The Merits of Milk Thistle Source: Pro-Health July /August 1998

Although it has been used for thousands of years as a digestive aid, Milk Thistle's beneficial effects on the liver have been known only since 1564. However, Milk Thistle should not be confined to the realm of medieval folk medicine because its powerful, yet non-toxic active ingredients, and their efficacy in all sorts of liver disorders are being confirmed today through laboratory studies and extensive clinical trials. The active ingredients in Milk Thistle are flavonoids comprised of silybin, silydianin and silychristin - collectively known as silymarin. It is these flavonoids that are receiving such rave reviews by scientists and researchers.

Therapeutic Research

The Next Generation Herbal Medicine states the many clinical trials have clearly proven the ability of Milk Thistle to reverse the symptoms of many liver disorder, both acute and chronic, ranging from acute viral hepatitis to cirrhosis. When the liver is damaged by alcohol, drugs or disease its regenerative capacity slows down or even stops. Milk Thistle's incredible restorative ability is vital.

My Liver Works Well, Why do I need Milk Thistle?

The liver is our prime defense against toxins, and life in the industrial age with its environmental hazards has exposed us to many more toxins than ever before - whether we are sitting in traffic, breathing second hand smoke, or working in a big city office complex. Milk Thistle effectively counteracts the effects of pollutants from workplace chemicals, auto exhaust, pesticides, heavy metals, to other toxins that are a consequence of living in the industrial age.

How Should I take Milk Thistle?

A handful of crushed Milk Thistle seed was the prescription in former times. But with the increase in research, standardized Milk Thistle extracts are manufactured which guarantee potency. When buying Milk Thistle look for 80% silymarin in a base of the whole herb.

Is It Toxic?

Tests in animals showed that even in large doses Milk Thistle had no toxic effects, nor did it produce allergic reactions or side effects. Human tests show that Milk Thistle is very well tolerated. Milk Thistle combined with Dandelion and tumeric, is an extra powerful herbal remedy which can protect you from environmental and lifestyle damage. Both dandelion and tumeric are used to treat liver disorders. According to Michael Murray in the Healing Power of Herbs "Dandelion is regarded as one of the finest liver remedies, as both food and medicine. Studies in humans and laboratory animals have shown that dandelion enhances the flow of bile, improving such conditions as liver congestion, bile duct inflammation, hepatitis, gallstones and jaundice" Tumeric also contains components which prevent liver damage and has been used for centuries.

How Does Milk Thistle Work?

Milk Thistle is used by many for numerous digestive disorders but it stars in protecting the liver from toxins and diseases. There are four primary ways it protects:

1..It is a powerful antioxidant and free radical scavenger, joining that select group of nutrients which primarily includes vitamins A,C,E and selenium.
2. It increases the glutathione content of the liver. Glutathione detoxifies drugs and chemicals, so more of it gives the liver more ability to detoxify. "Silymarin has also been shown to increase the glutathione content of the liver by over 35% in healthy subjects."
3. The active ingredient, silymarin, inhibits the formation of leukotrienes. When formed, these substances damage the liver.
4. Milk Thistle can stimulate protein synthesis which results in the production of new liver cells to replace damaged ones.

1. Murray, Michael T. The Healing Power of Herbs Prima Publishing 1992.
2. Mowrey, Daniel B., Next Generation Herbal Medicine - guaranteed potency herbs, Keats Publishing 1990

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