits was first limited to healthy digestive system but theory changed after so many scientific studies proving milk thistle good for more than one dozen of medicinal uses.
What Is Milk Thistle
Milk thistle plant is native to the Mediterranean region and have been in use for over 2000 years. Milk thistle properties includes high amount of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-viral. It contains flavonoid silymarin which is responsible for its health benefits.
Scientifically known as Silybum marianum has other common names such as Mary thistle, Mediterranean milk thistle, variegated thistle, cardus marianus, Scotch thistle, blessed milkthistle, Marian thistle, and Saint Mary’s thistle.
The name is derived from its plant properties where white-milky liquid runs through the plant stem and leaves. When you will crush the leaves, it releases white-milky liquid.
Have you ever wondered what is milk thistle used for? or What is milk thistle good for ? here is the list of health benefits you can get from this ancient herb also known as Silymarin.
1. Milk thistle For Liver
Every bite we eat creates organic waste in our blood which get filtered through liver. Contamination of liver can lead more than two dozen of diseases and some of them are fatal. Milk thistle benefits include cleaning our liver from organic dirt such as uric acid. People have been using it as home remedy to reduce uric acid levels.
Milk thistle seeds are used in various detoxification recipes for its bioflavanoid antioxidants to support healthy liver functioning.
Drinking its tea or taking the supplement can be helpful in revering the side effects of alcohol poisoning. Pesticide on food does not go away after washing or cooking, and milk thistle is good for cleaning them out from our system. It is widely used in Ayurvedic medicines for blood purification and promote high amount of oxygen in our blood.
2. Milk Thistle For Weight Loss
Obesity is one of the biggest health concern of United States where one in every three people are obese. Milk thistle benefits include cutting down weight around your belly and thighs. A 2016 research shows that mice fed with high-fat diet was able to lose weight after taking silymarin.
Before going to sleep is the best time to take milk thistle for weight loss. It will help reboot your metabolism while you are sleeping and break down fat pockets. Our body consume more energy during sleep and it will be beneficial in speeding up the process of losing weight
3. Lowers Bad Cholesterol
Milk thistle benefits heart health and help you lower high cholesterol. It reduce the high level of LDL by purifying blood from organic waste, reducing inflammation of liver, and prevent oxidative stress. According to National Library of Medicine, when milk thistle extract is used several observed period of time, it can lower bad cholesterol (LDL), FBS, total cholesterol and triglycerides levels in blood.
In our search we found that most of the health benefits of milk thistle was observed in the study performed on diabetic patients. People suffering from diabetes show high tendency of bad cholesterol and it is not yet proven by studies that milk thistle is good for heart health for people who are not diabetic.
4. Milk Thistle For Gallbladder
Gallbladder is a four-inch, pear shaped internal organ which is placed under your liver in the upper right section. It stores bile which is a mixture of fluids, fat and cholesterol. The antiviral and antioxidant properties of milk thistle is good for your gallbladder health. It prevent them from inflammatory diseases and help break down fat from food in intestine.
Gallstones are formed when bile binds together and forms a stone like structure. Its ability to detoxify gallbladder may avoid formation of gallstones.
Milk thistle boosts enzyme formation and the production of bile that is essential for healthy digestion. People suffering from upper gastrointestinal issues can benefit from milk thistle supplements or its tincture. And due to its anti-inflammatory properties, it soothes mucus membrane in gut.
5. Boost Immune System and Prevent Cancer
Healthy amount of milk thistle dosage can suppress cancer cells from growing. Milk thistle seed contains antioxidant agent called silymarin, which is associated with prevention of cancer. Silymarin can protect your DNA from getting affected by gene altering pathogens.
Milk thistle benefits also include its ability to boost immune system by cleaning blood and lowering the levels of organic waste in our blood.
According to the Journal of Integrative Cancer Therapies, “There is strong preclinical evidence for silymarin’s hepatoprotective and anticarcinogenic effects, including inhibition of cancer cell growth in human prostate, skin, breast, and cervical cells.
Many people wonder – is milk thistle safe?, Yes, milk thistle is safe and tolerable when taken in recommended dose. It is a life saver, if nothing is working on keeping you safe from such deadly disease then this herb might help. However, more studies and research need to be done on the efficacy of silymarin for the treatment of cancer.
6. May Help Manage Diabetes
Milk thistle is good for patients of diabetes reporting insulin resistance. Taking silymarin which is the active compound in milk thistle seed is beneficial for glycemic control.
A 2006 study found that patients taking silymarin extract were able to improve their insulin levels and found it useful in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Insulin is the enzyme which manage blood glucose, rise and fall in its level can make people diabetic. It was observed that herb was detoxifying liver which is responsible for filtering blood stream that contain insulin.
Antioxidants in this herb affects the inflammation rate of internal organs such as liver, kidneys and gallbladder. Any problem in the lower body part organ can affect glycemic control.
7. Support Healthy Brain Function
Oxidative stress is one of the main reason behind poor cognitive response. And antioxidants found in milk thistle plant is good for improving oxygen levels in arteries. Studies suggests that how milk thistle can protect our brain cell from degeneration. It can be useful for people suffering from Parkinson’s disease and may be the home remedy for hand tremors.
Anciet Ayurveda suggest that milk thistle was used for treating stress and anxiety. It relaxes our brain cells and prevent age related cognitive problems such as Alzheimer’s, Degenerative brain cells and Parkinson’s disease
8. Beneficial For Fighting Back Allergy
Health benefits of milk thistle also include treating allergies. It is directly linked to liver detoxification which help boost immune system. And strong immune is responsible for the prevention of allergy and allergic reaction. People suffering from auto-immune diseases like Allergic Rhinitis or Lupus can take advantage of its antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
The herb can protect your skin from allergic rashes such as intertrigo, Lyme disease rash, poison ivy rash, eczema and pimples.
Its natural detoxifying properties flush out toxins from our body preventing these rashes from getting worse. Purification of blood also reduces oxidative stress that keep our blood healthy.
9. Milk Thistle For Kidney
The problem of kidney stone is triggered by the accumulation of high amount of uric acid in kidney. This organic waste is passed through liver and people drinking contaminated water or excessive alcohol are at higher risk of suffering from kidney diseases. Milk thistle is good for liver health and work as kidney stone home remedy by dissolving them during the blood filtration process.
There is no scientific study claiming its direct association with kidney health. However, keeping your liver healthy can definitely cut down some of the common digestive issues.
10. Fight Back Aging
Aging process can catch speed due to oxidative stress, toxins in blood, poor diet and formation of free radicals in our body. Thanks to milk thistle antioxidant properties, it can purify our system and help slow aging naturally.
Many herbal cream for wrinkles and other common signs of aging uses milk thistle seed. Its medicinal properties help reduce visible signs of aging and make people look young. Reduction in free radicals and toxins also make your skin shine and look fleshy.
11. Milk Thistle Is Good For Breastfeeding Mother
Newly born child need to drink milk mother. Formation of milk in breast have been a problem from centuries. During ancient times milk thistle was given to mothers to increase the formation of breast milk. This herb can stimulate the secretion of prolactin which is an enzyme responsible for stimulating milk production in female.
12. Milk Thistle for Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Taking silymarin pills and tablets as per recommended dose can counter HCV infection.
Silymarin is one of the top natural herbal supplement consumed by western society for its anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative, and immunomodulatory properties.
Milk thistle benefits the patients of Hepatitis C by eliminating the virus and inhibit them from replicating themselves.
Animal studies suggest that hepatoprotective effects of silymarin and can promote inhibition of in vitro HCV infection.
13. Milk Thistle For Hangover
Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to alcohol poisoning and acute hangover with headache and congestion. Taking milk thistle seed extract before going to bed can reduce hangover in the morning. It promotes liver cleaning that leads to fast processing of alcohol.
Its antioxidant compounds help brain to maintain sensible cognitive response. Reduction of oxidative stress also help with headaches and dizziness caused by drinking alcohol.
14. Milk Thistle For Acne
Hormone imbalance and high amount of free radicals in our body can cause acne breakout. Antioxidant bioflavonoids of milk thistle is beneficial for reducing toxins and improve skin oxidation that can prevent acne.
Removing impurities from skin and blood will give you healthy skin. Now its known that this herb has immune boosting qualities, it can support the treatment of acne caused from bacterial infection. Strong immune is good for fighting back infection and prevent skin diseases.
15. Milk Thistle For Candida
Candida toxin damages our liver and prevent them from proper functioning. Use of silymarin or milk thistle extract protect liver from aldehyde andcandida toxin.
Most doctors suggest 420mg/per day of milk thistle seed extract which contains 70%-80% of silymarin to cleanse liver from candida. These flavonoids promote new cell generation that is essential to heal damaged organs.
Those are the benefits of milk thistle, but there are other aspects we should know.
Milk Thistle and Dandelion
Both the herbs are considered good for liver and kidneys. They have high amount of antioxidant which help flush out free radicals from our body.
Dandelion is used in Chinese medicines from centuries to protect liver from oxidative damage and alcohol abuse. They are high in protein as compared to milk thistle and popular in China and South East Asia. One cup of dandelion greens contain 112% of vitamin A, 32% of Vitamin C, 535% of vitamin K of your daily recommendation of vitamins.
On the other hand, in the raw form (before extraction) milk thistle’s fruit contains Protein, Vitamin E, Silymarin, Silyhermin, Neo-silyhermin A and B, Sterols Quercetin Apigenin Kaempferol Eriodyctiol Chrysoeriol Naringin Dihydroxychromone.
Milk Thistle And Glutathione
Glutathione is one form of synergies which strengthen liver walls. It is a type of antioxidant which is found in plants, animals and insects. Silymarin protect against depletion of glutathione that is essential to prevent cellular damage and treat degenerative diseases.
Rising pollution, stress, anxiety, free radicals and poor diet can deplete liver capabilities. Taking silymarin can protect you from this damage.
It is important to make sure you are not over dosing milk thistle for its benefits. High amount of such herb is also not good for over all health.
Recommended Dosage of Milk Thistle
For liver detox, the recommended daily intake of milk thistle is 150 milligrams. You can break that down into 2-3 parts and take 50 milligrams three times in a day. It is tolerable but still considered as high amount of silymarin for your body.
A healthy adult can take 50-100 milligrams of this herbal supplement to support the liver.
The best way to take silymarin is through tea. It is easy to prepare and you can count the dosage according to your requirement.
Milk Thistle Tea Benefits
Silymarin tea is the best way to take milk thistle. There are other formats of dosage too such its supplements capsules, tablets and pills.
Its tea contain same benefits as compared to direct supplements. It is just another way to consume milk thistle for its benefits. Many people like hot beverage over formulated pills. Tea is pure and organic way to take silymarin.
How To Make Milk Thistle Tea
- 20 drops of milk thistle extract or,
- 1 tablespoon of milk thistle seed powder
- 2 cup of water
- 2 teaspoon of organic honey
- Pour the water in a saucepan and bring it to boiling point.
- Now mix seed powder and allow it to simmer for 3 minutes.
- Strain and collect the water in a new cup.
- Let it steep for 5 more minutes then mix honey as natural sweetener.
- The best time to drink milk thistle tea is before 15 minutes of every meal.
Milk Thistle Side Effects
Some people show allergic reaction to high amount of silymarin. So be careful and avoid overdosing. Milk thistle drug interactions can trigger an allergic reaction with multiple side effects:
- Hives or persistent itching
- Other common skin rashes
- Swelling of the face
- Inflammation of neck and throat
- Acid reflux or heartburn
- Difficulty in breathing
- Excessive sweating
- Weakness or fatigue
- Gastrointestinal distress
- Heart palpitation (rare)
Now we know how silymarin is very much responsible for most of the milk thistle benefits. Pregnant women should consult with their doctor before taking this herb. It may interact with other pregnancy medications.