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Why Is Milk Thistle Beneficial?

Milk thistle contains silymarin, a very useful element, which contributes to the regeneration of the liver, the normalization of its functions and the elimination of toxins. In Germany, medications containing this herb are included in the official list of agents recommended for the treatment of liver diseases, including cirrhosis. The herb also has other beneficial properties; for example, it is effective in losing weight without side effects.

General Information

Milk thistle from the Asteraceae family is also known as Sílybum mariánum or Marian thistle. It is a native of the Mediterranean countries, but today the unpretentious prickly herb with spherical flowers can be found all over the world.

As an aggressive weed, it sneaks into gardens. If you do not get rid of it in time, it will reach human height. In order to obtain natural elements for health improvement, the herb is grown in special fields. In Ukraine, such fields can be up to five thousand hectares. Fruits with seeds are mainly used as a medicinal raw material.

Historical Background

According to the works of Pliny the Elder, milk thistle was used in ancient Rome to cure the liver. Its popularity decreased due to the appearance of various chemical products. In the last century, due to environmental problems, many people began to worry about liver problems, so scientists started to search for natural medicines and paid their attention to milk thistle.

As a result of the study, there were different elements found in the fruits and seeds that had no analogs as well as more than 100 micronutrients essential for the human body. After the first studies in 1968, colleagues from other countries joined the German pharmacist scientists. Several hundred clinical studies have proven the effectiveness of milk thistle for the prophylaxis and treatment of hepatitis, cirrhosis, and other diseases of the liver and bile duct.


  • Silymarin (flavonoid) and silybin, its main isomer. These are the main active ingredients found mainly in fruits. Roots, stems, and leaves are also beneficial, but their effectiveness is somewhat lower.
  • Alkaloids, saponins.
  • Fatty acids, including Omega-6, Omega-9.
  • Vitamins: groups B, as well as C, D, E, K.
  • Microelements: magnesium, zinc, iodine, manganese, and others.
  • Up to 28% fatty oil and other ingredients.

Benefits of Milk Thistle:

  • Protects the liver, manages inflammation, and restores damaged cells. It is effective in treating hepatitis B, preventing the development of the virus. It also treats cirrhosis in the initial stage and improves symptoms in people with a pronounced disease.
  • It acts as an antioxidant by destroying free radicals, preventing the absorption of toxic substances, and removing already accumulated toxins.
  • It is used in case of poisoning due to food, antibiotics, alcohol, and heavy metals. The herb is recommended for people who work in hazardous conditions and live in megalopolises.
  • Milk thistle has an antiallergic effect.
  • It is recommended in case of problems with bile ducts and spleen.
  • The herb improves the health condition in case of gastritis, colitis, ulcers, and pancreatitis.
  • It can help to cure chronic cough.
  • Milk thistle normalizes blood sugar levels.
  • It helps to lose extra weight because it purifies the body and activates the liver. This allows you to improve digestion and normalize metabolism.
  • Due to the purification of the liver, the condition of the skin with acne also improves.

How to Use

During the use of the herb, you should follow a diet and avoid drinking alcohol. The most effective formulations for the treatment and prophylaxis:

  1. Dry powder (meal or flour). According to experts, the milk thistle flour is highly effective. It is made from dried and ground seeds which have lots of silymarin. The powder is usually taken before meals with warm or mineral water.
    Milk thistle meal does not have a bitter taste and appeals even to children. It can be used for cooking as usual flour. Meals have additional benefits.

  2. Oil (liquid or in capsules). It is also produced from seeds. Choose cold-pressed oil because it is the most useful. Not only is it good for the liver, gall, stomach, and duodenum, but it also great for contributing to the elasticity of blood vessels, preventing aging of the body, and improving reproductive functions.

    Oil can be added to ready-made but not too hot meals, such as soups, cereals, and salads. It is applied not only internally, but also externally. The oil rejuvenates the skin, reduces the severity of vascular spider, fights cellulite, and heals wounds. For treating hemorrhoids and vaginitis, cotton tampons are soaked in oil.

Milk thistle extract is also used for making a tincture or used in capsules. It is found in such medicines as Carsil® Forte, Hepabene, and Silimar. You can also brew dry seeds.


Milk thistle is not recommended in any form for those with individual intolerance to the herb, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and children under three years old. Another contraindication is acute pathology of the biliary tract. In the case of exacerbation of any chronic diseases, it is recommended to consult a doctor before using the herb. It is important to read the instructions carefully and avoid overdosing.

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