Milk thistle, also referred to as silymarin, is a flowering plant associated with the ragweed and daisy family. Some people also commonly refer to it as holy thistle and Mary thistle. Milk thistle is a native of Mediterranean nations.
What is Milk Thistle?
Milk thistle, scientific name Silybum marianum, is a herbaceous biennial or annual plant which can grow up to 10 feet tall with purple or red flowers. Milk thistle is an amazing herb known to have protective and detoxifying properties affecting the crucial liver functions. People have been using this herb for more than 2,000 years as a safe and natural remedy for diseases affecting the liver.
The name “milk thistle” came from the milky white fluid that comes out of the plant’s leaves when you crush them. Milk thistle is native to most countries in North Africa, Asia Minor, Southern Russia and Southern Europe.
Europeans are believed to be the first people to utilize the seeds of milk thistle for treating liver diseases. However, milk thistle benefits have been known since prehistoric times. In the 4th century B.C., this potent herb was mentioned by Theophrastus by the name of “Pternix”. In the 1st century, milk thistle was also mentioned by Pliny the Elder by the name of “Sillybum”. Furthermore, Von Haller in 1744 recorded the specific application of the herb for liver diseases. In more recent times, a lot of authors such as Henry Leclerc, Volker Schulz and Johann Gottfried Rademacher mention numerous milk thistle benefits when used as a form of treatment for liver disorders as well as in treating the disorders affecting the spleen, duct and the bile.
The seeds of milk thistle contain a potent ingredient called silymarin. This compound is responsible for the amazing therapeutic benefits of the milk thistle plant. It is composed of 3 main flavonoids, namely silychristin, silydianin and silybin.
What are the benefits of milk thistle?
- Promoting Skin Health
Skin is a crucial organ for cleansing. It is also the largest organ in the body. Psoriasis is believed to take place due to the existence of certain toxic compounds within the bloodstream. There are evidence that show that the chances of developing psoriasis as having a possible association with abnormal liver functions. Hence, as an outcome of boosting liver functions, one of the greatest milk thistle benefits is that it aids the skin to be healthier through better liver function.
- Addressing Obesity
Not a lot of people recognize the importance of proper liver function in the reduction of body fat. Improving the liver’s functionality is usually overlooked in almost all weight reduction plans. The liver is important for metabolizing the fat in the body and purifying the blood. Since the ability of the liver to function well is promoted by the use of milk thistle supplement, fat could end up being metabolized more rapidly. As a result, it will be a lot easier for you to reduce your weight.
- Remedy for Gallstones
The potent ingredients found in milk thistle can help increase the solubility of the bile, which enables it to circulate better. When you need to remedy or prevent gallstone formation, this is particularly helpful. Gallstones are less likely to develop when the bile circulates properly. Studies indicate that regular use of milk thistle may cause a significant reduction of bile’s cholesterol levels.
- Reducing Bad Cholesterol Levels
A recent study indicated that the potent compounds found in milk thistle can work almost as effectively as probucol, a commercially-available prescription medication that lowers cholesterol, with the added benefit of significantly increasing the levels of good cholesterol; however further research in individuals is required.
- Anti-Cancer Effects
Some preliminary studies on milk thistle have shown that the potent ingredients found in this amazing herb may potentially contain anti-cancer effects. Lab studies found that the potent ingredient called silymarin has amazing anti-oxidant properties and can inhibit the formation of cervical, human prostate and breast cancer cells. Further research is needed to verify if this herb is safe and efficient for people suffering from these types of cancer.
- Liver Affinity
This powerful herb helps with overall liver problems such as swelling, hepatic pain and jaundice (a condition wherein the skin becomes yellowish or discolored). According to recent studies, milk thistle seeds contain potent flavonoids that complement its significant liver protecting and regenerating properties found in other parts of this plant. Flavonoids provide beneficial effects for the body’s immune system, hence boosting the body’s natural defense against illnesses. This herb is also beneficial for treating several health conditions, including cirrhosis of the liver, continual-persistent hepatitis, metabolic disease and acute viral hepatitis.
Are there any milk thistle side effects?
Once you know the numerous benefits of milk thistle, you are now probably interested to know more about the possible side effects of this herb, if any. It is wise to know about any potential negative effects before trying to use any sort of medical treatment, natural or otherwise. Adverse effects are common for any medication, including over-the-counter and prescription drugs. In general, these medications have a lengthy list of possible side effects. The good news is that there are just a few issues related with the use milk thistle.
Having an upset stomach is the most common reported side effect of milk thistle. In other cases, people reported to have diarrhea, heartburn, bloating and a lack of appetite. In rare cases, milk thistle can cause allergic reactions, including breathing difficulties, hives, rash and swelling. Certain individuals may also experience lethargy, weakness and impotence. Nevertheless, these side effects are extremely rare.
If any of these side effects occur, just discontinue the use of milk thistle. Just as like many other natural remedies, milk thistle is not subject to the same rigorous testing as pharmaceutical medications. You should also be aware that the use of milk thistle has not been granted approval by the