Benefits of Milk Thistle
Milk Thistle has been used medicinally for thousands of years and it stands out for its ability to gently protect the liver against many toxins and there it is called “liver’s protective powerhouse.”
The seeds of milk thistle (also known as St Mary’s thistle) contain a group of antioxidant compounds collectively to the name silymarin. Your liver and gallbladder are vital for your digestive and detoxification process.
In the 1960’s, interest in milk thistle was rekindled when researchers isolated a complex of chemicals from the herbs seeds. A combination of flavonoligans believed to be responsible for the hepatic activity, was first isolated from the ripe seeds. Milk thistle is a clear example in which scientific investigation has confirmed the historical use of a herbal product.
Compounds in milk thistle protect liver cells from damage caused by alcohol, acetaminophen and some form of hepatitis and can also be used to prevent or treat effects of fatty foods, liver damage from toxic exposure, chronic liver disease, certain types of liver cirrhosis, for headaches and skin problems associated with poor function. Some researchers have suggested that milk thistle may also be useful in the management of psoriasis.
Adverse effects of silymarin appear to be very rare. Because it increases bile flow, it may cause mild diarrhea in some individuals. Additional benefits are:
- Indigestion, bowel disorders
- High cholesterol
- Menstrual pain
- Stomach disease
- Uterine disease
- Spleen disease
- Mushroom poisoning
- Protects the kidneys
- Adrenal disorders
- Boost immune system
Studies from Europe demonstrate that milk thistle extract extends lives, improves liver function, and relieves symptoms associated with cirrhosis, viral hepatitis, jaundice and poisoning. No contraindications are associated with this herb, even in larger doses. Despite its safety, individuals who have liver disease or are treated for cancer should discuss the use of any dietary supplement with their health care provider!
History of Milk Thistle
Originally milk thistle is a stout, annual or biennial plant found in dry, rocky soils in Southern and Western Europe, the Middle East and it is now naturalized to the east coast of North America, California and South America and belongs to the Asteraceae or daisy family. The branched shining-brown stems grows to 1 to 3 feet high and bears alternate, dark green, shiny leaves with spiny, scalloped edges and white spots along the veins. The upper leaves clasp the stem. Large, solitary, purple flower heads subtended by spiny bracts appear June to August.
How to use Milk Thistle
Seeds: Seeds are a good source of protein and amino acids, can be added on to cereals or smoothies. Grind them and cook with oatmeal, or substitute milk thistle for flax seeds in recipes.
Smoothies: ½ cup oats, 1 banana, 1 dried fig, 1 teaspoon ground Milk thistle seeds
½ teaspoon vanilla powder, 500ml Almond milk or other milk of choice. Makes a lovely breakfast drink.
Tea: Simmer one teaspoon crushed milk thistle seeds and one cup water for ten minutes, strain and drink one to two cups a day.
Tincture: Available as single tincture 50 ml or combo tincture 100 ml, 15 – 25 drops starting one time in the morning on empty stomach, dosage can later be increased.
Extract: Follow suggestion on the label.
Powder: Take one teaspoon powered seeds with water, four to five times a day.
Infusion: Steep one teaspoon seeds in ½ cup water, take one to one to a half cups a day, a mouthful at a time
Words of Wisdom
Herbs and plants are medical jewels gracing the woods and fields and lanes, which few eyes see and few minds can understand – Carl von Linne, Swedish Botanist & Naturalist
Hoffman David, Medical Herbalism, Healing Arts Press 2003
Wood Matthew, The Earthwise Herbal, North Atlantic Books 2008
Tillotson A.K., The One Earth Herbal, Kingston, 2001
Klaus Ferlow, Master Herbalist (HMH) & Herbal Advocate, (HA), author, innovator, lecturer, researcher, writer, founder of Ferlow Botanicals, Vancouver, B.C. and Neem Research, Mission, B.C., member of the Health Action Network Society, Canadian Herbalist’s Association of BC., National Health Federation, International Herb Association, Plant Savers, Neem Foundation, Mumbai, India, co-author of the book “7 Steps to Dental Health.”, author of the book “Neem – Nature’s Healing Gift to Humanity,” www.neemresearch.ca, firstname.lastname@example.org.
This information is offered for its educational value and should not be used in the diagnoses, cure, treatment, or prevention of disease, please contact your health care provider.