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Milk Thistle

Milk Thistle Information

The herb Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is a member of the daisy family. Milk thistle supplements have been widely used for thousands of years to support liver health, with multiple benefits confirmed by modern scientific research.

Milk thistle contains unique antioxidant bioflavonoids like silymarin and silibinin, both of which scavenge damaging free radicals and fight lipid peroxidation (lipid peroxidation is oxidative damage to any of the many types fatty compounds normally found in healthy liver tissue).

Milk Thistle for Liver Health

Milk thistle provides broad protective effects on the liver1 by functioning as an lipid antioxidant2 and by influencing the production of antioxidant and detoxification compounds like glutathione peroxidase.3 Milk thistle can inhibit the harmful oxidation of LDL 'bad' cholesterol4 and also affect production of pro-inflammatory enzymes.5 Studies have investigated milk thistle's possible role in providing support or treatment for conditions like hepatitis, cirrhosis, diabetes and cancer.6 Milk thistle may also be able to reduce iron stores in the body.7

Using Milk Thistle Supplements

Milk thistle supplements are available as liquids, capsules and tablets in both extract and non-extract forms. Standardized milk thistle extracts provide the best results and usually contain 60-70% silymarin/silibinin. Follow label directions for milk thistle supplements. 200-500 mg per day of silymarin/silibinin is the most common dose range.

Side-effects and Cautions:

Milk thistle is very safe and well-tolerated by most people, with gastrointestinal upset, a mild laxative effect, and a rare allergic reaction being the most common adverse effects.

1. Indian J Biochem Biophys. 2006 Oct;43(5):306-11.
2. Indian J Med Res. 2006 Nov;124(5):491-504.
3. Planta Med. 1989 Oct;55(5):420-2.
4. J Agric Food Chem. 2008 May 14.
5. Indian J Med Res. 2006 Nov;124(5):491-504.
6. Integr Cancer Ther. 2007 Jun;6(2):146-57.
7. Am J Gastroenterol. 1998 Feb;93(2):139-43.


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