What is Milk Thistle
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is used particularly for liver problems and other ailments. It is a popular herb and has been used since the Greek-Roman times.
Milk thistle is native to the Mediterranean, but is now widespread throughout the world usually in dry, sunny areas.
Milk Thistle is commonly known as St. Marys thistle, Holy thistle. It is sometimes also called as silymarin, which is actually the herb’s active component.
Benefits of Milk Thistle
Milk thistle has been widely known for curing the liver related problems.
However, there are a lot other benefits of Milk thistle. The benefits of Milk thistle with respect to different organs and ailments are as follows-
The main component in Milk Thistle called as ‘Silymarin’ protects the liver from damage caused by viruses, toxins, alcohol, acetaminophen (also called as paracetamol that is commonly used for headaches). These substances can cause liver damage if taken in large quantities or by people who drink alcohol regularly.
Milk Thistle protects and regenerates the liver in case of liver cirrhosis, jaundice, and chronic hepatitis. It cleans the liver of harmful substances such as alcohol, drugs, metals, anesthesia, etc. Milk thistle is particularly known for curing damage due to intake of poisonous mushrooms popularly known as the Death-cap mushrooms.
Skin problems arise mainly due to the non-cleansing of blood. This results in acne, eczema and other skin related problems. Cleansing of the blood depends on the liver. Milk thistle strengthens the functioning of a damaged liver and detoxifies it. Thus, by purifying the liver, milk thistle results in depletion of skin related problems. The reduction of skin impurities leads to healing of redness or inflammation, added glow in the skin, etc. As milk thistle is a demulcent, it softens and moistens the skin.
KIDNEY, SPLEEN AND PELVIC REGION
Milk Thistle is a mild laxative and helps in reducing the congestion in kidney, spleen and pelvic region. It has the ability to increase bile secretion and flow in the intestinal tract. Due to its laxative effect, it helps in maintaining the consistency of stools for people who alternate between diarrhea and constipation.
Milk Thistle is also a demulcent i.e. it soothes and moistens the mucus membranes, kidney and bladder irritations and inflammations in general.
Milk Thistle can calm down an inflamed Gallbladder and also clears out any stagnation that might be present. It is important to verify whether an individual has no Gall Stones when he is using Milk Thistle to combat Gall Bladder symptoms. One must visit a local physician to find out regarding the same.
Diabetes control depends upon the smooth functioning of the liver. The liver is the primary tissue involved with the utilization of insulin. Milk thistle reduces insulin resistance in people with type 2 diabetes. The reduction in lipid per oxidation produced by silymarin can lead to improved metabolic control and a reduced requirement for endogenous insulin in such patients.
LOWERING CHOLESTEROL LEVELS:
Silymarin (an active compound in milk thistle) works as an effective cholesterol-lowering drug with the additional benefit of substantially increasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
Silymarin has strong antioxidant properties and is believed to inhibit the growth of human prostate, breast, and cervical cancer cells in test tubes.
Silymarin is the most active component or ingredient of Milk Thistle Seed. Silymarin is composed mainly of silybinin, silychristin and silydianin. Silymarin is difficult to absorb. It is soluble only in Alcohol and not water. Therefore, alcohol is the preferred medium for its extraction. As of today, the only known source of Silymarin is the Milk Thistle Seed.
Silymarin is also known as the liver-protecting compound in milk thistle. It helps repair liver cells damaged by alcohol and other toxic substances. Silymarin protects the liver cells from being destroyed by these substances. It has antioxidant properties that help to cure various problems.
Milk Thistle Consumption
The seeds of Milk thistle contain Silymarin and are the active part of the herb. This component is difficult of absorb. It is easily soluble in alcohol rather than water. Hence, alcohol is the preferred medium in which silymarin is extracted. The absorption level of milk thistle in the blood stream increases if the solution of silymarin is concentrated.
The Milk thistle seeds are used to prepare: -
- Milk thistle capsules containing dry powdered herb or seed.
- Milk thistle teas.
- Liquid extract of Milk thistle.
- Milk Thistle Tincture.
The capsules are the most concentrated form of Milk Thistle.
Areas of Concern
The in-take levels or dosages in which adults and children must consume milk thistle should be strictly taken care of as an overdose can lead to hazardous conditions.
Milk thistle has a few side effects such as stomach upset, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, joint pain, skin reactions, diarrhea or bloating after consumption of the same.
In extreme cases, a person may suffer from impotence or anaphylaxis (an allergic reaction that can be fatal) as the side effects of Milk thistle. These reactions are very rare.
For safety purpose, it is essential that one must inform one’s doctor, medical practitioner or physician about the consumption of milk thistle so that it does not contradict with any other form of treatment taken for other ailments.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women must not consume Milk Thistle.
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