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Superfoods: The Benefits of Milk Thistle

Milk thistle (silymarin), also called Mary thistle and holy thistle, is a flowering herb related to the daisy and ragweed family. It is native to Mediterranean countries. People have been using milk thistle for liver and gallbladder problems. Experts believe that Milk thistle is the primary active ingredient of the herb. I have gathered concise information about The Benefits of Milk Thistle. Let’s go straight into it.

Benefits of Milk Thistle -  Milk Thistle tea

Milk thistle is a traditional remedy for neurological conditions. People have been using it for the problems like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s for over two thousand years. Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties show that it is possibly neuroprotective. It could help prevent the decline in brain function you experience as you age.

In test-tube and animal studies, it is proved that Milk Thistle prevents oxidative damage to brain cells, which might help prevent mental disorders. Holy thistle could help treat several difficult conditions of the brain.

Moreover, more research is needed to know if mary thistle is enough/well absorbed to allow enough amounts to pass through the blood-brain barrier or not. It is still unclear what doses would need to be prescribed to benefit.

Milk Thistle and Heart

Milk thistle may reduce the chance of developing heart disease by lowering LDL bad cholesterol levels. People with diabetes often have high cholesterol, so studies on heart benefits with holy thistle have only been done in people with diabetes. We are not sure if it has the same effects in people without diabetes.

Milk thistle can also be taken with cholesterol-lowering medications, like statins. It can help prevent the elevation of liver enzymes, which can be a side effect of the medication. You should ultimately find out more about the side effects of statins.

Milk thistle has traditionally been used to promote breast milk production, prevent and treat cancer and even protect the liver from alcohol, snake bites, other environmental poisons, and treat liver and gallbladder disorders. 

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Milk Thistle and Diabetes

Milk thistle may be a helpful complementary therapy to manage type 2 diabetes. It is valuable for diabetic people. It is said that milk thistle has one compound that may help to improve insulin sensitivity, similarly to some diabetic medications by helping decrease blood sugar levels.

If you use silymarin in your routine, you will surely experience a significant reduction in your fasting blood sugar levels and HbA1c. (Hba1c is a 3-month measure of blood sugar control). Additionally, milk thistle’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may also help reduce the risk of developing diabetic complications like kidney disease, heart attack, and other sugar problems. 

Though more high-quality studies are needed, the milk thistle may help lower blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes (not sure about type 1). I suggest you talk to your doctor before taking any supplements because your doctor knows your medication history. If you take supplements without consulting your doc, they might interfere with your medicine.

Milk Thistle and liver

Milk thistle is well-known for its liver-protecting results. Many people use it as a complementary therapy for liver damage conditions like non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, hepatitis, alcoholic liver disease, and even liver cancer. 

Studies have shown that for people who have taken a milk thistle supplement, their liver function improved and liver diseases reduced. It could help liver damage and reduce liver inflammation. Milk thistle is also used to protect the liver against toxins like amatoxin, produced by a mushroom, and is deadly if ingested.

Although, there is a need to research more on its working. Milk thistle is considered to reduce damage caused by free radicals that produce when your liver metabolizes toxic substances. According to One study, milk thistle may slightly extend the expected life

of people with liver cirrhosis due to alcoholic liver disease. 

It is life-saving! Thus, more studies are needed to determine the need for specific liver

conditions. Some studies also prove that milk thistle may help people whose liver is damaged by industrial toxins, such as xylene and toluene.

Although milk thistle is used as a complementary therapy for people with liver diseases, there’s no recent evidence that it can prevent you from getting these conditions, especially if you have an unhealthy lifestyle. Though more research is needed, milk thistle extracts may help protect the liver against damage caused by disease or poisoning.

Research is conflicting on the benefits of milk thistle for liver health. There are many chances that it might have protective effects on the liver and prevent damage. Researches prove that milk thistle can treat cirrhosis and chronic hepatitis caused by viruses, autoimmune disease, or alcohol abuse. But experts say that the evidence isn’t final and conclusive.

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Milk thistle and Cancer Treatment

Milk thistle’s antioxidant effects may have some anticancer effects, which could be helpful for people receiving cancer treatment. Its active ingredients have improved the effects of some cancer treatments in animals. However, human studies are limited and haven’t shown any beneficial results.

Some researches of animal studies have shown that milk thistle might help reduce the side effects of cancer treatments. It may also do chemotherapy work more efficiently against certain cancers, and in some circumstances, it could even destroy cancer cells. However, the studies in humans for cancer are very limited, need improvements, and have yet to show a meaningful clinical effect in people.

This may be because people can’t absorb enough medicinal effects. More studies are needed before determining how silymarin might be used to support people undergoing cancer treatment. 

Here is an awesome video that espouses the benefits of Milk Thistle:

Milk Thistle and Breast Milk Production

It might increase breast milk production in lactating women, though very little research has been done to confirm its effects. Research shows that the effect of milk thistle could boost your breast milk production if you are a lactating mother. 

It’s proven to work by making more of the milk-producing hormone prolactin. The data is minimal, but one study found that mothers who were taking 420 mg of silymarin for about 63 days produced 64% more milk than those who were taking a placebo.

There is still a need to research more to confirm the results of milk thistle for women who are breastfeeding for the safety of milk thistle for mothers.

Milk Thistle Could Protect Your Bones

Osteoporosis usually develops slowly over several years and causes weak bones that break easily, even after minor falls. It is a disease caused by progressive bone loss. Milk thistle has been shown in experimental test-tube and animal studies to stimulate bone mineralization and potentially be protective against bone loss. As a result, it is suggested that milk thistle may be a valuable therapy for preventing or delaying bone loss in postmenopausal women.

Milk Thistle and Acne

Acne is a skin condition that is not dangerous, but it can cause scars as everyone likes neat and clear skin. Would you like to have an acne map on your face while tonight is your party? Obviously no! You may also find this condition painful, and you will be worried about its effects on your appearance.

According to research, if you are awfully stressed about any condition, it may play a role in the development of acne in your body. As milk thistle has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, it might be proved to be a valuable supplement for people who are facing such condition__ the acne.

Furthermore, according to research, if you are facing acne conditions and take 210 milligrams of silymarin per day for 8 weeks, you will experience a 53% decrease in acne lesions. It will be really significant for your skin and you. A stress-free mind has acne-free skin.

Only one study has shown that people taking milk thistle supplements experienced a decrease in acne lesions on their bodies; more high-quality research is still needed.

Is Milk Thistle Safe?

Milk thistle is generally considered safe. Nevertheless, those allergic to the Asteraceae family of plants, pregnant women, anyone with an estrogen-sensitive condition, and those with diabetes should seek medical advice before taking it.

If you take Milk thistle by mouth, it is generally considered safe then. When it was deeply studied, it was found that for people who took high doses of milk thistle for an extended period, only about 1% of them experienced side effects like gut disturbances like nausea, bloating, or diarrhea.

The following list is of people who are advised to be careful when taking milk thistle:

  • Those allergic to the plant
  • Pregnant women
  • Those with hormone-sensitive conditions
  • People with some types of breast cancer.
  • People with diabetes

The Bottom Line

Milk thistle has proved to be a safe supplement that shows potential as a complementary therapy for various conditions that include heart problems, liver disease, cancer, and diabetes. It’s used as a natural treatment for hepatitis, jaundice, cirrhosis, and gallbladder disorders.

It is claimed that milk thistle might provide heart benefits by lowering cholesterol levels and helping people with type 2 diabetes and cirrhosis. However, many studies are small and have methodological flaws, making it challenging to guide this supplement or confirm its effects. Overall, there is still a need for quality research to define this fascinating herb’s doses and clinical impact.

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Noble Woods III

My name is Noble, I have a passion for fitness and all things related to healthy living. My mission is to share my story and help those who wish to make a healthy change. Follow me on socials.

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