Historically, people have used milk thistle for liver disorders, such as hepatitis and cirrhosis, and gallbladder problems.
Today, milk thistle is the most popular herbal supplement for liver health in the United States.
But how does milk thistle promote liver health? And what are the other milk thistle benefits you should know about?
Find out in this special report!
What Is Milk Thistle?
Milk thistle (which also goes by its Latin name Silybum marianum) is a thorny plant with white-veined leaves and reddish-purple flowers.
According to folk tradition, the leaves and flowers of the milk thistle plant received their characteristic colors from the Virgin Mary’s milk.
Native to mountains of Italy and Greece, milk thistle can now be found around the world.
Milk thistle has been prized as a healing herb for more than 2,000 years.
As far back as 40 A.D., the Greek physician and botanist Dioscorides described milk thistle’s healing properties.
In Germany, where the government regulates herbal medicine use, milk thistle has been officially listed as a treatment for dyspepsia, cirrhosis, and liver damage due to toxins. (1)
Most of milk thistle’s therapeutic potential comes from the flavonoid silymarin, a powerful compound with antioxidant, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.
Silymarin is also a potent liver protector.
Milk Thistle For Liver Health
Your liver is arguably the hardest working organ in your body.
It’s responsible for more than 500 metabolic functions and impacts everything from energy levels to immune response to metabolism.
One of the liver’s most important functions is defending against toxins found in our environment, the food we eat, prescription drugs, even the clothing we wear!
Your liver acts like a filter that removes these and other harmful substances from your body before they can make you sick.
It’s a tough, exhausting job that can leave your liver overworked and struggling to perform at its best.
Silymarin protects your liver in two ways:
First, by preventing toxins from binding to your liver’s cell receptors; and second, by stimulating repair of damaged liver cells. (2)
According to the National Institutes of Health, silymarin is also used to treat alcoholic liver disease, acute and chronic viral hepatitis and toxin-induced liver diseases. (3)
That’s not all:
Milk thistle can help heal fatty liver disease, a condition that affects 1 in 4 people globally and has been linked to increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and liver cancer.
In a 2015 study, 78 people with fatty liver were given a silymarin-vitamin E supplement and put on a low-calorie diet.
At the end of the 90-day study, people who took the silymarin-vitamin E supplement experienced twice the reduction in liver size as the group who followed the low-calorie diet but did NOT take the supplement. (4)
Another reason to look at milk thistle for liver health:
Milk thistle is an “anti-fibrotic”, which means it protects against tissue scarring, making it a top choice in the prevention of cirrhosis (scarring of the liver that can lead to liver cancer, liver failure and even death.)
Beyond Your Liver:
5 Additional Milk Thistle Benefits
Milk thistle’s healing benefits go way beyond your liver.
No wonder this potent plant is sometimes called “blessed milk thistle” and “holy thistle”.
Here are five more ways milk thistle can benefit your health.
1. Helps protect against cancer.
Researchers have conducted laboratory tests to see what impact silymarin has on cancer cells. (5)
They’ve discovered that silymarin:
- May help chemotherapy drugs work better against ovarian cancer and breast cancer cells
- May directly destroy prostate, breast, and cervical cancer cells
- May slow down prostate cancer cells growth
Animal studies in the lab also suggest silymarin may also be effective at reducing the side effects of chemotherapy, stop or slow the growth of some cancer cells and block tumors from starting or continuing to grow.
2. Promotes heart health.
One way milk thistle helps to promote heart health is by easing inflammation.
Chronic inflammation is a widespread problem believed to be at the root of everything from heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity to arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and more.
As a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, milk thistle can protect the cells and tissues of your heart from the ravages of out-of-control inflammation.
And while more research is needed, early studies suggest milk thistle can benefit your heart by raising levels of “good” HDL cholesterol and lowering the risk of atherosclerosis. (6)
3. Protection against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Exciting new research suggests that milk thistle has neuroprotective properties and may be beneficial for Parkinson’s disease.
Animal studies also suggest that the silymarin in milk thistle may stop the formation of a toxic protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease, thus helping to prevent this heartbreaking condition.
It should be noted that the effect of milk thistle on brain health needs more research, but early evidence is both exciting and hopeful.
4. May help control or prevent diabetes.
In a 2006 study of people with diabetes, those who supplemented with silymarin for four months showed an improved glycemic profile and “significant decreases” in HbA1c levels (your body’s three month “report card” on blood sugar levels) fasting blood glucose, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides compared with folks who took a placebo. (7)
In addition, Mayo Clinic reports that milk thistle helps improve control of blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. (8)
5. Has anti-aging properties.
The antioxidants in milk thistle shield cells against damage from free radicals while removing toxins and waste from the bloodstream, both of which can slow down the aging process.
As you’ve seen in this article, milk thistle can also protect your liver, heart and brain against the “wear and tear” of aging.
Where To Get Milk Thistle
Milk thistle is considered safe and well-tolerated, although as with any supplement check with your doctor before you begin taking it.
Effective dosages depend on the individual, but most people do best consuming between 100 — 350 milligrams daily.
The easiest way to start benefiting from milk thistle is to take it as a supplement or tea.
As a tea:
Your local grocery store likely carries milk thistle tea from popular brands like Traditional Medicinals and Celestial Seasonings.
If you have trouble finding a milk thistle tea where you live, check the “wellness” and “detox” teas available at your store as they often include milk thistle as a primary ingredient.
Milk thistle tea can be a wonderful addition to your healthy lifestyle.
The problem is that you often need to drink 6 — 8 cups of tea in order to get an effective dosage of milk thistle.
For this reason, you may be better off using a milk thistle supplement.
As a supplement:
Look for an all-natural product that delivers at least 250 milligrams milk thistle extract per daily dosage.
It’s important that the formula is standardized to 80% silymarin or higher to ensure the therapeutic potential of the supplement.
Our best-selling liver health and weight loss supplement, LivLean Formula #1, delivers 350 milligrams of high-quality milk thistle extract (80% silymarin) per daily dosage.
You can learn more about LivLean Formula #1 and how it supports liver health and accelerates weight loss here.
Take Home Message
Milk thistle has earned its reputation as a potent liver-protector.
It shields your liver cells against invading toxins, helps to repair and regrow damaged liver cells and clinical studies prove its effectiveness at reversing fatty liver disease.
It’s true that milk thistle can help to heal a hurting liver.
And because you’ve read this far, you’re obviously serious about liver health.
But do you know the five common foods that damage your liver?
They aren’t “naughty” foods like pizza, burgers, and desserts.
No, these sneaky foods look healthy and taste healthy, but they hurt your liver and add pounds of jiggly, embarrassing flab to your belly, backside, thighs and arms.
You have at least some of these foods in your kitchen right now. And chances are you already ate at least one of them today.
Click to watch an eye-opening health presentation and discover what these five so-called health foods are so you can stop serving them to your family.