What is Milk Thistle and what is its claim to fame?
Silybum Adans is the genus of Milk Thistle and in the same Asteraceae family as the daisy and sunflower plants. It has a pretty purple flower. Milk Thistle got its name from the milky sap that can be found in its leaves. It is a wild plant and is considered a weed by many communities. The plant has its origins in the Mediterranean, Middle East and North Africa.
There are no true pharmaceutical equivalents which is one of only a few plants and herbs that can make that claim. Milk Thistle is known to help regulate the digestion of fats, stabilises cholesterol and blood sugar, and reduces inflammation in the intestine. Further on you will find out more about its uses and benefits.
Silymarin is the active ingredient of Milk Thistle which is found in its seeds. This ingredient stimulates protein synthesis by changing the external layer of liver cells which blocks toxins and removes them from the body.
The use of Milk Thistle, in promoting health and well being can be traced and dated right back to the 4h Century BC. Its value, specifically the seeds, has resulted in the documenting of over 400 studies by The National Institute of Health and the United States National Library. Click on the link to find some of the Milk Thistle articles listed by the National Institute of Health.
Milk Thistle Components and Uses
The entire Milk Thistle plant can be consumed. The long leaves of the plant taste a bit like lettuce, just a little more bitter and could be added to a salad. The young stems are edible and quite tasty and used as nutritional supplement by some peoples. In the Calabria region leaves are used as a diuretic and also used for haemorrhoids.
One of the greatest cleansing herbs know to man is the seed of the Milk Thistle plant and is used medically to rejuvenate and stimulate the liver after the adverse effects of toxins. However they are too hard to eat as they are and need to be ground down into a power using a coffee grinder or something similar. The powder then can be used to add into smoothies, veggie juice or sprinkle over your regular meals.
Research has been shown it to assist in clearing liver stagnation due to conditions of excess and at the same time strengthens any liver weakness or deficiency. It is known to renew, bring about the regeneration in damaged liver tissue.
Confidence in Milk Thistle grew and in 1986 when Milk Thistle was actually approved as a therapeutic treatment. Milk Thistle increases bile production which aids the protection against the production of gallstones. It stimulates digestive enzymes and helps to break down these rich foods and trans-fats. It has been proved to help in cases of cirrhosis, hepatitis and works hard to destroy fatty deposits in liver.
Milk Thistle is a great agent in reducing and soothing inflammation which benefits the entire body and its organs like the liver. People with hepatitis, who use Milk Thistle will experience great value from its anti-inflammatory effect.
In the world that we live in now it is impossible not to be contaminated by the toxins everywhere, we use plastic, and there are heavy metals in our water, radioactive poisons and many other damaging chemicals. All these toxins find their way into our bodies and then into the bloodstream which ends up in the liver. When using Milk Thistle on a regular basis, it has been found to assist in detoxifying all these negative and damaging effects, providing very need help in protecting the liver.
It is a known fact the if we are clean on the inside of our body – especially removing the congestion of the liver one of the side effect is that our other organs will benefit plus there will be a noticeable difference on the outside – like a vibrant and healthy skin.
This then brings up the next section of what are the benefits of using Milk Thistle?
Milk Thistle benefits
We have already discussed some of these points earlier in the article, but here is a list of the benefits you can expect when using the powerful plant.
• Digestive enzymes are stimulated
• It stimulates the production of bile
• Liver tissue regeneration – especially with a condition like cirrhosis
• Breaks down the fat in food consumption
• Great in reducing hot flashes
• It has powerful antioxidant active ingredients – combating the effects of toxins – specifically in the liver and kidneys
• Clinical research has actually shown that this herb has reduced tumor growth
• Reduces inflammation in the body and its organs – helping with conditions like hepatitis
• It is said to help protect against premature aging – due to the high antioxidant component
• Great for reversing the damage caused by poisons from mushrooms and alcohol – any kind of food poisoning
• It is great in assisting to combat the effects of fibromyalgia
• For people on a high protein and high fat diet, it helps break those down and brings a balance
• Helps with allergies
• Used for alcoholic liver disease
• Helps with stabilising your moods when they have been effected through liver stress
• It brings about a healthy and vibrant skin – it is great for skin problems like acne
• It helps with lactating mother to increase and enrich her milk production
• In Chinese medicine it is used to bring balance in the yin energy
Milk Thistle Side Effects
This herb hardly has any side effects and generally is very safe to use, however, take the following points into account before starting to take Milk Thistle.
• When Taking Prescribed Or Over the Counter Medicines. If you are on any prescribed medicine it is always best practice to check with your doctor before taking any supplementation. Don’t be fooled into thinking that because they are natural that they will not cause you any harm. You should not take Milk Thistle if you take any over the counter medicines that contain acetaminophen – found in commonly used OTC products like Tylenol or Paracetamol.
• If you have an allergy to daisies or sunflowers, don’t take Milk Thistle as it belongs to the same family
• If you are on a high fat diet, you may experience mild diarrhoea due to the stimulated release of bile.
• It may have an estrogen-like effect in some people and should be avoided if you have an estrogen hormone-sensitie contition, like endometriosis
Milk Thistle Dosage
There is a limited amount of the active ingredient – silymarin – that the body can absorb and any one time, so it is preferable that the daily dosage is split and taken at intervals during the course of a day.
• For cleansing the liver a typical daily dose of 1tspn of ground Milk Thistle seeds 3 times a day is advised.
• For cleansing but you would rather have a tea – then make up 1 quart of tea and drink it through the day – see a recipe below.
• For food poisoning – take 50mg per day with food.
Milk Thistle Tea
Then add to the dandelion liquid 4tbspn ground Milk Thistle seed, 2tspn fennel seed powder and lastely 1tbspn peppermint leaves.
Leave to steep for 15 minutes, strain the tea and enjoy throughout the day.
Just for Fun – here is a song about Milk Thistle