All About Milk Thistle and Liver Health
There are components of Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) known as Silymarin that have traditional herbal use in the protection of the liver, kidney and gall bladder, exclusively done on long-standing use.
Milk thistle has been used for over 2,000 years as a natural treatment for liver disorders. The plant is known in scientific circles as the Silybum marianum (L.) Gaertner (syn. Cardous marianus), but it is more commonly known as “milk thistle,” “St. Mary Thistle,” “Holy Thistle” and “Lady’s Thistle.” It is an herbaceous annual or biennial plant belonging to the Asteraceae family that can grow to be ten feet tall with flowers that are red and purple in color.
Milk thistle gets its name from the milky white fluid that comes from the plant’s leaves when they are crushed. It is native to southern Europe, southern Russia, Asia Minor, and North Africa, and has also been naturalized to North and South America.
Silymarin protects the liver from toxins. Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may assist the liver to repair itself by growing new cells.
Milk thistle extract is used to maintain liver health and to protect the liver from the effects of toxins such as alcohol, a polluted environment or workplace, and a host of liver related diseases.
Liver related conditions indicating the use of milk thistle are varied, including, but not limited to:
-Chronic active hepatitis
-Drug and alcohol induced liver damage
-Acute viral hepatitis
-Fatty liver, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)
-Fibrosis and Cirrhosis
-Hepatic toxicity caused by steroid usage
-Environmental sensitivities and toxins
-Regular moderate-to-heavy alcohol use
Experimental and clinical studies also suggest that milk thistle extracts have the following non-liver related benefits:
-Lowers cholesterol levels, which benefits the heart
-Reduces the growth of cancer cells in breast, lung, colon, prostate, cervical and renal cancers
-Functions as a therapeutic agent for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease
-Improves blood sugar levels
-Contains numerous anti-aging properties
-Reduces cell damage caused by radiation and chemotherapy treatments
-Supplements sunscreen protection and may be useful against multiple types of skin disease
-Works as a free radical scavenger and powerful antioxidant
-Reduces hot flashes and other related menopausal symptoms
-Helps with intestinal / indigestion issues