March 09 2021
Herbal products are becoming increasingly popular, especially among those suffering from chronic diseases. With the advantage of lowered risk of side effects and being lighter on the pockets, people have relied on herbal therapies for generations and continue to do so.
Milk Thistle (Silybum marlanum) is an annual or biennial plant of the family Asteraceae. It is a herb that can grow up to 30 to 200 cm in length and has an overall conical shape. You might find that the stem is grooved and light Cottony fuzz might cover it. The leaves are pinnately lobed, with spiny edges. They are hairless with milky veins covering them.
The flowers of milk thistle are red to purple. They flower from June to August in the Northern and from December to February in the Southern hemisphere. The achenes or seeds are the medicinal part of the plant. The active component, silymarin, is a group of substances-silibinin, silibinin, and silicristin.
Milk thistle has been used for nearly 2000 years, traditionally used as a treatment for liver dysfunction. The oldest use of milk thistle is reported by Dioscorides, who recommended the herb for of treatment of serpent bites. Since the Middle Ages, milk thistle has been revered as an antidote for liver toxins. Native Americans have always used milk thistle to treat pus-filled inflamed swellings called boils, and other skin diseases.
Now, let’s look at the benefits offered by this herb in a little detail.
- The seeds contain silymarin, a group of compounds found to have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects. These are responsible for reducing the reactive oxygen species (ROS) that form in cells and cause cellular damage.
- Milk thistle has a role in combating liver disease – The liver disease can include conditions like alcoholic liver disease, hepatitis, and even fatty liver disease. Preliminary studies have suggested that silymarin may improve liver function by preventing toxic substances from binding to liver cells. These toxic substances are usually free radicals. It also protects the liver against amatoxins produced by ingestion of cap mushroom.
- Reduces cholesterol - High cholesterol can lead to problems with heart health and increase the chance of stroke. A 2006 study suggested that milk thistle plays a significant role in keeping cholesterol levels down.
- Promote brain functions- In traditional medicines, milk thistle proves to be of paramount value in treating neurological conditions like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. The potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties of milk thistle work well as effective neuroprotective agents that can prevent the degeneration of neurons. Animal studies also indicate that Milk thistle prevents the build-up of amyloid plaques in neurons that are responsible for age-related Alzheimer's. Despite this, no human studies indicate the protective function of milk thistle at present.
- Milk thistle controls Diabetes - Milk thistle is a beneficial complementary therapy in managing Diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes. Silymarin compound in milk thistle remarkably reduces the fasting blood sugar and increases the sensitivity of cells to insulin, thereby maintaining the HbA1C at normal range. Moreover, in diabetes, there is a risk of kidney disease which might be reduced due to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nature of milk thistle.
- Stronger Bones – Osteoporosis or progressive bone loss is a common problem among women over 40 that makes bone fragile and weak and increasing the risk of fractures. Milk thistle may be an effective natural remedy in preventing bone loss by stimulating bone mineralization in menopausal women, thus supporting bone health.
- Milk thistle can increase the production of breast milk in lactating mothers. This is thought to act by increasing the levels of the milk-producing hormone, prolactin. The benefit is supported by clinical data available. Mothers taking silymarin for 63 days were found to produce 64% more milk than those given a placebo.
- Milk thistle can aid in treating Acne: Well, all the teens experiencing teenage acne reading this, seems like you’ve found yourself a solution! Acne scars can leave a permanent mark that might shatter your dream of flawless and smooth skin. Research has proven oxidative stress might be the reason for the development of Acne. Due to its anti-inflammatory effects, milk thistle can be beneficial in such cases. Ingesting 210 mg of silymarin per day for 8 weeks was found to significantly reduce the acne lesions.
- Milk thistle is also beneficial in weight loss as suggested by initial animal studies.
SIDE EFFECTS AND SAFETY
- When taken by mouth - Milk thistle extract is likely safe for most people when taken orally. In some rare cases, roughly 1%, taking milk thistle extract can cause diarrhoea, nausea, intestinal gas, loss of appetite, and headache in people.
- People with allergies to ragweed and kiwi may also be allergic to milk thistle.
- If you’re on anti-diabetic medication, milk thistle may potentiate the effects and cause a significant plummet in blood sugar level.
- Pregnant women are recommended to avoid taking milk thistle as no safety data is available.
- On an extremely rare occasion, milk thistle may cause a potentially life-threatening, all body allergy is known as anaphylaxis. It can lead to shock, coma, respiratory failure, or death. Therefore, always consult your health provider before taking this supplement.
It is important to invest in a good quality supplement to achieve rewards. Alvizia’s Milk Thistle contains 600mg of milk thistle containing 80% of silymarin. It is available as bottle packaging of 60 soft gel capsules and is affordable too. Just keep in mind to consult a doctor if you’re on any kind of medication.