This pages focuses on benefits of milk thistle - What is milk thistle? What are the health benefits of milk thistle? Are there any milk thistle side effects? Read on and find out.
What is Milk ThistleMilk thistle (Silybum marianum) belongs to the daisy family. It is native to the warm and dry areas of southern Europe and northern Africa. It has shiny, spiny, mottled leaves, and the flowers are fuzzy, soft, and red-purplish. The small, hard-skinned fruit is brown, spotted, and shiny. Milk thistle gets its name from the milky white fluid that comes from the leaves when they are crushed. Milk thistle has long been used in Europe as a "liver herb". German researchers have identified a group of active ingredients found mainly in the seeds of milk thistle. These ingredients are collectively called silymarin. Silymarin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and protects the liver in two ways:
Health Benefits of Milk ThistleOur liver carries out numerous essential functions, such as detoxifying harmful substances in the body, purifying the blood and manufacturing vital nutrients. It is not difficult to imagine that any damage to our liver can result in potential serious health problems. As mentioned above, milk thistle is the herb for the liver. It prevents damage to the liver and helps repair a damaged liver. It can also help a healthy liver remove toxins more effectively. Here are some specific health benefits of milk thistle:
Benefits of Milk Thistle - DosageMost milk thistle products are standardized preparations made from the seeds of the plant. Most preparations are standardized to contain 70 to 80% of silymarin. The recommended average daily dose is 200 to 400 milligrams of silymarin per day. However, if you think you have a liver problem, you should first consult a doctor since liver disease can be serious and even life-threatening. Also consult a holistic practitioner if you want to use milk thistle to treat your existing liver problems. Top
Milk Thistle Side EffectsMilk thistle side effects are usually mild and may involve stomach upset and diarrhea. Milk thistle should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women. Consult a doctor first before giving milk thistle to a child. People with a history of hormone-related cancers, including breast and uterine cancer and prostate cancer, should not take milk thistle.
References Duke, J.A., Dr. Duke's Essential Herbs, (Rodale Books, 2000).
University of Maryland Medical Center.
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