The Different Types Of Milk Thistle

Milk Thistle, Silybum marianum

The use of milk thistle has been widely accepted in Western medicine, although its use may be conceptually different from the traditional and cultural settings. It is always prudent to consult your primary health care professional before considering the use of any herbal supplements. Moreover, consulting a trained practitioner in herbal supplements and coordinating the treatment among all your health care providers, may be more beneficial. The use of milk thistle as a natural treatment for liver disorders is a practice done for more than two thousand years. Milk thistle is derived from the plant, scientifically known as Silybum marianum, but it is commonly referred to as St. Mary Thistle, Holy Thistle, Lady’s Thistle, or simple Milk Thistle. The plant can grow up to ten feet, with red and purple flowers. Over the past forty years of intensive clinical, chemical, and pharmacological research, scientists have confirmed the therapeutic value and action mechanisms of milk thistle in treating a range of liver-related and non-liver related conditions in human. Hundreds of modern researches have confirmed the fascinating ability of the milk thistle in protecting the liver against all types of damage. In fact, the National Institute of Health and the United Stated National Library of Medicine have recorded in their medicine database over 400 significant scientific studies on milk thistle and its active compounds. These studies confirmed generations of deeply-rooted belief that milk thistle is one of the world’s most important herbal remedies, offering treatments for a range of diseases. In this age of technological and medical advancement, milk thistle continues to be one of the most commonly used herbal plants and the primary natural herb recommended to maintain liver health. In Europe, milk thistle is a prescribed medication in the treatment of alcoholic cirrhosis, mushroom poisoning, drug and alcohol-induced liver damage, chronic hepatitis, acute viral hepatitis, and many other liver-related disorders. Extracts from milk thistle is primarily used to protect the liver from toxins brought about by alcohol consumption and pollution, promoting liver health. It is also used to treat an array of liver-related condition, to include, among others:

  • Liver damage induced by drugs or alcohol
  • Active chronic hepatitis
  • Liver cirrhosis due to alcohol
  • Acute viral hepatitis
  • Fatty liver, including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Cirrhosis and fibrosis
  • Steroid-induced hepatic toxicity
  • Sensitivities to environmental pollutants and toxins
  • Hepatotoxic medical conditions
  • Regular to moderate alcohol abuse

Some clinical studies suggest that milk thistle provides non-liver related benefits, which include:

  • Promote heart health by lowering the body’s cholesterol levels
  • Inhibits the growth of cancer cells in the lungs, prostate, cervix, rectum, and breast
  • Prevents Alzheimer’s disease
  • Regulates the sugar levels in the blood
  • Provides anti-aging properties
  • Reduces cell damage during chemotherapy and radiation treatments
  • Acts as a sunscreen protection against diseases due to overexposure from the sun
  • Works as a powerful antioxidant and scavenger of free radicals
  • Reduces menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes
  • Aids in many indigestion and intestinal issues
  • Lessens the effects of death cap mushroom poisoning

Common Types of Milk Thistle

If you are familiar with food and herbal supplements using milk thistles, you are probably aware that there are different types of milk thistle extracts used, the most common of which are Silymarin and Silybin Phytosome. Sylimarin The flavonoids found in milk thistle are used extensively in Europe as active ingredients for pharmaceutical preparations for liver disorders. There are at least seven known compounds in milk thistle, including silydianin, silychristin, and silybin. All these compounds are combined to create a single compound known as Silymarin. Studies reveal that silymarin modifies the liver cell membranes to prevent toxins from passing through the liver cells. In addition, silymarin stimulates cellular growth by boosting the liver’s ability to synthesize protein. Silybin phytosome The most potent and abundant components of silymarin are two diasteroisomeric compounds known as Silybin A and Silybin B. However, Silymarin, in its entirety, has a poor intestinal absorption, limiting its benefits.In order to overcome the poor bioavailability of Sylimarin, scientists utilize the Phytosome technology to extract the complex ingredients in sylimarin and come up with pharmaco-kinetic equivalent and bioavailable Silybin phytosome.

Silymarin vs Silybin

You might wonder why the patent owner of Silybin Phytosome has to isolate one constituent of the herb. According to their research, Silybin is the most effective flavonoid that provides dramatic benefits to the liver. Silybin also makes up the most beneficial constituent of the milk thistle. All research that focused on the effectiveness of silybin conclude that it is the most potent and the most promising compound to treat, both liver related and non-liver related diseases and to promote overall liver health. Furthermore, as Silybin phytosomes is eight to ten times more bioavailable than Silymarin, thus, it is also more effective.

Recent Milk Thistle Information

Infographic: Brand Comparison Of Milk Thistle

Infographic: Brand Comparison Of Milk Thistle

You Should See This! We take a look at major brands that are selling Milk Thistle to see how they stack up. Natural Wellness seems to be a huge winner. What are your thoughts?    (click to enlarge)

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