Milk Thistle

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Biological Name: Silybum marianumMilk Thistle

Family: Compositae

Other Names:  St. Mary’s thistle, Milk Thistle, Holy thistle, Marian Thistle, marythisle

Elements Applied: Leaves and seeds are commonly applied in herbal medicine.

Active Components: Milk thistle is characterized by high bioflavonoid content, namely silymarin content, in its seeds. This component takes responsibility for the herb’s positive action on one’s health. Silymarin contains three elements: silicristin, silidianin, and silibinin. Silibinin is the main active part of the complex, which represents silymarin as a potent substance.

History: A Roman herbalist of the first century, Pliny, proclaimed Milk Thistle is a beneficial remedy for bile secretion. Speaking exactly, it can be used for liver dysfunction. Milk thistle may be used as an antidote to Amanita phalloides or death cap mushroom, which acts on the body by affecting liver. Ancient people thought that milk thistle’s leaves, crossed by white veins, are full of Holy Virgin’s milk, which dropped onto them when she was nursing her Child.

Used For: The range of conditions in which the herb is applied includes psoriasis, liver dysfunction, and gallstones.

Milk thistle is stated to guard liver cells as it prevents toxic substances from reaching liver and helps eliminate them from it. As characteristic for bioflavonoids, silymarin possesses antioxidant capacity. Milk thistle is also capable of recovering damaged liver cells.

Milk Thistle leaves contain a bitter principle, which aids digestion. The seeds induce bile secretion. The leaves are particularly applied for stomach conditions, like dyspepsia and poor appetite. The seeds are especially applied to treat gallstone colic, jaundice, spleen conditions, gallbladder and liver problems.

According to recent researches, milk thistle is capable of counteracting the adverse effects of acetaminophen, a conventional painkilling medicine.

Additional Info: The herb belongs to biennials and can be found in the dry soils of western and southern Europe, as well as some US regions. The stem is branchy, being brown-colored and reaching up to 3 feet in height. It features alternate, shiny green leaves, which are covered with white spots. The blossoming period lasts through summer, when large purple-colored flowers cover the plant.

Preparation and Intake: The majority of patients suffering from liver dysfunction use 420 mg of silimarin a day in form of herbal extracts, standardized to 80% of sylimarin. It takes up to 12 weeks for the medicine to take action. When you see the positive changes, decrease the dose to 280 mg a day. Taken in lower doses the herb is applied in prophylactic aims. Milk thistle seeds are pounded and chewed or produced into tea. The common dose is from 12 to 15 grams. This quantity is not suitable for medical purposes.

Safety: Silymarin promotes gallbladder and liver activity. Consequently, it may produce a gentle laxative action in some cases. It usually lasts up to three days.

But speaking generally, milk thistle has no side effects. It may be safely applied by almost any patient, including breastfeeding and pregnant women.