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"Let food be your medicine"  - Hippocrates

Milk Thistle
Herbal Remedy - Extracts
Thursday, 22 July 2010 11:17

Milk Thistle Extract

Species name: Silybum marianum.

Also known as: Milk thistle; St. Mary's thistle; Marian thistle; Mediterranean thistle; Mary thistle; Holy thistle.

What is Milk Thistle? Milk thistle has been used for over two thousand years as a natural remedy for liver and gall bladder ailments.

It contains a group of flavanoids known as Silymarin, which have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, they also help protect and repair the liver. The plant is native to the Mediterranean region, but can now be found growing across the globe in dry, sunny areas.

The Milk thistle plant is characterized by spiny stems and stands between four and ten feet tall, with red-purple flowers.

The leaves are wide and veiny with white blotches, and the fruit (where the active ingredient is found) is small, brown, spotted and shiny with a hard skin.

The name Milk thistle comes from the white milk that is secreted from the leaves of the plant when they are crushed.

Home Remedies Using Milk Thistle Extract:

Benefits and Uses of Milk Thistle Extract:

The active ingredient found in Milk thistle is a group of flavanoids collectively known as Silymarin, which are thought to help repair damaged liver cells and protect new liver cells from future damage.

Milk thistle is used particularly to counteract the effects of alcohol and other drugs, such as acetaminophen, on the liver.

As Silymarin is also an anti-inflammatory, it offers benefits to those suffering from liver inflammation and/or hepatitis.

Milk thistle has been tested in humans and animals in treating the following conditions:

  • Liver and gallbladder disorders
  • Treatment of alcoholic hepatitis
  • Treatment of alcoholic cirrhosis
  • Treatment of viral hepatitis (especially hepatitis C)
  • Antidote to poisonous death cap mushroom (Amanita phalloides)
  • Halting cancer cell division and reproduction and shortening life span of cancer cells
  • Limiting blood supply to tumors
  • Treatment of high cholesterol

Milk thistle is available in capsule form containing standardized dry herb, a liquid extract and a tincture.

Silymarin phosphatidylcholine complex is also available and may be easier to absorb than normal standardized Milk thistle extract.

Phosphatidylcholine helps the Silymarin attach to cell membranes, which facilitates the prevention of possible toxins entering the cells.

Side Effects of Milk Thistle

Any side effects of Milk thistle are usually mild and include stomach upset, diarrhea and headache.

However, there are reports of severe allergic reactions resulting in anaphylactic shock, especially in those with a history of allergies to daisies, artichokes, kiwi, common thistle or plants in the aster family.

Rare side effects have also included sexual dysfunction, joint pain, gas and heartburn. If the plant is touched, an itchy rash may develop.

Pregnant or breastfeeding women should not use Milk thistle, nor should those with a history of hormone related cancers.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 September 2012 09:10

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