Milk thistle is a flowering herb related to the daisy and ragweed family and has been around for more than 2,000 years. It has been long used as an herbal treatment for many common conditions related to the pancreas and the liver. It is in fact a registered traditional herbal medicine.
Protects the liver
Silymarin is the main active ingredient in milk thistle and is extracted from the seeds of the plant. Sylimarin is said to be hepatoprotective (ability to prevent damage to the liver) and an antioxidant. It has properties which allow it to stabilize and protect the membrane lipids of the hepatocytes (liver cells). It may also help the liver repair itself by growing new cells.
While clinical efficacy of milk thistle is not clearly established it is most often claimed to help treat liver disorders, including liver damage caused by chemicals, jaundice, chronic inflammatory liver disease, cirrhosis of the liver, and chronic hepatitis.
A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.