What Is Milk Thistle Used For?
Milk thistle is sometimes used as a natural treatment for liverproblems. These liver problems include cirrhosis, jaundice, hepatitis, and gallbladderdisorders.
Some claim milk thistle may also:
Provide heart benefits by lowering cholesterol levels
Help diabetes in people who have type 2 diabetes and cirrhosis
1. Support natural detox
One of the most intensely studied features of milk thistle is its ability to protect the liver and help it repair itself.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Complementary and Alternative Medicine Guide, studies have suggested “that substances in milk thistle (especially a flavonoid called silymarin) protect the liver from toxins, including certain drugs, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), which can cause liver damage in high doses. Silymarin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. And it may help the liver repair itself by growing new cells.”
Milk thistle is an anti-fibrotic, which Dr. Mercola says prevents tissue scarring and acts as a toxin blockade.
Why is protecting your liver important? Love Your Liver says it best: “Your liver is your very own chemical processing plant. It receives 30% of the blood circulating in your system every minute – performing chemical reactions to remove harmful toxins and distribute and store essential nutrients.”
A healthy liver means a healthy you.
2. Promote cell growth and regeneration
On the theme of having a healthy liver, milk thistle also promotes cell growth and cell regeneration.
Alcohol and certain commonly prescribed medications (like antidepressants and cholesterol-lowering prescriptions) can harm your liver cells. When this happens Health Ambition reports that silymarin has the ability to promote the regeneration of the damaged cells.
Not only does milk thistle encourage your body to repair damaged cells and tissue, but it also protects cells and tissue from future damage.
3. Encourage healthier skin
Your skin is your body’s the largest organ. Your body absorbs toxins through it, and detoxes toxins through it. It’s a high traffic area.
According to Livestrong.com, you can tell a lot about your health from the condition of your skin. “When disease or illness is evident you may experience acne, psoriasis, eczema or other skin complaints. Milk thistle not only helps to detoxify your liver, it keeps your colon clean to encourage the elimination of toxic waste.”
Your skin benefits as a direct result of this detoxification. Plus, milk thistle reduces inflammation which can reduce irritating flare-ups of skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis and acne.
According to an article in the Pharmacognosy Review, the silymarin in milk thistle can also protect the skin from UV ray damage, particularly when applied topically.
4. Hormone help
Milk thistle has been known to support balanced hormones. How does it do this? Through the liver, of course! What else?
Natural Fertility Info tells us that “liver health is vital for hormonal balance. The liver helps to filter toxins from the body, including excess hormones.”
Because of its hormonal actions, milk thistle has also been known to increase breast milk production.
Milk thistle can also help combat symptoms of menopause, like hot flashes and mood swings.
5. Blood sugar balance
Though more research needs to be done in order to draw clear conclusions about this benefit, Organic Facts suggests that the mixture of antioxidants, fatty acids and the silymarin found in milk thistle can work towards regulating insulin levels and balancing blood sugar.
According to the Mayo Clinic, research has demonstrated that milk thistle improved control of blood sugar in people with diabetes.
6. Promote gallbladder health and prevent gallstones
The gallbladder stores the bile produced in the liver. Bile aids in fat digestion.
The University of Maryland Medical Center suggests the use of milk thistle for gallbladder detoxification.
Milk thistle supports the prevention of gallstones. Gallstones occur when bile hardens. These stones could block a passageway in your gallbladder, leading to pain and possibly a gallbladder attack.
Natural Alternative Remedy says silymarin raises bile solubility, encouraging circulation and lowering the chances of bile hardening and turning into a painful gallstone.
7. Aid digestion
Your body is a machine, and in order to have a successful digestive system, the rest of your organs need to be in tip-top shape too.
Through the improvement of bile circulation, reduction of liver inflammation and the repair of damaged cells that we’ve previously mentioned, your overall digestive health improves.
According to the Underground Health Reporter, milk thistle promotes overall intestinal health but has also been known to treat digestive problems like constipation and even Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It acts as “a demulcent, which means it softens and moisturizes the mucous membranes, healing inflamed intestinal walls and calming the symptoms.”
8. Help calm seasonal allergies
There’s nothing worse than seasonal allergy symptoms: runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes and headaches…the list goes on. These reactions can come from pollen, dust and mold, just to name a few of the culprits.
The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians suggests that milk thistle can “help reduce allergic, inflammatory, and histaminic reactions.”
Next time seasonal allergies are bothering your sinuses, try some milk thistle to get rid of those pesky symptoms.
9. Support your kidneys
Milk thistle isn’t just for your liver! It promotes natural detoxification through healthy kidney function, too.
According to Life Extension, our kidneys can be damaged by taking pharmaceutical drugs, but milk thistle can reduce or prevent kidney damage that may be caused by this.
10. Ease heartburn
Many people are familiar with that intense burning feeling in the middle of their chest after eating certain foods. According to Newsmax Health, this occurs when stomach acid goes into the food pipe, and sometimes even creeps into the esophagus.
Milk thistle’s anti-inflammatory properties mean it’s a great tool to reduce these symptoms of heartburn.