Milk thistle is a purplish herb that is taken as a dietary supplement for liver regeneration and detoxification. Many people believe the plant has many other health benefits as well. Milk thistle has been recommended to treat a number of conditions, including arthritis and gastrointestinal problems. Many people also choose to take silymarin, a combination of milk thistle and silylenium, for a variety of conditions, primarily liver disease.
Silymarins may help some people with certain conditions, but taking a high dosage can result in serious side effects. This plant extract is not well tolerated by most people. At high doses, milk thistle may cause vomiting, diarrhea, and cramps. At lower doses, people may feel tired or sluggish, and they may report feeling an abundance of energy. Some milk thistle users have even reported hearing ringing in the ears, but these side effects vary by individual.
Other milk thistle benefits: for diabetes sufferers, researchers have found that one of milk thistle’s key nutrients, silymarin acid, may be helpful in managing diabetes. Silyaric acid is made when the plant absorbs sunlight and uses it to produce a compound called silyaricylglucosamine. This compound is thought to act as an enzyme that prevents cells from becoming stuck in protein bindings. If a person has too many protein binders, it can result in hardening of the arteries, kidney damage, and heart disease. There’s still much to learn about the benefits of milk thistle benefits for diabetes and liver disease, however. For now, it appears that silymarin acid may be effective in managing and even reversing certain signs of aging, such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
Milk thistle benefits include the possibility of helping to prevent cancer. The plant contains high levels of antioxidants, which are known to help prevent cancer. Antioxidants block the effects of free radicals, which can cause oxidative stress and chronic disease. Free radicals also contribute to inflammation, which can increase the risk of cancer and other diseases. Milk thistle supplements may help limit the development of some cancers, especially those involving the breast and prostate.
Another important component of milk thistle is silybin, which is the main ingredient in the herb preparation Silybum Marianum. Silybin may also be referred to as milkweed, because it grows on the banks of streams, lakes, and rivers. It has been used for medicinal purposes for hundreds of years. In Chinese medicine, it is called Lin-si or Hsia-shen, which means “poison blocking plant.” Scientific studies have shown silybin to have antioxidant activity in various cell types and in multiple tissues.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take milk thistle. Because it increases lactic acid levels, it can cause damage to the fetus. Women should also avoid taking silybin along with oral contraceptives. Pregnant women may want to check with their physician before consuming silybin or any supplement that contains this ingredient.
Some studies show that milk thistle promotes liver health by inhibiting the entrance of cholesterol into the cells of the liver. As more people become aware of the potential health benefits of this herb, vendors of supplements are starting to include it in many products. Milk thistle may also help reduce cholesterol levels in the blood. While its benefits are most apparent in promoting liver health, milk thistle can also help relieve and prevent certain types of inflammation. These include arthritis, eczema, and psoriasis.
Milk thistle may be most useful when combined with other nutrients or in a formulation that combines other herbs. Although milk thistle may have some side effects, most research indicates that this plant is generally safe for most people. The moderate side effects observed when high dosages are taken are usually mild and will subside quickly.