Milk thistle, also known as Mary thistle, is a plant; or more specifically a flowering herb closely related to the ragweed and daisy family. The plant has purple and red flowers and brown spotted fruits and is native to Mediterranean regions and it has many uses across different cultures. Milk thistle has been around for thousands of years and its use as an organic treatment for common conditions and unhealthy body organs has been observed in different cultures and according to health experts, its benefits are still viable.
What is milk thistle used for?
It is generally used as an alternative treatment for common liver problems including jaundice, cirrhosis and hepatitis. Some people use it to treat other serious conditions including heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Does it work?
The main active ingredient in Milk thistle is Silymarin, an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory and studies have revealed a possible benefit when used in the treatment of liver problems, especially among alcohol-related liver problems and also those whose liver is damaged by industrial toxins.
The liver is naturally resilient and well capable of recovering from common injury by healing and regenerating itself. Conditions such as cirrhosis occur after the liver has suffered long-term damage, such as in the case of chronic infection, exposure to toxins or fatty deposition. Long-term damage can result in scarring and that tends to limit the organ’s ability to self-heal.
Some physicians recommend milk thistle to help strengthen the liver and prevent gradual damage and normalize its function.
What other uses does milk thistle have?
One study found that silymarin, the top active ingredient in milk thistle, worked as effectively as the drug probucol, in lowering cholesterol. The active compound also increased the level of HDL cholesterol in the body and although more tests are needed to reach a definitive conclusion, the immediate benefits are observable.
Early research also reveals the capacity of active ingredients in the herb to counter cancer-causing cells due to existing anti-oxidant properties. These ingredients have been shown to prevent the formation and development of cervical cancer cells, breast cancer cells and, prostate cancer. More studies are still being conducted to establish the extent to which the herb inhibits the growth of cancer cells.
Not many people are aware of the role the liver plays in fat reduction. Good weight loss programs incorporate liver function because in order to manage the process of metabolizing fat, liver function should be optimized. Silymarin enhances this process and as a result, more fat is metabolized, making it a lot easier to lose weight.
When combined with other treatment, milk thistle can lower blood sugar levels and improve conditions for people living with type 2 diabetes. Research also indicated better insulin resistance, which is a major characteristic of type 2 diabetes. Consult your doctor before using milk thistle along with your medication.
Gallstones and Gallbladder
Active ingredients in milk thistle have been known to raise bile solubility, which lowers the chance of forming gallstones. Routine use of milk thistle has been shown to enhance bile circulation and significantly reduce the bile’s cholesterol levels.
Is it cost effective?
The cost incurred when treating some of the conditions mentioned above can ran high, not to mention the threat caused by some incurable conditions. When used as a preventative measure, or in combination with conventional medicines, this herb provides a powerful and cost-effective solution with few- if any- side effects.
Are there any side effects to using milk thistle?
There are a few documented cases where compounds in the herb caused discomfort, but these cases are rare. However, in order to keep safe:
· Pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid milk thistle
· Individuals with ragweed allergies should also avoid it
· Milk thistle can mimic estrogen, so women with fibroid problems should avoid using it
· Consult your physician before combining milk thistle with supplements
Some math is needed to determine what the proper dosage is for milk thistle. When used for daily liver protection, 420mg is thought to be sufficient. As medical researchers continue to examine the effects of milk thistle on the human body, loads of evidence can be seen pointing to the health benefits of the natural herb and due to its non-toxic nature and the effectiveness of alternative treatment, more people are using Mary thistle to prevent or control serious diseases.