Benefits of Milk Thistle

Facts on the Healthy and Therapeutic Benefits of Milk Thistle

Milk thistle has immense use in the field of medicine. This herb is being used in the treatments of a variety of diseases for over 2000 years now. This Buzzle article puts forth some benefits of milk thistle.
HolisticZine Staff
Last Updated: Jun 3, 2018
Milk thistle truly dominates the world of medicinal herbs. This magnificent herb has multitudinous medicinal properties and is effective in curing a plethora of diseases. Although, it is being used for medicinal purposes for the past 2000 years, its use on a commercial level was approved only recently.

It belongs to the daisy family, Asteraceae, the same as that of a sunflower. It probably derived its name due to the milky liquid present in the veins of its leaves. It is also referred to as St. Mary's thistle, Holy Thistle, Marian thistle, Silybum marianum, and Silymarin. It finds its references in numerous literature all over the world. It bears purple flowers and brown-colored fruit. The black colored seeds of the milk thistle are particularly harvested for medicinal purposes.

Health Benefits

Milk thistle is mostly used in the field of medicine for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxifying properties. Its main active ingredient is silymarin, which has tremendous therapeutic properties. A few medicinal benefits of milk thistle are as follows.

Liver Diseases
Flavonolignans are the compounds present in milk thistle extracts that reduce the damage done to the cells due to consumption of toxic substances like alcohol and certain drugs. It stimulates the protein synthesis, thereby regenerating the liver cells. It detoxifies the liver by getting rid of free radicals. It is also effective in treating liver diseases such as viral hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, fatty liver disease, and other liver dysfunctions.

Cancer
Milk thistle is known to possess some anticancer properties, which inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Research has shown that milk thistle prevents prostate cancer, breast cancer, and cervical cancer in humans. However, more research is required to affirm its anticancer properties.

Cholesterol Control
Milk thistle not only reduces the LDL cholesterol in the body but also increases the amount of HDL or 'good cholesterol', which is an added advantage. It works better than any cholesterol-lowering drug available in the market.

Bowel Movements
People suffering from diarrhea and constipation alike, benefit a great deal from milk thistle. It stimulates bowel movement and helps to cure the bowel related disorders.

The additional health benefits of milk thistle are:
  • Stimulates milk secretion in lactating mothers.
  • Treat and prevent gallstones by regulating bile flow.
  • It also helps treat diabetes to a certain extent.
  • It acts as a stress buster and helps cure adrenal disorders.
  • It improves the function of the thyroid gland.

Although, the whole of milk thistle is edible, it is better to rely on its commercially available forms for therapeutic benefits. It is mostly believed to be safe for consumption. However, a few probable side effects include joint pain, headache, allergic reactions, etc. Women with hormone-related disorders should not take milk thistle as it acts similar to female hormone estrogen. Even though milk thistle is of natural origin, it should be consumed in moderation and only after consulting your physician.

Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.