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Milk Thistle Benefit & Milk Thistle Tea Side Effects

Milk Thistle Extract Supplement

Milk Thistle is also known as Holy thistle, Marythistle, St. Mary's thistle, Marian thistle, Silybum marianum, Carduus marianus. Milk thistle is commonly found growing wild in a variety of settings. The dried fruit (also called achenes) are used to produce modern herbal extracts.

Medical use of milk thistle can be traced back more than 2,000 years. Nicholas Culpeper, the well-known 17th-century pharmacist, cited its use for opening "obstructions" of the liver and spleen and recommended it for the treatment of jaundice. Milk Thistle has been used in connection with alcohol-related liver disease, Hepatitis, Liver cirrhosis, Gallstones.

Benefit of Milk Thistle Extract

The dried fruit of milk thistle contain a flavonoid complex known as silymarin. This constituent is responsible for the medical benefits of the plant. Silymarin is made up of three parts: silibinin, silidianin, and silicristin. Silibinin is the most active and is largely responsible for the benefits attributed to silymarin.

Milk thistle extract may protect the cells of the liver by blocking the entrance of harmful toxins and helping remove these toxins from the liver cells. As with other bioflavonoids, silymarin is a powerful antioxidant. Silymarin has also been shown to regenerate injured liver cells. Recent studies have shown that silymarin has the ability to block fibrosis, a process that contributes to the eventual development of cirrhosis in people with inflammatory liver conditions secondary to diseases such as alcohol abuse or hepatitis.

Milk thistle extract is most commonly recommended to counteract the harmful actions of alcohol on the liver. Double-blind trials indicate that it helps the liver return to a healthy state once a person stops drinking. Some trials suggest it may improve quality of life and even life expectancy in people with liver cirrhosis.

Milk thistle extract has been shown to protect the liver from the potentially damaging effect of drugs used to treat schizophrenia and other forms of psychosis.

For those who prefer, 12-15 grams of milk thistle dried fruits can be ground and eaten or made into a Milk Thistle tea.

Milk Thistle Side Effects

Milk thistle extract is virtually devoid of any side effects and may be used by most people. Since silymarin stimulates liver and gallbladder activity, it may have a mild, transient laxative effect in some people. Other side effects of Milk Thistle include:

  • Upset stomach
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Skin rash

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