If you’re into herbal and all-natural remedies, maybe you’ve come across the name “milk thistle.” While it doesn’t sound like a bright flowering plant, a milk thistle sprouts beautiful green leaves and magenta or purple flower heads.
However, its magic comes from the active ingredients known as silymarin. In this article, we’re going to take a look at the benefits of this incredible plant. What should you know? How can you use milk thistle to your advantage?
What is Milk Thistle?
Milk thistle is within the ragweed and daisy family. This can mean that for those with ragweed allergies, milk thistle can be problematic. Thus, if this sounds like you, use caution before consuming this herb.
From the milk thistle plant, an extract can be created. This extract contains silymarin, an active ingredient that has the potential to increase glutathione (GSH) levels and even promote liver regeneration. In fact, milk thistle extract has an estimated 65-80% potency of silymarin, giving way to antioxidant, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory benefits.
The Benefits of Milk Thistle
Traditionally, societies have used milk thistle to treat liver and gallbladder issues. So, is there any proof behind these claims? Check out the benefits below.
1. Protects the Liver
Research has demonstrated how individuals with poor liver function have experienced improvements when taking milk thistle supplementation. In fact, it’s been used alongside other therapies for those with liver cancer, fatty liver disease, and hepatitis.
How does it do this? It’s thought milk thistle helps keep free radicals under wraps, taking the burden off the liver and preventing toxins from spreading throughout the body.
2. May Improve Brain Health
With its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, milk thistle has shown to be neuroprotective, helping prevent cognitive decline with age. In particular, silymarin may prevent oxidative damage to the brain, as well as decrease amyloid plaques related to the development of Alzheimer’s Disease.
3. May Enhance Bone Health
Studies show that milk thistle may offer bone protective effects, meaning it could help prevent osteoporosis and age-related bone fractures. It’s even been theorized to help prevent bone loss in women postmenopause.
4. Increases Breast Milk Production
While it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before taking any new supplementation, research shows how milk thistle may lead to a 64% increase in breast milk production. Yet, more research needs to be done to solidify these claims further.
5. Regulates Blood Sugar
Milk thistle is thought to complement other therapies and treatments for type 2 diabetes. Research even demonstrates how the active ingredient, silymarin, can improve fasting blood sugar and aid with blood sugar control.
6. May Reduce Acne
Acne can drastically impact a person’s self-confidence, causing them to withdraw from regular social activities. However, milk thistle might help reduce acne by reducing oxidative stress in the body. One study even found that taking milk thistle for eight weeks resulted in a 53% decrease in acne blemishes.
Getting Started With Milk Thistle
For pregnant women, individuals with diabetes, individuals with plant allergies, and individuals with certain hormonal conditions, talk to your doctor before consuming milk thistle to avoid adverse reactions. At the same time, milk thistle is considered relatively safe.
You can purchase milk thistle at your local pharmacy or online, such as by grabbing your bottle of Life Nutrition’s Liver Detox. Always follow the instructions on the label before use. Begin gaining the benefits from this powerful plant today!