by Matt Weik
Milk thistle, also known as Silybum marianum, is a common yet not so popular plant. It is native to Southern Europe and Asia and has various medicinal properties, and is commonly used in the US in the form of milk thistle supplements. The plant itself has prickly leaves with purple flowers and white veins. It’s known as milk thistle because the plant oozes out white liquid when cut.
Milk thistle contains a group of plant compounds that are known as Silymarin. As per the Journal of Integrative Cancer Therapies, Silymarin is known to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties.
So, what am I getting at here? If you’ve ever had issues with your liver, milk thistle supplements may have been something you’ve been recommended. Those who have dabbled in PEDs or prohormones may be very familiar with milk thistle, a common ingredient in many PCT (post-cycle therapy) products.
But milk thistle supplements aren’t only for liver health — they have many other benefits. Let’s take a deeper look into milk thistle supplements and see how they can provide you with various health benefits.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to treat or diagnose any condition. The information found within this article is not medical advice and should not supersede a doctor’s diagnosis and treatment plan should you have a health condition. The use of milk thistle supplements should never be a replacement for any medication that your doctor puts you on.
The Benefits of Milk Thistle Supplements
1. Protects the Liver
One of the most important benefits that milk thistle supplements offer is that they can protect your liver. Silymarin in milk thistle is just like a shield to the liver. It protects the liver from toxins and helps to eliminate them.
People who are suffering from liver problems like alcoholic liver diseases, hepatitis, fatty liver, and in some cases, even liver cancer, can use milk thistle supplements as a regular complementary therapy.
As per a study, milk thistle supplements slightly extend the life expectancy of people suffering from liver cirrhosis.
2. Improves Cancer Treatment
The active ingredients present in milk thistle can help in improving cancer treatment. Studies show that Silymarin contains antioxidant properties that have anti-cancer effects that can help in the treatment.
Another study shows that milk thistle supplements can make chemotherapy more effective and sometimes even help destroy cancer cells.
3. Treats Acne and Improves Skin Health
Acne is an inflammatory skin condition that can cause scars and affect the confidence of many people. Though acne can affect anyone and at any point in life, it is most commonly found in teenagers.
It is caused by oxidative stress, and milk thistle supplements can help prevent breakouts due to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Also, it helps flush out the toxins, which ultimately helps purify the skin.
A study shows that people who took 210 mg of silymarin daily for 8 weeks experienced a 53% reduction in acne.
4. Lowers Blood Sugar Levels
Milk thistle supplements, in some cases, can be used to help treat Type-2 diabetes. It is primarily because the compounds found in milk thistle are similar to that of diabetes medications.
As per the studies, milk thistle supplements can improve insulin sensitivity and decrease blood sugar levels.
Also, the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties can help in reducing the risk of developing complications like kidney diseases.
Are There Any Side Effects?
As per the studies, only 1% of people experience side effects when they consume high doses for an extended period of time.
When taken in an appropriate quantity, milk thistle supplements are completely safe. But if over consumed, it may trigger a few side effects like headaches, diarrhea, bloating, etc.
Who Should Avoid Milk Thistle Supplements?
● If you are pregnant, it is advisable to avoid the use of milk thistle supplements.
● If you have a hormone-sensitive condition, then milk thistle supplements may have estrogenic effects that may worsen the situation and could cause breast cancer.
● If you are allergic to the Asteraceae/Composite plant family, such as daisy and kiwi.
● If you have diabetes, milk thistle supplements may put your health at risk if already taking medication for the condition.
Are There Any Drug Interactions?
Milk thistle may trigger interactions with certain drugs like Biaxin and Coumadin.
So, to avoid any complications, it is better to inform your healthcare provider or doctor regarding the remedies or supplements that you are taking.
What is the Recommended Dosage?
Milk thistle is commonly available in the form of capsules. Apart from this, it is also available in the form of tablets and tea bags.
Though the exact dosage is not exactly known, the European Medicines Agency gives the following guidelines:
• In the case of herbal tea, (single dose) 3-5 grams in 100 ml of boiling water. (before meals, 2-3 times a day)
• In the case of powdered herbal substances, (single dose) 300-600 mg. (before meals, 2-3 times a day)
• As per the guidelines, the higher the dose, the higher are the chances of experiencing the side effects.