Milk Thistle Benefits, Uses, Side Effects, Dosage And More | Milk Thistle Benefits And Side Effects

Milk Thistle Benefits, Uses, Side Effects, Dosage And More | Milk Thistle Benefits And Side Effects

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Milk thistle benefits - Dr. Axe

Milk thistle has anti-inflammation and anti-oxidant properties. It is used to cleanse the body and promote health of the gallbladder.

Milk thistle can be grown in many other warm climates as well as in California, but it’s known by its scientific name, Silybum marianum.

Milk thistle is an herb that is considered a Hepatic, galactogogue, demulcent and cholagogue, and it is one of the most common natural supplements for liver disorders in the U.S.

Increasing bile production, decreasing inflammation, and soothing the body’s tissues are some of the benefits.

What Is Milk Thistle?

The milk thistle plant is a popular herb that has been used for thousands of years. The Greek physician and botanist Dioscorides was the first to describe the healing properties of milk thistle.

The plant is native to the Mediterranean region and is part of the same family as daisies and sunflowers.

This healing herb gets its name from the milky-white liquid that runs off of the plant’s leaves when they’re crushed. The actual leaves of the plant also have a spotted white pattern that makes them look as if they’ve been dunked in milk. It’s also known as St. Mary’s thistle, holy thistle and silybum.

Milk thistle can be used for a lot of things, from promoting breast milk production to weight loss. While there are many different benefits, it is most well-known for being a natural supporter of the body’s own immune system and is sometimes used to help treat diseases of the body’s own immune system, such as hepatitis, and gallbladder problems.

It’s also often used to increase breast milk production, with one study showing that certain extracts in milk thistle could increase daily milk production by up to 86 percent.

The seeds and leaves of the milk thistle plant can be eaten in a variety of ways, from pill, powder, extract, and tea form.

The seeds can be eaten raw, but most people prefer to take a milk thistle extract or supplement in order to get a higher dose and see better results.

Top 6 Benefits

1. Liver Detoxification and Health

As a liver support and liver aid, milk thistle acts as a powerful liver cleanser by rebuilding liver cells, reducing liver damage and removing toxins from the body that are processed through the liver.

Milk thistle has been shown to reverse toxicity in the body, including the harmful effects of alcohol consumption, pesticides, heavy metals in our water supply and pollution in the air that we breathe.

The liver is actually our largest internal organ and is responsible for performing a number of essential detoxifying functions. The condition of our blood throughout our whole body is mostly reliant on the health of our liver.

The body’s metabolism is helped by the liver, which releases sugar into the bloodstream in order to give the body energy and bile to use in the small intestine. Poor liver function can cause a lot of problems.

Milk thistle has been historically used for a variety of liver diseases, including:

  • There is a disease called alcoholic disease.
  • There are acute and chronic viral infections.
  • There are diseases caused by toxins in the bile duct.

2. May Help Protect Against Cancer

Milk thistle seed is a great source of the antioxidant flavonoid called silymarin, which is actually composed of several other active compounds known as flavolignans.

Silymarin may help reduce the risk for cancer development (including breast cancer) by boosting the immune system, fighting DNA damage and reversing cancerous tumor growth. In addition to blocking breast cancer, test-tube and animal studies show that silmarin may also protect against several other types of cancer as well, including lung cancer and prostate cancer.

In 2007, after reviewing numerous studies involving milk thistle therapeutic treatments, researchers at the University of Minnesota reported:

There is strong evidence for silymarin’s anticarcinogenic and hepatoprotective effects, including the inhibition of cancer cell growth.

Silybin, also known as silibinin, is the type of silymarin molecule that is present in milk thistle.

The outside layer of healthy cells is kept protected from damage by the activity of this antioxidant. It helps with cell renewal and counteracts the harmful effects of pollutants, chemicals and heavy metals that can cause free radical damage.

Silymarin acts as a cancer protector by blocking the binding of toxins to the cell membrane receptors, according to researchers at the University Magna Graecia Department of Experimental and Clinical Medicine.

3. May Help Lower High Cholesterol

Milk thistle benefits heart health and helps lower high cholesterol levels by reducing inflammation, cleaning the blood and preventing oxidative stress damage within the arteries.

Although more formal research is still needed, preliminary studies show that when silymarin is used in combination with other traditional treatment methods, it can improve levels of total cholesterol, bad LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.

The studies on the benefits of milk thistle have only been done for people with high cholesterol, so it’s important to keep that in mind.

Milk thistle can be used to lower cholesterol in the future, but it is not certain if it will be used in the same way in people without diabetes.

4. May Help Control or Prevent Diabetes

According to the National Institute of Health, taking silymarin, the main chemical found in milk thistle, along with conventional treatments, can help control symptoms of type 2 diabetes by promoting better blood sugar control.

Experiments and clinical studies have shown that milk thistle has the ability to decrease blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.

One 2006 study conducted by the Department of Pharmacology at the Institute of Medicinal Plants found that when diabetic patients were given silymarin extract over a four-month period, their fasting blood sugar and insulin levels improved significantly compared to patients receiving a placebo.

The release ofinsulin into the bloodstream is regulated by the liver, so this is likely true. It is important for people with diabetes to have good blood sugar levels.

Related: Your Diabetic Diet Plan (A Guide for What to Eat with Diabetes)

5. May Help Prevent Gallstones

Our body’s major organ is the liver, which is used to process food, water, and air.

Milk thistle is able to help prevent stones in the body because it works closely with the other organs in the body.

Although research on this topic is limited, because of milk thistle’s ability to increase bile flow, protect against liver conditions like nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and promote liver detoxification, it may be useful in the prevention of gallstones.

Gallstones are formed when cholesterol and other matter within your bile bind together. This is problematic because they can become more solid and get lodged in the inner lining of your gallbladder.

6. Has Anti-Aging Effects

Thanks to the antioxidant content of milk thistle, the herb may actually help slow the aging process. This applies to both the surface of your skin and your organs, as antioxidants can protect your body from chronic disease.

Milk thistle is great for reducing visible signs of aging, so it may be an easy way to prevent skin cancer and skin damage, such as dark spots, Wrinkles, lines and discoloration.

Although the research on this topic is limited to mostly animal studies, one trial published in Photochemistry and Photobiology found that silymarin protected the skin of mice from UV-induced oxidative stress and helped reduce inflammation.

The silymarin found in milk thistle can also protect against depletion of glutathione, which is a “master antioxidant” that’s extremely useful at helping prevent disease formation.

Glutathione’s biggest role is to help fight oxidative stress that leads to such diseases as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. It can help prevent damage to important cellular components caused by reactive oxygen species, such as free radicals.
Milk thistle benefits list - Dr. Axe

Milk Thistle Tea

If you want to maximize the health benefits of milk thistle, you can also try consuming it in tea form.

Many companies make milk thistle tea by steeping the leaves and seeds from the plant.

If you want to harvest the plants, you can grow your own milk thistle and make your own tea. There are 190 seeds in each small plant head that can be used.

If you want to grow a milk thistle plant, you can cut the head off and hang it upside down for a week to draw out the seeds.

You can crush the seeds and steep them with the leaves to make tea, eat them raw or dry them into a powder. The seeds and leaves should be kept in the freezer to last longer.

Supplement Dosage

Milk thistle isn’t subject to the same oversight and quality control that standard drugs are because it’s categorized as a supplement.

Depending on the method used and the brand, the amount of active ingredients can be vastly different. There are many different milk thistle tablets, capsule and softgels available on the market, all of which recommend different amounts.

  • Most people do best consuming between 20 and 300 milligrams of milk thistle daily.
  • The recommended daily intake of milk thistle is 150 milligrams, which can be taken one to three times daily. This is a high dose that can act as a natural cleanse of the bile duct.
  • Take 50 to 150 milligrams a day for ongoing use and support.

You can adjust the amount of pure milk thistle extract you take depending on your needs by looking for a high-quality product that is between 50 and 150 milligrams of pure milk thistle extract per capsule.

Make sure to look for a company that sells an extract that is at least 80 percent pure milk thistle extract, if you are wondering what supplement is best.

Risks, Side Effects and Interactions

Milk thistle is considered safe and well-tolerated, with very few cases of side effects reported.

The most common side effects aren’t serious and include gastrointestinal upset, such as a mild laxative effect. When taken within the recommended dose range, however, it is thought to be effective and mostly free of allergic reactions.

Milk thistle can interact with a number of medications. Speak with your health care provider if you are taking any medications to prevent milk thistle interactions.

It has estrogenic effects, meaning that it mimics the effects of estrogen in the body. If you have a condition that is sensitive to hormones, you should consult with your doctor before starting to take supplements.

Milk thistle has been shown to protect cancer cells from cell death, which may interfere with the effectiveness of some cancer drugs.

It is best to talk to your vet before taking milk thistle for your dog, as it is best to keep your furry friends safe.

Final Thoughts

  • Milk thistle is what it is. This plant is native to the Mediterranean and is used around the world as a natural remedy for a wide variety of different ailments.
  • Studies show that it can help protect against cancer, lower cholesterol levels, and slow signs of aging, among other things.
  • It’s easy to incorporate it into your daily diet because it can be consumed in tea, pill, extract, or powder form.
  • Dosage recommendations can range, but most recommend taking anywhere between 20 and 300 milligrams daily.
  • It is generally safe, but you should talk to your doctor if you are taking any medications or experience any side effects like stomach distress.

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