Scientific Name: Milk Thistle
Other Names: Cardui mariae, Carduus marianum, Holy Thistle, Lady's Thistle, Marian Thistle, Mariendistel, Mary Thistle, Our Lady's Thistle, Silimarina, Silybin, Silybum marianum, Silymarin, St. Mary Thistle
Who is this for?
Milk thistle contains several chemicals with possible medical effects. Most current research focuses on one of them, silymarin, which may have specific protective effects on cells in the liver. In multiple human, animal, and laboratory studies, it has shown differing degrees of effectiveness for protecting the liver from damage caused by alcohol, chemicals, drugs, diseases, and poisonous plants. Silymarin and other chemicals in milk thistle are believed to protect liver cells in several different ways:
Silymarin has antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are thought to prevent or lessen damage to body cells that is caused by a chemical process called oxidation.
Anti-inflammatory effects of silymarin help keep liver cells from swelling in response to injury.
Silymarin seems to encourage the liver to grow new cells, while discouraging the formation of inactive fibrous tissue.
By changing the outside layer of liver cells, silymarin may also keep certain harmful chemicals from getting into liver cells.
Milk thistle may also cause the immune system to be more active.
Silymarin and other chemicals from milk thistle have also been tested in laboratory studies involving various types of human cancer cells. In general, they seem to interrupt cancer cell division as well as shortening the time that cancer cells live. They may also stop or limit the formation of new blood vessels that supply tumors. Most research has centered on breast cancer and prostate cancer, but milk thistle may also be useful in treating other cancers such as leukemia. The application of another milk thistle chemical, silibinin, to the skin of laboratory animals has protected the animals against the development of skin cancer -- either before or immediately after exposure to damaging radiation. In addition, some chemicals from milk thistle may increase the effectiveness of current anticancer drugs. Some of these anticancer effects are being studied in early-phase human trials, but none is confirmed, yet.
Milk thistle and chemicals derived from it are being studied for a number of additional potential effects. For example, in animal studies and one small study in humans, milk thistle produced modest reductions in cholesterol levels. Results of separate laboratory studies show that milk thistle may help to protect the heart muscle from damage caused by certain drugs. However, these potential uses have not been well-studied in humans nor have they been proved in animal or laboratories studies.
Suggested intake : 1-2 capsule 3 times a day.