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Online Wellness Community Natural Health and Anti-Aging News
Online Wellness Community Natural Health and Anti-Aging News
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Milk Thistle

Milk Thistle

Milk thistle is native to the Mediterranean region, and is now found throughout the world. Milk thistle spreads quickly (it is considered a weed in some parts of the world), and it matures in less than a year.

Milk thistle has been used for 2,000 years as an herbal remedy for a variety of ailments, particularly liver and gall bladder problems.

What is in Milk Thistle

The active ingredient in milk thistle is known as silymarin. Silymarin is actually a group of flavonoids (silibinin, silidianin, and silicristin), which are thought to help repair liver cells damaged by alcohol and other toxic substances. Silymarin also keeps new liver cells from being destroyed by these same toxins. It reduces inflammation and is a strong antioxidant.

For Liver Disease Caused by Alcohol

Milk thistle is often suggested as a treatment for alcoholic hepatitis and alcoholic cirrhosis. Most scientific studies show milk thistle improves liver function and increases survival in people with cirrhosis or chronic hepatitis.

Studies also suggest that substances in milk thistle (especially silymarin) protect the liver from toxins, including certain drugs such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), which can cause liver damage in high doses. Silymarin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and it may help the liver repair itself by growing new cells.

For Mushroom Poisoning

Based on traditional use, milk thistle has been used as an emergency antidote to poisoning by deathcap mushroom. Studies have found that milk thistle extract completely counteracts the toxic effects of the mushroom when given within 10 minutes of ingestion. If given within 24 hours, it significantly reduces the risk of liver damage and death.

For Cancer

Some early studies suggest that silymarin and other active substances in milk thistle may have anti-cancer effects. These substances appear to stop cancer cells from dividing and reproducing, shorten their life span, and reduce blood supple to tumors. More research is needed to determine if milk thistle has an anti-cancer effect on the human body.

Precautions

Milk thistle is generally regarded as safe. Side effects are usually mild and may involve stomach upset and diarrhea. Some people may get a rash from touching milk thistle plants.

People with a history of hormone-related cancers, including breast and uterine cancer and prostate cancer, should not take milk thistle. It should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women. Always consult your herbalist or health care practitioner before beginning a herbal regime.

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