Everything You Need to Know About Milk Thistle
What is Milk Thistle?
ore than ever before, we are faced with a daily onslaught of toxins from pollution, food, alcohol, personal care products, and medication. It's no wonder people are looking for natural ways to support liver health and detoxify the body.
Enter milk thistle! Keep reading as we explore this popular liver-cleansing herb.
Milk thistle – also known by its scientific name Silybum marianum – is a flowering herb related to the dandelion plant and native to warm climates in Europe. The seeds and leaves of the milk thistle plant have been used in traditional herbal medicine for over 2000 years as a powerful liver tonic. Now, research suggests it may also help to manage inflammation, soothe acne, regulate blood sugar levels, and promote breast milk production.
How Milk Thistle Works
The active ingredient that makes up a large percentage of standardized milk thistle extract is silymarin. Silymarin collectively refers to the group of powerful flavonoid compounds that give milk thistle its incredible health benefits – silibinin, silidianin, and silicristin.
These flavonoids provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which help to defend your cells from free radicals and oxidative damage. A 2015 study found that taking 140 mg of silymarin 3 times daily significantly increased the body’s antioxidant capacity. It also boosted the activity of the antioxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase (1). The volunteers also had an impressive reduction in levels of hs-CRP – a marker of inflammation in the body.
Milk thistle is most popular for supporting the health of your largest detoxification organ, the liver. The antioxidant properties of silymarin help to shield the liver from oxidative damage caused by the barrage of toxins it filters each minute of the day. Our VitaRx Milk Thistle Extract is a double strength supplement that contains 300 mg of silymarin along with fermented artichoke and dandelion root extracts for added liver support.
Health Benefits of Milk Thistle
Let's dig into the research and find out how supplementing with this popular herb could improve your overall health and wellness.
Aids Liver Health and Detoxification
The liver is an amazing organ with over 500 metabolic functions. It works around the clock to process and filter blood, hormones, food, alcohol, chemicals, medication, and much more. However, it can become overwhelmed and sluggish, leading to a buildup of toxins, inflammation, poor digestion, fatty liver, and chronic disease.
This is where milk thistle comes in!
Milk thistle may support the regeneration of healthy liver cells and stop toxins binding to the liver, allowing this organ to do its job optimally (2). Research suggests it may reduce raised ALT and AST liver enzymes in those with liver damage (3).
As you can see, milk thistle should be your go-to supplement before a fatty meal or a big night out. It could reduce the risk of a hangover!
Regulates Blood Sugar Levels
There is plenty of research to support using milk thistle to balance blood sugar levels. This is likely due to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and liver-supportive properties – as the liver is an organ that stores and releases glucose based on the body's needs.
A 2016 review study in the Journal of Diabetes Research found that the active ingredient in milk thistle, silymarin, reduces both fasting blood sugar levels and levels of glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c). This shows it has a positive impact on blood sugar levels over both the short and long-term (4).
Reduces Acne and Improves Skin Health
Anti-inflammatory milk thistle extract may improve signs of skin aging and reduce acne lesions (5).
A healthy liver breaks down and removes excess hormones and toxins from the body. So, supporting liver function with milk thistle extract may help to reduce breakouts by enhancing detoxification and regulating hormonal balance.
Promotes Healthy Breast Milk Production
Traditionally, milk thistle has been used as a galactagogue – a compound that enhances breast milk production. Now, promising research suggests this supplement may assist breastfeeding moms wanting to give their little ones the best start in life!
A study on 50 lactating women found that taking silymarin for 9 weeks increased milk production by up to 85% per day compared to a placebo group (6).
Make Milk Thistle Part of Your Daily Diet
Okay you knew it was coming... time for a shameless plug. Do you think the benefits of adding milk thistle to your daily diet could help? Create a personalized daily vitamin pack that includes milk thistle and any other vitamins, minerals or supplements you think could help. Start by adding milk thistle to your Kit here!