Milk Thistle is unique in its hepatoprotective properties. In fact, in cases of poisoning with Amanita fungi which destroy the liver, Milk Thistle is the only treatment option. It has been so dramatically effective that treatment has never been questioned.
Milk Thistle acts detoxifying the body of synthetic chemicals from paracetamol and alcohol to heavy metals and radiation.
Milk Thistle was approved in 1986 as a treatment for liver disease and is widely used to treat alcoholic hepatitis, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, cirrhosis, liver poisoning and viral hepatitis. It has also been shown to protect the liver from the action of drugs such as acetaminophen, an analgesic without NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory).
Among the most important benefits are:
The active ingredient or in hepatoprotective compound Milk Thistle is known as silymarin. This substance, which actually consists of a group of compounds called flavonolignans, helps repair liver cells damaged by alcohol and other toxic substances by stimulating protein synthesis. It helps remedy the outer layer of the liver cells and also prevents certain toxins from reaching the interior. Silymarin also appears to stimulate the growth of liver cells. It is able to reduce (important for people with liver inflammation or hepatitis) inflammation, and has potent antioxidant effects. It is believed that antioxidants protect cells from damage caused by a chemical process called oxidation body. Milk Thistle has not been standardized to an exact amount (as it is made of pure natural dried herbs containing about 70 -. 80% silymarin (and many other components designed to work in harmony).
This herb is very beneficial for adrenal disorders and inflammatory bowel disease, and is used to treat psoriasis.
Milk thistle has some similar effects to estrogen which can stimulate the flow of breast milk in women who are breast-feeding. It can also be used for end periods. The estrogen-like effect of Milk Thistle may also have some usefulness for men with prostate cancer.
In animal studies and in a small study in humans, Milk Thistle produced modest reductions in total cholesterol. However, these results have not been shown in studies of larger scale and in humans.
This herb is a must if detoxification and for anyone with any type of liver dysfunction or exposure to toxins.
A comprehensive review of the US Agency Research and Quality Health Care (AHRQ) recently identified 16 scientific studies on the use of milk thistle for treating various forms of liver disease. A standardized European Milk Thistle extract was used in most trials. Problems in study design (eg, a small number of participants, changes in the causes of liver disease, and differences in dosage and duration of treatment with Milk Thistle) made it difficult to draw definitive conclusions. However, in five of seven studies evaluating Milk Thistle for the treatment of alcoholic liver disease they were found significant improvements in liver function. People with the mildest form of the disease seemed to improve the most. Milk Thistle was less effective for people with severe liver disease such as cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is characterized by not reversible liver scarring and permanent damage. It is often referred to as a terminal stage liver disease.
Although Milk Thistle is widely used in the treatment of hepatitis (including hepatitis C), the results of four studies were contradictory viral hepatitis. In some improvements they were found in the activity of liver enzymes, while others could not detect these benefits. None of the studies compared the Thistle with interferon or other medicines for viral hepatitis.
Preliminary laboratory studies also suggest that active substances in milk thistle may have anti-cancer effects. The active substance known as silymarin has strong antioxidant properties and has been shown to inhibit the growth of cells of prostate, breast cancer and cervical cancer test tubes. Further studies are needed to determine whether the Thistle is safe or effective for people with these cancers.
One animal study found that silymarin acts as effectively as probucol (cholesterol lowering drug), with the added benefit of substantially increasing HDL ( "good") cholesterol. However, more studies are needed in humans to substantiate these effects.
In conclusion, we can say that Milk Thistle is a supplement like no other in their hepatoprotective and detoxifying function.