Milk thistle, also known as Silybum marianum, is a medicinal plant that has been used for centuries for its beneficial properties.
In this article we will find out everything you need to know about milk thistle, its health benefits, uses and recommended dosages.
What is milk thistle
Milk thistle is a plant belonging to the Asteraceae family, native to the Mediterranean basin.
It is a biennial or perennial herbaceous plant characterized by dark green leaves and showy whitish spines.
Its inflorescences consist of purplish flower heads. The active ingredients of milk thistle are mainly contained in its seeds.
The bioactive substances extracted from milk thistle seeds are called silymarin . Silymarin is a complex of flavonolignans and includes:
Silymarin is responsible for most of the health benefits attributed to milk thistle.
Health benefits of milk thistle
Numerous scientific researches have shown that milk thistle possesses several health-promoting properties, including:
- Liver protection:
Silymarin has been shown to have hepatoprotective properties, helping to regenerate damaged liver cells and prevent fat accumulation in the liver.
- Antioxidant activity:
Milk thistle acts as a powerful antioxidant, protecting cells from free radical damage and reducing oxidative stress.
- Immune system support:
Silymarin can improve immune system function, helping to prevent and fight infection.
Some studies also suggest that milk thistle may have beneficial effects on other conditions, such as diabetes, dyslipidemia, and metabolic syndrome, but more research is needed to confirm these effects.
History of the milk thistle
Milk thistle has a long history of use as a natural remedy, dating back more than 2,000 years.
Its therapeutic uses have been documented since the time of Pliny the Elder, a Roman naturalist of the first century AD, who recommended it to treat liver disorders.
Over the centuries it has been used in the traditional medicine of several cultures, including:
- Ancient Greek medicine
- Arabic medicine
- Medieval European medicine
In the 19th century it was introduced to the United States, where it became a popular medicinal plant for the treatment of various conditions, particularly those related to the liver.
Modern scientific research began studying milk thistle in the 20th century, confirming many of its health-promoting properties and leading to the widespread use of supplements made from this plant.
Uses of milk thistle
Milk thistle can be used in several forms, including herbal teas, liquid extracts, capsules, and tablets. Some of the most common uses of milk thistle are:
- Liver health:
is used to protect and regenerate liver cells, prevent fat accumulation in the liver, and support overall liver function.
because of its hepatoprotective properties, it can be used as part of detoxification programs to cleanse the liver and improve liver function.
- Immune system support:
can be used to improve immune system function and reduce susceptibility to infection.
- Skin health:
Silymarin can help protect the skin from free radical damage and promote wound healing.
Milk thistle dosages
Milk thistle dosage may vary depending on the form and concentration of the product used, as well as the age, weight, and health condition of the individual. In general, these guidelines can be followed:
- For standardized silymarin extracts, the recommended dosage ranges from 140 to 600 mg per day, divided into 2-3 doses.
- For milk thistle herbal teas, 1-2 cups per day are recommended.
- For liquid extracts, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for appropriate dosage.
It is important to consult a physician or health professional before starting to use milk thistle, especially if you are taking medications or have a pre-existing medical condition.
Let us now look at some typical questions about this plant:
1. Does milk thistle have side effects?
Milk thistle is generally considered safe for most people when taken in recommended doses. However, some individuals may experience side effects such as nausea, diarrhea or skin rashes. If side effects occur, discontinue use and consult a physician.
2. Can I take milk thistle if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?
There are not enough studies to determine its safety during pregnancy and lactation. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid its use during these periods unless otherwise directed by your doctor.
3. Can milk thistle interact with other drugs?
It is possible that it may interact with some drugs, such as cholesterol-lowering drugs, anticoagulants, and anticonvulsants. Consult a doctor before starting to take it if you are taking other medications.
4. How long does it take to see the benefits of intake?
Benefits may vary depending on the individual and the condition being treated.
In some cases, results may be noticed within a few weeks; in others, prolonged use may be necessary before benefits are seen.
5. Can I grow milk thistle at home?
Yes, it can be grown at home in the garden or in pots. It is a hardy plant that grows well in well-drained soil and full sun.
For those who wish to take visions of some scientific publications on milk thistle, here are some references in the following
- Pradhan, S. C., & Girish, C. (2006). Hepatoprotective herbal drug, silymarin from experimental pharmacology to clinical medicine. Indian Journal of Medical Research, 124(5), 491-504.
- Vargas-Mendoza, N., Madrigal-Santillán, E., Morales-González, Á., Esquivel-Soto, J., Esquivel-Chirino, C., García-Luna, Y. G. R., & Morales-González, J. A. (2014). Hepatoprotective effect of silymarin. World Journal of Hepatology, 6(3), 144-149.
In conclusion, milk thistle is a medicinal plant with numerous health benefits, including liver protection, antioxidant activity, and immune system support.
Due to its hepatoprotective and antioxidant properties, it can be a valuable ally in liver health care and detoxification of the body.
As always, it is a good idea to consult with a trusted physician or nutritionist before starting to use it, especially if you are taking medications or have pre-existing medical conditions.
If you are interested in purchasing a milk thistle supplement, visit our store and choose Ribovita CARDO MARIANO >>