WHAT IS MILK THISTLE?
Milk Thistle also known as Silybum marianum or Holy Thistle is an annual herb of the plant family Asteraceae. The herb is native to Southern Europe through to Asia but is currently found worldwide thanks to its popular amazing therapeutic effects. It grows to 12 feet tall and has characteristically large purple flowers and produces small hard seed-like fruits. The plant gets its name from the milky white fluid that is produced when the leaves are crushed which is believed to be the source of its ability to support health. Studies conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Centre have shown the fluid contains a substance known as Silymarin, a very powerful antioxidant which helps protect the liver cells from toxins including certain drugs such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) which can damage the liver cells if taken in more than prescribed doses. The seeds commonly known as achenes are also a source of Silymarin. In fact, they contain approximately 1-5% of silymarin. Therefore, they are usually used to make concentrated silymarin extracts which are more potent since they contain higher levels of flavonolignans and flavonoids.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF MILK THISTLE?
Despite being the world’s most researched and purchased herb for liver health, Milk Thistle has a lot more health benefits. Here are some common topics that cover the benefits of milk thistle:
Does Milk Thistle Really Help Your Liver?
For a very long time, this had been the primary benefit of Milk Thistle; reduction of liver diseases. In fact, In Europe, milk thistle is used in the management of the effects of various toxins on the liver including certain drugs such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) which can damage the liver cells if taken in more than prescribed doses. A study conducted to examine the effects on milk thistle on liver disease reported significant reduction in liver enzymes and a boost on physician satisfaction by up to 80% after an 8-week treatment of 2837 people with milk thistle. How exactly does milk thistle treat liver disease?
Well, Silymarin the key component in milk thistle influences the regenerative capacity of liver thus the formation of new cells and prevents toxins from moving into the cells. This helps maintain a healthy liver.
Can Milk Thistle Help with Your Skin?
The skin is the largest organ in the body and is one among many ways through which our bodies get rid of toxins. To maintain a healthy skin, it is advisable to detox regularly. Milk thistle has been proven to be one of the most effective regimens for detoxification. In addition to that, milk thistle has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce irritating flare-ups of skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and acne.
Does Milk Thistle Lower Blood Pressure?
Studies conducted to evaluate the therapeutic benefits of Silymarin have shown that it provides protective benefits for the pancreas in diabetic patients. These studies have also reported a significant reduction in high blood sugar in patients with insulin-dependent diabetes.
Does Milk Thistle Help Prevent Gallstones?
The gallbladder is an organ that stores bile after its formation in the liver. The bile helps in digestion of nutrients. However, the gallbladder is prone to stone formation which obstructs the flow of bile which causes a lot of pain. Milk thistle has been proven to prevent the formation of gallstones by raising the solubility of bile thus encouraging its circulation and lowering its chances of hardening.
Will Taking Milk Thistle Support Cancer Prevention?
This is one of the most amazing and researched benefits of milk thistle. A study conducted at the University of Minnesota reported that Silymarin in the milk thistle has chemo-preventive effects. It inhibits cancer cell growth in the prostate, breast, and the cervix. A variant of silymarin known as silybin stimulates protein synthesis and changes the outer coat of healthy cells thus preventing them from damage and mutation making it useful in the treatment of cancer.
Will Milk Thistle Help With Digestion Problems?
By improving the circulation of bile, reducing the inflammation of the liver and the repair of damaged cells, milk thistle has been shown to improve and maintain proper digestion.