Milk Thistle

Scientific Name: Silybum marianum

Milk Thistle Information

Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) has been used since Greco-Roman times as an herbal remedy for a variety of ailments, particularly liver problems. Today, several scientific studies suggest that active substances in milk thistle (particularly silymarin) protect the liver from damage caused by viruses, toxins, alcohol, and certain drugs such as acetaminophen (a common over the counter medication used for headaches and pain; acetaminophen, also called paracetamol, can cause liver damage if taken in large quantities or by people who drink alcohol regularly.) Many professional herbalists recommend milk thistle extract for the prevention and/or treatment of various liver disorders including viral hepatitis, fatty liver associated with long term alcohol use, and liver damage from drugs and industrial toxins such as carbon tetrachloride

Milk Thistle Benefits

  • Helps improve liver functioning, especially in the case of mild alcoholic liver disease
  • Used as a preventive and/or antidote to poisoning by deathcap mushroom (Amanita phalloides)
  • Active substances in milk thistle may have anti-cancer effects
  • Silymarin (an active compound in milk thistle) works as effectively as the cholesterol-lowering drug probucol, with the additional benefit of substantially increasing HDL ("good") cholesterol
  • Inconclusive evidence on its utility in treating advanced stages of liver disease, like cirrohosis

Milk Thistle Nutrient Content

The active ingredient, or liver-protecting compound in milk thistle is known as silymarin. This substance, which actually consists of a group of compounds called flavonolignands, helps repair liver cells damaged by alcohol and other toxic substances. Silymarin also keeps new liver cells from being destroyed by these same substances, reduces inflammation (important for people with liver inflammation or hepatitis), and has potent antioxidant effects. Most milk thistle products are standardized preparations extracted from the fruits (seeds) of the plant. Most preparations are standardized to contain 70% to 80% of flavonolignans (silibinin, silychristin, and silydianin), collectively known as silymarin.

Milk Thistle Notes

The Dietary Supplement Information Bureau recommends a daily dosage of 80-200 mg (standardized extract) 1-3 times daily for optimal health.

Milk Thistle Products

  Brand & Product Name  Description  Retail 
 More Info  Buy Now 
  Twinlab : Silymarin (Milk Thistle) 
 50 caps, 70 mg  $8.50   $4.95   More info 
  Nature's Herbs : Milk Thistle Power 
 50 caps  $17.99   $10.95   More info 
  Nature's Herbs : Milk Thistle Power 
 150 caps  $45.89   $32.95   More info Discontinued
  Natures Way : Milk Thistle Standardized Extract 
 60 caps  $15.49   $8.95   More info 
  Natrol : Liver Form w/Milk Thistle 
 60 caps  $14.59   $8.95   More info Discontinued
  Nature's Answer : Milk Thistle Seed 
 1 oz  $11.49   $6.95   More info 
  Nature's Answer : Milk Thistle (alcohol-free) 
 1 oz  $11.99   $6.95   More info 

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