• Dr. Wilde

MILK THISTLE

Updated: Sep 24, 2021


Milk Thistle is also known as Holy Thistle and its latin appellation - Silybum marianum. Milk Thistle is a prickly plant with very distinctive purple flowers and white veins. Folklore tells us it’s the milk of the Virgin Mary which dripped onto this plant, giving it the characteristic look and name


The medicament within the milk thistle plant is silymarin. About 75% of the plant is made up of this silymarin and it is extracted to treat a wide range of ailments involving inflammation, viral and bacterial origins. However, the most common use is to protect and cleanse the liver


Source: It grows wild around the world but is actually not native to North America – where it’s considered an invasive plant. While beneficial to humans, it is toxic to animals and should be kept from growing without controlled conditions


 

Benefits:

Protects the Liver: The flavonoid complex known as silymarin has strong detoxifying effects. It speeds up the healing of the liver, reversing damage caused by drinking, cirrhosis and toxic waste build up. It helps prevent conditions like hepatitis, jaundice and fatty liver disease. The liver is responsible for over 500 different activities in your body; keeping it cleansed and protected aids in hormone production, body detox, bile production and glucose regulation


Protect against Cancer: Capable of boosting the immune system, it reduced DNA damage and reverses cancerous tumor growth. Studies have shown it effective against a number of different cancers, although should not be used in treatment of estrogen positive tumor masses due to it’s phytoestrogen content


Brain Health: As an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, it may be neuroprotective in nature. It has been seen to prevent oxidative damage to brain cells in animal studies. It benefits in reducing the amount of amyloid plaques in the brain and may have efficacy against treating the progression of Alzheimer’s


Gallstones: Cleansing the liver helps to produce more bile and can prevent the formation of gallstones. Gallstones form when cholesterol and other constituents in the bile bind together


Lowers Cholesterol: Because it combats fatty liver, the cholesterol is reduced and brought into healthier ranges. With your liver producing more bile because of silymarin, your body better absorbs fats and can help prevent cholesterol from reaching unhealthy levels


Boosts Immune System: Boosts overall immunity and helps fight off infections. Helps produce glutathione which combats oxidative stress


Risks: While it is not common for it to be an allergenic substance, it can cause nausea, cramping, diarrhea, abdominal issues, allergic reactions, drug interactions, weakness and excess gas in sensitive patients. High dosages are only given with doctor supervision and regular lab testing


 

Sustainability: Since it is a resilient plant and can be grown under a wide range of conditions, it is a sustainable medicine


Processing: Milk thistle flowers from June to August in the northern hemisphere or December to February in the southern hemisphere (these grow in many countries). It can be eaten raw or cooked. The very sharp leaf-spines must be removed before ingesting. When cooked, the leaves make a very good spinach substitute. The stems should be soaked prior to eating to reduce the bitterness. Milk Thistle can be used like asparagus or added to salads


Supplements are typically a derivative of the plant itself - using heat, carbon dioxide, oils, gases, or alcohol to extract and further concentrate the medicinal properties in a capsule, tincture, or edible form



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Resources:


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3928361/ - Effects against cancer cells

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22352731 - For liver toxicity

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24672644 - Liver protection

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28025940 - Neuroprotective benefits

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