The medicinal use of milk thistle can be traced back thousands of years to the time of the Greeks and the Romans. Today, researchers have completed more than 300 scientific studies that attest to the benefits of this herb, particularly for treating liver ailments. Did you know if your liver is distressed your skin will breakout and look sallow!
Know by its botanic name, Silybum marianum, as well as by its principle active ingredient, silymarin, milk thistle is a member of the sunflower family. Most of it’s effectiveness stems from the complex of three liver-protecting compounds, collectively know as silymarin, which constitutes 4% – 6% of the ripe seeds. The purple flowers and milky white leaf veins of this herb are common to many parts of Canada, the United States, and all around the world where this plant grows like a weed.
So what are the major benefits? Milk thistle has the ability to fortify the liver, which is one of the body’s most important organs, second in size only to the skin. The liver processes nutrients including fats and other foods. So if your diet is high in processed foods and saturated foods you liver is working overtime. In addition, it neutralizes, or detoxifies many drugs, pollutants and alcohol. Milk thistle helps enhance and strengthen this vital organ by preventing the depletion of glutathione, a tripeptide that is essential to the detoxifying process. What’s more studies show milk thistle can increase glutathione concentration by up to 30%. This herb is also an effective gatekeeper, limiting the number of toxins the liver processes at any given time.
Milk thistle is a poweful antioxidant as well. Even more potent than vitamins C and E. It helps prevent damage from highly reactive free radical molecules, (what are free radicals?). Furthermore, it promotes the regeneration of healthy new liver cells, which replace old damaged ones. In addition, because excessive alcohol depletes gluthione, milk thistle can aid in protecting the livers of alcoholics or those recovering from alcohol abuse.
Milk thistle also reduces the inflammation and may slow the skill cell proliferation associated with eczema and psoriasis. It may be useful for endometriosis (the most common cause of infertility in women) because it helps the live process the hormone estrogen, which at high levels can make pain and other symptoms worst.
The best time to take milk thistle is between meals. Milk thistle appears to be safe even for pregnant or for women that are breast feeding but I always say proceed with caution it is likely during those time there is likely no need to be taking this. There are virtually no side effects. Milk thistle is considered one of the safest herbs on the market however, some people a few days into taking it may get a slight laxative effect.
Happy liver, happy body, happy skin!