Also known by its botanical name Silybum Marianum, Milk Thistle is also referred to as Mary thistle extract, Holy thistle extract, and Silymarin. Milk Thistle belongs to the Asteraceae family, native to Southern Europe, regions of the Middle East, and North Africa. It has been grown naturally in South America, North America, and Southern Australia and needs moist, dry soil for growing. Most gardeners consider the Milk Thistle a weed because of how rapidly it grows. Milk Thistle can grow to more than 10 feet in height and is covered with spines. It also produces purple flowers that each can contain 190 seeds. Silymarin, the most active component in Milk Thistle, is extracted from the plant seeds. It is composed of compounds known as flavonolignans. The flavonolignan compounds include silybin A, silybin B, taxifolin, isosilybin A, isosilybin B, silychristin A, and silydianin.
Health Benefits Of Milk Thistle
While Milk Thistle is most widely used for liver care such as hepatitis and cirrhosis, the plant is even thought to prevent or treat high cholesterol, diabetes, heartburn, stomach discomfort (dyspepsia), hangover, gallbladder issues, menstrual pain, depression, and some forms of cancer. It is a medicinal plant that undoubtedly offers a lot and to elaborate on that, let’s get into some more detail about the major benefits of the Milk Thistle plant.
1. Supports liver disease
For liver support, Milk Thistle has a significant role. Several studies have shown that Milk Thistle can be beneficial for people with moderate liver disease, which is subactive (symptoms free). An early study in Finland found that, in people with the subactive disease, a four-week course of silymarin supplements decreased the major liver enzymes, indicating that liver function increases.
2. Aids in cancer treatment
One study indicates that antioxidant properties of silymarin are reported to have certain anti-cancer benefits that could be beneficial for individuals getting cancer treatment. Research in 2016 showed that the extract of Milk Thistle prevented cancer cell development in colorectal cancer. It can even enhance the way chemotherapy operates against certain cancers and can also destroy cancer cells under certain conditions. Having said that, further trials are underway across the globe to understand how silymarin can be used to help cancer patients.
3. Supports bone health
Most people consider calcium and vitamin D for the protection of bone health and osteoporosis. Milk Thistle was studied to investigate its bone health relationship. In a 2013 study, Milk Thistle was found to help reduce bone loss. The advantage of Milk Thistle to our bones is the product of its good liver effect. Several studies have shown that Milk Thistle reduces or stops bone loss in postmenopausal women.
4. Reduces insulin resistance
A study on mice showed that extracts of Milk Thistle helped reduce the resistance to insulin. Insulin resistance is a problem for those who suffer from type 2 diabetes. By reducing resistance to insulin, the extract of Milk Thistle enables the body to recover and help burn sugar better thus aiding in bringing down sugar levels.
5. Supports weight loss
Initial animal research conducted in 2016 demonstrated that silymarin caused weight loss in mice that were fed a diet that was intended to increase their weight. The study points at the fact that Milk Thistle may be of use to those looking to lose weight.
6. Boosts the immune system
Milk Thistle can help to improve a person’s immune health and help them battle infection. An animal model study in 2016 showed that Milk Thistle extract improved immunity when ingested. An older study showed that the extract had a beneficial effect on the human immune response.
Milk Thistle in traditional medicine
Milk Thistle has been in use for more than 2000 years as traditional wellness. In ancient Greece, Dioscorides wrote about 600 medicinal plants and herbs in his book that Milk Thistle tea was used as a snakebite remedy. Women in the middle Ages used the Milk Thistle to treat various liver problems as rooted in Ayurveda. In the 1500s, John Gerard wrote that Milk Thistle could help with depression and emotional distress. Nicolas Culpeper, a famous physician, and herbalist reported that Milk Thistle could help to “unblock” the liver and even help treat jaundice.
Milk Thistle has several health benefits, due to its active ingredient – silymarin, which is an antioxidant. In traditional medicine as well as Ayurveda, Milk Thistle is a popular plant-based food grade supplement to help with liver treatment. Ayura Origins sells pure Milk Thistle powder under the brand name Nature’s Liver Fix. It is available on all major online shopping portals. All Ayura Origins products are registered with the US FDA.