Posted May 3, 2015 by Steve in Health & Beauty Articles

10 Health Benefits of Milk Thistle

Milk thistle is scientifically known as Silybum marianum and belongs to the ragweed and daisy family.
It is native to the Mediterranean region and is very well known for its power of health restoration for the past 20 centuries.

Usage trends do not usually form based on unproven claims. If the Milk Thistle has been in use for such a long time, it is clear that it must be providing some really useful benefits.

In the earlier times, this herb was used by doctors for treatment of maladies affecting the spleen, kidneys and veins. A huge list of other potential benefits has been added to the list over the past few centuries.

Many research studies have established its efficacy in the treatment of a variety of diseases. In this article we will have a look at the top ten benefits of utilizing milk thistle.

1. Cancer fighting anti-oxidant

Free oxygen radicals are produced inside the body as a process of metabolism. These free radicals are very reactive and damage tissues on contact which leads to faster aging and loss of vitality. These free radicals are also the primary cause of cancer cell formation inside the body.

Antioxidants is a group of natural agents that eliminate these free radicals from your system and thus provide protection against aging and cancer. Silymarin is the main active component of milk thistle that acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.

A study by the National Institute of Cancer has revealed that silymarin has multiple antioxidant actions such as promoting the release of toxin neutralizing enzymes, strengthening of cellular walls and eradication of free radicals that protects cells from damage. In addition to this, it has also been found to be useful in reducing prostate, breast and cervical cancers.

2. Combats against cancer

It is great to have the ability to keep off cancer but what about individuals who are already affected? One of the most interesting uses of milk thistle is its usefulness in combating cancer cells.

Research conducted by the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department of Veterans Hostipal of Zhudong has found that silymarin is a potential combating agent against cervical cancer. A report published in PubMed states that C-33A cells (cervical cancer) being treated with silymarin resulted in substantial decrease in viability of cells.

Another experiment was conducted to observe the effect of milk thistle on a patient suffering from promyelocytic leukaemia over a period of four months. The normal enzyme levels of his liver were restored before continuing with chemotherapy. The National Institute of Cancer has also observed positive effects on children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and subjects suffering from hepatocellular carcinoma and a multitude of other diseases.

3. Restores Liver Function

Silymarin which is the main active component of milk thistle was found to restore normal liver function. Milk thistle has traditionally been used in the treatment of hepatitis, jaundice and cirrhosis since the roman age.

The research conducted has shown mixed conclusions. However, medical scientists have continued trials of milk thistle to find out the positive effects it may have on function of the liver in human beings. An experiment conducted by the National institute of Cancer showed improved liver function by the use of milk thistle on rats. This result paves the way for detailed revelation of the liver restoring properties of milk thistle.

Until that time, it is enough to know that milk thistle has been found effective in patients who have suffered from liver damage due to external factors. A report by WebMD states that liver function was restored by using milk thistle in cases of damage by industrial toxins such as xylene and toluene. The national institute of cancer has further stated that the liver was protected by Milk Thistle against toxin damage.

4. Cardiac Tonic

Regular intake of Milk Thistle may actually help keep away the cardiac surgeon. It decreases the blood level of low density cholesterol especially in case of individuals with diabetes who are at a higher risk of developing heart disease.

Additional research has shown that it also helps in enhancing the levels of high density cholesterol. However the results of this experiment were inconclusive and further research is needed to arrive at a solid outcome.

5. Improvement of sugar levels in diabetic individuals

When it comes to individuals suffering from diabetes, Milk Thistle does more than just regulate low density cholesterol. Milk Thistle in combination with other traditional methods of treatment has shown effectiveness in improvement of blood sugar levels in individuals suffering from type 2 diabetes. Initial research reveals reduction in blood sugar and insulin resistance both of which are beneficial to diabetics.

6. Prevention of gall stones

Gallstones is a very painful experience and it would be wonderful to be able to keep them away. Gallstones from inside the gall bladder duct clogs up which results in pain. Silymarin improves the body’s ability to dissolve bile and thus improves its circulation which in turn helps avoid the onset of gallstones. Milk thistle has also shown promising results in the treatment of existing gallstones.

7. Liver Health and Obesity

There is no doubt that proper exercise and a healthy diet is the key components for keeping obesity at bay. However, one must also understand that there is more involved in maintaining good health. For example, the liver is regulator of body fat levels and thus good liver function will ensure lower body fat.

This shows that the liver boosting properties of sylimarin will also help burn excess fat and purify blood, making weight loss easier. However, it is important to note that Milk Thistle alone will not help in weight reduction. It has to be taken with a combination of good exercise and diet but is certainly a nice extra.

8. Better Skin Tone

The food items we eat act as the building blocks of our body. Dermatological research has shown the effectiveness of Milk Thistle on the improvement of skin tone especially in cases of problems such as dry skin, eczema, psoriasis and cracks.

This benefit is attributed to the presence of fats, vitamins, antioxidants and silymarin which soothes the skin. Milk Thistle reduces ultra violet induced stress levels i.e. it decelerates aging.

9. Easy Dosage

One of the most important benefits is that Milk Thistle is very easy to integrate into your diet. You do not have to deal with complicated dosage charts, therapies or injections. Milk Thistle can be ingested in the form of capsules or tablets along with regular meals. Another less popular option is to drink it in the form of a herbal tea.

10. No Long Term Negative Effects

No serious side effects have been linked to the usage of Milk Thistle. Minor side effects that have been noted were digestive distress like diarrhoea, gas and upset stomach. However, these are rare and found only in a small fraction of the population.

Research show no side effects of ingestion for up to 41 months. Hence, it is safe to take this as part of your diet for the long term. However, pregnant women and individuals allergic to ragweed need to use precaution.

Modern science has just begin to scratch the surface when it comes to the efficacy of Milk Thistle.
In a nutshell, make Milk Thistle an integral part of your diet to reap its benefits. However, be careful about overdosing and remember to consult your doctor prior to taking it.